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It cannot be considered enough to hold that the deceased had committed suicide due to any act of depression and not because of the alleged maltreatment and cruelty meted out to her by the applicant for dowry demands: The High Court of Delhi

In the case of suicidal death of the wife, the mere contention that she suffered from a mental illness would not be sufficient to prove that the death was a consequence of the same and not because of the cruelty meted out to her for the demands of dowry within 7 years of her marriage. The aforesaid has been established by the Delhi High Court in the case of Rajesh Lal v. State Govt. of NCT of Delhi [BAIL APPLN.2979/2020] which was decided by a single judge bench comprising Justice Anu Malhotra on 14th June 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The applicant is the spouse of the deceased and was married to her in 2019 at the Rosary Church Kingsway Camp, Delhi according to the Christian rites and ceremonies. The applicant contended that it was a simple marriage performed without any demand of dowry and that there was no dowry demand made by the applicant’s side neither before the marriage nor after the marriage. The applicant further submitted that his spouse Maclina was suffering from a mental disorder namely somniloquy i.e. sleep talking disorder and she often used to scream during her sleep. The applicant further submitted that he had made enquiries from the brother of the deceased Godson, who had told him that the deceased was suffering from depression and was taking the treatment from their family doctor before marriage. The deceased had to be sent to her parental home on several occasions because of her mental condition. On one such day in 2020, wife (since deceased) unfortunately hung herself to death at her parental home and that the applicant was shocked to hear of the same but his agony was enhanced when the brother and father of the deceased did not permit him to join the last ritual and burial ceremony and that instead of consoling him on account of the demise of his wife, the father of the deceased i.e. the complainant made a false complaint to the police falsely alleging that they had given Rs.5 lacs to the applicant at the time of the marriage along with certain other gold articles and had spent around Rs.25 lacs in the marriage and further alleged that the deceased was subjected to harassment and cruelty on demands of dowry though it has been submitted by the applicant that it is well known that dowry demand is not known in Christian Society.

The applicant further submits that the deceased was admittedly suffering from a mental disorder i.e. somniloquy i.e. a sleeping talking disorder, for which, she was getting medicines and it can be presumed that the ailment/ disorder was around 30 years back and that chances of the suicide by the deceased due to the mental disorder cannot be ruled out. The State submitted that during the investigation, the CDR of the mobile number of the deceased Macklina, and the accused Rajesh Lal had been obtained and after CDR analysis it has been found that applicant had talked to the deceased on 26-02-2020 at 08.12pm for the time interval of 95 seconds and that the complainant in his statement had also stated that Rajesh Lal had called his daughter Macklina and his daughter told him that she was coming to him but the applicant said that if she came near him, he would stab her with a knife.

After an in depth perusal of the facts and arguments presented, the court was of the opinion that “In the circumstances of the case, as observed hereinabove, the requisite presumption in terms of Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1873 has essentially to be drawn against the applicant at this stage in view of the demise of the deceased within seven (7) years from the date of her marriage and thus it is not considered appropriate to grant bail to the applicant. The bail application is declined”

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