Supreme Court Upholds Importance of Family Testimonies in Dowry Death Cases

Supreme Court emphasizes importance of family testimonies in dowry death cases. Case: State of Karnataka vs MN Basavaraja. Justices Dipankar Datta and SVN Bhatti highlight crucial role of family members' evidence.

The Supreme Court emphasized the significance of testimonies from family members in dowry death cases, rejecting the notion of dismissing them as biased witnesses. Justices Dipankar Datta and SVN Bhatti stressed that a woman enduring dowry harassment is likely to confide in her immediate family, making their testimony vital for justice.

The court highlighted the dilemma of discarding family members' evidence, noting it would leave no reliable witnesses. The case, involving the alleged dowry death of a wife, was remitted to the trial court for a fresh decision on the husband's culpability.

"A lady facing harassment due to dowry would confide in her family. If their evidence is dismissed as biased, who else can testify?" observed the Court.

Initially, the trial court acquitted the husband and his family in 2004, but the Karnataka High Court, in 2010, convicted him for domestic violence while upholding other acquittals. The State appealed to the Supreme Court.

The apex court found grounds for charging the husband with dowry death, criticizing lower courts for neglecting evidence suggesting suicide. However, it upheld his right to a fair trial.

The appeal was allowed, instructing a fresh trial with interim protection from arrest granted until June 3. The High Court's sentence was suspended pending the new trial.