Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Suicide is a helpless person’s most aggressive revolt against a situation that reduces him/her to a very undignified existence. Homicide is proof of brutality the stronger perpetrates on the weaker. Both these deaths are illegal and attract the Indian Penal Code.
Unnatural death occurs by either of these two conditions or by accident. Accident does not attract the IPC.
When, an unnatural death occurs in a family, it is the minimum duty of the family to convince the society or law that the death was neither suicidal nor homicidal and hence there is no illegality in the death.
In the case of unnatural death of her daughter-in-law in 2007, acclaimed authoress Ms. Prativa Ray has not discharged this duty to the society.
She and her family members, of their own accord, should have proved that the death of the family’s pregnant daughter-in-law was purely accidental. They have not, even though, according to journalist Deviprasanna Nayak’s impression expressed in a global social media, she and her husband are enjoying anticipatory bail. The case is lingering.
In absence of proof that the death was accidental, the society will naturally suspect that it was either suicidal or homicidal. Therefore Law has drawn up its reported plan of prosecution. And, this is torturing Orissa as a whole, because there are emotional admirers of Ms. Ray’s writings.
Bail itself is a legal instrument that binds the person concerned to prove his/her innocence as soon as possible so that the the case should quickly end. If, instead, it becomes an instrument of dilatory tactics, and a passage to freedom from grip of law, discomfort of the society gets more defined.
Now, therefore, Ms. Ray and her family should say as to why no expeditious step has been taken so far to convince the society that the death of Sharmistha, the pregnant daughter-in-law of the Rays was nothing but natural.
Instead of merely leaving the case to the labyrinth of law sine die, alert members of the society would naturally insist upon speedy and effective trial, so that premature extermination of any member of the society under circumstances that would not look natural should be strongly deterred.