Five members of a family, convicted by a trial court for driving all three daughters-in-law to commit suicide 16 years ago, have been acquitted by the Bombay high court for lack of evidence.
“Sentiments cannot have a role in the matter of conviction,” Justice AH Joshi observed while setting free three brothers, Kailash, 46, Subhash, 43, Sanjay, 41, and their parents, Hiralal Ramlal Chaudhari, 81, and his wife Gendabai, 75.
The five were booked for dowry harassment and abetment charges in 1999 after Mandabai, Sumanbai and Lalitabai — wives of the three brothers — committed suicide together by consuming pesticide at an under-construction building near their residence at Banot in Aurangabad. They all died on the spot.
In 1999, a trial court had convicted all five accused and sentenced them to prison terms of five years and three years for both the offences.
Joshi said the fact that the three women had gathered at the building with an immense desire to die “definitely showed things around them were grossly wrong”. The judge, however, could not hasten criminal liability on the accused, as he did not find enough evidence. Joshi said the prosecution evidence did not comprise anything to show that accused were guilty of the charges.
“The shock or sadness which would follow does not and should not be the foundation for arriving at a conclusion that the accused are guilty,” he said. The conviction has to be impelled by un-refutable proof of ingredients of the offence.”