Husband and in-laws acquitted in dowry death and harassment case

A Thane court in Maharashtra has acquitted a man and his two family members of charges of dowry death and cruelty to wife, citing delay in filing of the complaint.

District Judge S A Sinha last week freed Balu Gaikwad (38), his mother Shobha Gaikwad (50) and sister Vanita Gaikwad, saying the prosecution’s explanation about delay in lodging the complaint was not acceptable.

The prosecution told the court that the victim, Surekha Gaikwad, got married to Balu Gaikwad on April 26, 2012 and resided with her in-laws at Kalwa town in Thane.

The in-laws repeatedly demanded Rs 2 lakh from her to buy a hut but since her family could not pay the money, she was harassed and tortured, according to the prosecution.

On September 2, 2014, Balu Gaikwad informed his mother-in-law that his wife got burnt the previous night and was admitted to a hospital. But, the victim’s mother did not come to enquire about her condition.

Later, on September 8, 2014, the man informed his mother-in-law that his wife died at the hospital while undergoing treatment.

According to the prosecution, the victim’s mother, who resided at a village in the state’s Buldhana district, could not rush to Thane due to her poor financial condition.

When the victim’s mother went to the Thane-based hospital on September 10, she noticed burn injuries on the hands, chest and stomach of the deceased.

She then lodged a police complaint, alleging that her daughter’s in-laws harassed her for dowry, because of which she committed suicide, the prosecution told the court.

The police later booked the three accused under IPC Sections 498A (husband or his relative subjecting woman to cruelty), 304B (dowry death) and 306(abetment of suicide).

The judge observed that the evidence adduced by the deceased’s mother was not sufficient to hold the accused guilty of dowry death and harassment.

She said the victim’s dying declaration also mentioned it as a case of accidental death.

The judge noted that even after the victim’s husband informed the complainant about the incident, she did not come to meet her daughter.

She approached the police only after the victim’s death, which means there was a delay of around 10 days in filing the complaint.

The judge said the allegations of the prosecution witness was that the dowry demand was made three months prior to the incident. So, it was necessary for her to have rushed to the hospital and filed a complaint against the accused.

“But, unfortunately it did not happen. Therefore, the prosecution’s explanation about delay in lodging the complaint is not acceptable and the delay affected the prosecution’s case and created suspicion,” the judge said.

The prosecution miserably failed to prove the charges against the accused, the judge said while acquitting them.

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