Court: KARNATAKA HIGH COURT
Bench: JUSTICE M.F. Saldanha & N.K. Patil
STATE Vs. SRIKANTH & ORS. On 26 June 2002
Charges Against Accused not Established : Acquittal Justified : In Many Cases where Matrimonial Offences Alleged, Police Indiscriminately Roping in whole of Family Including Brothers, Sisters, In-Laws : Unless there is Specific Material against these Persons it is Wrong on Part of Investigating Officers to Include Whole of Family as Accused Persons : Steps would be Taken to Ensure this does not Happen.
We heard the learned Counsels on both sides on merits. This is undoubtedly another of the extremely distressing cases where a young wife has committed suicide and the usual allegation has followed, namely, that it was because of the cruelty inflicted by the husband and in-laws that she was driven to this step. The Trial Court has acquitted the accused and the State has assailed the correctness of that order.
2. The learned Addl. S.P.P. has submitted that when a suicide takes place even after a reasonable period of the marriage has elapsed that a certain presumption must be drawn by the Court that there would be very valid reasons why the deceased would be driven to this position. In the present instance reliance is placed on the evidence of the sister, brother and mother, all of whom deposed to the effect that the deceased was being harassed by the husband and in-laws some time after the marriage and that on both occasions there were monetary claims which had been satisfied. This evidence in our considered view is rather on the weak side but will also not be of much assistance to the prosecution even assuming it is accepted, because the point of time when the incident has taken place is so far remote i.e. there is a gap of 3 to 4 years between these incidents and the suicide that has subsequently transpired and, consequently, we are of the view that the nexus or inter-connection between the two has not been established. The defence has propounded the theory that because of the fact that the deceased has no children that she was depressed and that this was the real reason why she put an end to her life. On the other hand, there is a counter allegation that A1 the husband was contemplating a re-marriage and that this was what drove the deceased to suicide. On this last aspect, we do not have any evidence worth the name. We have very carefully re-assessed the material that was before the Trial Court and we are of the view that the charges against the accused persons have not been established. The review done by us indicates that the acquittal order in the present instance was justified and we see no ground on which that can be interfered with. We need to specially observe here that there are some overtones about money and ornaments having been exchanged but we prefer not to apply our mind to this aspect of the case because we notice from the earlier order passed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court that the accused persons were made to deposit a certain amount of money in Court at the time of their release on bail and that the amount was paid over as interim compensation to the accused. The order has been produced before us and we are rather surprised that at a pre-trial stage, even if the Court felt that the deposit of a cash amount as a condition for bail was justified that the Court would order the amount to be paid over to the girl’s father as compensation. However, since as indicated by the learned Addl. SPP the amount has already been disbursed we refrain from interfering with that order though we need to indicate that we thoroughly disapprove of both the timing and the context of the same. That is one of the reasons why we prefer not to make any observations with regard to the charges under the Dowry Prohibition Act as otherwise, we may have been inclined to order restoration of the dowry amount under Section 6 of the Act. We need to also observe that the quality of the Trial Court’s judgment is so very poor that the Registrar General shall convey to the Judicial Officer concerned our views with regard to this matter. If it is impossible for some Judicial Officers to use the English language it would be far better that they deliver their judgments in Kannada.
3. We have brought it to the notice of the learned Addl. SPP that in many of the transactions under Sections 498A, 304B and 306, I.P.C. i.e. the cases where serious matrimonial Offices are alleged that the police have been indiscriminately roping in the whole of the family including the brothers, sisters, in-laws, we had come across one incident where apart from the parents the grand-father and great grand-father were also shown as accused. Unless there is specific material against these persons it is downright wrong on the part of the investigating authorities to indiscriminately include the whole of the family as accused persons. There could possibly be strong evidence against the husband or parents or immediate residents of the house, etc., but the police need to discriminate before just adding the whole of the family as accused persons as has happened in this case. We take it that hereinafter, steps would be taken to ensure that this does not happen. The appeal accordingly fails on merits and stands dismissed.
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