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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sec. 302,498 A etc., - Husband died pending trial - No prima faice proof of conspiracy- The Accused are entitled for discharge = L. Krishna Reddy .....Appellant Versus State by Station House Officer & Ors. .....Respondents - http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40898

Sec. 302,498 A etc., - Husband died pending trial - No prima faice proof of consiparcy- The Accused are entitled for discharge = 
whether  the  criminal proceedings could or should have been continued against  his  parents,  namely  Vidyasagar  and  Narasamma,  who  had  preferred  a  Discharge Petition under Section 227 of the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1973
 (‘Cr.PC’ henceforward) in which they eventually succeeded. after the death of their son - Accused No.1. =

Conspiracy = 
in order to make good the commission of an offence of criminal conspiracy, it should be evident that an agreement between the conspirators should have been in existence at the material time.
pertaining to the possible
conspiracy of the husband’s parents who, it must  be  kept  in  focus, were not in Pondicherry at the time when Sujatha was done to death  by her husband. 
 In our opinion, it is not sufficient to  merely  make  a bald statement but further catenation should  exist  linking  all  the
conspirators  together.  
 Sifting  through  the  evidence,  i.e.,  the
      Statement made by several witnesses, there  is  no  direct  imputation
      that either of the  Respondent  nos.2  and  3  before  us  had  either
      independently or along with their deceased  son,  made  a  demand  for
      dowry.  
We should not lose sight of the fact that the deceased  couple
 had earlier been  living  with  the  unfortunate  wife’s  family,  and thereafter independently of either of the parents-in-law.  

whether the evidentiary material on record if generally
accepted, would reasonably connect the accused  with  the  crime.   No more need be enquired into.”


The Court is neither a substitute nor an adjunct  of  the  prosecution.  
 On
the contrary, once a case  is  presented  to  it  by  the  prosecution,  its
bounden duty is to sift through the material to ascertain  whether  a  prima
facie  case  has  been  established  which  would  justify  and  merit   the
prosecution of a person.  
The interest of a person arraigned as  an  accused
must also be kept in perspective lest, on the basis of flippant or vague  or
vindicative accusations, bereft of probative  evidence,  the  ordeals  of  a
trial have to be needlessly suffered and  endured.   
We  hasten  to  clarify
that we think the statements of the complainant are those  of  an  anguished
father who has lost his daughter due to the greed and cruelty of his son-in-
law.  
As we have already noted, the husband has taken his own life  possibly
in remorse and repentance.  
The death of a child even to avaricious  parents
is the worst conceivable punishment.
   8. Since the prosecution would be an exercise in futility  it  should  be
      brought to a quick end; and this is  possible  only  if  an  order  of
      discharge vis-à-vis the parents  who  are  the  remaining  accused  is
      passed.  This is exactly what has transpired in the wisdom of the High
      Court by means of the impugned  Order.   We  find  no  error  therein.
      Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.

                                             REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.   1833           OF 2013
               [Arising out of  S.L.P. (Crl.) No.4221 of 2012]

L. Krishna Reddy             .....Appellant

        Versus

State by Station House Officer & Ors.         .....Respondents


                               J U D G M E N T

VIKRAMAJIT SEN, J.

   1. Leave granted.  This Appeal assails the Order of  the  High  Court  of
      Judicature  at  Madras  while  exercising  its   Criminal   Revisional
      Jurisdiction.
The facts disclose a human tragedy.
Ramachandra  Reddy
      was married to Sujatha on 2.5.1999.
At the initial  stages  of  their
      marriage the deceased couple was staying with the  bride’s  relatives,
      significantly, not with  her  parents-in-law  who  are  the  remaining
      accused.  
They had set up  their  own  separate  residence  about  six
      months prior to the unfortunate incidents. 
On  26.3.2006  Sujatha  was
      found murdered in the hotel  room  in  Pondicherry   [now  Puducherry]
      rented by her soon to be deceased husband.  Her body bore several stab
      wounds.  
Thereupon, Crime  No.86/2006  under  Section  302  IPC  dated
      26.3.2006, leading to Charge Sheet No.59/2007  dated  31.5.2007  under
      Sections 302, 498-A read  with  34,  IPC  was  registered.  
It  then
      transpires that the  husband  of  the  deceased,  namely,  Ramachandra
      Reddy, possibly suffering from guilt and  remorse,  committed  suicide
      shortly thereafter.  
The question before us is
whether  the  criminal proceedings could or should have been continued against  his  parents,  namely  Vidyasagar  and  Narasamma,  who  had  preferred  a  Discharge Petition under Section 227 of the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1973
 (‘Cr.PC’ henceforward) in which they eventually succeeded.
   2. The Final Report dated 31.5.2007 reads so –
           “Since the date of marriage at the residence at No.2-7/10, Lakma
           Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad,  the  accused  No.1  Ramachandra
           Reddy, S/o  Vidyasagar  Reddy,  No.-7/10,  Lakma  Reddy  Colony,
           Uppal, Hyderabad (husband of the deceased) who is no  more  now,
           the accused No.2. Vidyasagar Reddy, S/o Ramachandra Reddy, No.2-
           7/10, Lakma Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad (Father-in-law of the
           deceased) and the accused No.3 Narasamma Reddy,  w/o  Vidyasagar
           Reddy, No.2-7/10, Lakma Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad  (Mother-
           in-law)  of  the  deceased,  in  furtherance  of  their   common
           intention,  subjected  the  deceased  Sujatha  to  cruelty   and
           harassment relating to  dowry  demand  and  rendered  themselves
           liable to be punished u/sec.498-A IPC r/w 34 IPC.
                 That on 25.3.2006 at about 19.00 hrs. at Room No.306, Hotel
           Aruna,  Second  Floor,  No.3,  Zamindar  Garden,  near   Ajantha
           Theatre, S.V.P. Salai, Muthialpe, Puducherry-3, about 800 meters
           South-East to PS, accused No.1 noted  above  in  furtherance  of
           common intention with his father, the  second  accused  and  his
           mother, the third accused, caused death of his wife Sujatha,  as
           she was unable to meet out their unlawful  demand  of  dowry  by
           inflicting 11 multiple injuries  by  means  of  knife  with  the
           knowledge that such injuries would be likely to cause  death  or
           would be sufficient in the ordinary course of  nature  to  cause
           death and rendered themselves liable to  be  punished  u/sec.302
           IPC r/w 34 IPC.
                 Hence, the charges.
                 CHARGE ABATED.
                 The accused above said A1 Ramachandra Reddy, S/o Vidyasagar
           Reddy, No.2-7/10,  Lakma  Reddy  Colony,  Uppal,  Hyderabad  had
           committed suicide by hanging and he is no  more  now.   In  this
           connection a separate case in Cr.No.244/2006  u/sec.174  Cr.P.C.
           was registered at PS D’ Nagar,  dt.24.9.2006  and  investigation
           was taken-up.
                 Therefore, the charge against him is abated”.
   3. The IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge, Pondicherry favoured the position
      that the proceedings could  continue  against  the  Respondent-parents
      (Accused Nos.2 and 3) notwithstanding the devastating death  of  their
      son (Accused No.1) despite  prosecution  against  him  having  abated.
      The Learned Additional Sessions Judge specifically recorded  the  fact
      that the Public Prosecutor had conceded that there appeared to  be  no
      direct involvement of  the  father-in-law  and  mother-in-law  in  the
      murder, but that since it was a murder case the discharge may  not  be
      considered before the Trial. The  Learned  Additional  Sessions  Judge
      noted that the parents were  implicated  only  on  the  basis  of  the
      Statements recorded under Section 161 of the Cr.P.C.; it  was  of  the
      prima facie view that the motive behind  the  murder  of  Sujatha  was
      dowry.  These aspects would be established by the prosecution,  beyond
      all reasonable doubts, only in an exhaustive Trial “where  the  entire
      truth could be unearthed”.   It  is  also  evident  that  the  Learned
      Additional Sessions Judge was influenced by the direction of the  High
      Court, on the petition of the present  Appellant,  ordering  that  the
      case be disposed of within two months.
   4. However, the High Court has come to  the  contrary  conclusion,  after
      having reviewed the Statements and evidence available on  the  record.
      There is no dispute as regards the  factum  of  the  deceased  married
      couple  having  set  up  their  separate  and  independent  residence.
      According to the  Complainant/Appellant  who  is  the  father  of  the
      unfortunate lady the deceased  Sujatha,  he  had  telephonically  been
      informed by  her  that  the  married  couple  had  left  Hyderabad  on
      23.3.2006 and were proceeding to Vijayawada.   The  impugned  Judgment
      records  that  none  of  the  Statements  under  Section  161  Cr.P.C.
      incriminate the parents of the deceased husband of any connection with
      the offence under Section 302 IPC, and  no  common  intention  can  be
      inferred.  So far as the dowry demands and offence under Section  498A
      goes, the High Court opined that even the father of the deceased  wife
      namely the Appellant/Complainant in his Statement confined the  demand
      only to his deceased son-in-law.  Holding this to be insufficient  the
      Respondents Nos.2 and 3 have been discharged.
   5. There can be no cavil that if a fine is imposed on an  accused/convict
      even upon the death of an accused  his  estate  will  continue  to  be
      liable for its discharge.  This is not the case before us inasmuch  as
      that stage in the prosecution has not been arrived at.  In  any  event
      the pecuniary liability of the deceased/ convict can be fastened  only
      on the beneficiaries of  his  legal  estate.   There  is  no  evidence
      whatsoever that this is the position that obtains in the present case.


   6. The Charge Sheet does not  indicate  any  complicity  so  far  as  the
      parents of the deceased are concerned.  Obviously, if the  murder  has
      been committed in Pondicherry a direct role in that unfortunate  event
      cannot be ascribed to them.  Of course, it is  theoretically  possible
      that they may have abetted or conspired  in  the  crime  or  persuaded
      their son to have perpetrated the crime.  However this version is  not
      forthcoming from the Charge Sheet.  
The  Appellant,  in  his  Further
      Statement, has alleged that – “on the last 25.03.06 night as  per  the
      plans of Ramachandra Reddy, his father  Vidyasagar  Reddy  and  mother
      Naarasamma, Ramachandra Reddy had killed my daughter Sujatha  brutally
      at a Hotel at Pondicherry due to dowry harassment. ….”  
This  is  the
      only statement which contains an allegation
pertaining to the possible
conspiracy of the husband’s parents who, it must  be  kept  in  focus, were not in Pondicherry at the time when Sujatha was done to death  by her husband. 
 In our opinion, it is not sufficient to  merely  make  a bald statement but further catenation should  exist  linking  all  the
conspirators  together.
 Sifting  through  the  evidence,  i.e.,  the
      Statement made by several witnesses, there  is  no  direct  imputation
      that either of the  Respondent  nos.2  and  3  before  us  had  either
      independently or along with their deceased  son,  made  a  demand  for
      dowry.
We should not lose sight of the fact that the deceased  couple
 had earlier been  living  with  the  unfortunate  wife’s  family,  and thereafter independently of either of the parents-in-law.    
In  fact,
      as has been noted  by  the  High  Court  in  the  impugned  order  the
      statement of the complainant father of the deceased, some demands have
      been made by his son-in-law.  
Out  attention  has  been  drawn  to  a
      recent Judgment titled Central Bureau of Investigation v. K.  Narayana
      Rao (2012) 9 SCC 512, 
wherein after discussing the  previous  opinions
      of this Court in a number of  cases  including
State  of  Haryana  v.
      Bhajan Lal 1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335, it was opined that 
in order to make good the commission of an offence of criminal conspiracy, it should be evident that an agreement between the conspirators should have been in existence at the material time.
   7. Our attention has been drawn to Stree  Atyachar  Virodhi  Parishad  v.
      Dilip Nathumal Chordia and Anr.  (1989)  1  SCC  715  as  well  as  K.
      Narayana Rao but we are unable to appreciate any manner in which  they
      would persuade a Court to continue the prosecution of the  parents  of
      the deceased.
After considering Union  of  India  v.  Prafulla  Kumar
      Samal (1979) 3 SCC 4, this Court has expounded the law in these  words
      :


      “14. ……  In fact, Section 227, itself contains enough guidelines as to
      the scope of enquiry for the purpose of discharging  an  accused.   It
      provides that ‘the judge shall discharge when he considers that  there
      is no sufficient ground for  proceeding  against  the  accused’.   The
      ‘ground’ in the context is not a ground for conviction, but  a  ground
      for putting the accused on trial.  It is in the trial,  the  guilt  or
      the innocence of the accused will be determined and not at the time of
      framing of charge.   The  court,  therefore,  need  not  undertake  an
      elaborate enquiry in sifting and weighing the  material.   Nor  is  it
      necessary to delve deep into various aspects.  All that the court  has
      to consider is 
whether the evidentiary material on record if generally
accepted, would reasonably connect the accused  with  the  crime.   No more need be enquired into.”


The Court is neither a substitute nor an adjunct  of  the  prosecution.
 On
the contrary, once a case  is  presented  to  it  by  the  prosecution,  its
bounden duty is to sift through the material to ascertain  whether  a  prima
facie  case  has  been  established  which  would  justify  and  merit   the
prosecution of a person.  
The interest of a person arraigned as  an  accused
must also be kept in perspective lest, on the basis of flippant or vague  or
vindicative accusations, bereft of probative  evidence,  the  ordeals  of  a
trial have to be needlessly suffered and  endured.  
We  hasten  to  clarify
that we think the statements of the complainant are those  of  an  anguished
father who has lost his daughter due to the greed and cruelty of his son-in-
law.  
As we have already noted, the husband has taken his own life  possibly
in remorse and repentance.  
The death of a child even to avaricious  parents
is the worst conceivable punishment.
   8. Since the prosecution would be an exercise in futility  it  should  be
      brought to a quick end; and this is  possible  only  if  an  order  of
      discharge vis-à-vis the parents  who  are  the  remaining  accused  is
      passed.  This is exactly what has transpired in the wisdom of the High
      Court by means of the impugned  Order.   We  find  no  error  therein.
      Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.

                                   .......................................J.
                                              [T.S. THAKUR]





                                   .......................................J.
                                                               [VIKRAMAJIT
SEN]
New Delhi
October 24, 2013
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