Friday, September 2, 2011

[ZESTCaste] SC acquits man in honour killing case

SC acquits man in honour killing case
Agencies Posted: Aug 31, 2011 at 1731 hrs
New Delhi Disbelieving the prosecution theory of honour killing, the
Supreme Court has acquitted a man charged with smothering to death his
niece Lakshmi for marrying a Dalit boy.

A bench of justices H S Bedi and Gyan Sudha Mishra set aside the
concurrent findings of a sessions court and the Andhra Pradesh High
Court which, relying on the circumstantial evidence that the duo were
last seen together, held that the accused Dandu Jaggaraju had indeed
committed the murder.

According to the prosecution, Lakshmi, who was a Kshatriya, had
married a Dalit boy in 1996 against the wishes of her family due to
which her family, particularly Jaggaraju, was angry with her.

The post mortem report revealed the victim died of asphyxia due to
smothering as her 'chunni' (scarf) had been thrust into her mouth. It
was alleged that earlier too an attempt was made on the life of the
victim, which she survived.

She was allegedly murdered on August 14, 2002, and some gold ornaments
from her body were taken away by the accused.

Setting aside the conviction, the apex court said "there is, however,
no documentary evidence to that effect. We, therefore, find it
somewhat strange that the family of the deceased had accepted the
marriage for about six years, more particularly as even a child had
been born to the couple.

"In view of this, the motive is clearly suspect. In a case relating to
circumstantial evidence, motive is often a very strong circumstance
which has to be proved by the prosecution and it is this circumstance
which often forms the fulcrum of the prosecution story," the bench

The apex court said the only other piece of evidence against the
appellant is the recovery of the ornaments allegedly taken from the

"We find that the jewellery is of the variety known as 'disco
jewellery' and is commonly available to all and sundry.

"It is also difficult to believe that the appellant, who statedly
killed his niece on account of family honour, would act so low as to
take the jewellery which was little more than trinkets from her dead
body," the apex court said.

The apex court further said it was completely unacceptable that though
the incident had happened on August 14, 2002, the accused had
continued to move around with the jewellery in his pocket till its
recovery from him on September 7, 2002.

"We also see from the record that the jewellery had not been recovered
under a disclosure under Section 27 of the Evidence Act but was taken
on a search of his person.

"This circumstance, therefore, does not even remotely support the
prosecution story in any manner. For the reasons recorded above, we
find that the judgements of the courts below cannot be sustained.

"We, accordingly, allow the appeal and order the appellant's
acquittal," the bench said in its order.


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