Presumption of abetment of suicide in dowry death cases where cruelty has been established can be revoked only in rare cases

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The Supreme Court in its recent judgment – Satish Shetty v. State of Karnataka, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 589, decided on 03.06.2016, held that once the prosecution succeeds in establishing the component of cruelty under section 498A, only in a rare case, the Courts can refuse to invoke the presumption of abetment provided that other requirements of section 113A of Evidence Act stand satisfied.

The incident took place twenty years ago and involved suicide of a 25 year old woman who had a 10-month old son and was mothering a life of twenty week in her womb. It was contended that the suicide was committed due to dowry demands, but the appellant contended that the suicide was an outcome of the victim being stopped from going to her mother’s place. The High Court, after going through the relevant oral and documentary evidence in the form of letters, concluded that the trial Judge failed to look for the relevant documents already available on the record. The Apex Court, agreeing with the High Court’s reasoning, held that the initial explanation about the deceased committing suicide because she was not permitted to go to her mother’s place does not inspire confidence and was rightly rejected by the High Court as only for such a trivial matter, a hale and hearty young woman having a ten months old son and a pregnancy of twenty weeks was not at all expected to take her life. Also, no explanation was given by the accused for the injuries on the victim. The Court, hence, upheld the order of the High Court and held that the order of the Trial Court was highly erroneous

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