New Delhi: Women in India often sacrifice their love and relationships to accept their parents' decision, said the Supreme Court.
The top court noted this in a judgement which set aside the conviction and life sentence of a man who had survived a pact with a woman to commit suicide immediately after secretly getting married.
While the 23-year-old woman could not be saved in the incident of 1995, the man was convicted for allegedly killing her and awarded life term by a trial court and the verdict was subsequently upheld by the Rajasthan High Court.
The top court noted that the woman might have first "unwillingly" agreed to accept her parents' wish but later she apparently changed her mind which appeared from the scene of the incident where garlands, bangles and vermilion were found.
The woman might have told her lover that due to resistance from her family, she would not marry him, the court said. "Such a reaction on the part of a girl to sacrifice her love and accept a decision of her parents, even though unwillingly, is a common phenomenon in this country," a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.
The court noted that the victim and the accused were in love and the woman's father had testified in the court that due to caste differences, they had objected to their alliance.
The man had told the trial court that after resistance from their families, they decided to commit suicide and consumed Copper Sulphate at a house in an under-construction building in Jaipur.
He had said that the quantity of the chemical consumed by him was less as compared to the woman after which her health deteriorated and he went out to seek help from neighbours. When he returned, he found the woman hanging. She died at a hospital later.
The man's version of the incident was held as "plausible" by the top court which noted that as per his statement, the woman was physically abused by her family and was mercilessly beaten even on the day of incident in November 1995.
"When she was madly in love with the appellant (man) and wanted to marry him, there is a possibility that after receiving such kind of shabbily treatment at the hands of her parents, in anguish she may have decided to revolt and, therefore, proposed to the appellant that they should get married for which they chose a secluded place," the bench noted in its order.
It observed that there may be a possibility that when a man is not able to get a woman he wants, he may go to the extent of killing her as he does not want to see her alliance with any other person.
"This might be the motive in the mind of appellant (man). However, whether events turned in this way is anybody's guess as no evidence of this nature has surfaced. It is not even possible for the prosecution to state any such things as whatever actually happened was only known to two persons, one of whom is dead and other is in dock," it said.
The bench observed that criminal cases cannot be decided on the basis of hypothesis and acquitted the man holding that the prosecution has not been able to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.