NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court came to rescue of a father and his son accused in a dowry death case and acquitted them after 28 years of their legal battle.A bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph acquitted the man and his father, who had been charged under Section 304 B (dowry death) of the Indian Penal Code, after noting that there was nothing on record to even remotely suggest that the woman was tortured for dowry.
The court accepted the fact that though the woman did die in her matrimonial home within seven years of marriage, but noted that two essential ingredients for making out an offence under Section 304B was missing.
There was no evidence to show she was subjected to harassment for additional dowry, the bench said.
The ruling highlighted that Section 304B was brought in with an objective to create a distinct offence to deter husband and in-laws from harassing a woman for less dowry while emphasising that this provision should not be invoked by subordinate courts unless there is enough evidence.
In a word of caution for the high court which had overturned the trial court order acquitting the accused, the bench said, “High courts should overturn the judgments by trial courts only in extraordinary circumstances and not by reading the evidence in a particular manner. After all, at stake for the accused are priceless rights to liberty, reputation and the right to life, not only of himself but also his family members.”
The bench set aside the Uttarakhand High Court judgment sentencing the duo to seven years in jail and freed them.