Self-immolation bid ‘to teach in-laws a lesson’ backfires

Bangalore

Cops book woman for attempting suicide after they find no harassment

A woman who set herself ablaze after a quarrel with her in-laws has been booked for attempting suicide, as the police believe she did it only to get her way by dangling the sword of the domestic violence law over her husband’s parents.

Mary Sunitha (35), who was admitted to the Victoria hospital burns ward, told the police that she had set herself on fire because she was unable to bear the harassment she was subjected to by her in-laws.

At first the police thought it was another case of dowry harassment, but investigations by Assistant Sub Inspector Shanth Rajaiah made them change their opinion. Now Sunitha can be sentenced to a year’s imprisonment by the court for attempting suicide.

Denied expenses

The police said Sunitha used to spend most of her time outside the home, which had irked her in-laws. They said though Sunitha and her husband, Stephen Raj, worked with a private firm and earned well, she would give her in-laws not more than Rs 300 per month for their expenses.

The police said one day Sunitha’s father-in-law had had enough and decided to talk to her. He objected to her attitude towards the home and scolded her for spending her time outside.

Playing with fire

The police said Sunitha decided to “teach her in-laws a lesson” by attempting suicide as that meant they could be booked for domestic violence. The relevant law holds the in-laws responsible for pushing their son’s wife towards suicide in case they have subjected her to mental or physical harassment.

Sunitha doused herself with kerosene and set herself ablaze. Stephen Raj, with the help of neighbours, rushed her to a private hospital and later shifted her to Victoria, where she is said to be out of danger.

Assistant Sub Inspector Rajaiah of the Gangammana Gudi police station investigated the case, in the course of which he also recorded Sunitha’s statement, and concluded that taking the extreme step was unwarranted in the circumstances. The officer found Sunitha’s actions directed only towards putting members of the family in trouble.

After consulting his seniors, Rajaiah booked her for attempted suicide.

False cases on rise

A senior judicial officer, who did not want to be named, said of late a majority of dowry harassment and domestic violence cases were turning out to be abuse of the law by women who were using it as a tool to blackmail husbands or in-laws. “A rough estimate is that over 80 per cent of such cases are fake and result in acquittal of those accused of domestic violence,” said the judicial officer.

In the law book

Attempt to suicide is treated in Sec 309 of IPC

Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for term which may extend to one year (or with fine, or with both).

Source: Mid Day

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