Appreciate evidence from the poor, Supreme Court tells lower courts

While upholding the conviction of a bank cashier from Mysore in a dowry death case, a bench headed by Justice V S  Sirpurkar said: “It is a basic principle that the evidence of witness has to be appreciated as a whole, when the witness is not much educated and comes from a poor strata of society, not having the advantage of education.’’
Govindaraju of Ashokpuram in Mysore will be lodged in jail for seven years for killing his wife Susheela by setting her on fire in the intervening night of January 28-29, 1987.
The SC upheld the order of the Karnataka HC that she had an unnatural death within seven years of her marriage and there was a constant demand for more dowry by the convict.

The apex court pulled up the lower court judge for ignoring the evidence submitted by Susheela’s mother and maternal uncle, who deposed that Govindaraju had been harassing his wife for more dowry.

The bench observed: “The High Court has appreciated the evidence very deeply and in our opinion, the sessions judge had gravely erred in not accepting the evidence of this witness any justifiable reason.’’

Though the sessions court acquitted Govindraju and his brother Vasu, the High Court had pronounced seven years of imprisonment for Raju.

Tarnishing image

The judges also pulled up the convict for tarnishing the image of Susheela after her death by submitting before the court that she committed suicide as she was in love with another boy in the same locality.

“The theory seems to have been invented only to add colour to Susheela’s suicide and was rightly rejected by the Appellate Court,’’ the apex court said, adding that Govindraju could have known about the relationship as Susheela was staying with her mother and maternal uncle in the same area of the city after the death of her father.

Govindaraju was married to Susheela on May 25, 1986 and both of them belonged to the same locality in Mysore and had been demanding a dowry of Rs 5,000 from her maternal uncle who had promised to give it in due course of time. Her uncle had paid Rs 2,000 a few days before Susheela’s death.

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