After spending a year behind bars, an undertrial accused of abetting his wife’s suicide by his in-laws was released on bail by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday. The court discovered that the distressed woman had written multiple letters complaining of her plight to the police, and blaming her parents for it, but her pleas went unheeded.
Arvind Tiwari married Babita Mishra out of love despite parental opposition, while she was living with an uncle. On January 5, 2012 her father Jay Prakash Mishra learnt from the police that his daughter had been set afire after being doused in kerosene. When police questioned Arvind, he told them that Babita had tried to commit suicide and he had also sustained injuries in the incident. On January 9, Babita succumbed to her grievous burns at Rajawadi Hospital.
During the accidental death (AD) inquiry by the police, Babita’s parents did not blame Arvind for the suicide. But on January 17, Mishra registered an FIR with the Mankhurd police implicating Arvind, after which police charged him under IPC sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 304 B (dowry death), and arrested him. He has been in custody as an undertrial since June 14 last year.
Justice Sadhana Jadhav observed, “At the time of the spot panchnama, the police had seized two letters written by Babita, which were addressed to senior inspectors of police at Powai and MIDC police stations.
The contents of the letters would reveal that the applicant and the deceased got married against the will of her parents. She alleged that she was thrown out of the house and physically and mentally abused by her parents. In the second letter she has stated that she had full faith in the police. Both the families had driven them out of the house. They were searching for shelter.”
She added, “It is pathetic to observe that the deceased had reposed faith in the police department... She sought help from the police requesting them to convince her parents to accept her. All in vain. She had also stated she was on the verge of dying of starvation.”
But the police ignored all her letters, treating them as ‘formal communications’. Justice Jadhav further noted, “In the eventuality that the police had shown some compassion to the girl, she would have survived. The photocopies would indicate that the letters were received by the police department the very next day.”
However, they were never brought to the attention of Babita’s parents, who by then were alleging that Arvind was responsible for her death. “The fact that the applicant had sustained 40% burn injuries is sufficient indication that he had tried to save her. The parents levelled allegations of dowry death only after she died.
There is no plausible explanation for the inordinate delay in lodging the FIR... Till the matter was heard on Wednesday, the letters which absolved Arvind were initially not placed before the court.” “It is in these circumstances that the applicant is entitled to be enlarged on bail,” said Justice Jadhav. Arvind has now been set free on a bond of Rs 15,000.