Thursday, January 13, 2005

44% of dowry death cases are false

January 14th 2005 12:00 A.M.
The Following judgement in 2000(1) Karnataka Law Online starting on Page no 560 is illustrative of the severity of the abuse of the process of law happening in the dowry harassment and section 498a cases

IN the high Court of Karnataka
M.F.Saldhana & M.S. rajendra Prasad JJ
Crl.A. no. 589 of 2003
Decided on 4-9-2003
important excerpts starting from page 562

we need to sound a note of caution that the police and investigating authorities should not improperly and technically jump to the conclusion that merely because death has occurred that ipso facto a criminal offense has been committed . In as many as 44% of these cases prosecution is thoroughly unjustified . Unless there is cogent and convincing evidence and unless there is material to sustain these charges , it would be totally impermissible and completely unjustified to embark upon legal action . The consequences of these charges are extremely grave because the accussed husband and invariably family members are placed under arrest . There are serious social and economic repurcussions.

end of excerpt
a little later following excerpt from same judgement
The fact that we do come accross considerable number of instances where prosecution was unjustified seems to indicate that in every case of death of young woman or recently married women that prosecution and filing of charge sheet has become automatic. There does not appear to be a proper application of mind at the stage of scrutiny and having regard to this position we direct the concerned authorities to ensure that requirements of the law are correctly and responsibly followed . Copy to be followed to D.G. ( Police )

I appeal to the judiciary also to take up the slack pointed out in this judgement and dismiss proceedings where prosecution has no case . Important point of law is that complaint and case are not synonmous and that case is made only by providing material substantiating the complaint. Mere complaint should not be treated as sufficient to proceed with trial any of the cases . Unfortunately in the Dowry harassment and section 498a without any material only on the say so of relative and friends of the girl the proceedings are started which is wrong. During the Charge/Discharge stage carefull evaluation of the material placed by both accussed and prosecution has to be done if there is sufficent material which could lead to conviction and it has to be done on broad sweep without going into minor contradiction . That is ASSERTION MATERIAL ANALYSIS has to be done to decide whether there is a prima facie case or innocence is already established .
Anybody who has read perry Mason Novels knows that in order to substantiate case you also have to get some witnesses to depose before a case is committed to trial . Unfortunately we are demanding too little from the prosecution and investigative authorities to substantiate if they have a case .
I suspect that if we rigourously follow this practice that upto 40-50% of the cases will not be commited to trial and that instead of the current 3-5 years for decision it would take 11/2 to 3 years to come to a decision .This would reduce a lot of burden on the courts


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