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Monday, July 28, 2014

Sec.498 A, 304 B , 306 I.P.C. r/w 34 I.P.C. - Trial court convicted the accused - High court acquitted the accused - Apex court held that In the present case from the evidence of prosecution witnesses particularly of Santoshbai (PW-6), Geeta (PW-7), Chandrakanta (PW-8), Ranjit (PW-9) and Ranchhod Prasad Pande (PW-11), we find that the harassment of the deceased was with a view to coerce her to convince her parents to meet demand of dowry. The said willful conduct has driven the deceased to commit the suicide or not is a matter of doubt, in absence of specific evidence. Therefore, in the light of Clause (b) of Section 498-A IPC, when we hold all the accused Nos.1 to 6 guilty for the offence under Section 498-A IPC, we hold that the prosecution failed to prove that the deceased committed suicide. The accused are, therefore, acquitted for the offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC. This part of the judgment passed by the Trial Court thus cannot be upheld. The prosecution on the basis of evidence has successfully proved that the deceased died within 7 years of her marriage; the death of the deceased is caused by burns i.e. nor under normal circumstances. It has also been proved that soon before her death, during her pregnancy the deceased was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband and relatives of accused that is accused No.1-Shivpujan, accused No.2-Rajendra, accused No.3-Malti Devi, accused No.4-Anita, accused No.5-Surendra and accused No.6-Virendra in connection with demand of dowry. Therefore, we hold that the prosecution successfully proved with beyond reasonable doubt that accused Nos.1 to 6 are guilty for the offence under Section 304-B, r/w 34 IPC. For the reasons aforesaid, we set aside the major part of the judgment dated 18th August, 2005 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur in Criminal Appeal NO.388 of 2005 except the part relating to offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC. = STATE OF MAHARASHTRA … APPELLANT VERSUS RAJENDRA & ORS. … RESPONDENTS = 2014 – July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41754

   Sec.498 A, 304 B , 306 I.P.C. r/w 34 I.P.C. - Trial court convicted the accused - High court acquitted the accused - Apex court held that In the  present  case  from  the  evidence  of  prosecution  witnesses particularly  of  Santoshbai  (PW-6),  Geeta  (PW-7),  Chandrakanta  (PW-8), Ranjit  (PW-9)  and  Ranchhod  Prasad  Pande  (PW-11),  we  find  that   the harassment of the deceased was with a view to coerce  her  to  convince  her parents to meet demand of dowry. The said willful  conduct  has  driven  the deceased to commit the suicide or not is a matter of doubt,  in  absence  of specific evidence. Therefore, in the light of Clause (b)  of  Section  498-A IPC, when we hold all the accused Nos.1 to 6   guilty for the offence  under Section 498-A IPC, we hold that the prosecution failed  to  prove  that  the deceased committed suicide. The accused are, therefore,  acquitted  for  the offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC. This part of the  judgment  passed  by the Trial Court thus cannot be upheld. The prosecution on the basis of evidence has successfully proved  that the deceased died within 7 years of her marriage; the death of the  deceased is caused by burns i.e. nor under normal circumstances.  It  has  also  been
proved that soon before her death, during her  pregnancy  the  deceased  was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband and relatives of  accused that is accused No.1-Shivpujan, accused  No.2-Rajendra,  accused  No.3-Malti Devi, accused No.4-Anita, accused No.5-Surendra  and  accused  No.6-Virendra in connection with demand of dowry. Therefore, we hold that the  prosecution successfully proved with beyond reasonable doubt that  accused  Nos.1  to  6
are guilty for the offence under Section 304-B, r/w 34 IPC. For the reasons  aforesaid,  we  set  aside  the  major  part  of  the judgment dated 18th August, 2005 passed by the High Court of  Judicature  at Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur in Criminal Appeal NO.388 of  2005  except  the
part relating to offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC. =

 By the impugned judgment the  High  Court
held that unless the prosecution proves that death  was  suicidal  and  that
the deceased was treated with cruelty and was harassed by  direct  evidence,
the presumption  under  Section  113-A  does  not  apply  in  the  case  and
acquitted all the accused-respondents from the charges under Section  498-A,
Section 304-B and Section 306 IPC all read  with  Section  34  IPC,  thereby
reversing the finding of the Trial Court.=
The deceased sustained 98% burn injuries in the early morning  of  8th
April, 1999, in her matrimonial house i.e. the house of the  accused  Nos.1,
2, 3, 5 and 6. She was taken to Mayo Hospital, but  before  treatment  could
commence, she died at 9.30 a.m. on the same day itself and at that time  the
deceased was in the 7th month of her first pregnancy.=
Since  7th  month  of
the pregnancy of the deceased was to begin, on 8th April,  1999  at  6  a.m.
her father had been to her matrimonial house to fetch her. Accused  insulted
him on account of dowry demands and refused to send the deceased  with  him.
At 9 a.m. accused No.5-Surendra i.e.  elder  brother-in-law  (jeth)  of  the
deceased came to the house of parents of the deceased  and  told  them  that
their daughter had sustained  burns  and  that  she  was  admitted  in  Mayo
Hospital. The parents of the deceased immediately rushed to  Mayo  Hospital.
It was found that their daughter was already dead.=
Trial court convicted the accused - where as High court acquitted the accused=
Apex court held that
From the above mentioned facts, it is clear that there  was  a  demand
of  dowry  for  purchasing  Hero  Honda  Motorcycle  and  other  house  hold
articles. The evidence of torture is also  clear  from  the  fact  that  the
deceased was not provided food and as such she had become weak that  too  at
the time when she was in the 7th month of pregnancy.
24.   Section 304-B IPC relates to dowry death, which 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 purposes 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.”

      The expression “soon before her death”  is  used  in  the  substantive
Section 304-B IPC and Section 113-B of the Evidence Act. No definite  period
has been indicated and  the  expression  “soon  before  her  death”  is  not
defined. The determination of period which can come within  the  term  “soon
before” is left to be determined by the Court depending upon the  facts  and
circumstances of each case. In this connection one may  refer  the  case  of
Yashoda and another vs. State of M.P., 2004 (3) SCC 98.
25.   The presumption under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act  with  respect
to dowry death can be raised  only  on  the  proof  of  the  following  four
essential conditions:
1)    The woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment,
2)    by the husband or his relatives;
3)    For or in connection with any demand for dowry;
4)    soon before her death.
Refer Kaliyaperumal vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2004 (9) SCC 157 [AIR  2003  SC
3828].

26.   Section 113-B of the Evidence Act reads as under:
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).

27.   In dowry death cases direct evidence may not be available. Such  cases
may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Section 304-B IPC read with  113-B
of the Evidence Act indicates the rule of presumption of dowry death. If  an
unnatural death of a married woman occurs within  7  years  of  marriage  in
suspicious circumstances, like due to burns or any other bodily  injury  and
there is cruelty or harassment  by  her  husband  or  relatives  for  or  in
connection with any demand for dowry soon before her death then it shall  be
dowry death.
28.    Section 306 IPC relates to abetment to suicide as follows:
“306. Abetment of suicide.—If any person commits suicide, whoever abets  the
commission of such suicide, shall be punished with  imprisonment  of  either
description for a term which may extend to ten  years,  and  shall  also  be
liable to fine.”

29.   Section 113-A of the Evidence Act deals with  presumption  as  to  the
abetment to suicide by a married woman, read as follows:

“113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a  married  woman.—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 Penal Code (45 of 1860).]"

30.   For the purpose of Section 113-A  IPC  cruelty  shall  have  the  same
meaning as in Section 498-A IPC which reads as follows:
“498A. Husband  or  relative  of  husband  of  a  woman  subjecting  her  to
cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative  of  the  husband  of  a
woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be  punished  with  imprisonment
for a term which may extend to three years  and  shall  also  be  liable  to
fine.

Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to  drive  the
woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb  or
health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the  woman  where  such  harassment  is  with  a  view  to
coercing her or any person related to her to meet any  unlawful  demand  for
any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or  any
person related to her to meet such demand.”
31.   In the  present  case  from  the  evidence  of  prosecution  witnesses
particularly  of  Santoshbai  (PW-6),  Geeta  (PW-7),  Chandrakanta  (PW-8),
Ranjit  (PW-9)  and  Ranchhod  Prasad  Pande  (PW-11),  we  find  that   the
harassment of the deceased was with a view to coerce  her  to  convince  her
parents to meet demand of dowry. The said willful  conduct  has  driven  the
deceased to commit the suicide or not is a matter of doubt,  in  absence  of
specific evidence. Therefore, in the light of Clause (b)  of  Section  498-A
IPC, when we hold all the accused Nos.1 to 6   guilty for the offence  under
Section 498-A IPC, we hold that the prosecution failed  to  prove  that  the
deceased committed suicide. The accused are, therefore,  acquitted  for  the
offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC. This part of the  judgment  passed  by
the Trial Court thus cannot be upheld.
32.   The prosecution on the basis of evidence has successfully proved  that
the deceased died within 7 years of her marriage; the death of the  deceased
is caused by burns i.e. nor under normal circumstances.  It  has  also  been
proved that soon before her death, during her  pregnancy  the  deceased  was
subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband and relatives of  accused
that is accused No.1-Shivpujan, accused  No.2-Rajendra,  accused  No.3-Malti
Devi, accused No.4-Anita, accused No.5-Surendra  and  accused  No.6-Virendra
in connection with demand of dowry. Therefore, we hold that the  prosecution
successfully proved with beyond reasonable doubt that  accused  Nos.1  to  6
are guilty for the offence under Section 304-B, r/w 34 IPC.
33.   For the reasons  aforesaid,  we  set  aside  the  major  part  of  the
judgment dated 18th August, 2005 passed by the High Court of  Judicature  at
Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur in Criminal Appeal NO.388 of  2005  except  the
part relating to offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC.  The  judgment  dated
20th July, 2005 passed by the Trial Court in Sessions Case  No.447  of  2000
holding accused Nos.1 to 6 guilty for the offence u/s 498A and 304B IPC.  is
upheld but the part of the judgment relating to offence  under  Section  306
r/w 34 IPC against the accused Nos.1 to 6 stands set aside by  the  judgment
passed by the High Court. The respondents- accused  No.1-Shivpujan,  accused
No.2-Rajendra, accused No.3-Malti Devi, accused  No.4-Anita,  accused  No.5-
Surendra and accused  No.6-Virendra  be  taken  into  custody  forthwith  to
undergo the remainder period of sentence for offence  under  Section   498-A
and 304-B read with 34 IPC.
34.   The appeals are allowed to the extent above.

2014 – July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41754

                                                              Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.719 OF 2010
STATE OF MAHARASHTRA                            … APPELLANT
                             VERSUS
RAJENDRA & ORS.                                 … RESPONDENTS
With
Criminal Appeal No.720 of 2010
(Chandrakanta vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.)

                               J U D G M E N T

SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.

      These appeals are directed against the  judgment  dated  18th  August,
2005 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench,  Nagpur
in Criminal Appeal No.388 of 2005. By the impugned judgment the  High  Court
held that unless the prosecution proves that death  was  suicidal  and  that
the deceased was treated with cruelty and was harassed by  direct  evidence,
the presumption  under  Section  113-A  does  not  apply  in  the  case  and
acquitted all the accused-respondents from the charges under Section  498-A,
Section 304-B and Section 306 IPC all read  with  Section  34  IPC,  thereby
reversing the finding of the Trial Court.
2.    Respondents – accused No.1, Shivpujan and  accused  No.3,  Malti  Devi
are husband and wife. Accused No.2, Rajendra,  accused  No.5,  Surendra  and
accused No.6, Virendra are their sons. Accused No.4, Anita is  the  daughter
of accused Nos.1 and 3 and is married to one Satyam Mishra who is in  Police
service. Accused Nos.1 and 5 are also in Police service. Accused Nos.  1  to
3, 5 and 6 reside together in Plot  No.96,  Adarsha  Colony,  behind  Police
Line Takli at  Nagpur.  Accused  No.4  resides  in  Police  Line,  Pathrigad
Quarter, Sadar at Nagpur. Accused  No.2-Rajendra  is  the  youngest  son  of
accused Nos.1 and  3.  Deceased  Ranjana  was  the  wife  of  accused  No.2-
Rajendra.
3.    Marriage of deceased took place with  accused  No.2-Rajendra  on  19th
April, 1998. She was the daughter  of  Ranchhod  Prasad  Pande  (PW-11)  and
Chandrakanta (PW-8)-the complainant. The deceased was the younger sister  of
Ranjit (PW-9). Parents and brothers of the deceased reside at Gandhi  Nagar,
Surendergarh, Nagpur. The distance between the house of the accused and  the
parental house of the deceased is about       1 km.
4.    The deceased sustained 98% burn injuries in the early morning  of  8th
April, 1999, in her matrimonial house i.e. the house of the  accused  Nos.1,
2, 3, 5 and 6. She was taken to Mayo Hospital, but  before  treatment  could
commence, she died at 9.30 a.m. on the same day itself and at that time  the
deceased was in the 7th month of her first pregnancy.
5.     The prosecution case is that the husband and the  mother-in-law  i.e.
accused Nos.2 and  3  used  to  beat  the  deceased  whereas  other  accused
together with accused Nos.2 and 3 used to mentally and physically  ill-treat
the deceased on account of dowry demand. Accused No.2-Rajendra  wanted  Hero
Honda Motor Cycle from the parents of the deceased. He always used to  press
his demand. The deceased  had  informed  her  parents  that  she  was  being
subjected to cruelty and that her in-laws behaved  with  her  like  animals.
Many a times father of the deceased went to fetch the deceased  but  accused
used to ask him that he should first bring money for Hero  Honda  Motorcycle
and then only he can take the deceased along with him. Since  7th  month  of
the pregnancy of the deceased was to begin, on 8th April,  1999  at  6  a.m.
her father had been to her matrimonial house to fetch her. Accused  insulted
him on account of dowry demands and refused to send the deceased  with  him.
At 9 a.m. accused No.5-Surendra i.e.  elder  brother-in-law  (jeth)  of  the
deceased came to the house of parents of the deceased  and  told  them  that
their daughter had sustained  burns  and  that  she  was  admitted  in  Mayo
Hospital. The parents of the deceased immediately rushed to  Mayo  Hospital.
It was found that their daughter was already dead.
6.    A.D. No.28/99 under Section 174 Cr.P.C. was registered at  10.50  a.m.
on 8th April, 1999 on the basis of report of Police Head  Constable  Diwakar
from Mayo Hospital Police Booth. The PSI-S.R.  Parvekar  thereafter  visited
the  spot  of  occurrence,  prepared  spot  panchanama  (Ext.40)  and   then
proceeded to Mayo Hospital and  prepared  inquest  panchanama  (Ext.43)  and
sent the dead body for its  postmortem.  Postmortem  was  conducted  by  Dr.
Ashish Wankhede  (PW-10)  and  report  is  Ext.62.  Thereafter,  the  report
(Ext.54) was lodged by PW.8, mother of the deceased  with  the  Police  Head
Constable Girish Pande (PW-14) upon which FIR  (Ext.55)  was  registered  at
7.10 p.m. on 8th April, 1999 for the offence punishable under Sections  498-
A, 306 r/w 34 IPC. Further investigation was  carried  out  by  Police  Sub-
Inspector, Parvekar. He recorded the statement of the father  of    deceased
and arrested accused No.2-Rajendra i.e.  husband  of  the  deceased  on  8th
April, 1999 itself. The further investigation  was  carried  out  by  Police
Inspector  Ravindra  Relgudwar  (PW.12)  and  then   Police   Sub-Inspector,
Dadasaheb Khade (PW.13). In the statements of witnesses i.e.  neighbours  of
the complainant, brother of the deceased,  supplementary  statement  of  the
complainant were recorded. Viscera of the deceased  that  was  preserved  at
the time of the postmortem examination, pieces of saree,  match  box  and  a
piece of burnt plastic  which  were  seized  at  the  time  of  drawing  the
panchanama were forwarded to the  Chemical  Analyser  for  examination.  The
marriage ceremony of the deceased and accused No.2-Rajendra was  shot  by  a
video shooting. Its video cassette was produced by  the  complainant  before
the Investigating Officer. It was seized (Ext.45). Pursuant to  a  direction
in Criminal Writ  Petition  No.168/99  filed  by  the  complainant,  offence
punishable under Section 304-B  IPC  was  also  added.  Other  accused  were
arrested and on completion of investigation, charge-sheet  was  sent  up  to
the Court of CJM, Nagpur who committed the case to the  Court  of  Sessions.
Charges for offence punishable under Sections 498-A, 304-B, 306 r/w  34  IPC
were framed to which  the  accused  pleaded  not  guilty.   The  prosecution
produced altogether 14 witnesses. The witnesses  against  the  accused  made
their statements under Section 313 Cr. P.C.  (Ext.91 to  96)  and  submitted
their written statement (Ext.97).  Four  defence  witnesses  viz.  DW.1-Mohd
Asgar, DW.2-A.S.I., Chandrabhan Osare, DW.3-ASI  Pralhad  Kaware  and  DW.4-
Rajesh Soni were also examined. The defence, as  how  it  appears  from  the
cross-examination of the witnesses etc. is that of total denial with  regard
to the alleged cruelty. The stand was that  the  accused  always  gave  good
treatment to the deceased. They gave jewellery  to  the  deceased  and  also
invested money in her name in the post office. It was denied that they  ever
demanded any dowry from her parents. It is their case that the deceased  was
under pressure from her mother. They were disowned knowledge as to  how  the
deceased died.
7.    The Trial  Court,  as  noticed  above  on  appreciation  of  evidence,
statements of witnesses and  exhibits,  held  the  accused  guilty  for  the
offences under Sections 498-A, 304-B, 306 r/w Section 34 IPC.  However,  the
said finding was reversed by the Appellate Court for the  reasons  mentioned
in the preceding paragraphs.
8.    The appellant has challenged  the  impugned  judgment  mainly  on  the
following grounds:
(a)   The High Court in the impugned judgment, while quoting  some  portions
of the evidence of the  prosecution  witnesses  has  not  given  any  cogent
reason for disbelieving the evidence of those witnesses.
(b)   The impugned judgment is cryptic, unreasoned and  order  of  acquittal
was passed without discussion and appreciation of evidence.
(c)   The High Court recorded completely erroneous finding that  prosecution
has not proved suicidal death of Ranjana. In fact, the defence  itself  came
with the story of suicidal death of Ranjana.
(d)   The prosecution has proved the demand of dowry  and  cruelty  for  the
said demand. All ingredients for conviction under Sections 498-A  and  304-B
IPC were present. It was presumed that the case was that of a dowry death.
9.    The stand of the respondents is that  the  deposition  of  prosecution
witnesses after five years was improved  version  from  their  version  made
during the investigation. They added  allegation  to  attract  Section  304B
IPC. Chandra Kanta  (PW-8),  mother  of  the  deceased  and  Ranjit  (PW-9),
brother of the deceased both improved their version from  the  version  made
during the investigation on  material  aspect.  Same  is  the  situation  of
Ranchhod Prasad Pande (PW-1), father of the deceased. All  were  related  to
the deceased. Thus they were interested witnesses and their  credibility  is
considerably in question.
10.   Chandrakanta (PW-8), mother of the deceased  is  the  complainant.  In
her statement she stated that Ranjana (deceased) was  married  with  accused
No.2- Rajendra on 19th April, 1998. At the time of marriage it  was  decided
that Rs.25,000/- was to be paid, which was given apart from another  sum  of
Rs.25,000/- given for scooter and Rs.5,000/- in addition to  that,  a  total
amount of Rs.56,000/- was given when the marriage was settled. Prior to  2-4
days of the marriage, accused No.1 and accused No.2  asked  for  Hero  Honda
Motorcycle  although  the  amount  of  Rs.25,000/-  was  paid  for  scooter:
Deceased's family informed that they are unable to pay  more than  what  was
already agreed. The marriage was thereafter performed. At the time of  Barat
(procession) the accused had also created  chaos  when  the  bridegroom  was
about to enter the pandal of the marriage  hall  and  the  golden  ring  was
given to him. In the marriage, religious rites were going on throughout  the
night. The accused No1 did not take any meals or food. During  the  marriage
a golden chain of about 12 gms. was presented to accused No.2. Accused  No.2
was refusing to accept the said chain and wanted the chain of  2  tolas  (20
gms.) and the golden stick.  However, at that time they were convinced.  The
deceased had to come back to her  parents  house  after  8-10  days  of  the
marriage. She disclosed that her in-laws were torturing her  throughout  the
day for not giving the T.V. set, Cooler, Almirah and Hero Honda  Motorcycle.
She asked the deceased to convey the accused No.2  that  she  would  somehow
arrange for the motorcycle. After 3-4 months of the marriage they had  given
an amount of Rs.20,000/- to accused  No.2  for  Almirah,  Cooler  and  T.V.,
still the torture was continued. The deceased-Ranjana used to come  to  her.
The deceased was not sent whenever called  by  her  parents.  Accused  No.2-
Rajendra used to take the deceased  to  the  house  of  her  parents  at  an
interval of 3-4 days on some pretext or other. Initially, the  deceased  was
not disclosing freely even accused No.2 used to bring the deceased. He  used
to torture the deceased by forcing her to demand for the things and used  to
shout at her.
11,   She further stated that Ranjana had stayed with her for a span of  3-4
days when she had come after 8-10 days of marriage. Thereafter she  was  not
sent for residing, however, she was sent in January for 2-3  days.  At  that
time on enquiry the deceased disclosed that her in-laws  are  torturing  and
harassing her very much.  She  further  disclosed  that  she  was  also  not
provided food properly and she  was  treated  like  an  animal.  The  mother
enquired from the  deceased  as  to  who  had  harassed  her  to  which  she
disclosed that her father in-law, husband, brother  of  husband,  sister  of
husband and the husband of sister of accused No.2 vexed her.
12.   Chandrakanta (PW-8) further stated that her husband (PW-11)  had  been
to her daughter's materimonial house to bring her on  the  day  of  incident
i.e. 8th April, 1999 at 6.30 a.m. Some religious rites were to be  performed
but she did not come out. After one hour accused  No.5,  Surendra  came  and
inform about the burning incident happened with the deceased and took  PW-11
to mortuary. She entered the mortuary and noticed the dead body of  Ranjana.

      During the cross-examination she accepted that she  has  not  assigned
any reason as  to  why  she  has  not  stated  about  giving  an  amount  of
Rs.20,000/- after 3-4 months of the marriage for Almirah,  T.V.  and  Cooler
and still the torture continued.
13.   Ranjit (PW-9) is the brother of the  deceased.  In  his  statement  he
stated that at the time of Rakhi (probably in August, 1998) he had  been  to
the house of accused and disclosed to accused No.1 that he had come to  call
his sister Ranjana. Accused No.1 refused to send Ranjana and commented  that
he did not want to send beggar’s daughter. At that time  accused  No.2  also
came and started abusing and caught hold of his collar.  He  further  stated
that 10-15 days thereafter accused No.2 had come to their house  along  with
the deceased Ranjana. At that time his sister disclosed  him  that  her  in-
laws were demanding Hero Honda  Motorcycle,  Cooler,  Almirah  and  she  was
harassed for non-satisfying the demands. He  convinced  her  to  the  effect
that she will have to pull and  there  was  no  purpose  in  disturbing  the
family life.
       In  the  cross-examination,  he  specifically  stated  that  he  made
statement before the Police that after 10-15 days  after  accused  No.2  had
come to their house along with Ranjana, his sister disclosed  him  that  her
in-laws were demanding a motorcycle Hero Honda, Cooler, Almirah and she  was
vexed for non-satisfying the demands.
14.   Ranchhod Prasad Pande (PW-11) is the father of the  deceased.  In  his
statement he stated that her daughter disclosed that  the  accused  and  his
family members ill-treated her. Accused  No.2  was  asking  for  Hero  Honda
Motorcycle. She was physically abused on account of dowry. The accused  were
also demanding and asking for refrigerator. He further stated  that  on  8th
April, 1999 he had been to the house of accused to bring  Ranjana  for  some
religious rites, as she was pregnant of 7 months. He reached  the  house  of
the accused at 6.00-6.30 a.m. All the accused were  present  in  the  house.
Accused Nos.1 and 2 enquired from him as  to  whether  he  had  brought  the
amount for Hero Honda Motorcycle. He  told  that  he  had  not  brought  the
amount. Thereafter, he wanted to meet Ranjana in case if  the  accused  were
not ready to send Ranjana. At that time accused No.2  had  slapped  Ranjana.
Thereafter, he returned back. Ranjana was not sent along with him. At  about
8.30 a.m. accused No.5-Surendra Shukla came and disclosed that  Ranjana  had
poured kerosene oil on  her  and  set  herself  ablaze.  During  the  cross-
examination he accepted that he  has  not  stated  before  the  Police  that
accused No.1 and accused No.2-Rajendra were asking him  whether  he  brought
the amount for Hero Honda and  he  replied  that  he  had  not  brought  the
amount.
15.    Rajmani  (PW-5)  stated  that  at  the  time  of  marriage  dowry  of
Rs.25,000/-, one golden  ring  and  watch  was  demanded.  At  the  time  of
bethrotal ceremony (Tilak) the accused had also insisted for a  scooter  and
the total amount of Rs.56,000/- was given to the accused.
16.   Santoshbai (PW-6), a neighbour, stated that after  the  marriage  when
Ranjana had come at the time of Kajaltiz in her  parents’  house,  she  went
there. At that time there a telephone call came, Rajana  attended  the  said
call and started weeping. She enquired from her (deceased) as to  the  cause
of her weeping. She stated that her in-laws were harassing her. So also  her
other in-laws  were  vexing  her.  She  stated  that  the  incident  of  the
telephone message received by the deceased Ranjana had occurred  2-3  months
prior to her death.
17.   Geeta (PW-7), another neighbor, stated that Ranjana when  met  her  at
the time of Kajaltiz after 2-3 months of her marriage she was not  appearing
to be  happy.  At  that  time,  she  enquired  from  Ranjana  the  cause  of
unhappiness, she told that her in-laws were getting the complete  work  done
from her but murmuring at the time of meals. They used  to  ask  for  dowry.
Ranjana had also stated that in case she watched T.V.  her-in-laws  used  to
say that she should have brought the T.V. from her parents.
18.   The statement of Chandrakanta(PW-8)  that  Ranjana  had  come  to  him
after 8-10 days of marriage and told that the members of  her  in-laws  were
torturing her throughout the day for T.V., Cooler, Almirah  and  Hero  Honda
Motorcycle, is consistent with the FIR. Omission of certain facts  does  not
make any  difference  as  the  same  is  corroborated  by  PW-12.  Similarly
omission of  statement  that  Rs.20,000/-  was  given  to  the  accused  for
almirah, cooler and TV is corroborated by PW.6. Therefore the said  omission
is not fatal to the prosecution.
19.   Chandrakanta(PW-8) categorically stated on her  examination  that  the
deceased disclosed that her in-laws were harassing her very  much;  she  was
not provided with food properly. This evidence is un-shattered in the cross-
examination and it is stated in the FIR itself.
20.    There is un-shattered evidence of Santoshbai (PW-6) about  the  dowry
demand and cruelty. That is when she  enquired  her  as  to  cause  for  her
weeping she stated that her mother-in-law and the  brother  of  her  husband
were very much harassing her. So also her other  in-laws  were  vexing  her.
This evidence also corroborates  the  complainant  Chandrakanta(PW-8)  about
the payment of money to accused  No.2  for  purchasing  of  the  house  hold
articles.
21.   Geeta (PW-7) categorically stated that the deceased told that her  in-
laws were getting the complete work done from  her.  The  verbal  abuse  was
stated to be on account of dowry. She also stated that in case  she  watched
TV her in-laws said that she should bring TV from her parents.
      Prior to one month  of  her  death,  she  stated  that  there  was  no
certainty of her life, this evidence is not shaken in the  cross-examination
and there are no improvements in the evidence of PW-6 & PW-7.
22.   Ranjit (PW-9) categorically stated in  his  evidence  that  after  2-4
days they had received telephonic message from the nurse of the Hospital  of
Dr. Kunda Tayade regarding hospitalization of Ranjana. Thereafter,  he,  his
mother (PW-8) and father (PW-11) had been to Hospital of  Dr.  Kunda  Tayade
and he noticed that his sister Ranjana was lying on the  bed  and  that  too
alone. Ranjana at that time disclosed that since last 2  days  she  was  not
provided food and as such she became weak. At that time they  came  to  know
that Ranjana was pregnant. He further stated that by  that  time  they  were
talking with Ranjana, accused Nos.2,  3 and 6 came  to  the  same  room  and
abused them and enquired as to who provided the address of the Hospital  and
thereafter his mother and father went and he waited in the hospital. He  had
also a talk with accused No.3. He himself  paid  the  amount  of  Rs.2,000/-
towards the fees of hospitalization of Ranjana.
23.   From the above mentioned facts, it is clear that there  was  a  demand
of  dowry  for  purchasing  Hero  Honda  Motorcycle  and  other  house  hold
articles. The evidence of torture is also  clear  from  the  fact  that  the
deceased was not provided food and as such she had become weak that  too  at
the time when she was in the 7th month of pregnancy.
24.   Section 304-B IPC relates to dowry death, which 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 purposes 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.”

      The expression “soon before her death”  is  used  in  the  substantive
Section 304-B IPC and Section 113-B of the Evidence Act. No definite  period
has been indicated and  the  expression  “soon  before  her  death”  is  not
defined. The determination of period which can come within  the  term  “soon
before” is left to be determined by the Court depending upon the  facts  and
circumstances of each case. In this connection one may  refer  the  case  of
Yashoda and another vs. State of M.P., 2004 (3) SCC 98.
25.   The presumption under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act  with  respect
to dowry death can be raised  only  on  the  proof  of  the  following  four
essential conditions:
1)    The woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment,
2)    by the husband or his relatives;
3)    For or in connection with any demand for dowry;
4)    soon before her death.
Refer Kaliyaperumal vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 2004 (9) SCC 157 [AIR  2003  SC
3828].

26.   Section 113-B of the Evidence Act reads as under:
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).

27.   In dowry death cases direct evidence may not be available. Such  cases
may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Section 304-B IPC read with  113-B
of the Evidence Act indicates the rule of presumption of dowry death. If  an
unnatural death of a married woman occurs within  7  years  of  marriage  in
suspicious circumstances, like due to burns or any other bodily  injury  and
there is cruelty or harassment  by  her  husband  or  relatives  for  or  in
connection with any demand for dowry soon before her death then it shall  be
dowry death.
28.    Section 306 IPC relates to abetment to suicide as follows:
“306. Abetment of suicide.—If any person commits suicide, whoever abets  the
commission of such suicide, shall be punished with  imprisonment  of  either
description for a term which may extend to ten  years,  and  shall  also  be
liable to fine.”

29.   Section 113-A of the Evidence Act deals with  presumption  as  to  the
abetment to suicide by a married woman, read as follows:

“113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a  married  woman.—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 Penal Code (45 of 1860).]"

30.   For the purpose of Section 113-A  IPC  cruelty  shall  have  the  same
meaning as in Section 498-A IPC which reads as follows:
“498A. Husband  or  relative  of  husband  of  a  woman  subjecting  her  to
cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative  of  the  husband  of  a
woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be  punished  with  imprisonment
for a term which may extend to three years  and  shall  also  be  liable  to
fine.

Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to  drive  the
woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb  or
health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the  woman  where  such  harassment  is  with  a  view  to
coercing her or any person related to her to meet any  unlawful  demand  for
any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or  any
person related to her to meet such demand.”
31.   In the  present  case  from  the  evidence  of  prosecution  witnesses
particularly  of  Santoshbai  (PW-6),  Geeta  (PW-7),  Chandrakanta  (PW-8),
Ranjit  (PW-9)  and  Ranchhod  Prasad  Pande  (PW-11),  we  find  that   the
harassment of the deceased was with a view to coerce  her  to  convince  her
parents to meet demand of dowry. The said willful  conduct  has  driven  the
deceased to commit the suicide or not is a matter of doubt,  in  absence  of
specific evidence. Therefore, in the light of Clause (b)  of  Section  498-A
IPC, when we hold all the accused Nos.1 to 6   guilty for the offence  under
Section 498-A IPC, we hold that the prosecution failed  to  prove  that  the
deceased committed suicide. The accused are, therefore,  acquitted  for  the
offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC. This part of the  judgment  passed  by
the Trial Court thus cannot be upheld.
32.   The prosecution on the basis of evidence has successfully proved  that
the deceased died within 7 years of her marriage; the death of the  deceased
is caused by burns i.e. nor under normal circumstances.  It  has  also  been
proved that soon before her death, during her  pregnancy  the  deceased  was
subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband and relatives of  accused
that is accused No.1-Shivpujan, accused  No.2-Rajendra,  accused  No.3-Malti
Devi, accused No.4-Anita, accused No.5-Surendra  and  accused  No.6-Virendra
in connection with demand of dowry. Therefore, we hold that the  prosecution
successfully proved with beyond reasonable doubt that  accused  Nos.1  to  6
are guilty for the offence under Section 304-B, r/w 34 IPC.
33.   For the reasons  aforesaid,  we  set  aside  the  major  part  of  the
judgment dated 18th August, 2005 passed by the High Court of  Judicature  at
Bombay, Nagpur Bench, Nagpur in Criminal Appeal NO.388 of  2005  except  the
part relating to offence under Section 306 r/w 34 IPC.  The  judgment  dated
20th July, 2005 passed by the Trial Court in Sessions Case  No.447  of  2000
holding accused Nos.1 to 6 guilty for the offence u/s 498A and 304B IPC.  is
upheld but the part of the judgment relating to offence  under  Section  306
r/w 34 IPC against the accused Nos.1 to 6 stands set aside by  the  judgment
passed by the High Court. The respondents- accused  No.1-Shivpujan,  accused
No.2-Rajendra, accused No.3-Malti Devi, accused  No.4-Anita,  accused  No.5-
Surendra and accused  No.6-Virendra  be  taken  into  custody  forthwith  to
undergo the remainder period of sentence for offence  under  Section   498-A
and 304-B read with 34 IPC.
34.   The appeals are allowed to the extent above.

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



                                                          …………………………………………J.
NEW DELHI,                              (V. GOPALA GOWDA)
JULY 8, 2014.

ITEM NO.IA                   COURT NO.6               SECTION IIA
(For judgment)

               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Criminal Appeal No(s). 719/2010

STATE OF MAHARASHTRA                               Appellant(s)

                                VERSUS

RAJENDRA & ORS.                                    Respondent(s)

WITH

Criminal Appeal No. 720 of 2010

Date : 08/07/2014 These appeals were called on for judgment today.

For Appellant(s)
                     Mr. Aniruddha P. Mayee ,Adv.

For Respondent(s)
                       Mr. K.L. Taneja, Adv.
                       Mr. Sanjay Jain,Adv.
                       Ms. Asha Gopalan Nair, Adv.


            Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya  pronounced  the
judgment of the Bench comprising His Lordship and  Hon'ble  Mr.  Justice  V.
Gopala Gowda.

            The appeals are allowed to the extent indicated  in  the  signed
judgment.



(Sukhbir Paul Kaur)                            (Usha Sharma)
   Court Master                                 Court Master

            (Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)






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