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Updated January 23rd, 2024 at 17:34 IST

Bombay HC Says Mere Taunting Does Not Amount to Harassment as it Acquits 3 in Suicide Abetment Case

The Bombay HC noted a lack of evidence showing that the accused had abetted a woman's suicide or pushed her to consider the drastic step with harassment.

Digital Desk
Bombay high court
Bombay high court | Image:PTI
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MUMBAI: Observing that mere taunting does not amount to harassment or mental cruelty, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted three persons in a 2001 suicide abetment case. The case in question involved a married woman self-immolating in 1994 as a result of alleged harassment by her husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law. According to the prosecution, when the couple first married in 1993, everything was fine initially but the situation started changing when the three accused allegedly began to taunt the woman for not being able to cook or perform other household tasks properly. 

Furthermore, the prosecution claimed that the three accused had demanded Rs 10,000 from the woman's father. 

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The accused have denied the allegations made by the woman's family and have claimed that the immolation was a result of an accident. While hearing the matter, the court opined that there was a lack of evidence showing that the three accused had immolated the victim, abetted her suicide or even mistreated her to the extent that she would be driven to suicide. 

“Mens rea (intention), which is an essential ingredient, is missing in this case. Simpliciter accusations of taunting and demanding money, which was not followed by physical or mental cruelty, itself would not be sufficient to attribute abetment to commit suicide,” said the court. 

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As such, the court said it would be unjust to indict the three accused as it would amount to drawing assumptions and presumptions. With this in mind, the single justice bench comprised of Justice Abhay Waghwase quashed a 2001 order passed by a sessions court in Nandurbar convicting the three accused on charges of abetting suicide, harassing the woman and meting out cruelty against her. 

With inputs from PTI.

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Published January 23rd, 2024 at 17:34 IST

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