Acquitted in Dowry death – High salaried person asking small amount of money

IN THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA AT BANGALORE

DATED THIS THE 27th DAY OF JANUARY 2014

PRESENT

THE HON’BLE Dr. JUSTICE K.BHAKTHAVATSALA AND THE HON’BLE Mr. JUSTICE K.N.KESHAVANARAYANA

CRIMINAL APPEAL No.1264/2010

BETWEEN :

The State of Karnataka,
By Jalahally Police Station,Bangalore. …APPELLANT
(By Sri.K.R.Keshava Murthy, Addl. SPP)

AND :

1. Venkatachalapathi @ Chalapathi,
Aged about 33 years,
S/o.late C.Venkataram,
R/o.No.527/3, 2nd ‘V’ Cross,Muthyalammanagar,MES Road,Bangalore.

2. Smt.Varalakshmi,
Aged about 63 years,
W/o.late C.Venkataram
R/o.No.20/1, 3rd Cross,2nd ‘V’ Cross,Muthyalammanagar,MES Road,Jalahally,Bangalore.

3. V.Ravi @ Ravikumar,
Aged 44 years,
2nd Main,Near Om Shakti Temple,Muthyalammanagar,Bangalore.

4. Smt.Vimala,
Aged 37 years,
W/o.Ramesha,
R/o.No.20/1, 3rd Cross,Bahubali Nagar,MES Road,Jalahally,Bangalore. …RESPONDENTS

(By Sri.A.John Bosco, Adv. For R-1 2),
Sri.Vijaykumar Prakash, Adv. For R-3 4)

This Criminal Appeal is filed u/s.378(1) (3) Cr.P.C.,
by the SPP praying to grant leave to file an appeal against
the Judgement dt.18.3.2010 passed by the P.O, FTC-IX,
Bangalore in S.C.No.374/07 – acquitting the respondents
for the offence p/u/s.498-A 304-B of IPC u/s.3 4 of D.P.Act.

This Criminal Appeal coming on for hearing, this day,
Dr.Bhakthavatsala, J, delivered the following:

JUDGMENT

This is an appeal filed by the State under Section 378(1) and (3) of Cr.P.C., challenging the Judgment dated 18.03.2010 made in S.C.No.374/2007 on the file of Fast Track Court No.IX, at Bangalore city, acquitting the respondents/accused for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 304-B read with Section 34 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

2. For the purpose of convenience and better understanding, the Respondents 1 to 4 are hereinafter referred to as ‘Accused Nos.1, 2, 3 and 4’, respectively as arraigned in the Sessions Case.

3. Brief facts of the case leading to the filing of the appeal may be stated as under:

The deceased Sathyavathi is the wife of the Respondent No.1/Accused No.1. Their marriage was performed on 18.10.2004. Accused No.2 is the mother of the Accused No.1 and mother-in-law of the deceased Sathyavathi; Accused No.3 is the elder brother of Accused No.1 and brother-in-law of the deceased. Accused No.4 is the elder sister of the Accused No.1. After the marriage of  Accused No.1 with the deceased, they were residing together at Bangalore. Out of the wedlock, the deceased Sathyavathi delivered a female child in the month of August 2005. It is stated that the accused used to ill-treat and harass Sathyavathi for want of additional dowry and as a result of which, on 15.08.2006 at 12 midnight, she attempted to commit suicide by hanging. After the Accused No.1 noticed it, he took her to the hospital for treatment, but she died on 18.08.2006. After the victim was admitted to hospital, the accused intimated the same to the mother of the deceased/P.W.13/Smt.Veeramma. Thereafter, P.W.13/ Smt.Veeramma, mother of the victim and P.W.8/Smt.Venkatasubbamma and others came to the hospital. After the death of Sathyavathi, P.W.8/sister of the deceased lodged a complaint with the police. The Investigating Officer laid charge-sheet against the accused for the above said offences. The accused were committed to Sessions Court for trial. The accused have denied the case of prosecution. They faced trial for the above said offences. In support of the case of the prosecution, it has got examined 20 witnesses, got marked 21 documents and got exhibited M.Os.1 to 4. After the evidence on the side of prosecution was over, statement of the accused under Section 313 Cr.P.C., was recorded. The accused have denied all the incriminating circumstances appearing in the prosecution witnesses. Accused have not adduced any defence evidence. The Trial Court, after hearing arguments, perusing oral and documentary evidence on record, held that the prosecution failed to prove the charges levelled against the accused and acquitted them. This is impugned in this appeal.

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4. Learned Addl. SPP submits that though P.W.2/Smt.Leelavathi, co-tenant of the accused, P.W.3/Suresh and his wife P.W.16/Smt.Devi, owners of the house (where accused and deceased were living together), P.W.16/Smt.Devi, spot mahazar witness turned hostile to prosecution. Evidence of P.W.8/Smt.Venkatasubbamma elder sister, P.W.6/Shekhar, brother-in-law of deceased and evidence of P.W.13/Smt.Veeramma, mother of the deceased, is sufficient to convict the accused for the charges levelled against the them, but the Trial Court erred in acquitting the accused. He submits that the impugned Judgment may be set aside and the accused may be convicted for the offences with which they were charged.

5. Learned counsel appearing for the respondents submits that there is no material placed on record to establish that there was any dowry demand and harassment in that regard. He submits that a week before the alleged incident, the first birthday of the female child of the accused and the deceased, was celebrated and it is in evidence that all of them were living happily. It is stated that due to neurological problem, the deceased attempted to commit suicide and in spite of Accused No.1 taking deceased to the hospital, she died and the Trial Court has rightly acquitted the accused of the charges levelled against him.

6. In the light of the arguments, the only point that arises for our consideration is:

 “Whether the impugned Judgment calls for our interference?”

7. Our answer to the above point is in the negative for the following reasons:

At the very outset, we must mention that there is no material evidence on record to show that the Accused Nos.2, 3 and 4 were living with the Accused No.1 at the time of death of Sathyavathi. The co-tenant of Accused No.1 and owners of the house, viz., P.W.3 and his wife/P.W.16 have not supported the case of prosecution. In Ex.P.8, the complaint lodged by P.W.8 (the elder sister of the deceased), there is no mention about the details of the dowry demand and payment of the same. It is the case of the prosecution that the accused demanded Rs.3,00,000/- and gold ornaments weighing about 20 tolas and Rs.50,000/- towards marriage expenses. The marriage of the deceased Sathyavathi was celebrated by her widowed mother. It is an admitted fact that the Accused No.1 was working as a Sales Manager for Mahindra and Mahindra  and he used to go home late in the night on account of nature of his profession. The material placed on record shows that the deceased Sathyavathi was questioning the accused No.1 as to why he was consuming alcohol, coming late in the night. It is also a fact to be mentioned that in the month of August 2005, Sathyavathi delivered a female child and in the month of August 2006, just before a week of death of Sathyavathi, they celebrated the first Birthday of their child. Keeping in view that the accused was earning salary of Rs.1,00,000/- p.m., the case of the prosecution that there was a dowry demand by the accused, cannot be accepted and acted upon. Admittedly, the deceased died an unnatural death within seven years of her marriage. During the course of recording 313 statement of the Accused No.1, he has stated that the deceased was suffering from neurological problem. But, he has not proved the same. However, from the facts of the case, we hold that the deceased was against Accused No.1 consuming alcohol and coming home late in the night in spite of her request and on account of frustration, the deceased might have taken extreme step of committing suicide. Though the Accused No.1 took her to hospital for treatment, she could not survive. Under such circumstances, the Trial Court is justified in recording an Order of acquittal in favour of the accused. We see no good ground to interfere with the impugned Judgment.

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8. In the result, Appeal fails and the same is hereby rejected.

Sd/-

JUDGE Sd/-

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