498A Quash – All Suicides are not because of Cruelty

Andhra High Court

M. Madhusudhan Rao
vs
State on 12 April, 2006

Equivalent citations: 2006 (1) ALD Cri 945, 2006 CriLJ 2987
Author: P L Reddy
Bench: P L Reddy

JUDGMENT P. Lakshmana Reddy, J.

1. This is an appeal filed by the appellant-A1 against the conviction and sentences, dated 14-2-2003, passed against him in Sessions Case No. 129 of 1998 on the file of the IV Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad.

2. The appellant herein is the first accused before the trial Court and therefore, he will be referred hereinafter in this judgment as accused No. 1.

3. Relevant facts, in brief, are as follows:

The appellant married the de facto complainant-B Ganga Manohari (P.W. 1) on 24-11-1993. On 22-5-1996 she sent a report to the Additional D.G.P., CID, Hyderabad, alleging that the appellant is her husband, who is working as R.S.I., at Security Printing Press and at the time of marriage, on insistence of her husband and his mother-A-2, her father presented to her one house, cash of Rs. 60,000/-, six tulas of gold, another Rs. 50,000/- worth of household articles as gift to them on her name and that after the marriage, her husband-A-1 has been pressurising her to bring Rs. 50,000/- and he is beating her, scolding, shouting, threatening to kill her and on certain occasions, her husband pressed her neck saying that he will kill her and subjected her to lot of mental and physical torture and her mother-in-law (A-2), her husband’s brother Prabhakar and his wife-Mrs. Bhagyalakshmi (A-4), Mrs. Durgadevi, (A-3), the second sister-in-law of her husband, and Mr. Venugopal, her husband’s last brother also used to help her husband in beating her and harassing her. It is further alleged that one Mrs. Jalaja, working as Telephone Operator in Reserve Bank of India, also used to threaten her by saying that her husband (A-1) married her and he did not like to stay with P.W. 1. It is further alleged that her husband got all sorts of bad habits like gambling, drinking, playing cards moving with anti-social element friends etc. About six months back her husband and his family members made first attempt to eliminate her by forcibly pouring poison into her throat and when her condition became serious, the accused informed her parents that she took poison and even then, she did not make any complaint against her husband. Again on 19-4-1996 at about 11.00 a.m. her husband/A-1, his mother/A-2, his second brother’s wife/A-3 and her husband’s third brother’s wife/A 4 forced her to consume poison and that she was admitted in Sri Devi Nursing Home, Seethaphal Mandi, at about 2.30 p.m. in an unconscious state and that when she was in semi-conscious state, the Police took her statement and she did not know what statement the police took from her. Her husband informed her parents only in the evening though she was admitted in the hospital at 2.30 p.m. and that her parents came and saw her and later lodged a complaint with the Chikalaguda Police Station against her husband and his family members, but unfortunately, no action has been taken by the Police. It is further alleged that she was discharged from the hospital on 22-4-1996 and she went to her parents house and since then she is staying with her parents and that neither her husband nor his family members came to her parents house to enquire about her welfare and further, her husband even threatens her parents and hence, action may be taken against her husband and his family members.

4. The said report of P.W. 1 was forwarded to the Senior Executive Officer, CID, Hyderabad, who received the same on 7-8-1996 at about 4.25 p.m. and registered it as Crime No. 42 of 1996, against A-1 to A-4 and also one Jalaja, under Sections 498-A, 420, 494, 307, IPC. After investigation, the Inspector of Police, Women Protection Cell, CID, Hyderabad, filed charge-sheet only against A-1 to A-4 before the learned XXII Metropolitan Magistrate-cum-Mahila Court. Nampalli, Hyderabad, alleging that the investigation disclosed that after the marriage between P.W. 1 and A 1, A-1 to A-4 started harassing and ill-treating P.W. 1 to bring additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/- from her parents and further A-1 beat P.W. 1 and scolded her on several occasions and that on 19-4-1996 at about 11.00 a.m. A-1 to A-4 forcibly made her to consume poison and when she became unconscious, she was admitted in Sridevi Nursing Home, Namalagundu, Secunderabad and she made a complaint to the Investigating Officer, Chilakalaguda Police Station, but no action has been taken and that since 22-4-1996, after discharge from hospital, P.W. 1 is residing with her parents and ultimately, she was forced to give the complaint. It is further alleged that the investigation revealed that A-1 to A-4 are liable for punishment under Sections 498-A, 307 read with Section 34, IPC.

5. On the said allegations, the learned Metropolitan Magistrate took the case on file and issued summons to all the accused and after their appearance and after observing all formalities, committed the case to the Court of Metropolitan Sessions Division, Hyderabad, by virtue of committal order passed under Section 209, Cr. P.C. On the basis of the said committal order, the learned Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, took the case on file as Sessions Case No. 129 of 1998 and made over the same to the IV Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, for trial.

6. The learned IV Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, after due hearing of both sides, framed charges tinder Sections 498-A, 307, IPC against A-1 to A-4, read over and explained to them in Telugu, for which, they pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.

7. The learned IV Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, conducted trial, during which, the prosecution examined P.Ws. 1 to 9 and exhibited Exs. P1 to P4; and exhibits D-1 to D-3 were marked at the instance of the accused during the course of cross-examination of P.Ws. 2, 4 and 6 respectively.

8. After closure of the prosecution evidence, the learned IV Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge examined the accused under Section 313, Cr. P.C., wherein, they described the incriminating evidence found against them as false. They did not choose to examine any witness on their behalf. The case of the accused is one of total denial.

9. Considering the evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecution and also the total denial of the accused, the learned trial Judge found A-2 to A-4 not guilty of both the charges framed against them and accordingly, acquitted them. Further, the learned trial Judge found A-1 also not guilty so far as the charge framed under Section 307, IPC is concerned and acquitted him of the same. But, the learned trial Judge found A-1 guilty of the offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC and convicted him and sentenced him to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 8,000/- (Rupees Eight Thousand only), in default, to suffer simple imprisonment for a period of six months for the offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC and further directed that out of the said fine amount of Rs. 8,000/-, a sum of Rs. 6,000/- (Rupees Six Thousand only) shall be paid to P.W. 1-B-Ganga Manohari, by way of compensation.

10. Aggrieved by the said conviction and sentences, the appellant/A-1 preferred the present appeal contending that the judgment of the trial Court is illegal, erroneous and against weight of evidence and deserves to be set aside. The trial Court failed to appreciate the evidence on record and the evidence of the witnesses is totally false and this case is foisted against the accused to defraud and defame them. The trial Court’s approach in interpreting the evidence is totally, wrong and unsound and unsustainable. The trial Court has not considered the important judgment cited by the appellant and erroneously convicted the accused. The trial Court having observed that normal wear and tear does not amount to cruelty, erroneously held that A-1 was guilty of subjecting P.W. 1 to cruelty in the absence of proof of constant and prolonged ill-treatment, resulting in danger to life or limb. The findings of the trial Court are contrary to the evidence on record, inasmuch as, the trial Court drawn an inference that something was given as consideration for the marriage of P.W. 1 with A-1, even though there was no suggestion to that effect though, in fact, a clear suggestion was made to P.W. 1 in that regard. The trial Court ignored the omissions, contradictions and improvements made by each prosecution witness with regard to the material aspects, which are fatal to the case of the prosecution. The trial Court should have seen that there is no consistency in the statements of prosecution witnesses with regard to the mode and time of payment of the alleged cash of Rs. 60,000/- gold and household articles at the time of marriage of P.W. 1 with the appellant, and erroneously came to the conclusion that the accused was paid at the time of marriage on his insistence. The trial Court erred in coming to the conclusion that the marriage was delayed by one or two hours as the appellant/A-1 visited the marriage hall only on payment of dowry and failed to see that neither P.W. 1 nor P.W. 3 either in Ex. P-1 Report or in their 161, Cr. P. C. statements or in their depositions did not whisper about any delay in the marriage ceremony due to any act on the part of appellant. The trial Court failed to see that P.Ws. 1 and 3 are the best persons to speak about the alleged delay and erroneously came to the conclusion based on the statements of P.Ws. 4 to 7, who for the first time before the Court, stated about it. The trial Court failed to see that the accused purchased the lorry for Rs. 4.00 lakhs in the name of P.W. 1 by making initial deposit of Rs. 1,18,000/- and further spent Rs. 90,000/ for modifications only out of love and affection towards P.W. 1. The trial Court ignored the fact that P.W. 1 gave different version as to the. payment of Rs. 50,000/- by selling her gold ornaments which were admittedly weighing about six tolas, which are worth about Rs. 25,000/- and that the accused utilized the said amount for paying the initial payment, modifications and also the monthly instalments, which is unbelievable. The trial Court grossly erred in observing that the purchase of lorry was preceded by some serious happening i.e. poisoning P.W. 1 in 1995, though the same was not corroborated by P.W. 1, who is said to be the victim. The trial Court came to the erroneous conclusion that the appellant had illicit intimacy with one Jalaja, working in R.B.I., ignoring the fact that the charges under Sections 494 and 420, IPC were dropped and the charge-sheet was filed only for the offences punishable under Sections 307 and 498-A, IPC and hence, the said finding of the trial Court is totally unwarranted. The trial Court erroneously came to the conclusion that P.W. 1 was subjected to cruelty by A-1 without there being evidence on record. The trial Court erred in holding that the lorry was purchased only to save the house property given to P.W. 1, ignoring the fact that the house was only given as collateral security for the lorry, which was admittedly purchased by A-1 with his own funds worth more than Rs. 2.00 lakhs and also paid instalments. The trial Court should have seen that both the lorry and the house still stand in the name of P.W. 1 and should have held that there was neither demand by A-1 nor contribution by P.W. 1 or P.W. 3 for the purchase of lorry in any manner. The trial Judge should have seen that the earlier incident of poisoning in the year 1995 is only a story cooked up to raise suspicion about the conduct of A-1 in purchasing the lorry prior to the alleged incident on 19-4-1996. The trial Judge erred in believing the version of the prosecution witnesses with regard to the alleged harassment meted out to P.W. 1 in the house of A-1, ignoring the contradictions and improvements in the evidence of prosecution witnesses, The trial Court should have seen that no witness from the locality, where the alleged ill-treatment and harassment was caused to P.W. 1, was examined and that all the witnesses are either relatives or colleagues of P.W. 3, as such the trial Court grossly erred in placing heavy reliance on such interested witnesses and hence, the conviction and sentences are liable to be set aside and the appellant/A-1 is to be acquitted for the charge under Section 498-A, IPC also.

11. During the course of hearing of the appeal, Sri C. Padmanabha Reddy, the learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant/A-1, reiterated the contentions raised in the grounds of appeal. He further submitted that according to the prosecution, the appellant has been demanding additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/- and ultimately, on 19-4-1996 the appellant and his family members forcibly poured poison in the mouth of P.W. 1 and thereafter, the appellant admitted P.W. 1 in a private hospital and that after discharge from the hospital on 22-4-1996, P.W. 1 went to her parents’ house and was staying with her parents all-through and she did not give any report till 22-5-1996 i.e. after a period of one month and the said report was registered by the Police on 7-8-1996 and if really the version of P.W. 1 that the accused forcibly poured poison into the her mouth to kill her not for the first time, but for the second time, she would not have failed to report the matter to the Police immediately after discharge from the hospital or at least after she reached her parents’ house and therefore, this conduct of P.W. 1 in not giving report for a period of one month would belie her belated version, given in the report-Ex. P-1. He further submitted that the trial Judge also disbelieved the alleged attempt made by the accused on P.W. 1 to kill her and acquitted the appellant also of the charge under Section 307 IPC and that as per the charge-sheet that was the only specific allegation mentioned in the charge-sheet and it was disbelieved by the trial Court. He further submitted that in the report Ex. P-1 itself P.W. 1 stated that whatever properties, either moveable or immoveable, given at the time of marriage were given to her in her name as gift, but later the witnesses developed the version stating that the accused was greedy of the dowry and that until the dowry amount was paid, the accused did not even come to Kalyana Mandapam on the date of the marriage etc. He further submitted that the other allegation against the appellant/A-1 is that he started demanding additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/- and as P.W. 1 and her parents did not comply with that, the appellant started harassing P.W. 1 in order to extract the said amount. The said version of the witnesses cannot at all be believed for the reason that P.Ws. 1 and 3 themselves admitted that A-1 purchased the lorry worth about Rs. 3,00 to Rs. 4.00 lakhs in the name of P.W. 1 for which, initial deposit of Rs. 1,18,000/- and other expenses were paid by the accused and in spite of it, the lorry was kept in the name of P.W. 1 and this conduct of the appellant/A-1 clearly belies the belated version of the witnesses that the accused was making unlawful demand of Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry. The learned Counsel for the appellant further submitted that the other allegation made against the appellant is that he developed illicit intimacy with one Jalaja and wanted to marry her and therefore, he wanted to get rid off P.W. 1 and started harassing her and also started making attempts to kill her, but the police did not take that allegation as true and did not make such allegation in the charge-sheet and also did not array the said Jalaja as an accused in the charge-sheet though originally in the FIR said Jalaja was also shown as one of the accused. He further submitted that there is absolutely no evidence in support of such wild allegation made against the accused in respect of a respectable woman, in the Reserve Bank of India. He further submitted that the learned trial Judge did not properly appreciate the evidence on record with reference to the essential ingredients required to be proved to establish the offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC. He further submitted that P.W. 1 somehow developed some dislike towards the appellant/ A-1 and she had gone to the extent of making some irrelevant allegations obviously to see that A-1 should lose his job and it shows the animosity developed by P.W. 1 towards the appellant/A-1 as the appellant/A-1 did not agree to live separately from the joint family. He further submitted that the learned trial Judge erred in recording conviction for the offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC and hence, if is liable to be set aside and the accused is to be acquitted.

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12. On the other hand, the learned Additional Public Prosecutor supported the judgment of the trial Court, contending that the learned trial Judge elaborately considered the evidence of each witness at length and gave sound reasons to believe their testimony and therefore, there is no reason for this Court to interfere with such well considered judgment of the trial Court. He further submitted that the evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 3 is amply corroborated by independent witnesses-P.Ws. 5, 6 and 7 besides the evidence of P.W. 4, a relation of P.Ws. 1 and 3, and there is absolutely to reason for the independent witnesses to give false evidence against the accused and the trial Court rightly believed their evidence and hence, the appeal is devoid of merits and is liable to be dismissed.

13. The points that arise for determination in this appeal are:

(1) Whether the conviction and sentences, dated 14-2-2003, recorded by the trial court for the offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC in Sessions Case No. 129 of 1998, against the appellant/A-1 are not sustainable in law ?

(2) To what result ?

14. Point No. 1 : In order to attract Section 498-A, IPC, the prosecution is required to prove that the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subjects such woman to cruelty. Here, in the instant case, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that the appellant/A-1 subjected P.W. 1 to cruelty. The meaning of the word ‘cruelty’ is given in the section itself, by way of explanation, which reads as follows:

Explanation – For the purposes 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.

As seen from the abovesaid explanation, the cruelty is of two kinds. The prosecution has to prove either of the two kinds in order to make out an offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC. In the instant case, as seen from the charge-sheet filed by the Police, the accused started harassing and ill-treating P.W. 1 to bring Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry from her parents and further the appellant beat P.W. 1 and scolded her on several occasions and that on 19-4-1996 the appellant made P.W. 1 to consume poison. As seen from the charges, framed against the accused, the accused were asked to answer the charge that the accused attempted to kill P.W. 1 on 19-4-1996 and subjected P.W. 1 to cruelty, harassed her and ill-treated Her to bring Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry from her parents and further the appellant/A-1 scolded her on several occasions and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC. The other charge is framed under Section 307, IPC, with which we are not concerned in the appeal, as the trial Judge found the appellant not guilty of the said charge.

15. So as seen from the said charge, the only allegation against the appellant/A-1 is that he harassed P.W. 1 and ill-treated her to extract Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry from her parents and also scolded her on several occasions and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC. But, the prosecution elicited evidence in support of several other allegations forgetting the fact that such allegations were not mentioned in the charge-sheet or in the charge framed against the accused. So, it has to be seen whether the prosecution succeeded to prove the allegations mentioned in the charge beyond reasonable doubt. The main allegation in the charge framed against the accused falls under Clause (b) of the explanation given in Section 498-A, IPC, The other allegation of A-1 scolding P.W. 1 on several occasions can be taken as an allegation to attract Clause (a) of the explanation given in Section 498-A, IPC. The evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecution has to be scanned in respect of each of these two clauses separately for better appreciation.

16. Firstly, I would like to consider about the main allegation of harassment for additional dowry of Rs, 50,000/-. P.W. 1 in her evidence stated that on 24-11-1993, the date of marriage, her parents gave cash of Rs. 60,000/-, five tolas of gold, household articles worth Rs. 50,000/- and a house in Jeedimetla bearing D. No. 198 as dowry, on the demand of all the accused, who came at the time of fixation of marriage. But, in the report Ex, P.1, given one month after the alleged attempt made on her life by her husband and relatives of her husband, P.W. 1 stated that her parents gave the abovesaid properties as gift to her in her name. Of course, she stated that on insistence of the accused and his parents, her parents gifted those properties to her. However, she stated in the report -Ex.P-1 that all those properties were given on her name. P.W. 1 further stated that her husband was working as Reserve Sub-Inspector, Amberpet, at the time of marriage and after the marriage, they all lived in the house in Warasiguda in the joint family of her husband and that ever since the date of marriage, she was not treated properly by the accused and the accused were always harassing her to bring” Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry. In the report Ex. P. 1 also she stated that right from the beginning her husband has been pressurizing her to bring Rs. 50,0007- as additional dowry. She did not state specifically as to when and in the presence of whom the accused made such demand for additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/-. There is no documentary evidence in support of the alleged demand of additional dowry. Of course, it is too much to expect documentary evidence in support of such allegation. In the cross-examination, she admitted that the lorry was purchased by her husband in her name, after pledging the title deeds of her house as security with the financier, who financed for the purchase of the lorry. When she was asked whether there are any modifications or improvements made to the lorry by her husband, she admitted that after purchase of the lorry, some modifications were made, but, she volunteers that she provided money of Rs. 50,000/- to the appellant from out of her gold ornaments. But, when she was asked how much amount was spent for modifications of lorry, she denied knowledge of that, and stated that she was only a housewife and she does not know how much amount was spent for modifications of the lorry. Again she stated that for modifications, her husband received her gold and also demanded to bring money from her parents. When she was asked whether her husband made initial payment of Rs. 1,50,000/- towards purchase of the lorry, she could not deny the same, but she simply denied knowledge and added stating that she paid Rs. 50,000/- to the appellant from out of her gold ornaments. She admitted that the lorry was purchased when they were residing in Warasiguda in joint family. This is only the evidence of P.W. 1 on this aspect.

17. P.W. 2 is a private medical practitioner. He stated that on 19-4-1996 at 2-30 p.m. P.W. 1 was brought by her husband, the appellant herein, in semi-unconscious state with history of consuming some unknown substance and that he examined her and gave stomach wash and he treated her and discharged her on 22-4-1996 after full recovery. His evidence is not relevant for the purpose of this allegation made against the appellant/A-1 regarding the harassment for additional dowry.

18. P.W. 3 is the father of P.W. 1. He stated that he paid cash of Rs. 60,000/-, household articles worth Rs. 50,000/-, six tolas of gold and a house in Durganagar as dowry for the marriage of P.W. 1 with A-1, and that house was kept in the name of P.W. 1 and the ornaments were given to her. Of course, he stated that the accused demanded the house to be kept in the name of A-1 and the title deeds thereof should be handed over to them, but he did not agree for the said proposal. This fact was not spoken to by P.W. 1. P.W. 3 further stated that two or three months after the marriage, the accused started compelling P.W. 1 to transfer the house in the name of A-1 and get the title deeds to him, failing which, he would not take P.W. 1 to his house and when he refused for such proposal, the accused made big galata and hence, he registered gift deed in the name of P.W. 1. This was also not stated by P.W. 1. Further, this evidence of P.W. 3 is also an improvement, as he did not state the same before P.W. 9, the Investigating Officer. There is no other evidence to corroborate this testimony of P.W. 3 in this regard. Even P.W. 1 did not state about the same.

19. Coming to the allegation regarding the demand of Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry, this witness nowhere stated in his chief-examination that the accused demanded Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry, though he made several allegations against the accused regarding the alleged harassment of P.W. 1 in the house of the accused. But, he stated at the end of his chief-examination that at the time of purchase of the lorry, A-1 demanded P.W. 1 to bring Rs. 50,000/- and they paid the same. So, the version of P.W. 1 that since the date of marriage, the accused started demanding her to get Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry is not supported even by her father P.W. 3. Coming to the demand of Rs. 50,000/- at the time of purchasing the lorry, P.W. 3 admitted that lorry was purchased in the name of P.W. 1 by the accused. When he was questioned whether Al made initial deposit of Rs. 1,50,000/- to purchase the lorry in the name of P.W. 1, he could not deny the same. He simply denied the knowledge. He further admitted that even when P.W. 1 was with A-1, some instalments were paid. But, he stated that he cannot state as to how many instalments were paid and who paid the said instalments. But, he admitted that his daughter was not doing any job. It is a common knowledge that unless some initial investment is made by the party, no financier would lend the amount for purchase of the motor vehicle. According to the accused, he made initial deposit of Rs. 1,50,000/- and further paid instalments to the tune of Rs. 90,000/- P.Ws. 1 and 3 could not deny the said fact. They simply denied the knowledge. Therefore, it is clear that even if the evidence of P.W. 3 that at the time of purchase of the lorry, A-1 demanded P.W. 1 to bring Rs. 50,000/- and P.W. 3 paid the same is believed as true, it does not amount to demand for additional dowry, as the said amount was utilized for the purchase of the lorry in the name of P.W. 1. Thus, the evidence of P.W. 3 belies the version of P.W. 1 that appellant demanded Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry.

20. Coming to the evidence of P.W. 4, who is the cousin of P.W. 1, being the son of P.W. 1’s senior paternal uncle, he stated that he along with P.W. 3 often used to visit the house of P.W. 1 out of courtesy and P.W. 1 used to tell them that A-1 compelled her to bring more dowry of Rs. 50,000/- and they tried to pacify the accused by giving suitable advice and they used to come to know that after their departure, the accused were behaving wildly against P.W. 1 and P.W. 1 used to complain to them later by weeping about the harassment of the accused. But, he admitted in the cross-examination that he did not state before the Police that he visited the house of P.W. 1 along with P.W. 3 and that he used to visit the house of P.W. 1 often and that he came to know about the harassment through P.W. 1. So, the evidence of this witness is a clear development. Further, P.W. 4 did not speak about the demand of Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry. Regarding the other allegations, the evidence of this witness is only hearsay, as according to him, P.W. 1 used to complain against the accused, but P.W. 1 did not state that she complained to P.W. 4. Therefore, the evidence of this witness is not helpful for the prosecution to prove the alleged demand of Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry.

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21. Coming to the evidence of P.W. 5, who is a colleague of P.W. 3, he stated about the payment of cash of Rs. 65,000/- household articles worth Rs. 50,000/- at the time of the marriage to the accused. It is already found supra that P.W. 1 herself stated that the said amounts were gifted by her father in her name. Further, there is no charge under Sections 3and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Therefore, his evidence in that regard is not of much relevance. This witness further stated that he came to know through P.W. 1 that she was harassed by her husband to bring cash of Rs. 50,000/- from her father, as her father was in sound financial position. He stated that he does not know whether that amount was paid to the accused or not. Further, P.W. 1 did not state that she informed the same to P.W. 5. So, his evidence is only hearsay, which is not admissible in evidence in this regard.

22. Coming to the evidence of P.W. 6, another colleague of P.W. 3, he stated that himself, P.Ws. 3, 5 and some other relations of P.W. 3, visited the house of the accused for panchayat and in that panchayat, they advised the accused to maintain cordial relations and to behave properly and at that time, the accused demanded P.W. 3 to pay Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry and that to maintain harmony between A-1 and P.W. 1, they advised P.W. 3 to somehow manage to pay Rs. 50,000/-, so that the life of his daughter would be peaceful and that two days later, P.W. 3 informed him that he paid Rs. 50,000/- to A-1. The entire evidence of this witness in the chief-examination is an improvement as is evident from the evidence of P.W. 9, the Investigating Officer. Further, this witness appears to be more interested in prosecuting the accused than P.Ws. 1 and 3, as this witness stated so many things, which were not stated by P.Ws. 1 and 3. Neither P.W. 1 nor P.W. 3 stated that P.W. 6 attended any panchayat and in that panchayat, the accused demanded Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry. When P.W. 3 himself did not state anything, this developed version of this witness cannot be believed.

23. Coming to the evidence of P.W. 7, a teacher and social worker in Manavai Aaikya Vedika, situated in Mehdipatnam, she stated that P.W. 3 was her neighbour in Vengalaraonagar and therefore, she knews P.Ws. 1 and 3 and that in the year 1993 P.W. 1 was married to A-1. She further stated that P.W. 3 informed her that A-1 and his family members administered poison to P.W. 1 and then P.W. 1 was hospitalized in Sridevi Nursing Home and that herself and Suryadevara Suguna and others visited the nursing home and found P.W. 1 in an unconscious state and the doctors there informed her due to dowry harassment poison was administered to P.W. 1. No doctor has been examined to support her evidence. So, her evidence in this regard is only hearsay. She further stated that on the date of marriage itself problems arose with regard to payment of dowry and that she attended that marriage and the bridegroom arrived at the marriage venue by one and half hours late and when she enquired P.W. 3 and his wife about the delay, they informed her that the delay was due to non-payment of dowry by them in time and that they already arranged the money and the bridegroom was reaching shortly and that only on payment of money of Rs. 60,000/- the marriage was celebrated. These allegations are not even spoken to by P.Ws. 1 and 3. It shows the curiosity of this witness to support the prosecution. P.W. 1 in her report itself stated that those properties were given as gift by her parents at the time of marriage to her. If really there was any demand, as a condition precedent for her marriage, on that day, and on account of such delayed payment, the bridegroom came to Kalayana Mandapam late, P.Ws. 1 and 3 would not have failed to state the same. Further, as seen from the evidence of P.W. 9 the Investigating Officer, P.W. 7 did not state before him that the marriage of P.W. 1 with A-1 was delayed due to non-payment of dowry in time and A-1 came to the Kalyana Mandapam by one and half hours late and that P.W. 3 informed her that they arranged the dowry and on payment of dowry alone, the marriage was celebrated etc. Similarly, this witness further stated in her evidence that two months later, P.W. 1 and her mother came to her house and complained that A-1 demanding additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/- and then she advised them not to accept the demand and think of for some time and that 10 or 15 days later, A-1 visited the house of P.W. 3 and demanded to pay either Rs. 50,000/- or to transfer the lorry of his wife in his name and then at their request, she went to the house of P.W. 3 and in spite of her giving good advice, A-1 did not agree and left the house without further discussions. This version has not been stated by P.W. 7 when she was examined by P.W. 9 the Investigating Officer. Further, it is not even spoken to by P.Ws. 1 and 3. Therefore, it is clear that this witness P.W. 7 is not at all a trustworthy witness and her belated evidence cannot at all be relied upon. So, there is absolutely no legal, reliable and trustworthy evidence to corroborate the interested and solitary testimony of P.W. 1 that A-1 demanded Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry and harassed her to extract the same. Further, I have already observed supra that subsequent to the marriage, the appellant/A-1 purchased the lorry worth Rs. 4,00 lakhs in the name of his wife-P.W. 1 making initial investment of not less than Rs. 1.00 lakh at the time of purchase of the lorry in the name of P.W. 1. Even if the evidence of P.W. 3 is believed that A-1 demanded P.W. 1 to bring Rs. 50,000/- from her parents for the purchase of lorry; it does not amount to demand for dowry, as the said lorry was in fact purchased in the name of P.W. 1, investing more; than that amount of Rs. 50,000/-. The learned trial Judge though did believe the version of the accused that he purchased the lorry in the name of his wife-P.W. 1, investing his own money of more than one lakh as initial payment, observed that the accused did not purchase the lorry in the name, of P.W. 1 out of affection, but on account of some compromise after the first Incident of attempt to administer poison to P.W. 1. But, there is absolutely, no basis for such observation of the learned trial Judge. The learned trial Judge simply presumed such things without there being any evidence to that effect. Except P.W. 1, nobody stated about it. Even P.W. 3 did not state about the alleged panchayat and the purchase of the lorry on the advice of elders, and on the other hand, P.W. 3 stated that after the alleged attempt to administer poison to P.W. 1, he sent mediators-Satyanarayana Prasad and others to the house of the accused and on their advice, he sent P.W. 1 to the house of the accused and that even while P.W. 1 was in his house, A-1 purchased the lorry with the help of the title deeds of the house of his daughter. So, the evidence of P.W. 1 in this regard is not supported by P.W. 3. Therefore, the learned trial Judge erred in presuming that after the first attempt to administer poison to P.W. 1, Panchayat was convened and after that panchayat, lorry was purchased by the accused. The evidence of P.W. 3 is contrary to that version. The learned trial Judge also disbelieved the evidence of P.Ws. 4 to 7 as they are not the direct witnesses to the additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/-, but, yet the learned trial Judge believed their evidence and held that the appellant demanded Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry. As already observed supra, even P.W. 3 did not state that the accused demanded Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry. Therefore, the learned trial Judge grossly erred in placing reliance on the uncorroborated testimony of P.W. 1, who gave report Ex. P. 1 one month after the alleged attempt on her life. Therefore, in my considered view, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant demanded Rs. 50,000/- towards additional dowry and harassed P.W. 1 to extract Rs. 50,000/- from the parents of P.W. 1. Thus, the prosecution failed to prove the necessary ingredients required to satisfy Clause (b) of the explanation given in Section 498-A, IPC.

24. Nextly, it has to be seen whether the prosecution succeeded to adduce legal and acceptable evidence to attract Clause (a) of the explanation given in Section 498-A, IPC. In order to attract the said clause, 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 or limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman is to be established. In the instant case, in the charge-sheet the details of the wilful conduct on the part of the accused are not alleged and it is simply alleged that A-1 also beat P.W. 1 and scolded her on several occasions. In the charge framed against the accused to answer, it is simply stated that A-1 also scolded P.W. 1 on several occasions besides harassing and ill-treating her to bring additional dowry of Rs. 50,000/-. So far as the allegation of additional dowry is concerned, it is found supra that it is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Regarding the allegation of beating and scolding, mentioned in the charge, P.W. 1 stated in her evidence that ever since the date of marriage, she was not treated properly and her husband used to visit the house of one Jalaja, who is an employee of Reserve Bank of India and also used to stay in the house of said Jalaja for four or five days continuously and the accused used to inform her that A-1 married Jalaja and so, it is not useful for her to live in their house with A-1 and that the said Jalaja also Used to visit their house to discuss with the accused and she used to threaten her through phone and exhorted the accused to kill her to clear her way to live with A1. Four months prior to 19-4-1996, the accused attempted to kill her by pouring cockroach poison and then some elders intervened and took her to the house of her parents and on interference of elders, the accused took her to his house from the house of her parents. But, the harassment continued even thereafter and that whenever she questioned about his mentioning his case as S.C. though they belong to B.C. ‘B’ category, her husband used to beat her and that on 19-4-1996 at 11.00 a.m. all the four accused beat her severely and by force poured cockroach poison into her mouth. When she was confronted in the cross-examination, whether she has stated all those things in her complaint and in her statement under Section 161 Cr. P.C. made before the Police, she asserted that she stated all those things both in the complaint and also before the Police during investigation. But, as seen from report Ex. P.1, it is stated that the appellant has been beating her, scolding her and shouting and threatening to kill her and on few occasions, he pressed her neck saying that he will kill her and subjected her to lot of physical and mental torture. Further, apart from his family members, Ms. Jalaja, working as Telephone Operator in Reserve Bank of India, also used to threaten her by saying that A-1 married her. It is further alleged that the appellant got all sorts of bad habits like gambling, drinking, playing cards, moving with anti-social elements etc. It is further alleged that her husband was having illicit relationship with one Jalaja, who used to come to their house on some pretext or the other and the accused used to give warm welcome to her and the accused used to threaten P.W. 1 that they will neck her out of the house and about six months prior to her giving report, the accused attempted to kill her by forcibly pouring poison in her throat and that again on 19-4-1996 her husband and his family members forced her to consume poison and when she became unconscious, she was taken and admitted in the Sridevi Nursing Home and after discharge from the hospital, her parents took her to their house and that neither the accused nor his family members came to see her to enquire about her welfare and that her husband used to threaten her parents. It is a typed report, typed in English, given one month after she reached her parents’ house. The same was registered three months thereafter. But, as seen from the evidence of P.W. 9 the Investigating Officer, P.W. 1 did not state before him during his investigation that her husband used to visit and stay in the house of Jalaja for four or five days and A-2 to A-4 used to inform her that A-1 married the said Jalaja and that P.W. 1 did not also state that on 19-4-1996 she was beaten by the accused and poured cockroach pesticides poison in her mouth. She did not also state that A-1 beat her when she questioned him for falsely mentioning his caste as S.C. in the application. So, it is clear that there are some developments in the evidence of P.W. 1 Admittedly, the said Jalaja is a married woman and in fact the Police did not made any allegation in the charge-sheet against her in respect of the alleged relation of the appellant with the said Jalaja, obviously for the reason that they did not find any truth in the allegation made in the report-Ex. P-1. given by P.W. 1.

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25. P.W. 3, the father of P.W. 1, did not state about the alleged beating of P.W. 1 by the appellant/A-1. He spoke about some other allegations. He stated that two or three months after the marriage, the accused started compelling him to transfer the house of P.W. 1 in his name and the accused, made galata, then he had to execute registered gift deed in the name of P.W. 1. He further stated that the accused used to demand the rent of the house of his daughter. The accused used to deny food to P.W. 1 unless the rent was handed over to them and further, two or three months after the marriage, he came to know that A-1 had illicit intimacy with one Jalaja, an employee in Reserve Bank of India and that the appellant is not moving with P.W. 1 properly and not staying in the house and whenever they questioned the appellant, he used to give irresponsible re-plies. He further alleged that when P.W. 1) was seven months pregnant; A-1 took P.W. 1 on his Hero Honda motor cycle though P.W. 1 complained stomach pain and that P.W. 1 was brought back in the same condition and left her in their house without any care for her and that the appellant did not person-ally come with P.W. 1 and sent her through a dumb relation of him. He stated that even after delivery, nobody visited P.W. 1 and three months after the delivery, he voluntarily sent P.W. 1 along with child to the house of the accused and that all the accused left P.W. 1 alone and went away from the house without providing food for three or four days and later in the year 1994, P.W. 1 complained that poison was administered to her by A-1 with an intention to kill her and on coming to know about it, he along with elders visited the house of the accused and the accused asked them to take away P.W. 1 and accordingly, he brought P.W. 1 to their house and got her treated in the private nursing home and in spite of several requests, none of the accused came to take back P.W. 1 for matrimonial home and when he sent mediators by name Satyanarayana Prasad and others to the house of the accused, and on their advice, he sent P.W. 1. to the house of the accused and that the elders advised A-1 to treat P.W. 1 properly and that later P.W. 1 joined her husband and that even while P.W. 1 was in his house, A-1 purchased the lorry with the help of the title deeds of the house of P.W. 1 and that after P.W. 1 joined the accused, the accused started insisting upon P.W. 1 to transfer the lorry registration in favour of A-2 or somebody and when P.W. 1 refused to do so, on 19-4-1996 again the accused administered poison to P.W. 1 to get rid off her. But, most of these facts have not been stated by P.W. 3 before the Investigating Officer during investigation. Because, P.W. 9 Investigating Officer, stated that P.W. 3 did not state before him about the alleged demand of the accused to keep the house in his name and about the accused demanding to pay house rent and about refusal to provide food to P.W. 1 and about not behaving properly with P.W. 1 and about the bad habits of the appellant/A-1 and about the appellant not caring P.W. 1 during her pregnancy etc. P.W. 9 further stated that P.W. 3 even did not state that after delivery. A-1 did not visit his wife and that he along with P.W. 1 and her child went to the house of A-1 and that he left P.W. 1 in the house of accused, but they did riot provide her any food and left the house for three or four days. P.W. 9 further stated that P.W. 3 did not state before him that on previous occasion also A-1 poisoned his wife and then he questioned about it, A-1 asked him to take his daughter with him and P.W. 1 was treated in a private hospital. P.W. 9 further stated that P.W. 3 did not state before him that P.W. 1 was poisoned as she did not agree for transfer of the house in the name of A-1. he further stated that P.W. 3 did not state before him that he paid Rs. 50,000/- to A-1 on his demand for the purchase of the lorry. So, it is clear that P.W. 3 developed his version during the course of his evidence in respect of the material particulars. In respect of other facts spoken to by P.W. 3, he had no personal knowledge. He stated that he came to know about the conduct of the accused. At any rate, he is not a direct witness to the alleged beatings or scolding of P.W. 1 by the accused. There may be several reasons for disputes between husband and wife and between the wife and her-in-laws. In fact, in the instant case, the version of the accused is that P.W. 1 does not want to live in the joint family consisting of A-1, his mother, his brothers and sister-in-law and that P.W. 1 used to demand for separate living, for which A-1 did not agree and therefore, P.W. 1 used to threaten the family members of the accused stating that she will commit suicide and that in order to threaten the accused, on 19-4-1996 P.W. 1 consumed pesticide poison and that it is only on account of the conduct of P.W. 1, differences arose and not on account of any conduct on the part of the accused. Therefore, merely because there were differences, it cannot be said that her husband and his family members alone are responsible for the disputes between the husband and wife in all cases.

26. Coming to the evidence of P.W. 4-B Chandra Sekhar, the cousin of P.W. 1, his evidence is only hearsay. According to him, P.W. 1 used to complain him by weeping about the harassment of the accused and that he came to know through P.W. 1 that the accused attempted to kill her by pouring poison into her mouth and then they conducted a panchayat with an intention to sort out the differences between the wife and husband and at that time, the elders advised A-1 to A-4 to behave properly failing which they will lodge a police complaint against them and that A-1 was silent on their advice and that later he came to know through P.W. 1 that the harassment of P.W. 1 by the accused was intensified. So, he is not a direct witness for any alleged harassment or cruelty.

27. P.W. 5 is a colleague of P.W. 3. He too is not a direct witness for any alleged harassment or cruelty. He simply stated that he came to know through P.W. 3 that A-1 was not properly looking after P.W. 1. He along with P.W. 4 and other relatives visited the house of the accused for panchayat and advised A-1 to look after his wife properly and at that time, he came to know that A-1 had illicit connection with another lady and when he advised A-1 to look after P.W. 1 properly, even if he had connection with another lady, A-1 did not respond properly and that later he came to know through P.W. 1 that she was harassed by her husband to bring cash of Rs. 50,000/- from her father. So, this witness is not a direct witness for the alleged cruelty.

28. P.W. 6 is another colleague of P.W. 3. He stated that himself, P.Ws. 3 and 5 and some other relatives of P.W. 3, visited the house of the accused and advised the accused to maintain cordial relations and behave properly. This witness has gone to the extent of stating that in the panchayat, the accused demanded Rs. 50,000/- as additional dowry, which fact is not even spoken to by P.W. 1 or P.W. 3. He is not a direct witness to any harassment or cruelty. Moreover, this witness is more interested than P.Ws. 1 and 3 themselves to punish the accused. Therefore, his evidence is not reliable and trustworthy.

29. P.W. 7, a teacher and social worker in Manavai Aaikya Vedika, stated that P.W. 3 informed her that A-1 and his family members administered poison to P.W. 1 and then herself and one Suryadevara Suguna and Others visited the nursing home and found P.W. 1 in unconscious state and that the doctor Informed her that due to dowry harassment, poison was administered to P.W. 1. No doctor was examined in support of her evidence. She has gone to the extent that she attended the marriage and at the time of marriage, bridegroom arrived late by one and half hours and on enquiries she came to know that the delay was due to non-payment of dowry. I have already observed supra about the evidence of this witness while discussing about the harassment for dowry. So far as the alleged beatings of scolding are concerned, she is not an eye-witness. Therefore, the evidence of this witness is not helpful for the prosecution to prove the alleged beatings and scolding.

30. P.Ws. 8 and 9 are the investigating officers and they have no personal knowledge about the alleged beatings or scolding of P.W. 1 by the accused.

31. As seen from the above narrated evidence, there is no direct evidence other than the self-serving testimony of PW. 1, regarding the alleged beatings or scoldings. As already observed supra the evidence of PW. 1 is belated. If really the version of PW.1 that the accused attempted to kill her by forcibly pouring poison into her mouth, not once but twice, she would not have kept quiet without reporting the matter to the Police. Even after the second incident, for a period of one month, she did not give any report to the Police. Even after one month also she did not go to the Police Station and she simply sent a typed report to the Additional D.G.P. C.I.D., Woman Protection Cell, Hyderabad. The contents of the report clearly goes to show that PW. 1 wanted to see that appellant/A-1 should lose his job in the police department, because, she mentioned some irrelevant things which are not connected with her marital life. It shows the animosity developed by PW. 1 against her husband/A-1. She has gone to the extent of falsely alleging attempt id murder. Even during the course of evidence, she stated so many things, which are not stated even in the report-Ex.P. 1 or before the Police as is evident from the evidence of PW.9-the investigating officer. It shows the degree of animosity of PW. 1 against the accused. Merely because, PW.1 developed such hatredness against her husband, it cannot be said that her husband alone was responsible for such hatredness developed in the mind of PW.1 against the accused. PW.1 appears to have entertained a suspicion about the character of the appellant/A-1 and that may be the reason for the disputes between PW.1 and A-1. There is no evidence in support of the allegation that the accused developed illicit intimacy with another woman. Even the Police did not appear to have found any substance in such an allegation. None of the neighbours to the house of the accused, where PW. 1 and the appellant/A-1 lived, are examined. The neighbours of the house of the accused are the competent persons to speak about the beatings and scoldings of PW. 1 by the accused. As the accused is living in the joint family along with his parents and his brothers and their wives, there may be some differences and quarrels in the family. But, such quarrels between the husband and wife even if true cannot be termed as wilful conduct on the part of the husband of the nature so as to drive the wife to commit suicide. Of course, according to the prosecution, PW.1 attempted to commit suicide twice. According to the accused, PW.1 wanted the appellant/A-1 to separate from the joint family and as he refused, PW.1 adopted such tactics in order to pressurise A-1 to separate from his joint family. Moreover, there is no satisfactory evidence to prove the instances, which made her to make an attempt to commit suicide. Merely because PW. 1 attempted to commit suicide, it cannot be presumed that only on account of harassment or cruelty meted put to her, she made an attempt to commit suicide, There may be several reasons for a woman to make an attempt to commit suicide and it need not necessarily be a cruelty on the part of the husband. It may be that the woman is highly sensitive to resort to such things even on small disputes among the family members, and some times woman may adapt such tactics to pressurize her husband to come to her terms or to accept her line of thinking. Therefore, unless there is positive evidence in respect of the alleged wilful conduct on the part of the husband, which is of such a nature so as to drive the woman to commit suicide, it cannot be said that the prosecution succeeded to prove that Clause (a) of the explanation given under Section 498-A, IPC attracts. In the instant case, as there is no independent evidence and as the relations between PW. 1 and her husband are very much strained, I consider it not safe to place reliance on the interested and solitary testimony of PW. 1 and her father PW.3. Moreover, the fact that the appellant/A-1 purchased the lorry in the name of PW. 1, investing his own money and also paid instalments, indicates that the appellant/A-1 had no ill-will or animosity against his wife-PW. 1. Taking all the circumstances into consideration, I am of the considered view that the learned trial Judge ought to have given benefit of doubt to the appellant/ A-1 also while acquitting A-2 to A-4. Thus, this point is found in favour of the appellant/A-1.

32. Point No. 2 : In the result, the appeal is allowed and the conviction and sentences, dated 14-2-2003, passed against the appellant/A-1 in Sessions Case No. 129 of 1998 on the file of the IV Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, are hereby set aside. The appellant/A-1 is found not guilty of the offence punishable under Section 498-A, IPC and he is acquitted of the same. The ball bonds of appellant/A-1 shall stand cancelled and he shall set at liberty forthwith, if he is not required in any other case. The fine amount, if any, already , paid by the appellant/A-1 shall be refunded to him.

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