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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sec. 304 B and Sec.306 I.P.C.- Sec.319 Cr.P.C - summoning a person who is not a relative of the Husband to face trial as his name was mentioned in FIR and in Evidence - High court set aside the order of trial court - Apex court held that the word “relative of the husband” in Section 304 B of the IPC would mean such persons, who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. When we apply this principle the respondent herein is not related to the husband of the deceased either by blood or marriage or adoption. Hence, in our opinion, the High Court did not err in passing the impugned order. We hasten to add that a person, not a relative of the husband, may not be prosecuted for offence under Section 304B IPC but this does not mean that such a person cannot be prosecuted for any other offence viz. Section 306 IPC, in case the allegations constitute offence other than Section 304B IPC. = STATE OF PUNJAB ..... APPELLANT VERSUS GURMIT SINGH .... RESPONDENT = 2014 – July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41737

Sec. 304 B and Sec.306 I.P.C.- Sec.319 Cr.P.C - summoning a person who is not a relative of the Husband to face trial as his name was mentioned in FIR and in Evidence - High court set aside the order of trial court - Apex court held that the  word  “relative of the husband” in Section 304 B of the IPC would  mean  such  persons,  who are related by blood, marriage or adoption.  When we  apply  this  principle the respondent herein is not related to the husband of the  deceased either by blood or marriage or adoption.  Hence, in our  opinion,  the  High  Court did not err in passing the impugned order.  We hasten to add that a  person, not a relative of the husband, may  not  be  prosecuted  for  offence  under Section 304B IPC but this does  not  mean  that  such  a  person  cannot  be prosecuted for  any  other  offence  viz.  Section  306  IPC,  in  case  the allegations constitute offence other than Section 304B IPC. =

High court held that
 “Even the dictionary meaning of a relative is one who is  related  by  blood
or marriage.  Gurmit Singh  is  certainly  not  related  to  Paramjit  Singh
either by blood or  by  marriage.   Gurmit  Singh  would  not  fall  in  the
category of relative of  the  husband.   Therefore,  Gurmit  Singh  must  be
excluded from the array of the accused.  It is  not  necessary  to  try  him
under Section 304B I.P.C. for the dowry death of Paramjit Singh’s wife.=


We  do
not  find  anything  in  context  to  deviate  from  the  general  rule   of
interpretation.  Hence, we have no manner of doubt that the  word  “relative
of the husband” in Section 304 B of the IPC would  mean  such  persons,  who
are related by blood, marriage or adoption.  When we  apply  this  principle
the respondent herein is not related to the husband of the  deceased  either
by blood or marriage or adoption.  Hence, in our  opinion,  the  High  Court
did not err in passing the impugned order.  We hasten to add that a  person,
not a relative of the husband, may  not  be  prosecuted  for  offence  under
Section 304B IPC but this does  not  mean  that  such  a  person  cannot  be
prosecuted for  any  other  offence  viz.  Section  306  IPC,  in  case  the
allegations constitute offence other than Section 304B IPC.



      In the result, we do not find any  merit  in  the  appeal  and  it  is
dismissed accordingly.

2014 – July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41737


                                                                 REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1278  OF 2014
              (@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) No.1696 of 2006)


STATE OF PUNJAB                         ..... APPELLANT

                                   VERSUS

GURMIT SINGH                                .... RESPONDENT


                               J U D G M E N T


Chandramauli Kr. Prasad

State of Punjab aggrieved by the order dated 7th of September, 2005,  passed
by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Criminal Revision No.  320  of  2000
whereby it has set aside  the  order  of  the  trial  court  dated  24th  of
January, 2000 summoning the respondent Gurmit  Singh  to  face  trial  under
Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, has  preferred  this  special
leave petition.



Leave granted.



      Facts lie in a very short compass.  On the basis of a  report  a  case
under  Section  304B  of  the  Indian  Penal  Code  (for  short  ‘IPC’)  was
registered at Police Station, Kharar.  In the first information report,  the
names of  various  accused  persons  figured  including  Gurmit  Singh,  the
respondent herein.  Police after usual investigation, submitted the  charge-
sheet in which the respondent did not figure as an  accused.   However,  the
respondent along with some  other  accused  persons  who  were  not  charge-
sheeted were summoned to face the trial.  They  challenged  the  said  order
before the High Court in Criminal Misc. No. 1584-M  of  1999  and  the  High
Court by its order  dated  25th  of  February,  1999  set  aside  the  order
summoning those accused persons including the respondent but while doing  so
gave liberty to take recourse to the provisions of Section 319 of  the  Code
of Criminal  Procedure,  hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  ‘Code’,  at  an
appropriate stage of the trial.  During the course  of  trial,  evidence  of
one Shakuntla Rani, PW-1 was  recorded,  who  averred  that  the  respondent
herein was also responsible for the  death  of  Gurjit  Kaur,  the  wife  of
Paramjit Singh.  Thereafter, an application was  filed  by  the  prosecution
for summoning aforesaid Gurmit Singh and other accused  persons  before  the
trial court in exercise of the power under Section 319  of  the  Code.   The
trial court  by  its  order  dated  24th  of  January,  2000,  summoned  the
respondent besides other accused persons to face trial,  for  commission  of
offence under Section 304B IPC, inter alia,  observing  that  the  names  of
those persons figured in the FIR, statement of the witnesses recorded  under
Section 161 of the Code and the evidence of Shakuntla Rani, PW-1.

Respondent challenged the aforesaid order in a  revision  application  filed
before the High Court inter alia on the ground that he cannot be  tried  for
offence under Section 304B of the Code because he is not a relative  of  the
husband of the deceased.  It was pointed out that  Paramjit  Singh  happened
to be the husband of the deceased whereas the respondent is the  brother  of
his aunt (chachi) and, therefore, cannot be said to be  a  relative  of  the
deceased’s husband.   Aforesaid submission found favour with the High  Court
and, accordingly, it quashed the order summoning the respondent to face  the
trial.   While doing so, the High Court observed as follows:

“Even the dictionary meaning of a relative is one who is  related  by  blood
or marriage.  Gurmit Singh  is  certainly  not  related  to  Paramjit  Singh
either by blood or  by  marriage.   Gurmit  Singh  would  not  fall  in  the
category of relative of  the  husband.   Therefore,  Gurmit  Singh  must  be
excluded from the array of the accused.  It is  not  necessary  to  try  him
under Section 304B I.P.C. for the dowry death of Paramjit Singh’s wife.



Mr. V. Madhukar, learned Additional Advocate General appearing on behalf  of
the State submits that the High Court erred in holding that  the  respondent
is not a relative of the husband  of  the  deceased.   He  points  out  that
Balbir Kaur is the wife of Paramjit  Singh’s  father’s  brother  and  Gurmit
Singh respondent herein happens  to  be  Balbir  Kaur’s  brother,  hence,  a
relative of Paramjit Singh.  According to  him,  the  High  Court  erred  in
holding that he is not a relative of the husband of the deceased.  Mr.  C.D.
Singh, learned counsel appearing  on  behalf  of  the  respondent,  however,
submits that the respondent cannot be said to be related to the  husband  of
the deceased in any manner and, therefore, cannot be prosecuted for  offence
under Section 304B of  the  IPC.   The  rival  submission  necessitates  the
examination of Section 304B of the IPC, same reads as follows:

”304B. Dowry death.—(1) Where the death of a woman is caused  by  any  burns
or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances  within
seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her  death  she
was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband  or  any  relative  of
her husband for, or in connection with, any demand  for  dowry,  such  death
shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be  deemed
to have caused her death.

Explanation.—For the purpose of this sub-section,  “dowry”  shall  have  the
same meaning as in section 2 of the  Dowry  Prohibition  Act,  1961  (28  of
1961).

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with  imprisonment  for  a
term which shall not be less than  seven  years  but  which  may  extend  to
imprisonment for life.”
                                                          (underlining ours)


From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision it is evident  that  when  a
woman dies by any burns or bodily injury  or  otherwise  than  under  normal
circumstances within seven  years  of  the  marriage,  her  husband  or  any
relative of her husband shall be deemed to have  committed  the  offence  of
dowry death if it is  shown  that  soon  before  the  death  the  woman  was
subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband, or  by  any  relative  of
her husband.  This section therefore, exposes the husband of  the  woman  or
any relative of her husband for the  commission  of  offence  of  the  dowry
death.  Admittedly, the respondent is not the husband of the woman who  died
and, therefore, the question which falls for determination is as to  whether
he comes within the ambit of “any relative of her husband”.  The  expression
“relative” has not been defined in the IPC. The provision with which we  are
concerned is a penal provision which deserves  strict  construction.  It  is
well settled that when the words of a statute are not defined, it has to  be
understood in their natural, ordinary or popular sense.  For  this  purpose,
it shall be permissible to refer to dictionaries to  find  out  the  general
sense in which the word is understood in  common  parlance.    In  Ramanatha
Aiyar’s, Advance Law Lexicon (Vol.4, 3rd Edn.), the word relative means  any
person  related  by  blood,  marriage  or  adoption.   A  large  number   of
dictionaries give this word relative, in context, same meaning.

It is relevant here to state that the expression “relative of  the  husband”
has been used in Section 498-A of the I.P.C.   While interpreting  the  said
expression, this Court in the case of U. Suvetha vs. State by  Inspector  of
Police and Anr.(2009) 6 SCC 787 held it to mean a person related  by  blood,
marriage or adoption.  Relevant portion of the judgment reads as follows:

“10. In the absence of any statutory definition, the  term  “relative”  must
be assigned a meaning  as  is  commonly  understood.   Ordinarily  it  would
include father, mother, husband or wife,  son,  daughter,  brother,  sister,
nephew or niece, grandson or granddaughter of an individual  or  the  spouse
of any person.  The meaning of the word “relative”  would  depend  upon  the
nature of the statute.  It principally includes a person related  by  blood,
marriage or adoption.”


The expression relative of the husband further came up for consideration  in
the case of Vijeta Gajra vs. State of NCT of  Delhi  (2010)11  SCC  618  and
while approving the decision of this Court in U.  Suvetha  (Supra),  it  was
held that the word relative would be limited only to the blood relations  or
the relations by marriage.  It is appropriate  to  reproduce  the  following
passage from the said judgment:

“12. Relying on the dictionary meaning of the word  “relative”  and  further
relying on Ramanatha Aiyar’s, Advance Law Lexicon  (Vol.4,  3rd  Edn.),  the
Court went on to hold that Section 498-A IPC being a penal  provision  would
deserve strict construction and unless a contextual meaning is  required  to
be given to the statute, the said statute has to be construed strictly.   On
that behalf the Court relied on the judgment in T. Ashok Pai vs. CIT  (2007)
7 SCC 162.  A reference was made to the decision  in  Shivcharan  Lal  Verma
vs. State of M.P. (2007) 15 SCC 369.  After quoting from  various  decisions
of this Court, it was held that reference to the word “relative” in  Section
498-A IPC would be limited only to the blood relations or the  relations  by
marriage.”


It is well known rule of construction that when the  Legislature  uses  same
words in different part of the statute, the presumption is that those  words
have been used in the same sense, unless displaced by the  context.   We  do
not  find  anything  in  context  to  deviate  from  the  general  rule   of
interpretation.  Hence, we have no manner of doubt that the  word  “relative
of the husband” in Section 304 B of the IPC would  mean  such  persons,  who
are related by blood, marriage or adoption.  When we  apply  this  principle
the respondent herein is not related to the husband of the  deceased  either
by blood or marriage or adoption.  Hence, in our  opinion,  the  High  Court
did not err in passing the impugned order.  We hasten to add that a  person,
not a relative of the husband, may  not  be  prosecuted  for  offence  under
Section 304B IPC but this does  not  mean  that  such  a  person  cannot  be
prosecuted for  any  other  offence  viz.  Section  306  IPC,  in  case  the
allegations constitute offence other than Section 304B IPC.



      In the result, we do not find any  merit  in  the  appeal  and  it  is
dismissed accordingly.



   ………………………………………………………………J

   (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)



                           ………………………………………………………………J

                                    (PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE)



NEW DELHI,
July 2, 2014.
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