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Friday, July 19, 2013

Dowry death sec. 498 A , 304 B of IPC =death was due to asphyxia by throttling = In the present case, we have noticed that the prosecution has successfully proved the ingredients necessary to attract the Provision of Section 304B IPC. Such ingredients having been proved, Section 113­B of the Indian Evidence Act automatically comes into play. In the facts and circumstances, the death of Jaswinder Kaur had taken place just within four months of her marriage. The case of the prosecution mainly rests on the evidence of PW­4 and PW­5, parents of the deceased. At the end of the argument, learned counsel for the appellant made an alternative submission and requested to take a lenient view in view of the fact that after the death of Jaswinder Kaur (first wife), the appellant got married second time and from his second wife he has three children out of which one son is handicapped and his mother is also paralysed. Taking into consideration the aforesaid fact, we affirm the conviction under Section 304B IPC and 498­A IPC and reduce the sentence awarded under Section 304B IPC to seven years alongwith the sentence of two years imposed under Section 498­A IPC and fine of Rs.2,000/­ as imposed by the Trial Court and affirmed by the Division Bench of the High Court with direction that both sentences shall run concurrently.

published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=40518
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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.510 OF 2007
RANJIT SINGH   ...APPELLANT
Versus
STATE OF PUNJAB ...RESPONDENTS
J U D G M E N T
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.
This     appeal   is   directed   against     the   judgment   and
order   dated   17th   January,   2007   passed   by   the   Division
Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh
in   Criminal   Appeal   No.   303­DB   of   2006.   By   its   impugned
judgment   the   Division   Bench   while   acquitting   one   of   the
accused­Baldev Kaur, mother­in­law of the deceased, of the
charges framed against her, affirmed the sentence awarded
by   the   Additional   Session   Judge,   Barnala   against   the
appellant under Section 304­B, 498­A IPC.  
The accused­appellant­Ranjit Singh has been sentenced
to undergo RI for life under Section 304­B IPC and further
sentenced   to   undergo   RI   for     two   years   with   a   fine   ofPage 2
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Rs.2,000/­,   in   default   thereof   to   go   RI   for   a   further
period of six months under Section 498­A IPC.
2. The facts necessary for disposal of the present appeal
are as follows:­
The informant Bahadur Singh got recorded his
statement on 30th May, 1996 to ASI Gurcharan Singh, Police
Station Tapa  to the effect that he had performed marriage
of his daughter Jaswinder Kaur with Ranjit Singh @ Makhan,
son   of   Raghbir   Singh,   resident   of   Roorki   Kalan     in   the
month of January, 1996. He gave 14 tolas gold, Rs.55,000/­
cash, one scooter, fridge, cooler, sofa set, bed, almirah,
etc. as dowry.   In total he spent 1.5 lakh in the said
marriage   and   fulfilled   all   the   demands   so   raised   by
Raghbir Singh, father­in­law of his daughter.  After about
7   days   of   marriage,     his   daughter   came   to   her   parents
house,   she   complained   about   the   demand   of   money   as
“Shagun”,   upon which he handed over a sum of Rs.8,000/­
to   her   daughter   which   she   handed   over   to   her   husband­
Ranjit   Singh   (appellant   herein).   The   complainant   Bahadur
Singh in his statement further narrated as to how and when
his daughter again came to them after 20 days of marriage
and told about the demand made by her in­laws and pursuantPage 3
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thereto he again purchased articles worth Rs.1500/­   and
sent to her daughter's matrimonial house at Roorki Kalan.
The complainant further stated that even thereafter also
demands   were   made   by   her   daughter's   in­laws   asking   for
articles of good quality as the earlier purchased articles
were not upto their satisfaction. The complainant, Bahadur
Singh further mentioned the episode of 29th May, 1998 when
his wife Gurmail Kaur went to her daughter’s matrimonial
house at Village Roorki Kalan where her daughter narrated
her about the harassment made by her in­laws on account of
demand of a car. She further informed her mother that she
apprehended   that   she   might   be   killed   by   her­in­laws   and
requested to  take her alongwith her.   However, his  wife
consoled   her   daughter   and   went   back   to   her   house   at
village Kale Ka.   On 30th May, 1996, at about 3.30P.M.,
they   came   to   know   about   the   death   of   their     daughter
Jaswinder Kaur and on reaching village Roorki Kalan they
found their daughter  Jaswinder Kaur lying on a cot in the
courtyard   of   her   in­laws   house   with   injuries     on   her
person.   The   complainant     suspected   that   Raghbir   Singh,
father­in­law,   Baldev   Kaur,   mother­in­law,   Raj   Kaur,Page 4
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sister­in­law   and   Ranjit   Singh,   husband   of   his   daughter
murdered her.
3. On the basis of the statement, FIR No. 60  dated 30th
May,   1996   (Ex.PE)   for   an   offence   under   Section   304­B/34
IPC   was   registered   at   Police   Station   Tapa,   District
Sangrur.
4. The Police Office Gurcharan Singh, ASI (PW­6) reached
the spot and prepared inquest report (Ex.PC) of the dead
body of Jaswinder Kaur.   He took the dead body to Civil
Hospital,   Barnala   for   post­mortem   examination   where   Dr.
Bhalinder   Singh(PW­2)   conducted   the   post­mortem
examination and by report (Ex.PA), he noticed as many as
six injuries on the dead body and opined that the cause of
death was due to asphyxia by throttling.  
5. Gurcharan Singh, ASI(PW­6)  recorded the statement of
the witnesses under Section 161 Cr.P.C. The accused were
arrested and thereafter on completion of usual formalities
of investigation, final report under Section 173 Cr.P.C.
was   filed   against   Raghbir   Singh,   Baldev   Kaur   and   Ranjit
Singh for trial. In the absence of  any evidence against
Raj   Kaur,   sister­in­law   of   the   deceased,   her   case   was
dropped.Page 5
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6. After commitment of the case,  the Trial Court framed
charges   against   the   accused­appellant   for   commission   of
an   offence   punishable   under   Section   302   IPC   with   the
alternative charges under Section 304­B read with Section
34 IPC and under Section 498­A as well.
7. The   prosecution   in   all,   examined   as   many   as     six
witnesses viz. Gurjant Singh, son of Pritam Singh as PW­1,
Dr. Bhalinder Singh as PW­2, Dev Raj, Draftsman as PW­4,
Bahadur   Singh,   Gurmail   Kaur,   father   and   mother   of     the
deceased as PW­4 and PW­5 respectively and Gurcharan Singh
as PW­6.
8. The accused denied the prosecution allegations.  Their
stand was that  the deceased, in a disturbed mental state
committed   suicide   by   hanging   herself.   On   behalf   of   the
defence as many as five witnesses were examined.  Rajinder
Singh, constable as DW­1, Jagtar   Singh @ Avtar Singh as
DW­2,   Gurcharan   Singh   son   of   Harchand   as   DW­3,   Major
Singh, son of Sukhdev Singh as DW­4 and DSP Darshan Singh
as DW­5.
9. The Trial Court on conclusion of its trial, vide its
judgment   dated   26.11.1998   convicted   and   sentenced   the
accused Baldev Kaur, mother­in­law, Ranjit Singh, husbandPage 6
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and Raghbir Singh, father­in­law for commiting an offence
under Section 304­B IPC.   Pursuant to an order passed in
criminal appeal No. 563­DB of 1998 filed by the accused in
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, the Division Bench
by   its   order   dated   1st   February,   2006   set   aside   the
conviction   and   sentence   recorded   by   the   Trial   Court,
remanded back the case to the Trial Court with direction
to   proceed   with   the     trials   from   the   stage   of   Section
235Cr.P.C.   and   to   pass   order   afresh   in   accordance   with
law. Separate Criminal Appeal as well as revision petition
preferred by the State of Punjab and the complainant were
dismissed   by   the   same   order,     for   having   become
infructuous.
10. Pursuant   to   the   direction   of   the   High   Court,   the
matter was again taken up by the Trial Court and during
the   re­hearing   of   the   case   before   the   Trial   Court,
accused Raghbir Singh was reported  to have  died on  19th
April,   2003   and   thereby   the   proceedings   were   abated
against him by order dated 25th March, 2006.
11. Thereafter,   on   appreciation   of   evidence   led   by   the
prosecution,   the   Trial   Court   held   both   Baldev   Kaur,
mother­in­law and Ranjit Singh, husband, guilty of offencePage 7
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under Section 304­B read with Section 34 and Section 498­A
IPC     and   sentenced   as   noticed   earlier.     On   appeal,   the
Division   Bench   of   the   High   Court   by   impugned   judgment
acquitted   Baldev   Kaur,   mother­in­law   but   affirmed   the
judgment passed by the Trial Court so far as it relates to
appellant­Rajnit Singh, husband of the deceased.
12. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant
assailed   the   judgment   mainly   on   the   ground   that   in   the
FIR, no specific allegation about the demand of dowry or
harassment   or   cruelty   was   made   against   the   appellant,
Ranjit   Singh,   husband   of   the   deceased.   Even   during   the
trial,   the   demand   for   dowry   was   not   attributed   to   the
appellant.   Neither   the   Trial   Court   nor   the   High   Court
considered   the   defence   evidence   which   appellant   produced
to   rebut   the   presumption.   Further,   learned   counsel
appearing   on   behalf   of   the   appellant   submitted     that
Section 113­B of the Evidence Act is not applicable in the
present case.   Baldev Kaur, mother­in­law of the deceased
has   been   acquitted   considering   the   same   evidence   as   is
available in the case of Ranjit Singh,husband and the same
cannot be relied upon to hold the appellant guilty.   It
was also alleged that the prosecution witnesses made majorPage 8
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improvements in their evidence and Trial Court failed to
notice the defence evidence  which is more probable.
13.Gurjant Singh,PW­1 stated that the deceased Jaswinder
Kaur, daughter of his sister  was married  to Ranjit Singh
at Kaleke in January, 1996. On the date of occurrence i.e.
30th   May,   1996   he   had   gone   to   visit     at   the   house   of
accused   Ranjit   Singh   where   all   family   members   including
Jaswinder   Kaur   were   present   there.   They   were   openly
threatening   Jaswinder   Kaur   since   she   had   not   brought
maruti car in dowry. They started abusing her followed by
Baldev   Kaur,   mother­in­law   who   took   her   into   a   room   by
holding   her   from   her   neck.   Ranjit  singh,   husband   caught
hold   of   her   legs   and   Raghbir   Singh   ,   father­in­law
exhorted them to kill her by pressing her neck and similar
exhortation was also given by Raj Kaur, sister­in­law and
in his presence all of them strangulated her to death.
On   behalf   of   the   appellant   it   was   contended   that
Gurjant   Singh(PW­1)   is   a   maternal   uncle   of   the   deceased
and,   therefore,   his   statement   was   not   worthy   of   any
credence   as   he   would   not   allow   anybody   to   commit   such
crime in his presence. If he would have present there atPage 9
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that time, he must have intervened to save his niece or
raised an alarm which he admitted that he did not do so.
14. Bahadur   Singh(PW­4)   is   the   father   of   the   deceased,
Jaswinder Kaur. He stated that on 30th May, 1996 at about
3.30P.m., he received information of his daughter's death
at her ­in­law's house at Village Roorki Kalan. He along
with   others   visited   the   Village   where   he   found   his
daughter,  Jaswinder Kaur was lying dead on a cot then he
visited Police Station Tapa and lodged  an FIR.  He stated
that   on   demand   of   the   accused­Raghvir   Singh,   father­in­
law,   he   spent   Rs,   1,50,000/­   on   the   marriage   of   her
daughter.   She   was   given   14   tolas   of   gold,   scooter   and
Rs.55,000/­   in   cash.   In   addition   to   it   he   gave   cooler,
fridge,   dressing   table,   etc.   as   dowry   to   his   daughter.
After 7­8days of marriage, Jaswinder Kaur came to Vilage
Kaleke to meet her parents and told them that the accused
were demanding more money as dowry and they also demanded
the amount of “Shaguns”.   On this, he gave Rs.8,000/­ as
an amount of “Shaguns” to his daughter   which she handed
over   to   her   husband­Ranjit   Singh   who   had   accompanied
Jaswinder Kaur to Kaleke.   After about 20 days, when he
brought her daughter in Kaleke, she informed that her­in­Page 10
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laws were demanding more dowry.  She further informed that
she was being   harassed by the accused. All the accused
including   Raj   Kaur,   sister­in­law,   were   demanding   dowry
articles   of   good   quality.     Gurmel   Kaur(PW­5),   mother   of
the deceased went to her daughter’s matrimonial home one
day   prior   to   the   date   of   occurrence   of   death   when   her
daughter   narrated   her   woeful     stories   and   requested   her
mother     to   take   her   back   as   she   was   apprehending   death
from   the   accused.   She   further   informed   that   the   accused
was demanding Maruti Car as dowry.     Gurmail Kaur(PW­5)
assured her daughter to she would tell the entire story to
her father and she came back in the evening of the same
day at Village Kaleke.  Bahadur Singh(PW­4) further stated
that   his   brother­in­law   (wife's   brother)   went   to   meet
Jaswinder   Kaur   at   about   12/12.30   P.M.   on   the   day   of
occurrence   and   saw   that   all   the   accused   including   Raj
Kaur, sister­in­law   were scolding Jaswinder Kaur as she
had not brought Maruti Car for them.
15. Gurmail Kaur(PW­5), mother of the deceased, deposed
in   her   statement   that   her   daughter   was   married     to
accused­Ranjit Singh about 4 months before the date of the
occurrence of her death.   Sufficient dowry   was given inPage 11
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the   marriage   as   per   the   demand   of   the   accused.   She   had
gone   to   the   Village   Roorki   Kalan   to   meet   her   daughter
where she told her that she was being maltreated by her­
in­laws as they were demanding Maruti Car and the demand
was   made   by   Baldev   Kaur,   mother­in­law,     Ranjit   Singh,
husband,   Raghbir   Singh,   father­in­law   and   Raj   Kaur,
sister­in­law   of   the   deceased.   She   also   told   her   mother
that they were threatening to kill her in case she did not
bring   Maruti   car.   She   requested   her   mother   to   take   her
back to Kaleke as she apprehended danger to her life at
the hands of the accused. She consoled her daughter and
assured   her   that   she   would   narrate   the   matter   to   her
father.   She came to the Village Kaleke and narrated the
entire matter to Bahadur Singh(PW­4).   Next day at about
3.30 P.M. they received a message that their daughter had
been killed by her­in­laws.
16. Dr. Bhalinder Singh(PW­2) conducted  the post mortem
examination   on   the     dead   body   of     Jaswinder   Kaur   @
Baljinder   Kaur   w/o   Ranjit   Singh   @   Makhan   Singh,   R/o
Roorke. The deceased was shown aged about 30 years.
The following injuries were found on the body of the
deceased:Page 12
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1.       Abrasion on the right side of neck 1x.25
cm in size 8cm away from right angle of mouth 0.5
cm  away from right ear. Horozontal in position.
2. Contusion   on   right   side   of   neck   measuring
5x1½cm,   1cm   below   injury   no.   1   and   oblique   in
position.
3. Contusion   on   right   side   of   neck   measuring
5x1½cm ½cm below injury no. 2.
4. Contusion   on   right   side   of   neck   measuring
4x1½cm ½cm below injury no.  3.
5.               Contusion   on   left   side   3x2cm   in   the
middle.
6.        Upper eye­lid of left eye was swollen and
blushed.     On   dissection   of   neck   soft   tissue
ecchomised.
He stated that Hyoid bone was fractured.   Right lung
and left lung were  congested  with punctiform  hemorrhage.
Right   heart   contained   blood   and   left   heart   was   empty.
Pericardium was congested. Doctor opined that the cause of
death was due to asphyxia by throttling.
17.In his cross­examination, he also stated that there is
a possibility that if a ligature like a Parna was used for
hanging  through ling it would cause ligature marks.
18.Dev Raj (PW­3) draftsman prepared a site plan for the
same.
19.Gurcharan   Singh(PW­6),   ASI,   P.S.   Kotwali,   Barnala   who
was   the     AIO,   recorded   the   FIR   and   stated   that   hePage 13
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inspected the spot and prepared the rough site of the spot
(Ex.PK) with correct marginal note. Cot on which the dead
body   was   lying   was   also   taken  into   possession  vide   memo
(Ex.PF).       On   31st   May,   1996,   he   arrested   the   accused;
Baldev Kaur, Raghbir Singh and Ranjit Singh.  He recorded
the statement of Bahadur Singh(PW­4) as (Ex.DA)and Gurmail
Kaur(PW­5)   as   (Ex.DB)   without   any   omission   or   addition.
He noted down the brief according to the facts contained
in the FIR.
It   was   given   in   the   evidence   of   PW­4   that   one   day
before   the   death   of   Jaswinder   Kaur,   Gurmail   Kaur(PW­5)
mother of the deceased went to meet her daughter where she
expressed   her   apprehension   of   threat   to   her   life   and
requested to take her alongwith her (Gurmail Kaur PW­5).
She also conveyed that there was a demand of Maruti Car
from the accused for which Gurmel Kaur (PW­5) assured her
daughter that she would bring the matter to the notice of
Bahadur   Singh(PW­4),   father   of   the   deceased.   The
statements of PW­4 and PW­3(parents of the deceased) were
duly corroborated with respect to the demand of dowry and
harassment immediately prior to the date of occurrence and
the event of her visit a day prior to her death.   TheyPage 14
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were   subjected   to   lengthy   cross   examination.   Apart   from
minor discrepancies, which do not go to the root of the
case,   their   statements   are   corroborated   on   material
particulars   so   far   as   the   demands   of   harassment   to
Jaswinder Kaur is concerned.       Their statements indict
the   series   of   incidents   forming   part   of   the   same
transaction   which   culminated   in   the   death   of   Jaswinder
Kaur. The deceased was disrespected by her­in­laws right
from the very beginning and from time to time was being
harassed   on   demand   of   dowry.   The   sequence   of   events,
discussed above, suggested that cruelty and harassment on
account of such demands were present till her death.
20. Learned   counsel   for   the   appellant   laid   much   stress
that   there   is   no   independent   eye   witness   to   corroborate
the statements of PW­4 and PW­5 who are closely related to
the deceased.  The contention is again meritless.  It is,
but   natural,   that   instance   of     cruelty,   harassment   of
demand of dowry generally would remain within the personal
knowledge of   near relations   and they would be the best
persons to depose about the same.  Therefore, the evidence
of  physical and mental torture  of the deceased from thePage 15
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accused   is   not   to   be   discarded   simply   on   the   score   of
independent corroboration.
21. One   of   the   stand   taken   by   the   appellant   that   no
Panchayat was convened and the matter was not reported to
the police cannnot be the ground to discard the evidence
of PW­4 and PW­5 who are material witnesses.   About the
harassment meted to a girl normally in Indian family, the
matter   is   first   reported   to   the   parents   and   not   to   the
Panchanayat.     It   is   not   necessary   that   such   matter   is
required to be reported to the Panchayat.
22. From the statements of Dr.Bhalinder Singh(PW­2), it is
apparent that the death of Jaswinder Kaur   was caused by
bodily   injury   which   is   otherwise   than   under   the   normal
circumstances. The death took place within few months of
the   date   of   marriage   i.e.     much   before   seven   years   of
marriage. It is shown that soon before her death she was
subjected   to   cruelty   and   harassment   by   her   husband   in
connection   with   the   demand   of   dowry.     Therefore,   the
present   case   squarely   falls   within   the   meaning   of   dowry
death   for   the   purpose   to   attract   Section   304­B   IPC.
Section 113­B of the  Indian Evidence  Act deals with the
presumption of “dowry death” and proclaims that when the
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question is whether a person has committed a dowry death
of   a   woman   and   it   is   shown   that  soon   before  her  death,
such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or
harassment,  for or in connection with demand of a dowry,
the Court shall presume that such person had caused “dowry
death”. It can, therefore, be understood that irrespective
of the fact whether the accused  had any direct connection
with   the   death   or   not,   he   shall   be   presumed   to   have
committed   the   “dowry   death”   provided   the   other
requirements mentioned above are satisfied.
23. In   the   present   case,   we   have   noticed   that   the
prosecution   has   successfully   proved   the   ingredients
necessary   to   attract   the   Provision   of   Section   304B   IPC.
Such ingredients   having  been proved,    Section 113­B of
the Indian  Evidence  Act automatically comes into play.  
In the facts and circumstances, the death of Jaswinder
Kaur   had   taken   place   just   within   four   months   of   her
marriage. The case of the prosecution mainly rests on  the
evidence of PW­4 and PW­5, parents of the  deceased. 
They
have   made   statements   that   even   at   the   time   of   marriage
they spent Rs,1,50,000 and even after 7­8 days of marriage
when   Jaswinder   Kaur   came   to   their   parents   house   and
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conveyed   that   the   accused   were   demanding   dowry   as   the
amount of “shagun” for which Rs.8,000/­ was given her to
hand­over   to   her   husband   who   accompanied   her.     
Their
statement further suggested that  upon subsequent visit of
their daughter after about 20 days, a sum of Rs.1500 was
spent  by PW­4 for purchase of certain articles, which his
daughter took  to her matrimonial home in a tractor. 
Just
a day before the  death, she informed her  mother Gurmail
Kaur(PW­5)   that   the   accused   were   torturing   her   and
demanding Maruti Car.
24. The   statement   of   the   accused   corroborates   the
materials   particularly   in   relation   to   harassment   and
demand  of dowry and death by  torture. 
The accused being
the husband and direct beneficiary of the said demand of
Maruti   Car,   we   find   no   reason   to   differ   with   the
conclusion of the Trial Court as affirmed by the Appellate
Court that the appellant is guilty   of the offence under
Section 304B IPC.
25. At the end of the argument, learned counsel for   the
appellant made an alternative submission and requested  to
take   a  lenient   view  in   view  of   the   fact  that   after   the
death of Jaswinder Kaur (first wife),   the appellant got
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married second time and 
from his second wife  he has three children   out   of   which   one   son   is   handicapped   and  
 his mother   is   also   paralysed.   
Taking   into   consideration   the
aforesaid   fact,   
we   affirm   the   conviction   under   Section
304B IPC   and 498­A IPC and 
reduce the sentence awarded
under   Section   304B   IPC     to   seven   years   alongwith   the
sentence of two   years   imposed under Section 498­A IPC
and fine of Rs.2,000/­ as imposed by the Trial Court and
affirmed   by   the   Division   Bench   of   the   High   Court   with
direction   that   both   sentences     shall   run   concurrently.
Bail   bonds   of   the   appellant   are   cancelled   and   he   is
directed to be taken into custody forthwith to serve out
the remainder of the sentence.
……………………………........………………..J.
(A.K.PATNAIK)
………........……………………………………….J.
(SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)
NEW DELHI,
JULY 3, 2013.

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