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Monday, October 7, 2013

Sec.306 of I.P.C. but not under sec.304 B I.P.C. - suicide of wife = STATE OF RAJASTHAN Vs. GIRIDHARI LAL Published in judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40859


When there is no evidence that the suicide was committed due to curelty and harassment by her husband for dowry soon before her death, Accused is liable to be punished only under sec.306 of I.P.C. but not under sec.304 B I.P.C. =

whether Babita’s death is  an  instance  of
dowry death or whether she was driven to commit suicide by her husband?

 under  Section  304B  which  is
required to be established by the State is 
whether “soon before  her  death”
Babita was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband,  “for  or  in connection with demand of dowry”, to allege “dowry death”.
It is  not  made  specific
as to whether Girdhari Lal demanded dowry.

1.   Section 113B. Presumption as to dowry death.-When the question is  whether
           a person has committed the dowry death of  a  woman  and  it  is
                   shown that soon before her death  such  woman  has  been
                   subjected by such person to cruelty or  harassment  for,
                   or in connection with, any demand for dowry,  the  Court
                   shall presume that such  person  had  caused  the  dowry
                   death.



                 Explanation.- For the  purposes  of  this  section,  "dowry
           death" shall have the same meaning as in  section  304B  of  the
           Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860).

113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married  women.-When  the
                   question is whether the commission of suicide by a woman
           had been abetted by her husband or any relative of  her  husband
                   and it is shown that she had committed suicide within  a
                   period of seven years from the date of her marriage  and
                   that her husband or such relative  of  her  husband  had
                   subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume,  having
                   regard to all the other circumstances of the case,  that
                   such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by  such
                   relative of her husband.



                 Explanation – For the purposes of this  section,  "cruelty"
           shall have the same meaning as in section  498A  of  the  Indian
           Panel Code (45 of 1860).

         In the  instant  case,  it  is  established  from  the  ocular  and
documentary evidence that Babita was subjected to  cruelty  and  harassment.
As a result of such treatment of cruelty and harassment she  was  driven  to
meet the suicidal death. She had committed suicide  within  a  period  of  7
years from her marriage and that her husband had subjected her  to  cruelty.
Therefore, the Appellate Court rightly presumed, having regard to all  other
circumstances of the case, that  such  suicidal  had  been  abetted  by  her
husband Girdhari Lal and convicted him for the  offence  under  Section  306
IPC. Hence, no interference is called for.
14.      We find no merit in this appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

                                                            REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1186 OF 2008

STATE OF RAJASTHAN                              ... APPELLANT

                                   Versus

GIRDHARI LAL                                  ...RESPONDENT


                               J U D G M E N T


SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.


         This appeal has been preferred by the State  of  Rajasthan  against
the judgment and order dated 14th March, 2007 passed by the  Division  Bench
of the Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench. By  the  impugned  judgment,  the
Division Bench partly allowed the appeal filed  by  the  respondent-Girdhari
Lal, modified the sentence and convicted him under Section 306  IPC  instead of 304B IPC.
For the said offence,  the  Division  Bench  sentenced  him  to
undergo five years rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.1000/-,  in  default
he has to  further  suffer  six  months  rigorous  imprisonment.  Since  the
respondent-Girdhari Lal had already undergone imprisonment for a  period  of
more than six years, the High Court directed to release  him  forthwith,  if
not required to be detained in any other case.
2.       The case of the prosecution in nutshell is that:
         The informant-Jugal Kishore(PW.1) – father of the  deceased  Babita
in his written complaint on 11th August, 1998 informed  that  his  daughter-
Babita (since deceased) was married to respondent-Girdhari  Lal  four  years
back. Her in-laws were harassing Babita in connection with demand for  dowry
from the initial days of her marriage.  Earlier also the in-laws  of  Babita
made attempt to set her ablaze and neighbourers rescued her.  Later, the in-
laws assured her parents that they will  not  harass  Babita,  but  she  was
burnt to death on 10th August, 1998.
3.       On the said complaint a case under Section 304B and  498A  IPC  was
registered  and  investigation  was  commenced.  After   the   investigation
chargesheet was filed. In due course, the case came  up  for  trial  to  the
Additional Sessions Judge, Jhunjhunu. The  charge  under  Section  304B  IPC
framed  against  the  respondent  was  denied  by  him  who  claimed  trial.
Altogether 9  witnesses  were  examined  in  support  of  the  case  of  the
prosecution. In his explanation under Section 313 Cr. P.C.,  the  respondent
claimed innocence. Two defence  witnesses  were  also  examined.  The  trial
court on appreciation of evidence and on hearing the parties  convicted  the
respondent under Section  304-B  IPC  and  sentenced  him  to  undergo  life
imprisonment.
         On appeal, as noticed above, the Division Bench of the  High  Court
partly allowed the appeal, convicted the respondent under  Section  306  IPC
instead of 304B IPC  and  sentenced  him  to  undergo  five  years  rigorous
imprisonment with fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default he has  to  further  suffer
six months rigorous imprisonment.
4.        Learned  counsel  for  the  appellant-State  submitted  that   the
deceased-Babita  died  within  7  years  of  her  marriage  under  unnatural
circumstances and respondent did not inform  the  parents  of  the  deceased
regarding  the  incident.  The  burden  to  prove  innocence  lies  on   the
respondent after the prosecution has proved that  the  deceased  died  under
the  unnatural  circumstances  within  seven  years  of  marriage.  Further,
according to the learned counsel for the State, the High  Court  has  failed
to appreciate that Jugal Kishore (PW.1), Nand  Lal  (PW.4)  and  Smt.  Bimla
(PW.7) have made statements regarding harassment and torture by the  in-laws
of the deceased  in  relation  to  the  demand  for  dowry  which  has  been
corroborated by the statement  of  other  witnesses  and  the  documents  on
record. The aforesaid facts were not properly appreciated by the High  Court
while converting the conviction  from  Section  304B  IPC  to  306  IPC  and
reducing the sentence from life imprisonment to five years imprisonment.
5.       Learned counsel appearing for the  respondent  on  the  other  hand
supported the decision rendered by the High Court.
6.       We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and gone  through
the materials on record.
7.       Coming to the evidence adduced at the trial, we notice that  Babita
died of burn injuries within 5 to 6 years of her marriage  with  respondent-
Girdhari Lal,  thereby  the  death  occurred  otherwise  than  under  normal
circumstances. A bare look at the postmortem  report  (Ext.P-6)  shows  that
the deceased died because of the extensive burns.  Therefore,  the  question
that arises for determination is
whether Babita’s death is  an  instance  of
dowry death or whether she was driven to commit suicide by her husband?
8.       The main ingredient of the offence  under  Section  304B  which  is
required to be established by the State is 
whether “soon before  her  death”
Babita was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband,  “for  or  in connection with demand of dowry”, to allege “dowry death”.
         Jugal Kishore (PW.1) is himself the complainant and is  the  father
of the deceased-Babita. He stated that his daughter was married to  Girdhari
Lal about 6 or 7 years back. The said statement was recorded on  12th  June,
2000 and the incident occurred on 10th  August,  1998.  Shyam  Lal  Mahajan,
another resident of the Village Chhavsari, where the marriage of Babita  was
solemnised, by  his  statement  stated  that  the  marriage  of  Babita  was
solemnised with accused Girdhari Lal in the year 1992-93.  Similar  was  the
statement made on 12th June, 2000 by Jagdish Prasad  (PW.3)  and  he  stated
that the marriage of Babita was solemnised with  the  accused  Girdhari  Lal
about 6 or 7 years back. Therefore, it is clear that  the  death  of  Babita
happened within 7 years of her marriage.
9.       The death of Babita was caused by the  burn  injuries  and  thereby
death occurred otherwise than  under  normal  circumstances.  The  statement
made by Dr. J.P. Bugalia (PW.6)  proved the fact that death was  caused  due
to the burns. He stated that on 10th August, 1998 he was working as  Medical
Jurist in B.D.K. Hospital, Jhunjhunu. He along with Dr. P.S. Sahu  conducted
the postmortem of Babita who was admitted in the Hospital  on  10th  August,
1998 at 1.50 p.m. and died during the treatment  at  4.00  p.m.  There  were
burn injuries all over her body.
10.      So far as  the  harassment  and  cruelty  are  concerned,  Rajender
Prasad (PW.8) stated that Girdhari Lal used to beat  her  for  dowry.  Jugal
Kishore(PW.1)  has also supported the fact that she was being  subjected  to
cruelty in connection with dowry demand by stating that  Girdhari  Lal  used
to beat and harass Babita for dowry after her marriage. Once  he  was  asked
not to do so but he did not mend his ways. He also stated that Girdhari  Lal
earlier tried to burn her alive by pouring kerosene by confining  her  in  a
room and when he came to know about this incident, he went  to  her  in-laws
house alongwith Shyam Lal, Phool Chand, Rajender, Jagdish, Neki Ram and  Man
Roop where Girdhari Lal and his father begged their pardon for their act  of
burning her alive and assured that they will not repeat the incident.  Bimla
Devi (PW.7), mother of  the  deceased  stated  in  her  statement  that  the
accused Girdhari Lal and Babita came to their village  Chhavsari  one  month
prior to the incident and stayed there for one hour. Jugal Kishore  was  not
present at the house at that time and Babita told her  mother  to  send  her
father to her  in-laws  because  Girdhari  Lal  used  to  harass  her.
 This
statement clearly indicates that Babita was being subjected to  cruelty  and
harassment soon before the death.
11.      Now, the question arises as to
whether  Babita  was  subjected  to
such cruelty and harassment by her husband soon before her death for, or  in connection with the demand of dowry.
The period which can  come  within  the
term “soon before” cannot be put within the four corners of time  frame. 
 It is left to the Court for its determination  depending  upon  the  facts  and circumstances of each case.
         In the present case,  Jugal Kishore (PW.1) and  Bimla  Devi  (PW.7)
has made ominous  statements  regarding  demand  of  dowry  that  after  the
marriage demand of dowry was made by the in-laws. 
It is  not  made  specific
as to whether Girdhari Lal demanded dowry.
12.      Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which deals with  the
presumption as to dowry death reads as follows:

1 Section 113B. Presumption as to dowry death.-When the question is  whether
           a person has committed the dowry death of  a  woman  and  it  is
                   shown that soon before her death  such  woman  has  been
                   subjected by such person to cruelty or  harassment  for,
                   or in connection with, any demand for dowry,  the  Court
                   shall presume that such  person  had  caused  the  dowry
                   death.



                 Explanation.- For the  purposes  of  this  section,  "dowry
           death" shall have the same meaning as in  section  304B  of  the
           Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860).

         In the present case there is no evidence on record to come  to  the
definite conclusion that soon before her  death,  Babita  was  subjected  to
cruelty or harassment by her husband, Girdhari Lal  for,  or  in  connection
with any, demand of dowry. In absence of  such  ingredient  the  presumption
that  Girdhari  Lal  had  caused  the  dowry  death  cannot  be  drawn.  The
prosecution thereby cannot take advantage of  Section  113B  of  the  Indian
Evidence Act, 1872.
13.       Section  113A  of  the  Indian  Evidence  Act,  1872  relates   to
presumption as to abetment of suicide by a  married  woman  which  reads  as
follows:

2 113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married  women.-When  the
                   question is 
whether the commission of suicide by a woman
           had been abetted by her husband or any relative of  her  husband
                   and it is shown that she had committed suicide within  a
                   period of seven years from the date of her marriage  and
                   that her husband or such relative  of  her  husband  had
                   subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume,  having
                   regard to all the other circumstances of the case,  that
                   such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by  such
                   relative of her husband.



                 Explanation – For the purposes of this  section,  "cruelty"
           shall have the same meaning as in section  498A  of  the  Indian
           Panel Code (45 of 1860).

         In the  instant  case,  it  is  established  from  the  ocular  and
documentary evidence that Babita was subjected to  cruelty  and  harassment.
As a result of such treatment of cruelty and harassment she  was  driven  to
meet the suicidal death. She had committed suicide  within  a  period  of  7
years from her marriage and that her husband had subjected her  to  cruelty.
Therefore, the Appellate Court rightly presumed, having regard to all  other
circumstances of the case, that  such  suicidal  had  been  abetted  by  her
husband Girdhari Lal and convicted him for the  offence  under  Section  306
IPC. Hence, no interference is called for.
14.      We find no merit in this appeal. The appeal is dismissed.


                                             ……………………………………………………………………………J.
                             (SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)




                                              …………………………………………………………………………J.
                                       (A.K. SIKRI)
NEW DELHI,
OCTOBER 7,2013.


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