Nov 13, 2010
Bombay high court rapped for wrongly convicting man
The apex court minced no words in expressing displeasure at the manner in which the High Court had convicted Dr Sunil Kumar Sambhudayal Gupta by erroneously reversing the acquittal order passed by the Sessions Court.
"The High Court dealt with the case very casually, adopting a very superficial approach to the whole matter and brushed aside the allegation of an illicit relationship for which there had been documentary evidence on record," a Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan observed in their judgement.
The apex court said the manner in which the doctor and his parents were framed by the in-laws revealed the extent to which the anti-dowry laws were being abused in the country.
"It is a clearcut case of gross abuse of dowry laws.
The High Court did not make any attempt to appreciate the evidence with accuracy and reversed the findings of the trial court which were based on the evidence on record and for which detailed reasons had been assigned," the apex court said.
The court ruling came on an appeal by the doctor, a Mumbai-resident, and his parents. Married in December 1978, Gupta''s wife committed suicide in September 1985 by hanging herself.
Following the suicide, her brother Rajesh lodged a complaint with the police accusing the husband of illtreating his sister for dowry culminating in the suicide.
The trial court acquitted the three as the prosecution failed to prove the charges against them.
Referring to her going into depression following the exposure of her illicit relationship with a neighbour and her strained life at home, the trial court concluded that Gupta''s wife "had been suffering from epilepsy, psychosis and depression and had been getting regular treatment for the same."
"Therefore it was not a case of dowry demand or treating her with cruelty," the trial court had held.
But the High Court had convicted them, saying the defence had not been able to prove its version.
Concurring with the trial court''s view, the apex court said, "The high court committed an error in shifting the burden of proof to the defence".
"In fact, the prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and the failure of the defence to prove its version cannot be ground for conviction.
"We find it difficult to sustain the conviction of the appellants (the man and his parents) on aforesaid counts (of dowry harassment and abetment to suicide)," said the Bench, while acquitting the man and his parents yesterday," the court said.