Supreme Court Acquits Man who is entitled to benefit of ‘Doubt’ in a Dowry Death case

Supreme Court on Dowry Death: Establish Unnatural death for 304B

The Supreme Court has acquitted a man who was convicted before the Trial Court and also convicted before the High Court in a ‘Dowry Death’ case.

While concerning the matter, the Trial Court and the Chhattisgarh High Court has sentenced the accused for rigorous imprisonment for 10 years. In this instant case, the Accused’s wife had died within 2 years of their marriage; by setting herself afire by pouring kerosene oil upon herself. The dying declaration showed that the immediate cause for the deceased to set herself afire was the domestic quarrel with the husband. With examining dying declaration and depositions of some witnesses, the accused has convicted under Section 304B & 498A IPC. 

An appeal was filed before the Supreme Court considering that the dying declaration revealed that the deceased herself poured kerosene oil upon her and set herself afire and that the dying declaration was well supported by the testimony of the concerned doctor. 

The matter came before a three-Judge Bench led by Justice L.Nageswara Rao comprising with Justice Vineet Saran and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat. The counsel appearing for accused has contended that the vague allegations made against him by those witnesses which could not be taken to be sufficient proof of dowry related harassment.

While allowing the appeal, the bench has noted that “there is nothing on record to indicate that the dying declaration was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation or that the statement was not correctly recorded………In the circumstances, the prosecution fell short of making good its case under Sections 304A & 498A IPC and the appellant is entitled to benefit of doubt.”

“Therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the orders of conviction and sentence and direct that the appellant be set at liberty unless his presence is required in connection with any other offence,” the Apex Court has emphasized.