A Delhi court has sentenced a man and three of his family members to five years in jail for harassing his wife for demand of dowry and driving her to suicide.
Additional Sessions Judge Satinder Kumar Gautam convicted Aditya Bajaj, his brother Abhishek Bajaj, mother Chand Bajaj and father Ashok Bajaj for the offences under Sections 498 A (husband or his relative subjecting wife to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh on each of the convicts.
"It is proved beyond reasonable doubt that there was oral and documentary evidence in order to bring home the guilt of the accused persons for the offence punishable under section 498-A IPC as they harassed and caused cruelty upon the deceased for demand of dowry," the court said.
According to the prosecution, relations between the deceased Deepika and her in-laws were not cordial and she was harassed by them over demands of dowry.
Deepika and Aditya got married in 2002 and have a child.
Deepika committed suicide in 2009 by setting herself on fire in her matrimonial home when all the inmates of the house were present. She suffered 97 per cent burn injuries.
The complainant, the victim's father, alleged that his daughter's in-laws had demanded money from him to construct a separate floor for her in the matrimonial house.
He also alleged that the accused demanded Rs 5 lakh for the construction of their house and Rs 2.5 lakh for purchasing a car and had threatened him with dire consequences if the money was not paid.
The victim's father had taken a loan of Rs 10 lakh to meet their demands and paid them in installments, it said.
During the trial, all the accused had pleaded not guilty and claimed that they were innocent.
They alleged that Deepika was having an extra-marital affair with one of her colleagues and they had obtained a restraining order against her from entering the in-laws house.
They also claimed that she was harassing them to get the possession of the separate floor in the house.
The court said, "It is of the view that the defence story put forward by the accused is an amalgam of gargantuan lies. The accused's attempt to tilt at windmills does not ring the bell. The defence has fizzled out faster than the morning mist."
"Hence,... here prosecution has discharged its part of the burden by leading evidence of which it was capable by substantiating the fact that there has been demand of dowry... at the time of death of deceased, accused persons were inmates of the house... the burn injuries of 97 per cent clearly reflected that it is a case of abetment," it said.