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Acquittal for man in dowry case

Guwahati, Dec. 25: A case of misuse of women protection law has come to light after a trial court acquitted a man from charges of harassing his wife for dowry.

During the trial, DNA tests revealed the complainant had an extra-marital affair and her husband was not the biological father of her second child.

The judicial magistrate (first class), Kamrup, Vijay Kumar Singh, in a recent order, acquitted the accused, Balindra Chandra Nath — a state government employee — of charges against him under Sections 498 (A) (dowry) and 384 (extortion) of IPC for allegedly torturing his wife, Manisha, for dowry.

The case was registered against Nath at the all-women police station at Panbazar on the basis of an FIR lodged by Manisha in June 2004. The couple got married in 1993.

The court in its order stated that the prosecution had failed to prove any of its allegations against the accused beyond all reasonable doubt and the accused was therefore being acquitted. During the hearing, the defence brought to the notice of the court that another case between the complainant and her husband at the family court had led to a paternity test of her second son. The results had revealed that the biological father of the child was Pradip Das and not the accused. According to the defence, when the accused found out that his wife was in an adulterous relationship with Das, he threw Manisha out from his house in Gandhi Basti here. She lodged the FIR to settle scores with him. During cross-examination by the defence lawyer Anand Kumar Bhuyan, Manisha admitted she had an illegitimate relationship with Das, a fact she had not disclosed in her FIR or to the investigating officer.

The magistrate, in his order, stated that by her admission, the complainant had gone against the facts she had stated in the FIR and her statement recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 CrPC.

“These omissions are case material and hence they are in the category of contradictions,” the order said. The court also found other discrepancies in the statements given by Manisha before the investigating officer and during cross-examination.

Bhuyan said it was a vexatious litigation solely aimed at harassing his client. He said owing to the misuse of Section 498 (A) by the complainant, his client had suffered harassment for many years.

Bhuyan said Nath was arrested and had to spend several days behind bars, which caused him mental harassment and loss of reputation.

According to lawyers, there has been a rise in such cases throughout the country. Delhi High Court in April this year had expressed anguish over the growing number of matrimonial cases filed under Section 498 (A) by women to harass their husbands and in-laws.

Justice Kailash Gambhir of the court had stated that though various laws have been enacted to empower women with a view to mitigating the oppression and inequality suffered by them, the courts were increasingly coming across instances where women were misusing these laws.

While these laws have helped destitute women to fight against harassment, in the past year, courts have come across various incidents where women have misused them to harass their husbands and in-laws, which many judges have branded as “legal terrorism”.