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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Inquest panchanama Ext.13 and post mortem report Ext.14 show that there were no marks of injury on the body and that the deceased had died as a result of drowning. Thus, the theory that Poonam was done to death earlier and thereafter her body was thrown into the well, was rightly not accepted by the Courts below. As regards demands for dowry the evidence unfolded through the family members of the deceased namely PWs 3, 4 and 5 is completely sketchy and does not establish the case at all. All these three witnesses were declared hostile. Even according to their testimony the couple lived happily for two to three years and was blessed with two children. Nothing has been established on record as to the demands for dowry and regarding harassment or cruelty. PW 3 Ananda went on to state that two days prior to the incident Poonam had seen Respondent No.1 in a compromising position with another lady. This part was rightly not accepted by the Courts below as amounting to cruelty or harassment enough to bring the case under Section 306 of IPC.

                                                              Non-Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 285 OF 2017


ANANDA BAPU PUNDE @ KOLI                           ... Appellant
                                      Versus
BALASAHEB ANNA KOLI & ORS.                          … Respondents

                               J U D G M E N T
Uday Umesh Lalit, J.


1.    Respondent Nos.1 and 2, husband and mother-in-law of one  Poonam  were
tried for having committed her murder within 7 years of  marriage  with  the
Respondent No.1.  According to  the  prosecution,  at  about  8:00  a.m.  on
11.06.2002 a message was received by PW 3 Ananda-father of Poonam  that  she
was missing since previous night, whereafter the father,  mother  and  other
persons from the family reached the house of Respondent  Nos.1  and  2.   On
12.06.2002, the body of Poonam was  found  in  a  well.   This  led  to  the
lodging of FIR Ext.164 by PW 3 Ananda. The Inquest panchanama Ext.13  showed
that no injuries were found on the neck, throat or other parts of  the  body
of said Poonam.  According to Post mortem report Ext.14 the cause  of  death
was asphyxia due to drowning.  After due  investigation,   charge-sheet  was
filed and charges were framed against Respondent Nos.1 and 2 and  father  of
Respondent No.1 (who  died  during  the  pendency  of  the  trial)  for  the
offences punishable under  Sections  498A,  304B,  306  and  302  read  with
Section 34 IPC by the Court of Additional Sessions  Judge,  Ichalkaranji  in
Sessions Case No.6 of 2005.

2.    In support of its case, the prosecution principally  relied  upon  the
evidence of PW 3 Ananda-father, PW  4  Sarjerao-brother  and  PW  5  Shalan-
mother of the deceased Poonam.  According to their testimony,  the  marriage
had taken place on 05.05.1996 and the couple was  blessed  with  a  daughter
and a son; that two to three years after the marriage  the  accused  started
demanding Rs.50,000/-, refrigerator, sofa set and five tolas of gold by  way
of dowry and since these demands were not fulfilled, the in-laws  of  Poonam
were harassing her physically and mentally.   It  was  further  stated  that
Respondent No.1 had illicit relation with another lady.

3.    The trial court by its judgment and order dated  28.06.2012  acquitted
Respondent Nos.1 and 2 of all the charges leveled against  them.   According
to the trial court the death was as a result of  drowning  and  since  there
were no marks of any physical injury on the body, the case that  Poonam  was
done to death earlier and thereafter her body  was  thrown  into  the  well,
could not be accepted.  As regards demands for dowry and cruelty in  respect
thereof, the trial court found that the prosecution  had  completely  failed
to prove these aspects.  It was observed  that  PWs  3,  4  and  5  had  not
supported the case of prosecution on  material  aspects  and  were  in  fact
declared hostile.  The trial court thus observed that none  of  the  charges
leveled by the prosecution were substantiated by evidence on record.

4.    Being aggrieved, Criminal Appeal No.787 of 2013 was preferred  by  the
appellant i.e. PW 3 Ananda challenging the judgment of acquittal.  The  High
Court after going through the matter was in agreement  with  the  assessment
made by the trial court and by its Order  dated  13.09.2013  dismissed  said
Criminal Appeal.

5.    This appeal by special leave  seeks  to  challenge  the  judgments  of
acquittal rendered by the trial court and the High Court.

We have heard the learned counsel and gone through the record.

7.    Inquest panchanama Ext.13 and post  mortem  report  Ext.14  show  that
there were no marks of injury on the body and that the deceased had died  as
a result of drowning.  Thus, the  theory  that  Poonam  was  done  to  death
earlier and thereafter her body was thrown into the well,  was  rightly  not
accepted by the Courts below.  As regards demands  for  dowry  the  evidence
unfolded through the family members of the deceased namely PWs 3,  4  and  5
is completely sketchy and does not establish the case  at  all.   All  these
three witnesses were declared hostile.  Even according  to  their  testimony
the couple lived happily for two to three years and  was  blessed  with  two
children.  Nothing has been established on record  as  to  the  demands  for
dowry and regarding harassment or cruelty.  PW 3 Ananda  went  on  to  state
that two days prior to the incident Poonam had seen  Respondent  No.1  in  a
compromising  position  with  another  lady.   This  part  was  rightly  not
accepted by the Courts below as amounting to cruelty  or  harassment  enough
to bring the case under Section 306 of IPC.

8.    In the circumstances the Courts below  were  completely  justified  in
acquitting the Respondent Nos.1 and 2 of the charges leveled  against  them.
We find no error in  their  judgments  and  therefore  dismiss  the  present
appeal.

            ….…………………….J.
      (Adarsh Kumar Goel)


            ………………………..J.
      (Uday Umesh Lalit)
      New Delhi,
      March 09, 2017

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