Why can't women live in peace in this country, a Supreme Court bench, apparently exasperated over growing crimes against women, has observed.
The observation came when a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was hearing an appeal filed by a man who was sentenced to seven years in jail by the Himachal Pradesh High Court for allegedly teasing and compelling a 16-year-old girl to take the extreme step of committing suicide.
"Why can't women live in peace in this country," the apex court said while reserving its verdict on the appeal.
Maintaining that no one can force a woman to love someone as she has her own independent choice, the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, said "a woman has a choice to love or not to love a person. No one can force her to love somebody. There is a concept of love and man has to accept it."
During the arguments, the counsel, appearing for the man, raised doubts over the girl's dying declaration, saying that as per the medical report, she was unable to speak or write after being hospitalised.
"The doctors said that she was 80 per cent burnt and it was not possible for her to write dying declaration. She was unable to speak also. Her both hands were burnt. This dying declaration has to go. She was not in a position to say or write anything," the counsel said.
To this, the bench told the man that as per her dying declaration, "you had created a situation which had compelled her to commit such act."
The man was initially acquitted by the trial court in July 2010 after which the state had approached the high court.
According to the police, the girl's father had lodged an alleged kidnapping and rape case against the man in which he was subsequently acquitted.
It had alleged that the accused used to threaten and eve-tease the girl and in July 2008, she set herself ablaze when her parents were not at home. She was taken to a hospital where she died during treatment.
The high court, while convicting the man, had relied on the dying declaration as well as evidence placed before it and had said that the accused had abetted commission of suicide by consistently teasing the deceased.