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A Delhi court has acquitted a woman’s father-in-law and brother-in-law in a 2002 dowry harassment case saying continuing the trial would violate the accused persons’ right to speedy trial as prosecution can never prove the allegations.

The court, while absolving the two men of the charges of cruelty to woman, breach of trust under the IPC and relevant provisions of the Prohibition of Dowry Act, noted that there was no eyewitness or any evidence to prove the complaint.

“In absence of evidence of the complainant and other material witnesses, the prosecution can never hope to prove the allegations levelled against the accused persons as none of the remaining witnesses are eyewitnesses to the incident or even circumstantial witness to the commission of the alleged offence,” Metropolitan Magistrate Deepti Devesh said.

The court said, “Right to speedy trial is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right of the accused.”

“The present case pertains to an FIR of the year 2002 and continuing the trial any further, when it is clear that the prosecution can never hope to prove its case against the accused, would tantamount to violation of right to speedy trial of the accused,” it said.

According to the prosecution, the woman had alleged that she was tortured by her in-laws for bringing insufficient dowry and an FIR was lodged in 2002. Later, a charge sheet was filed against them in 2004.

The court, while letting off the accused, did not record their statements under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) saying it would be “a waste of judicial time, money and resources and will also cause unnecessary oppression of the accused persons who have anyhow faced the ordeal of trial in the present case for almost 13 years.”

“Hence, recording of further evidence and statement of accused persons was dispensed with as nothing incriminating came on record or can come on record against the accused persons in the present case,” the court said.

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