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Monday, December 12, 2016

Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code=A plain perusal of the above quote also reveals that apart from an omnibus grievance against her in-laws to be responsible for their death, for which according to her, they ought to be punished, there is no reference or disclosure of any specific incident in support thereof. The suicide note divulges her ownership of lands and house which per se belies the charge that she had been denied the share of her husband in the family property. Noticeably, no attempt was made by the prosecution to prove the author of the text through an expert and both the courts below solely based their conclusion, in this regard on the evidence of PWs 5 and 6, the brothers of Surjit, who identified the contents to be that of hers again on eye estimation.-Though for the purposes of the case in hand, the first limb of the explanation is otherwise germane, proof of the willful conduct actuating the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health, whether mental of physical, is the sine qua non for entering a finding of cruelty against the person charged.-The materials on record, to reiterate, do not suggest even remotely any act of cruelty, oppression, harassment or inducement so as to persistently provoke or compel the deceased to resort to self-extinction being left with no other alternative. No such continuous and proximate conduct of the appellant or his family members with the required provocative culpability or lethal instigative content is discernible to even infer that the deceased Surjit Kaur and her daughters had been pushed to such a distressed state, physical or mental that they elected to liquidate themselves as if to seek a practical alleviation from their unbearable earthly miseries.- ingredients of the offence of Section 306 IPC have remained unproved and thus the appellant deserves to be acquitted. The findings to the contrary recorded by the courts below cannot be sustained on the touchstone of the law adumbrated by this Court as well as the facts involved. The appeal is thus allowed.

                                                                REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1135 OF 2016
             (ARISING OUT OF S.L.P (CRIMINAL) NO. 8764 OF 2016)

GURCHARAN SINGH                                .…APPELLANT

VERSUS

STATE OF PUNJAB                                  ....RESPONDENT

                               J U D G M E N T

AMITAVA ROY, J.


1.    In assailment is the judgement and order dated  17.12.2014  passed  by
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal No. S-
566-SB of 2004, affirming the conviction of  the  appellant  and  co-accused
Sukhvinder Singh under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter  to
be referred to as “IPC”), as entered by  the  Trial  Court.   While  by  the
decision  impugned,  the  conviction  has  been  endorsed,  the  substantive
sentence of six years  of rigorous imprisonment awarded by the  Trial  Court
to each of the accused persons has been scaled down to one of five years  of
the same description.  The instant appeal seeks to overturn  the  concurrent
 determinations on the charge by the courts below.
2.    We have heard Ms. Kawaljit Kochar, learned counsel for  the  appellant
and Mr. V. Madhukar, learned counsel for the respondent.
3.    The fascicule of facts, indispensable to comprehend  the  backdrop  of
the prosecution, has its origin in  the  inexplicable  abandonment   of  the
deceased Surjit Kaur  and her two daughters namely;  Geet  Pahul  and  Preet
Pahul by Dr. Jaspal Singh, their husband and father respectively, about  two
years prior to the tragic end of his three family  members  as  above.   The
prosecution version is that Dr. Jaspal  Singh,  who  was  initially  in  the
Government service, had  relinquished the same and started  a  coal  factory
at Muktsar. He suffered  loss  in the business and  consequently  failed  to
repay the loan availed by him in this regard from the  bank.  As he and  his
brother Gurcharan Singh (appellant  herein)  and  others  succeeded  to  the
property  left  by  their  predecessors,  he  started  medical  practice  in
private.
4.    Be that as  it   may,  before  leaving  his  family,  he  addressed  a
communication to the concerned bank expressing his inability  to  repay  the
loan inspite of his best efforts as he was not possessed of any property  in
his name.  Dr. Jaspal Singh was thereafter  not  to  be  traced.   Following
this turn of events, according to the prosecution,   his  wife  Surjit  Kaur
and his daughters shifted from Jalalabad where they used to stay  to  Abohar
and started residing in a rented house of one Hansraj (PW3).   According  to
them, they  had no source of income and further, they were also deprived  of
their share in the property and other entitlements,  otherwise  supposed  to
devolve on  Dr.  Jaspal  Singh.   They  were  also  not  provided  with  any
maintenance by the family members of her husband – Jaspal Singh and  instead
were ill-treated, harassed and intimidated.
5.    While the matter rested at that, on 3.10.2000  at  about  10.30  p.m.,
Hansraj, the landlord of the deceased Surjit Kaur,  being  suspicious  about
prolonged  and  unusual  lack  of  response  by  his  tenants,  though   the
television in their room was  on,  informed  the  brother  of  the  deceased
Surjit Kaur.  Thereafter they broke open the door of the room and found  all
three lying dead.   The police was informed and FIR was lodged.
6.    In course of the inquisition, the Investigating  Officer  collected  a
suicide note in the  handwriting of Surjit Kaur and also  subscribed  to  by
her daughter Preet Bahul.   The suicide note implicated the  appellant,  his
wife Ajit Kaur and the convicted  co-accused Sukhvinder  Singh  @  Goldy  as
being responsible  for  their  wretched  condition,  driving  them  in   the
ultimate to  take the extreme step.   A note book containing  some  letters,
written by deceased Geet Pahul was also recovered.   On  the  completion  of
the investigation, which included, amongst  others  the  collection  of  the
post-mortem report which confirmed  death due to consumption   of  aluminium
phosphide,  a  pesticide,  charge-sheet  was  submitted  against  the  three
persons named hereinabove along with Satnam Kaur under Section 306/34 IPC.
7.    Whereas Satnam Kaur died during the committal proceedings, charge  was
framed  against  the  remaining  accused  persons  namely;  Gurcharan  Singh
(appellant),  Ajit  Kaur  and   Sukhvinder   Singh   @   Goldy   under   the
aforementioned provisions of the Code.  As the accused  persons  claimed  to
be innocent, they were made to face trial.
8. At the trial, the prosecution  examined  eight  witnesses  including  the
doctor, who had  performed the  autopsy  on  the  dead  body.   The  accused
persons stood by the denial of the charge in their statements under  Section
313 Cr.P.C. and also examined five witnesses in defence.
9.    The Trial Court, on a scrutiny  of  the  evidence  adduced,  held  the
appellant herein and the co-accused Sukhvinder Singh to  be  guilty  of  the
charge levelled against them and awarded them the sentence as hereto  before
mentioned.  It, however, acquitted the co-accused Ajit Kaur.  To  reiterate,
by the impugned verdict, the conviction of the appellant and the  co-accused
Sukhvinder Singh has been upheld  with  the  marginal  modification  in  the
substantive sentence as aforementioned.
10.    Mrs.  Kawaljit  Kochar,  learned  counsel  for  the   appellant   has
emphatically urged  that  the  evidence  on  record  does  not  furnish  the
ingredients  of abetment as visualised in Section 306 of the Code and  thus,
the conviction is manifestly illegal and is  liable  to  be  set-aside.   It
being patent from the materials on record that the deceased Surjit Kaur  and
her daughters, had been duly accorded their share  in  the  family  property
and that they had sufficient  means  to  independently  maintain  themselves
with reasonable comfort, the accusation to the contrary, as levelled by  the
prosecution, is wholly unfounded, she insisted.  According  to  the  learned
counsel, the in-laws  of  the  deceased  Surjit  Kaur  had  throughout  been
considerate, compassionate and supportive towards her and two daughters  and
that the suicide committed by them  had been on their own volition  and  not
as a result of any torture, harassment and oppression by them,  as  alleged.
The learned counsel has maintained  that  the  suicide  note  has  not  been
proved in the handwriting of Surjit Kaur as well and thus,  there  being  no
evidence  whatsoever  in  corroboration  of  the  charge  of  abetment,  the
conviction and sentence is  liable  to  be  set-aside  in  the  interest  of
justice.
11.   Per contra, the learned counsel for  the  respondent,   has  urged  in
confutation,  that  the  evidence  of  the   prosecution   witnesses,   more
particularly  of  (Gurjeet  Singh)  PW5  and   Gaganjit  Singh  (PW6),   the
brothers of Surjit Kaur as well as the medical  testimony,  has  proved  the
imputation against the  appellant and  co-accused  Sukhvinder  Singh  beyond
all reasonable doubt and in the face of concurrent findings recorded by  the
courts below, on an in-depth  appraisal  of  the  materials  on  record,  no
interference with the impugned judgement  and order is warranted.
12.   Though, in the teeth of the  sequential   findings  of  guilt  of  the
courts below, normally, reappraisal of the evidence  is  otherwise  uncalled
for, we are impelled to embark upon that  exercise,  having  regard  to  the
rival assertions in the unique facts and circumstances of  the  case.   This
is more so, as in controversion of the allegation of wilful  and  deliberate
deprivation of the deceased Surjit Kaur and her daughters of their share  in
the family property, as laid by the prosecution, evidence  has  surfaced  to
the contrary, being  conceded  by  her  brothers  in  the  course  of  their
testimony at the trial.
13.   PW3 Hans Raj, the landlord stated on oath  that  the  deceased  Surjit
Kaur and her daughters used to reside in the first floor of his  house.   On
the date of the incident, at about 10.00 p.m. his wife reported to him  that
though the lights of that floor  were  off,  the  television  was  on.   The
witness thereafter along with his wife knocked the door of the apartment  of
the deceased, but there was no response.  After waiting for some  time,  the
witness informed Gurjit Singh and Gaganjit Singh,  the  brothers  of  Surjit
Kaur, and on their arrival, as the same state  of  affairs  continued,  they
broke open the door and found all the three  lying  dead.   The  police  was
thereafter informed.  According to this witness, even after  this  incident,
none of the accused persons or the in-laws of Surjit  did  come  to  inquire
about the same.
14.   In  cross-examination,  the  witness  mentioned  that  all  the  three
deceased used  to  remain  dejected  and  depressed.   They  however,  often
visited the parents and the brothers of Surjit.  He  disclosed  that  Surjit
had a house at Abohar.  He admitted that at no point  of  time,  Surjit  and
her daughters did complain to him about any threat extended by  the  accused
persons.  The witness disclosed that though Surjit had expended  substantial
amount on the coaching of her daughter, she failed in the  examination,  for
which she was morose and anguished.  The witness opined that Surjit and  her
daughters  had  committed  suicide   out  of   grief   for   their   missing
husband/father. According to him,  the  accused  persons  were  not  in  any
manner responsible for their death.
15.   PW4 Dr. Kalra, who had performed the post-mortem examination of  Preet
Bahul, testified on the basis of the report of the chemical analysis of  her
viscera that death was due to consumption of aluminum phosphide   which  was
sufficient to cause death in due course of time.  To  the  same  effect,  is
the evidence of PW11 Dr. Thakral vis-a-vis Surjit and her daughter Geet.
16.   PW5 and PW6 Gurjit and Gaganjit,  the  brothers  of  Surjit  Kaur  did
depose in similar lines.  They stated that at the time of their death,  Geet
and Preet were aged 22 years and 18 years respectively. They reiterated  the
version narrated in the FIR pertaining to the sudden disappearance of  their
brother-in-law Dr. Jaspal Singh,  husband  of  Surjit,  he  having  suffered
losses in business.  They also mentioned that,  at  that  time,  Dr.  Jaspal
Singh had heavy outstanding dues qua the bank.  They disclosed as well  that
after the death of Jaktar Singh, the father  of Dr. Jaspal,  their  brother-
in-law along with his brothers inherited  the  joint  property.   They  also
reiterated the narration of the facts preceding the discovery  of  the  dead
bodies as recited by PW3.  They  confirmed  the  recovery  and  seizure  of,
amongst others the diary containing the suicide note.  They  identified  the
text of the  suicide  note  in  the  hand  of  their  sister  Surjit.   They
identified the signature of Preet also thereon.  These  witnesses  in  their
examination-in-chief, though  alleged  that  their  sister  and  nieces  had
committed suicide because they were deprived of their  share  in  the  joint
properties, and for which they suffered from sustained depression, in cross-
examination, they  acknowledged  a  sale  deed  executed  by  the  appellant
Gurucharan in favour of Surjit regarding half share in the house at  Abohar,
which was also a segment of the family  property.   They  conceded  as  well
that Satnam Kaur, the mother-in-law of Surjit might have issued a cheque  of
Rs.68,650/- in her name and that she had opened an account therewith in  the
name of her brother Gagandeep.  They admitted  that there was  a  parcel  of
land in the name of deceased Surjit at Muktsar.  When  confronted  with  the
statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C., they admitted of not having  disclosed
to the Investigating Officer, that the share in land  of  Dr.  Jaspal  Singh
had not been given to Surjit Kaur.  They accepted that the main  reason  for
the depression of the deceased was the absence of near and close  relatives.
 They conceded that neither Surjit nor they had ever  lodged  any  complaint
with the police against the accused person for the ill-treatment  meted  out
to her or  for  denying  her  entitlements  in  the  joint  property.   They
admitted as well that no civil suit had been filed in that regard.
17.   PW6, in addition admitted his signature on the sale deed  executed  by
appellant Gurucharan in favour of Surjit.  According to PW6, the  sale  deed
was executed in a family settlement after Jaspal  Singh  had  gone  missing.
This witness disclosed as well that  the  appellant  and  the  other  family
members were ready to transfer  the  share  of  his  brother-in-law  to  his
sister.
18.   The evidence on record, to start  with,  in  our  estimate,  does  not
substantiate  the  imputation  that   Surjit  and  her  daughters  had  been
deprived wholly of their shares in the joint family property  as  the  heirs
of Dr. Jaspal Singh.  Admittedly, there is no  proof  of  any  threat  being
extended by the appellant or anyone of  the  in-laws  of  Surjit  so  as  to
reduce them to destitutes in a petrified state.  The  disappearance  of  Dr.
Jaspal Singh, the husband of  Surjit,  father  of  Preet  and  Geet   though
unfortunate, the event had occurred about two years prior to  the  incident.
Neither the appellant nor the in-laws of Surjit did have any  role  in  this
regard.  The absence of any complaint or civil litigation  also  permits  an
inference against the denial of the share in the family property  to  Surjit
and her daughters or of any ill-treatment, torture, oppression meted out  to
them.  There is thus neither any proximate nor remote acts  of  omission  or
commission on the part of the appellant and his family members that  can  be
irrefutably construed to be a direct or indirect cause or factor  compelling
Surjit and her daughters to take the extreme step of self-elimination.
19.   The suicide note which transpires  to  be  the  sheet  anchor  of  the
prosecution case needs extraction for reference as hereunder.
“The whole of my land and property  should  be  given  to  National  Defence
Fund.  The family of my in-laws especially  my  mother-in-law,  Jeth  Master
Gurcharan Singh, his wife Ajit Kaur and his son Goldy  are  responsible  for
our death.  My younger daughter is still minor.

My husband was also to die by them. Now how can we live when our  living  is
more than a hell.  I pleaded before the Prime Minister, President and  Chief
Minister but there is no one for me in this society.  I also  filed  a  case
before the Human Rights Commission.  This is  our  cultured  and  democratic
society.  I struggled continuously for 1  ½  years  but  now  no  more.   My
daughters are so intelligent that one is  doing  pre-medical  test  and  the
second is doing Master of Computer Applications.  This is the reason that  I
bore all such pains but  still remain alive.  If there  is  any  justice  in
this cultured and democratic society then at  least  my  in-laws  should  be
punished after our death and every common man should get justice.

My two biggas land of Diwan Khera, 4  ½  biggas  land  of  Sajrana  and  4/5
kanals land at Muktsar should go to Mission Hospital, Muktsar.  No  body  is
entitled for my two plots in Bharat Colony Bathinda and my  house  in  Anand
Nagri, Abohar.  All the sale deeds  of  the  land  are  lying  by  my  side.
Suicide note  of my husband is also lying here which I  was  forced  not  to
hand over to the police on 22  March  1999  and  assurance  that  I  and  my
children would be looked after in a very good manner.
                                                 Sd/ Surjit Kaur”
This is however the translated version of the original  which  is  in  Hindi
script.
20.   A plain perusal of the above quote also reveals  that  apart  from  an
omnibus grievance against her in-laws to be  responsible  for  their  death,
for which according  to  her,  they  ought  to  be  punished,  there  is  no
reference or disclosure of any specific incident in  support  thereof.   The
suicide note divulges her ownership of lands and house which per  se  belies
the charge that she had been denied the share of her husband in  the  family
property. Noticeably, no attempt was made by the prosecution  to  prove  the
author of the text through an expert and both the courts below solely  based
their conclusion, in this regard on  the  evidence  of  PWs  5  and  6,  the
brothers of Surjit, who identified the contents to be that of hers again  on
eye estimation.
21.   Section 306 of the Code prescribes  the  punishment  for  abetment  of
suicide and is designed thus:
“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.”

22.   It is thus manifest that the offence punishable is one of abetment  of
the commission of suicide by any person, predicating   existence of  a  live
link or nexus between the two,  abetment  being  the  propelling   causative
factor.  The basic ingredients of this provision are suicidal death and  the
abetment thereof.  To constitute abetment, the intention and involvement  of
the accused to aid or instigate the commission  of  suicide  is  imperative.
Any severance or absence of any of this constituents would militate  against
this indictment. Remoteness of the culpable acts or omissions rooted in  the
intention of the accused to actualize the suicide would fall short  as  well
of the offence of abetment essential to  attract  the  punitive  mandate  of
Section 306 IPC.  Contiguity, continuity, culpability and complicity of  the
indictable acts  or  omission  are  the  concomitant  indices  of  abetment.
Section 306 IPC, thus criminalises  the sustained incitement for suicide.
      Section 107 IPC defines abetment and is extracted hereunder:

“107. Abetment of a thing. – A person abets the doing of a thing, who –

First – Instigates any  person to do that thing; or

Secondly – Engages with  one   or  more  other  person  or  persons  in  any
conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission  takes
place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to  the  doing  of  that
thing; or

Thirdly – Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the  doing  of
that thing.

Explanation 1 – A person, who by  wilful  misrepresentation,  or  by  wilful
concealment of a material fact which he is bound  to  disclose,  voluntarily
causes or procures or attempts to cause or procure, a thing  to be done,  is
said to instigate the doing of that doing.

Explanation 2 – Whoever, either prior to or at the time  of  the  commission
of an act, does anything in order to facilitate the commission of that  act,
and thereby facilitate the commission thereof, is said to aid the  doing  of
that act.”

23.   Not only the acts and  omissions  defining  the  offence  of  abetment
singularly or  in  combination  are  enumerated  therein,  the  explanations
adequately encompass all conceivable facets of the culpable conduct  of  the
offender relatable thereto.
24.   Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872  permits  a  presumption
as  to the abetment  of suicide by a married woman  by her  husband  or  any
relative of his,  if it is proved that she had committed the act   within  a
period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband  or
such relative of his  had subjected her  to  cruelty.   The  explanation  to
this Section  exposits “cruelty” to have the same meaning as  attributed  to
this expression in Section 498A IPC.  For ready reference, Section  113A  of
the Indian Evidence Act, 1882 is quoted hereunder as well.
“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).”

25.   In the legislative backdrop outlined hereinabove, Section 498A of  the
Code also demand extraction.

“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.”



26.   This provision, as the quote hereinabove reveals, renders the  husband
of a woman or the relative of his, punishable thereby with imprisonment  for
a term which may extend to three years and also fine, if  they  or  any  one
of them subject her to cruelty.  The explanation thereto defining  “cruelty”
enfolds:

  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

 harassment of the woman, where it 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.

27.   Though for the purposes of the case in hand, the  first  limb  of  the
explanation is otherwise germane, proof of  the  willful  conduct  actuating
the woman to commit suicide or   to cause grave injury  or danger  to  life,
limb or health, whether  mental  of  physical,  is  the  sine  qua  non  for
entering a finding of cruelty against the person charged.
28.   The pith and purport of Section 306 IPC has since been  enunciated  by
this Court in Randhir Singh vs. State of Punjab  (2004)13 SCC 129,  and  the
relevant excerpts therefrom are set out hereunder.

“12.  Abetment  involves  a  mental  process  of  instigating  a  person  or
intentionally aiding  that  person  in  doing  of  a  thing.   In  cases  of
conspiracy also it would  involve  that  mental  process  of  entering  into
conspiracy  for  the doing of that thing.  More active  role  which  can  be
described as  instigating or aiding the doing of a thing is required  before
a person can be said   to  be  abetting  the  commission  of  offence  under
Section 306 IPC.

13.  In State of W.B. Vs. Orilal Jaiswal (1994) 1 SCC  73,  this  Court  has
observed that the courts  should  be  extremely  careful  in  assessing  the
facts and circumstances of each case and the evidence adduced in  the  trial
for  the purpose of finding whether the cruelty meted out to the victim  had
in  fact  induced  her  to  end  the  life  by  committing  suicide.  If  it
transpires   to  the  court   that   a   victim   committing   suicide   was
hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and  differences  in  domestic
life quite common to the society to which  the  victim   belonged  and  such
petulance, discord and differences were not expected to  induce a  similarly
circumstanced  individual   in  a  given  society  to  commit  suicide,  the
conscience of the court should not be satisfied for basing  a  finding  that
the accused charged of abetting the  offence  of  suicide  should  be  found
guilty.”


29.   Significantly, this Court  underlined  by  referring  to  its  earlier
pronouncement in Orilal Jaiswal  (supra) that courts  have to  be  extremely
careful in assessing  the facts and circumstances of each case to  ascertain
as to whether  cruelty had been meted out to the victim and  that  the  same
had induced the person to end his/her life by committing suicide,  with  the
caveat that if the victim committing suicide appears  to  be  hypersensitive
to ordinary petulance, discord and  differences   in  domestic  life,  quite
common to the society to which he or she belonged and such factors were  not
expected to induce a similarly circumstanced individual to resort  to   such
step, the accused charged with  abetment could not be held guilty.
The above view was reiterated in Amalendu Pal @ Jhantu  vs.  State  of  West
Bengal (2010) 1 SCC 707.
30.   That the intention of the legislature is that in order  to  convict  a
person under Section 306 IPC, there  has to be a clear mens  rea  to  commit
an offence and that there ought to be an  active or direct act  leading  the
deceased to commit suicide, being left with no option, had  been  propounded
by this Court in  S.S. Chheena vs. Vijay Kumar Mahajan (2010) 12 SCC 190.
31.   In Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal vs. State of Gujarat  (2013)  10  SCC  48,
this Court, with reference to Section  113A  of  the  Indian  Evidence  Act,
1872, while observing that the criminal law amendment  bringing  forth  this
provision was  necessitated to meet the social  challenge   of  saving   the
married woman from  being ill-treated or forcing to commit  suicide  by  the
husband or his relatives demanding dowry, it was underlined that the  burden
of proving  the  preconditions  permitting  the  presumption   as  ingrained
therein, squarely   and  singularly   lay  on  the  prosecution.   That  the
prosecution as well has  to  establish  beyond  reasonable  doubt  that  the
deceased had committed suicide on being abetted by the person charged  under
Section 306 IPC, was emphasised.
32.   The assessment of the evidence on record as above, in  our  considered
opinion, does not demonstrate with unqualified clarity and  conviction,  any
role of the appellant or the  other  implicated  in-laws   of  the  deceased
Surjit Kaur, as contemplated by the above provisions  so  as  to  return  an
unassailable finding of  their  culpability  under  Section  306  IPC.   The
materials on record, to reiterate, do not suggest even remotely  any act  of
cruelty, oppression, harassment or inducement so as to persistently  provoke
or compel the deceased to resort  to  self-extinction  being  left  with  no
other  alternative.   No  such  continuous  and  proximate  conduct  of  the
appellant or his family members with the  required  provocative  culpability
or lethal instigative  content  is  discernible   to  even  infer  that  the
deceased  Surjit  Kaur   and  her  daughters  had  been  pushed  to  such  a
distressed  state,  physical  or  mental  that  they  elected  to  liquidate
themselves as if to seek  a  practical  alleviation  from  their  unbearable
earthly miseries.
33.   In the wake up of the  above  determination,  we  are,  thus,  of  the
unhesitant opinion that the ingredients of the offence of  Section  306  IPC
have remained unproved and thus the  appellant  deserves  to  be  acquitted.
The findings to  the  contrary  recorded  by  the  courts  below  cannot  be
sustained on the touchstone of the law adumbrated by this Court as  well  as
the facts involved.  The appeal is thus allowed.   The  appellant  would  be
set at liberty from custody, if his detention is not required in  connection
with any other case.

.............................................J.
                                               (DIPAK MISRA)



                              …...........................................J.
                                               (AMITAVA ROY)
NEW DELHI;
DECEMBER 2, 2016.

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