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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sec.304 B - vs- 306 I.P.C. - when there was no demand for dowry sec.304 B not applies - Even though there is no direct provocation to go and died , Sec.306 covers widest meaning as she committed suicide due to constant harassment of the accused - Apex court held that Under these circumstances, we modify the judgment and order passed by the High Court and convict Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for an offence punishable under Section 306 of the IPC. The sentence awarded to them by the High Court would necessarily have to be modified. In our opinion, keeping in view the fact that both Karan Singh and Mukhtiari are in their mid-sixties and we are told by their learned counsel that Satbir and Sukhbir are living separately from them due to their differences and taking into consideration the fact that Manju’s son is being looked after by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for the last almost twenty years, we are of the opinion that the ends of justice would be met if they are sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years. We are also of the opinion that each one of them should be subjected to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each and in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of six months. With this modification in the conviction and sentence, the appeal is disposed of.= Karan Singh & Anr. …..Appellants Versus State of Haryana …Respondent= 2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41414

Sec.304 B - vs- 306 I.P.C. - when there was no demand for dowry sec.304 B not applies - Even though there is no direct provocation to go and died , Sec.306 covers widest meaning as she committed suicide due to constant harassment of the accused - Apex court held that Under these circumstances, we modify the judgment and  order  passed by the High Court and convict Karan  Singh  and  Mukhtiari  for  an  offence punishable under Section 306 of the IPC.  The sentence awarded  to  them  by the High Court would necessarily have  to  be  modified.   In  our  opinion,
keeping in view the fact that both Karan Singh and Mukhtiari  are  in  their mid-sixties and we are  told  by  their  learned  counsel  that  Satbir  and Sukhbir are living separately from them due to their differences and  taking into consideration the fact that Manju’s son is being looked after by  Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for the last almost twenty years, we are of the  opinion
that the ends of justice would be met if  they  are  sentenced  to  rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years.  We are also  of  the  opinion  that each one of them should be subjected to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each  and in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for  a  further period of six months. With this modification in the conviction and  sentence,  the  appeal is disposed of.=


whether the appellants are  guilty  of  an
offence punishable under Section 304-B or under Section 306  of  the  Indian
Penal Code (IPC). In our opinion, they are guilty of an  offence  punishable
under Section 306 of the IPC. =

  Neither  Ram  Kishan  nor  Vidya  Devi  nor  Sunita  has  given  any
indication of any specific demand for dowry. Under these  circumstances,  it
is difficult for us to conclude that the provisions of Section 304-B of  the
IPC would be attracted.  It has been held times without number that,
           “To establish the offence of dowry death under Section 304-B IPC
           the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable  doubt  that  the
           husband or his relative has subjected the deceased to cruelty or
           harassment in connection with demand of dowry  soon  before  her
           death.”[1]

As such the ill-treatment and subsequent  death  of  Manju  would  not  fall
within the meaning of a dowry death under Section 304-B of the IPC.    

 From the facts  of  the  case  it  is  quite
clear to us that although there may be no  evidence  of  Manju  having  been
compelled by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari to consume poison, they  had  created
a situation over a sufficiently long period of time  whereby  she  was  left
with no option but to take her life. It  is  quite  unlikely  that  a  young
lady, particularly one having a year old child, would take her  life  unless
she had some mental health issues (which is not the case) or  was  compelled
by circumstances to do so. An offence  of  abetment  of  suicide  punishable
under Section 306 of the IPC is  much  broader  in  scope  than  an  offence
punishable under Section 304-B of  the  IPC.[2]  In  this  case  an  offence
punishable under Section 306 of the IPC is clearly made  out  against  Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.          
 2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41414
RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, MADAN B. LOKUR
                                             NON-REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 666 OF 2009

Karan Singh & Anr.
…..Appellants

                                    Versus

State of Haryana
…Respondent



                               J U D G M E N T


Madan B. Lokur, J.

1.      The question before us is whether the appellants are  guilty  of  an
offence punishable under Section 304-B or under Section 306  of  the  Indian
Penal Code (IPC). In our opinion, they are guilty of an  offence  punishable
under Section 306 of the IPC.
The facts
2.      Manju and her sister PW-5 Sunita, were married on 17th May, 1993  to
Satbir and his brother Sukhbir respectively.  PW-4 Ram  Kishan,  the  father
of the two brides spent a considerable amount on  the  wedding,  beyond  his
means, and also gave several articles in dowry.   However,  the  parents  of
Satbir and Sukhbir that is Karan Singh (father) and Mukhtiari (mother)  were
apparently not satisfied with the dowry.
3.      According to the prosecution Karan Singh and Mukhtiari  would  often
harass and beat Manju and  Sunita  and  demand  some  more  dowry.   It  was
alleged that Manju and Sunita were also turned out  from  their  matrimonial
home on some occasions.
4.      Sometime in August, 1994 Manju gave birth to  a  baby  boy  and  her
father Ram Kishan again spent some money on the  occasion  and  gave  gifts.
Unfortunately, however, within ten days thereafter  Manju  and  Sunita  were
turned out from their matrimonial home.  They informed Ram Kishan that  they
were being harassed and demands were being made for  dowry.   On  this,  Ram
Kishan called and spoke to Satbir and Sukhbir and  persuaded  them  to  take
Manju and Sunita back in their matrimonial home, which  they  did.  However,
according to the prosecution there was no change in the behaviour  of  Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.
5.      At this stage, it may  be  noted  that  Manju  and  Sunita  made  no
allegations regarding  dowry  demands  by  their  respective  husband.   The
demand for dowry and allegations of harassment were made only against  Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.
6.      On or about 10th December, 1995  Sunita  was  given  a  beating  and
turned out of the matrimonial home.   However,  Manju  stayed  back  in  the
matrimonial home in village Raiya.
7.      On 13th December, 1995 at about 4.00  p.m.  Manju  consumed  or  was
made to consume some poison.  She was then taken  to  the  Community  Health
Centre in Jhajjar  and  thereafter  referred  to  the  Medical  College  and
Hospital (MCH) at Rohtak.
8.      At about 6.30 p.m. on 13th December, 1995  a  rukka  (Exh.  PL)  was
sent by the  Community  Health  Centre  at  Jhajjar  to  the  Station  House
Officer, Police Station, Jhajjar.
9.      Manju was taken to the MCH at Rohtak by her husband Satbir  and  was
examined at about 8.15 p.m.  The doctor in Rohtak then  sent  another  rukka
(Exh. PH) to the Police Post, MCH at Rohtak at about 9.30 p.m. along with  a
medico-legal report.
10.      PW-9  ASI  Raj  Kumar,  the  Investigating  Officer  had,  in   the
meanwhile, received the first rukka (Exh. PL)  but  since  he  was  busy  in
connection with another case, he went the next day on  14th  December,  1995
at about 8.00 a.m. to Rohtak where he picked up the rukka (Exh. PH) and  the
medico-legal report from the concerned Police Post in Rohtak.  He then  went
to the emergency ward in the MCH and learnt that at about 2.00  a.m.  (early
morning of 14th December, 1995) Manju had expired.  According to  Raj  Kumar
no one from her family was present at the spot and therefore the  dead  body
was placed in the dead house. Raj Kumar  conducted  inquest  proceedings  on
14th and 15th  December,  1995.  During  the  inquest  proceedings  on  15th
December, 1995 Ram Kishan met Raj Kumar at Rohtak and his  formal  statement
was recorded only at about 5.30 p.m. and a First  Information  Report  (FIR)
was registered under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code.
11.     After carrying out investigations Raj  Kumar  arrested  Karan  Singh
and Mukhtiari on 26th December, 1995 and subsequently  a  charge  sheet  was
filed against them alleging offences punishable  under  Sections  304-B  and
498-A of the IPC.
Decision of the Trial Court
12.     The Trial Judge hearing the case delivered his  judgment  and  order
on 12th February, 1997 and acquitted Karan Singh  and  Mukhtiari.   The  two
principal grounds on which they  were  acquitted  were  that  there  was  an
unexplained delay in lodging the FIR.  It was held that Manju’s mother  PW-6
Vidya Devi and her sister Sunita had come to know  on  14th  December,  1995
that Manju had died but the FIR was registered by Ram Kishan  only  on  15th
December,  1995.  In  view  of  the  unexplained  delay,  the  case  of  the
prosecution was liable to fail.
13.     It was held that the inquest report showed that Ram Kishan  had  met
Raj Kumar on 14th December, 1995.  However, we have seen the inquest  report
and find this is factually incorrect.
14.     The second ground on which the Trial  Judge  acquitted  Karan  Singh
and Mukhtiari was that there was  nothing  to  show  that  soon  before  her
death, Manju was subjected to cruelty and harassment for  or  in  connection
with  a  demand  of  dowry.   It  was  held  that  Manju  had   died   under
circumstances that were not normal and her death had occurred  within  seven
years of her marriage but there was no evidence of her  being  harassed  for
dowry. She had not sent any letter  to  her  parents  complaining  of  dowry
harassment.
15.     The Trial Judge also relied on the  statement  of  DW-2  Badlu  aged
about 75 years and a respectable person of village  Raiya  that  both  Manju
and Sunita were treated with love and affection and there was no demand  for
dowry from Karan Singh or Mukhtiari.  Badlu further stated that  Ram  Kishan
used to come to village Raiya to enquire about the welfare of his  daughters
but he was frequently  drunk.  This  was  objected  to  by  Mukhtiari  which
annoyed Ram Kishan.  It was also stated by Badlu that Ram Kishan wanted  his
daughters and their respective husband to stay separately from  Karan  Singh
and Mukhtiari and he had also tried to persuade  Karan  Singh  to  give  his
lands to Satbir  and  Sukhbir  and  live  on  his  pension.   This  was  not
acceptable to Karan Singh. The Trial Judge was of the opinion that  in  view
of all these facts, Ram Kishan blamed Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for  Manju’s
death.
Decision of the High Court
16.     Feeling aggrieved by the judgment and  order  passed  by  the  Trial
Court, the State preferred an appeal in the Punjab and  Haryana  High  Court
being Criminal Appeal No. 575-DBA of 1997.  By its Judgment and Order  dated
12th May, 2008 the High Court set aside the decision of the Trial Judge  and
convicted Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for an offence punishable under  Section
304-B of the IPC and punished them to imprisonment for  the  minimum  period
of seven years.
17.     The High Court was of the opinion that the delay in lodging the  FIR
was satisfactorily explained inasmuch as Vidya Devi and Sunita could not  be
expected to lodge the FIR and would have waited for  Ram  Kishan  to  arrive
and take necessary steps.  There was no undue delay in Ram Kishan’s  arrival
in Rohtak and the FIR was lodged thereafter within  a  reasonable  time.  We
agree with this finding since the record shows that Ram Kishan was  informed
of some untoward happening by his son Surinder Singh only on 14th  December,
1995 and thereafter he reached Rohtak at about  10.00  p.m.  the  same  day.
Not finding anybody there, he went to his  village  Dhani  Phogat  and  came
back to Rohtak on the morning of 15th December, 1995. The FIR was lodged  in
the afternoon on completion of the inquest proceedings.
18.     The High Court also held that it was  significant  that  Satbir  and
Sukhbir  were  not  examined  by  Karan  Singh  and  Mukhtiari  as   defence
witnesses.  If there was no substance in the allegations made against  them,
surely Satbir and Subkhbir would have come to their defence.   It  was  also
held that merely because there was some disagreement between Ram  Kishan  on
the one hand and Karan Singh and Mukhtiari on the other, that was no  reason
for Manju to have committed suicide or be killed.  The  evidence  of  Sunita
as well as that of Ram Kishan clearly pointed to the fact  that  both  Manju
and Sunita were being harassed for dowry and  were  turned  out  from  their
matrimonial home on more than one occasion.  It was held  that  just  a  few
days before Manju’s death, Sunita was given a beating and turned out of  her
matrimonial home.  Therefore, soon before her death, Manju was subjected  to
harassment and she died under unnatural circumstances.
19.     Accordingly, the High Court convicted Karan Singh and  Mukhtiari  of
an offence punishable under Section 304-B of the IPC and reversed the  order
of acquittal passed by the Trial Court.
20.     Karan Singh and Mukhtiari are in appeal  against  the  judgment  and
order of the High Court and the sentence awarded to them.
Discussion
21.     We have been taken through the evidence of Ram  Kishan,  Sunita  and
Vidya Devi.  On an analysis of the oral  testimony  given  by  them,  it  is
quite clear that the marriage  of  Manju  and  Sunita  was  performed  in  a
comparatively simple manner although a considerable  amount  seems  to  have
been spent. Ram Kishan categorically stated in  his  testimony  that  before
the marriage there was no demand for any dowry.  Subsequent to the  marriage
of Manju and Sunita, there also does not seem to be any specific demand  for
dowry as per the statement of Ram Kishan.  All that  he  testified  is  that
Karan Singh and Mukhtiari would say that his daughters  should  bring  money
for raising the construction of a house where they could reside  separately.
Other than this, there is no mention of  any  demand  having  been  made  by
Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for any dowry.
22.     Even the statement given by Sunita does not  disclose  any  specific
demand for dowry except that there is bald  statement  that  she  and  Manju
were taunted for bringing insufficient dowry.  The tenor  of  her  testimony
suggests that she and Manju were being generally  harassed  and  ill-treated
by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari.  The ill-treatment  and  harassment  does  not
appear to be related to any specific demand for dowry.
23.     Even Vidya Devi in her  statement  makes  a  general  allegation  of
demand for dowry and the consequent  harassment  of  Manju  and  Sunita  but
again the statement is only of a very general nature.
24.     Neither  Ram  Kishan  nor  Vidya  Devi  nor  Sunita  has  given  any
indication of any specific demand for dowry. Under these  circumstances,  it
is difficult for us to conclude that the provisions of Section 304-B of  the
IPC would be attracted.  It has been held times without number that,
           “To establish the offence of dowry death under Section 304-B IPC
           the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable  doubt  that  the
           husband or his relative has subjected the deceased to cruelty or
           harassment in connection with demand of dowry  soon  before  her
           death.”[1]

As such the ill-treatment and subsequent  death  of  Manju  would  not  fall
within the meaning of a dowry death under Section 304-B of the IPC.
25.     But, there is no doubt that Manju and Sunita were subjected to  ill-
treatment and harassment from time to time  by  Karan  Singh  and  Mukhtiari
though it was not relatable to any demand for dowry. The evidence on  record
shows that they were turned out from the matrimonial home on more  than  one
occasion.  They were even turned out from the matrimonial home within  about
ten days after Manju gave birth to a baby boy.  Ram Kishan had spoken  about
this to Satbir and Sukhbir but in spite  of  this,  the  attitude  of  Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari did not change. As mentioned above,  no  allegation  has
been made against Satbir and Sukhbir.  Again,  a  few  days  before  Manju’s
death, Sunita was subjected to beating and turned  out  of  the  matrimonial
home. Although, Manju did not accompany her sister, she paid the  price  for
staying back in village Raiya.  From the facts  of  the  case  it  is  quite
clear to us that although there may be no  evidence  of  Manju  having  been
compelled by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari to consume poison, they  had  created
a situation over a sufficiently long period of time  whereby  she  was  left
with no option but to take her life. It  is  quite  unlikely  that  a  young
lady, particularly one having a year old child, would take her  life  unless
she had some mental health issues (which is not the case) or  was  compelled
by circumstances to do so. An offence  of  abetment  of  suicide  punishable
under Section 306 of the IPC is  much  broader  in  scope  than  an  offence
punishable under Section 304-B of  the  IPC.[2]  In  this  case  an  offence
punishable under Section 306 of the IPC is clearly made  out  against  Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.

26.     It is significant that  when  Manju  was  admitted  in  the  MCH  at
Rohtak, and even when the inquest proceedings were being conducted  on  14th
and 15th December, 1995 neither Karan Singh nor  Mukhtiari  was  present  at
any time.  They seem to have had some antipathy  towards  Manju  and  Sunita
and this resulted in their harassing and treating Manju  with  cruelty  such
that she could not bear it any further and therefore  decided  to  take  her
life.
27.     The testimony of Badlu does not assist Karan  Singh  and  Mukhtiari.
His testimony in their favour was in the context of dowry  demands  but,  as
we have held, that is not the question  agitating  us.  His  testimony  also
showed that there was some friction between Ram Kishan on the one  hand  and
Karan Singh and Mukhtiari on the other. This part of Badlu’s testimony  does
not assist Karan Singh and Mukhtiari. On  the  contrary,  the  friction  may
have been an aggravating  factor  in  the  relationship  between  Manju  and
Sunita and their parents in law. In any event, it is not  necessary  for  us
to read too much, either way, in the statement of Badlu and we leave  it  at
that.
Conclusion
28.     Under these circumstances, we modify the judgment and  order  passed
by the High Court and convict Karan  Singh  and  Mukhtiari  for  an  offence
punishable under Section 306 of the IPC.  The sentence awarded  to  them  by
the High Court would necessarily have  to  be  modified.   In  our  opinion,
keeping in view the fact that both Karan Singh and Mukhtiari  are  in  their
mid-sixties and we are  told  by  their  learned  counsel  that  Satbir  and
Sukhbir are living separately from them due to their differences and  taking
into consideration the fact that Manju’s son is being looked after by  Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari for the last almost twenty years, we are of the  opinion
that the ends of justice would be met if  they  are  sentenced  to  rigorous
imprisonment for a period of two years.  We are also  of  the  opinion  that
each one of them should be subjected to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each  and
in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for  a  further
period of six months.
29.     With this modification in the conviction and  sentence,  the  appeal
is disposed of.


                                                             ……………………………………J
                                                     (Ranjana Prakash
Desai)


                                                             ……………………………………J
                                                     (Madan B. Lokur)
New Delhi;
April 15, 2014
-----------------------
[1]      More recently in Indrajit Sureshprasad Bind v. State of Gujarat,
  (2013) 14 SCC 678
[2]      Bhupendra v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 106

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