A local court has acquitted a woman and her mother in a case of abetment of suicide of her husband in 2013.
District judge N N Shrimangale in his order observed that the prosecution failed to prove charges against the woman.
The judge also observed that the “coercive steps” taken by the woman for compensation during her divorce process do not amount to abetment, while there were lapses on the part of the Investigating Officer in recording statement of witnesses.
The prosecution told the court that Smita (40), a resident of Vikhroli in Mumbai, got married in 2000 to Nilesh Zhankar, who worked at an air cargo company. Zhankar was a habitual drinker and would often quarrel with his wife.
Upset by her husband’s behaviour and marital discord, Smita left her house along with her daughter in 2011. She also took with her household articles worth Rs 2.50 lakh, Rs 50000 cash and moved to her maternal house, the prosecution said.
Zhankar also had to resign from his job in the meantime.
The prosecution further told the court that the couple were called before Maharashtra Mahila Ayog on May 4, 2011 for conciliation. But Smita demanded divorce and compensation of Rs 50 lakh or the house he owned.
Thereafter, she filed a proceeding against Zhankar in the court for divorce and maintenance under Domestic Violence Act.
The court had then directed Zhankar to deposit Rs 20000 for maintenance of Smita and their daughter and pay Rs 4,500 per month to her.
Zhankar paid the amount till December 2012 and then stopped. Smita, who continued to live with her parents, threatened Zhankar of dire consequences for failing to pay the monthly compensation, following which he hanged himself on April 25, 2013, the court was told.
“It further appears that till December, 2012, deceased paid the maintenance amount regularly, but stopped thereafter.
Therefore, the accused got issued warrant against him. When a statute has provided remedies to woman to have maintenance from her husband and on his failure to pay maintenance amount, the law has provided coercive steps,” the judge said.
“So, when the accused files legal proceedings under DV Act against her husband and also takes coercive steps to compel him to pay the maintenance amount, I think this is not abetment and even if a husband commits suicide on this ground, I think wife is not to be held liable for any offence,” the court observed.
The court also noted that the investigating officer did not record the statement of the relatives of Zhankar on the day of the incident.