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498A acquited – Failed prove suicide as Dowry death

IN THE COURT OF SH. RAVINDER DUDEJA:
ADDITIONAL SESSIONS JUDGE;
FTC : E COURT: SHAHDARA: KARKARDOOMA COURT: DELHI.

SESSIONS CASE No. 55/2012

FIR No. 314/2012

U/S: 498-A/304B/34 IPC

P.S: Shakar Pur

State Versus 1. Rakesh Sharma,
S/o Sh. Amar Nath Sharma,
R/o A-35, Guru Ram Dass Nagar, Delhi

2. Neelam Sharma,
D/o Sh. Amar Nath Sharma,
R/o Jhundui PS Nandan,
Distt. Hamir Pur, Himachal Pradesh

3. Lata Sharma,
D/o Sh. Amar Nath Sharma,
R/o Jhundui PS Nandan,
Distt. Hamir Pur, Himachal Pradesh.

Date of Institution : 14.08.2012
Date of Arguments : 13.03.2015
Date of Judgment : 30.03.2015

JUDGMENT

1. The prosecution case, in brief, is that on 25.04.2012, an information was received at Police Station Shakar Pur vide DD No. 109-B regarding a quarrel at A-25, Ramesh Park, Guru Ram Dass Nagar from mobile phone No. 9899581714. The information was passed on to HC Sugan Pal who went at the spot and informed that a woman has committed suicide. The call was then marked to SI Ranvir Singh. He went at the spot and found the body of Sunita, wife of Rakesh Sharma lying on the bed at the first floor of the house. A chunni was found tied with the ceiling fan. Accused Rakesh Sharma was also present in the house. He informed that he had got married with the deceased about 12 days ago at his native village in Himachal Pradesh. Since the death had occurred within seven years of marriage, the information was passed to Sh. D.S. Pundir, SDM. Mobile Crime Team and Photographer were called at the spot. Ravi Sharma, brother of the deceased, was given information by telephone. He came at the spot with his parents. Statement of complainant Sh. Munshi Ram, father of the deceased was recorded wherein he stated that his daughter Sunita had got married with Rakesh Sharma on 13.04.2012 at Village Muthav, Tehsil & District Hamir Pur, Himachal Pradesh. At the time of marriage, accused Neelam, sister of Rakesh, made demand of dowry and said that the goods given were not complete and asked him to give left over goods in Delhi. On 24.04.2012, they had given Rs. 1.5 lacs to Rakesh for buying left over goods of dowry. He stated that on 25.04.2012 at about 11.00 pm, his son Ravi informed him about the death of Sunita. He suspected that his son-in-law Rakesh has murdered his daughter Sunita. On the statement of father of the victim, FIR was registered under Section 498-A/304-B/34 IPC. SDM Preet Vihar recorded the statements of mother and brothers of the deceased. The chunni tied with ceiling fan was seized. The body was sent to Subzi Mandi Mortuary for postmortem. SDM Preet FIR No. 314/12 2 of 18 Vihar conducted the inquest proceedings under Section 176 Cr. PC. After postmortem, the doctor handed over the viscera box, clothes of the deceased, blood gauze and sample seal which were seized by the IO and were sent to FSL for analysis. During investigation, it was found that deceased committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling fan with a chunni after putting on the chitakni of the door. Accused Rakesh Kumar Sharma was arrested. On interrogation, he gave disclosure statement. Invitation Card of marriage and the marriage photographs produced by the brother of the deceased were seized. It was found from the statements of father, mother and brother of the deceased that the sisters of accused namely Neelam and Lata Sharma had taunted her for giving less dowry at the time of Jaimala and Teeka Ceremonies. Charge sheet was prepared under Section 498-A/304-B/34 IPC and the names of Nanads of the deceased were kept in Column No. 12.

2. Accused Neelam Sharma and Lata Sharma obtained anticipatory bail from the court. The learned MM took cognizance of the offence and summoned accused Neelam Sharma and Lata Sharma also, whose names were kept in Column No. 12 of the charge sheet.

3. After compliance of Section 207 Cr. PC, the case was committed to Sessions Court. Charge under Section 498-A/304-B/34 IPC and in the alternative, under Section 302 IPC was framed against all the three accused to which, they pleaded not guilty.

4. In order to prove its case, prosecution examined 16 witnesses. PW-1 is Constable Vikas, Photographer, Mobile Crime Team. He took 11 photographs of the spot which are Exbt. PW-1/A1 to PW-1/A11.

PW-2 is Smt. Roshni, mother of the deceased. She deposed that her FIR No. 314/12 3 of 18 daughter was married to accused Rakesh on 13.04.2012 in a village at District Hamir Pur, Himachal Pradesh and that at the time of marriage, at the time of arrival of Barat, sisters of Rakesh and their husbands made demand of cash in dowry. She stated that they assured them that they would make the payment of cash to them later. She further deposed that her daughter started residing with accused Rakesh at Delhi at Laxmi Nagar. On 23.04.2012, she and her husband came to her house at Uttam Nagar and returned back on 24.04.2012. They made payment of Rs. 1.5 lacs to accused Rakesh on 24.04.2012 at their house. She stated that her daughter did not make any complaint to her about the behaviour of the accused and she was alright at her house but on 25.04.2012 at about 10.00 – 11.00 pm, her son Ravi informed her that Sunita had expired. She stated that she gave her statement Exbt. PW-2/A to the SDM. According to her, her daughter could not have committed suicide and accused must have killed her . PW-2 was cross examined by the learned Additional PP and in the said cross examination, she admitted that on 12.04.2012, goods were sent for Teeka Ceremony and at that point of time, Neelam and Lata had said that the goods sent were not sufficient. She admitted that she had stated in her statement before SDM and police that her daughter was killed by her son-in-law Rakesh for dowry demand.

PW-3 is Munshi Ram, father of deceased Sunita. He deposed that at the time of Phera Ceremony, accused Lata and Neelam and their husbands Devraj and Charanjeet told them that the goods given in the dowry were not sufficient and that they assured them that they would give them goods later on. He stated that after marriage, his daughter started residing with accused Rakesh at Laxmi Nagar and that on 23.11.2012, Sunita and Rakesh came at their house in the night at 9.00 – 10.00 pm and slept in his house that night and that on 24.04.2012 morning, they left from there. He gave Rs. 1.5 lacs to Rakesh at his house on 23.04.2012. He further deposed that his daughter had called accused FIR No. 314/12 4 of 18 Rakesh from Metro Station to take her to the house but he refused and therefore his son went to drop her to her house. No one was present in the house and that at about 9.30 – 9.45 pm, his son Ravi received a call about the death of his daughter. He proved the statement given to SDM as Exbt. PW-3/A. He stated that after postmortem, the body was handed over to him vide memo Exbt. PW- 3/C.

PW-4 is HC Hem Chand, Duty Officer. He had recorded DD No. 109-B as Exbt. PW-4/A.

PW-5 is SI Sumer Singh, Duty Officer. He recorded the FIR Exbt. PW-5/A.

PW-6 is Sh. D.S. Pundir, SDM, Preet Vihar. He had recorded the statements of father, mother and brother of the deceased which are Exbt. PW- 3/A, PW-2/A and PW-6/A respectively. He then handed over the statements to Inspector Inderpal for taking lawful action. He then sent the body to Subzi Mandi Mortuary for postmortem and filled up Form No. 23.35 Exbt. PW-6/B. He had also recorded the statements of the parents of deceased regarding identification of the body and got conducted the postmortem on 26.04.2012 and handed over the body to the relatives of the deceased.

PW-7 is SI Naveen Kumar from Mobile Crime Team. He had inspected the scene of crime and prepared the report Exbt,. PW-7/A.

PW-8 is HC Sugan Pal. On receipt of DD No. 109-B, he went at the spot at A-35, Guru Ram Dass Nagar and found that Sunita, wife of Rakesh Sharma had committed suicide at the first floor of the house. He passed the information to SI Ramveer Singh.

PW-9 is Ravi Sharma, brother of the deceased. He deposed that before marriage, accused had told them that there would be 50 guests in the Barat but they brought about 150-200 baratis in the marriage. He further deposed that at the time of marriage, they had given dowry articles to accused Rakesh but FIR No. 314/12 5 of 18 his sisters Lata and Neelam Sharma and their husbands told them at the time of Phera Ceremony that the dowry articles given were not sufficient and they asked them to give left over articles in Delhi. He further stated that accused Rakesh and his sister came to Delhi from village and on 23.04.2012, they came at his house at 9.00 – 10.00 pm. His sister told him in the night that she was having some problem and would talk to him next morning but on 24.04.2012, they received the news of his uncle and therefore told her that they would talk with her later. He further deposed that they gave Rs. 1.5 lacs to accused Rakesh for buying goods of his choice. He deposed that his sister went to her office and accused Rakesh went back to his house and in the evening, his sister rang him at 6 O?clock saying that she has boarded the Metro of wrong route. He suggested her to ring the accused Rakesh so that he may pick her from Metro Station. After sometime, she again rang him and told that Rakesh has refused to pick her from Metro Station and abused her and asked her to go to her parents house at Uttam Nagar. He further deposed that he called up Rakesh on his mobile phone and told him that his sister does not know the way to house and therefore he should pick her. Accused Rakesh agreed and then disconnected the phone. He then told his sister on telephone to wait for Rakesh at Laxmi Nagar Metro Station but after waiting for one hour, she again called him on mobile phone as to what she should do as Rakesh has not come to pick her. He tried the number of Rakesh but it was switched off. He then came from his office and picked up his sister from Laxmi Nagar Metro Station at about 8.15 pm and dropped her at the house of accused Rakesh at 9.00 pm. He deposed that his sister had told him that since her marriage, accused has been physically and mentally torturing her in the village as also in Delhi because of desire for sex and money and that he can do anything for the sake of money. He further deposed that in the village, accused had not sent his sister to their house for Pag Phera Ceremony and that after lot of persuasion and request, she was sent to their house at Delhi on 23.04.2012.

FIR No. 314/12 6 of 18 He deposed that at about 10.30 pm on 24.04.2012, he received a telephone call from the police regarding the death of his sister. In reply to a leading question put by the learned Additional PP, he admitted that the information of death was received on 25.04.2012 and not on 24.04.2012 and also admitted that his sister told him that she was being tortured physically and mentally for dowry.

PW-10 is Dr. S. Lal from Subzi Mandi Mortuary. He had conducted the postmortem on the body of the deceased. His detailed report is Exbt. PW- 10/A.

PW-11 is Constable Shri Pal Singh. He had taken the exhibits to FSL.

PW-12 is Constable Rakesh Kumar, DD Writer. He had recorded DD No. 109-B, which is Exbt. PW-4/A.

PW-13 is SI Ramvir Singh. He is the first IO. He went at the spot and found the body of a lady lying on the bed in a room and a chunni was seen hanging on the fan of the roof. He passed the information to SDM, Preet Vihar, who came at the spot and recorded the statements of relatives of the deceased. He called the crime team at the spot. He had seized the chunni vide memo Exbt. PW-13/A and sent the body to mortuary. He had also recorded the statements of father and brother of the deceased regarding identification of the body. He had seized the viscera and the clothes of the deceased vide memo Exbt. PW-13/B.

PW-14 is Inspector Inderpal Singh. He had also visited the spot on receiving the information regarding suicide. On returning back to the police station, he briefed the SHO who made endorsement on the statement of Munshi Ram, father of the deceased, on the basis of which, FIR was registered by the Duty Officer. He took up the investigation after the registration of the FIR and recorded the statements of Munshi Ram, Roshni Devi and other official witnesses. He had prepared the site plan Exbt. PW-14/A at the instance of SI Ramvir and Munshi Ram. He had arrested the accused and on 27.04.2012, he FIR No. 314/12 7 of 18 had seized the marriage card and photographs produced by the brother of the deceased. Later on, he sent the exhibits to FSL through Constable Shri Pal. He had collected the FSL result Exbt. C-1 to Exbt. C-5 and filed the same in court.

PW-15 is Inspector Ravinder Sharma, the then SHO, PS Shakar Pur. He had made endorsement on the statement of Munshi Ram recorded by the SDM, for the registration of the FIR under Section 498-A/304-B/34 IPC.

PW-16 is Varun. He is the nephew of accused Rakesh Sharma. He deposed that on 25.04.2012 at about 10.15 – 10.30 pm, accused Rakesh Sharma came at his house and said “Dekh Teri Chachi Ne Kya Kar Liya”. He went to the first floor and informed his father and thereafter he and his father rushed to the house of accused Rakesh at A-35, Guru Ram Dass Nagar where they found the body of the wife of accused lying on the bed on the first floor and also saw a chunni hanging from the fan. He then passed the information to police from his mobile phone.

5. Statements of accused were recorded under Section 313 Cr. PC wherein they stated that they were innocent.

6. In their defence, accused examined Avinash Chander Dogra as DW-

1. He claimed that he was the mediator in the marriage. He deposed that the talks of marriage were held at his house at Hamir Pur on 26.03.2012 and the date of marriage was finalized as 12/13.04.2012 and during talks, it was decided that neither any dowry would be claimed nor given as the family of Rakesh was opposed to the dowry. The mother and maternal uncle of Suman were also present during the talks. He stated that he attended the marriage ceremonies at the house of Suman on 13.04.2012 and also attended the Phera ceremony at about 3.30 – 4.00 am and no dowry was demanded during the marriage ceremony. He further stated that from the side of accused Rakesh, Phera FIR No. 314/12 8 of 18 ceremony was attended only by his brother, uncle and brother in law. He deposed that in his presence, neither accused Rakesh nor any of his family members made any dowry demand and no dispute took place between both sides during the marriage functions.

DW-2 is Sunil Kumar. He deposed that he had performed the marriage ceremonies of accused Rakesh on 12, 13 & 14th April, 2012. He stated that the marriage ceremonies from 12th till 13th afternoon were performed at the house of accused Rakesh. Barat went to the house of bride on 13th and on 14th April and after Bidai ceremony, the barat returned back to the house of accused Rakesh for Vadhu Pravesh. According to him, no dowry demand was made at the time of Jaimala or Phera Ceremony on 13/14.04.2012 but he stated that no dowry demand was made at the time of Teeka Ceremony.

7. Arguments have been heard from the learned Additional PP as also from the learned defence counsel. The learned Additional PP has argued that deceased has died within 12 days of marriage. The witnesses examined by the prosecution have proved that deceased was subjected to cruelty on account of dowry demand and in order to meet the demand of accused, Rs. 1.5 lacs were paid to accused Rakesh one day prior to the death. It is stated that postmortem report shows that deceased was having three injuries on her person besides the ligature injury found on the neck. The presence of injuries on the person of the victim proves that she was being subjected to cruelty by the accused. It is also submitted that there is no reason why the deceased would commit suicide within 12 days of marriage.

8. The learned defence counsel has argued that there are contradictions in the testimonies of the witnesses. They have not only contradicted each other but have also contradicted the prosecution case. Relying on the testimony of PW-2 Smt. Roshni, it has been submitted that the deceased FIR No. 314/12 9 of 18 was happy at her matrimonial home till one day before the incident. It is argued that the testimonies of PW-2, PW-3 and PW-9 are not consistent as they have made imaginary allegations against the husband and sister in laws of the deceased with a view to falsely implicate all of them. It is also submitted that the photographs of the deceased filed with the charge sheet do not show any injury on the person of the victim and no witness has deposed that they had seen any injury on the body of the deceased. Thus harassment on account of dowry demand is not proved.

9. Section 304-B IPC was inserted by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986 with a view to combating the increasing menace of dowry death. It provides that where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death. A conjoint reading of Section 113-B of the Evidence Act and Section 304- B IPC shows that there must be material to show that since before her death, the victim was subjected to cruelty or harassment. Prosecution has to rule out the possibility of a natural death or accidental death so as to bring it within a purview of “death occurring otherwise than in normal circumstances.” Prosecution is obliged to show that soon before the occurrence, there was cruelty or harassment and only in that case, prosecution operates. Evidence in that regard has to be laid by the prosecution. The legal position thus firmly establishes that „suicidal death? of married woman within seven years of her marriage is covered by the expression “death of a woman is caused or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances” as used in Section 304-B of IPC.

FIR No. 314/12 10 of 18
10. It has been proved in the statements of the mother, father and
brother of the deceased that marriage between deceased Sunita and accused Rakesh took place on 13.04.2012. This fact is not disputed, inasmuch as, accused admitted this fact in their statements under Section 313 Cr. PC. It is also an admitted fact that Sunita expired at her matrimonial home on 25.04.2012. The postmortem report Exbt. PW-10/A proves the presence of ligature mark in the neck and the cause of death is Asphyxia due to ante-mortem hanging. Dr. S. Lal (PW-10) has proved the postmortem report. It is therefore proved that it is not a case of natural death and is a case of homicidal or suicidal death within seven years of marriage.

11. Before the statutory presumption under Section 13-B of Evidence Act can be raised against the accused, the essential ingredients of the offence of dowry death, which the prosecution is duty bound to prove, is that deceased was subjected to cruelty/harassment. In view of the aforesaid, the evidence of the three material witnesses of this case namely mother (PW-2), father (PW-3) and brother (PW-9) needs to be scrutinized. I will deal with the role of the accused persons separately.

Accused Rakesh Sharma

12. So far as the testimony of mother (PW-2) is concerned, the only incriminating fact stated by her is that at the time of arrival of Barat, Neelam and her sister and their husbands made demand of cash in dowry and on 24.04.2012, they gave Rs.1.5 lacs to accused Rakesh. However, she stated that her daughter did not make any complaint to her about the behaviour of accused and she was alright at her house. Munshi Ram (PW-3) stated that his daughter and accused Rakesh came to their house on 23.04.2012 night and on 24.04.2012 morning when they left, he gave Rs. 1.5 lacs to accused Rakesh. PW-3 stated that his FIR No. 314/12 11 of 18 brother had expired on24.04.2012. PW-9 Ravi Sharma also stated that on 24.04.2012, they got the news of death of his uncle (chacha). The brother of the deceased deposed that his sister told him in the night that she was having some problem and therefore she wanted to talk with him next morning but next morning, they got the news of death of his uncle and therefore they told his sister that they would talk later. The death took place within a short period of 12 days from the date of marriage. She came to the house of her parents for the first time after marriage on 23.04.2012 and unfortunately, because of death of her uncle, she could not tell anything to her mother about the behaviour of accused and therefore this explains why PW-2 stated that her daughter did not make any complaint to her.

13. PW-9 Ravi Sharma has categorically deposed that his sister rang him at 6 O? clock saying that she has boarded the Metro of wrong route. He told her to ring accused Rakesh so that he may pick her from Metro station but after sometime, his sister again rang him to tell him that Rakesh had refused to pick her from Metro station and abused her asking her to go to the house of her parents at Uttam Nagar. He deposed that he then called up Rakesh on his mobile phone and told him that his sister does not know the way to the house and requested him to pick her upon which, accused Rakesh agreed and then disconnected the phone. He further stated that he informed this fact to his sister asking her to wait at Laxmi Nagar Metro Station for accused but after waiting for one hour, she again called him and informed him that Rakesh has not come to pick her. He then went to the Metro station and from there took his sister and dropped her at the house of accused Rakesh. He deposed that his sister told him that since her marriage, accused had been physically and mentally torturing her in the village as also in Delhi because of desire of sex and also for money for his family. She had also told him that accused Rakesh can do anything for the sake of money. On a perusal of the testimonies of the mother, father and brother, it FIR No. 314/12 12 of 18 appears that deceased Sunita could not get an opportunity to complain her parents regarding harassment on account of dowry demand by accused Rakesh and this fact was told by her to her brother when he went to drop her to her house. This is the reason why there is no allegation of harassment against accused Rakesh in the statements of PW-2 and PW-3. Rather, it proves the honesty on the part of PW-2 & PW-3, inasmuch as, they did not make any such allegation of harassment on account of dowry demand as they were not told about the same by the deceased. PW-3 has deposed that at the time of Phera Ceremony, accused Lata and Neelam and their husbands told them that the goods given in the dowry were not sufficient and they assured that they would give them the goods later on. PW-9 stated that Lata Sharma and Neelam Sharma and their husbands told them to give left over articles in Delhi. If the testimonies of the witnesses are to be believed, Rs. 1.5 lacs were given to accused Rakesh when he along with deceased visited their house. In cross examination, PW-3 stated that Rs. 1.5 lacs were arranged by his son but PW-9 stated that Rs. 70,000/- were lying in the house, Rs. 40,000/- were received as shaguns at the time marriage of his sister and the balance amount of Rs. 40,000/- were arranged by him by borrowing the same from his relative Pritam Sharma. This is a minor contradiction which does not go to the root of the prosecution case and therefore cannot be attached much importance. The fact that Rs. 1.5 lacs were paid to accused Rakesh, corroborates the allegations of demand of cash by accused Rakesh.

14. The postmortem report Exbt. PW-10/A proves the following injuries on the person of the deceased:-

1. Reddish bruise 5 x 4.5 cm over right side forehead just above the eyebrow and place just right to mid line.

FIR No. 314/12 13 of 18

2. Superficial lacerated wound 0.5 x 0.2 cm over bridge of nose with reddish bruise of size 3 x 2 cm over around the lacerated wound.

3. Reddish bruise 3.5 x 2 cm on right side face just below the lower eye lid.

4. Ligature mark – a dry reddish brown ligature mark present around the neck is incomplete and oblique. In front the ligature mark was 2 cm broad and associated with knot mark of size 3 x 1.5 cm alongwith ligature mark placed just below the tip of chin. On right side it is faint 3 cm broad and place 3.5 cm below the angle of mandible and extent to right side back of neck. In back of neck it is 3.5 cm broad and placed 8 cm below the occipital protuberance an extent to right side of neck and continued to left side of neck where it is absent. On internal examination sub scalpal bruising present under injury No.1 skull bone was intact and the brain is congested. On fine dissection of the neck underling subcutaneous tissue were pale, white and glistening. No extra vassation of blood seen in soft tissue of neck. Underlying thyroid and hyoid cartilage were intact. All the viscera of deceased were congested. In stomach 200 ml of liquid present. Wall normal.

15. PW-1 Constable Vikas took 11 photographs of the body. The ligature mark is clearly visible in all the photographs but injuries No. 1 to 3 are visible only in photograph Exbt. PW-1/A9. Munshi Ram (PW-3) has deposed that in his examination in chief that when he went to the house of accused, he saw injuries on her head. Dr. S. Lal denied the suggestion that injuries No. 1 to 3 are not ante-mortem injuries. In my view, there is no reason to disbelieve the postmortem report which proves the presence of bruises and lacerated wounds on the person of the deceased. Accused has not been able to explain how the deceased suffered such injuries. It is not the defence of the accused that they were self inflicted. The presence of bruises and lacerated wounds on the person of the victim proves that she was being subjected to cruelty and therefore the FIR No. 314/12 14 of 18 medical evidence corroborates the testimony of PW-9 regarding what was told to him by his sister.

16. During cross examination, accused took the defence that deceased was short-tampered and that her brother wanted her to transfer the plot in his name and therefore both of them quarrelled with each other due to which, deceased committed suicide. However, no evidence has been led by accused to prove such a defence. The defence of accused is therefore not acceptable.

17. In my view, prosecution has been able to prove that deceased was subjected to harassment by accused Rakesh on account of demand of money soon before her death.

Accused Neelam Sharma & Lata Sharma

18. So far accused Neelam Sharma and Lata Sharma are concerned, the best case of the prosecution is that on 12.04.2012, at the time of Teeka Ceremony, they told that the goods were not sufficient and thereafter on 13.04.2012, at the time of marriage, they said that they were not given good quality of goods and asked the parents of the deceased to give more dowry in Delhi. PW-2 Smt. Roshni admits in cross examination that she had not attended the Teeka Ceremony on 12.04.2012 and that Teeka Ceremony was attended by her son Ravi and it was he who had told her that the sisters of the accused were saying that goods given were not sufficient. PW-9 Ravi Sharma also admits in cross examination that his father and mother did not attend Teeka Ceremony. Thus, the testimony of PW-2 to that extent is based on hearsay evidence and is inadmissible. PW-3 Munshi Ram has not deposed anything about the alleged utterances made on 12.04.2012 at Teeka Ceremony. Even PW-9 Ravi Sharma, who has attended the Teeka Ceremony, has not deposed that any such utterance was made by accused Lata Sharma and Neelam Sharma at the time of Teeka Ceremony. The only other evidence relied upon against accused Neelam FIR No. 314/12 15 of 18 Sharma and Lata Sharma is that after the arrival of Barat, they and their husbands said that the dowry articles were not sufficient and they told them to give left over articles in Delhi. There is no evidence against them with regard to the harassment on account of demand of dowry. Admittedly after marriage, the deceased and her husband shifted to Delhi. Admittedly, the deceased had died in Delhi and not in the village at Himachal Pradesh, where the marriage took place. Simple demand for dowry without any evidence of harassment is not enough. The allegations when tested on the anvil of tests discussed above, do not make out a case of either cruelty or harassment as contemplated under Section 498-A IPC. The mere demand or remarks that the goods given were not of good quality might have hurt the feelings of the deceased but by no stretch of imagination, such conduct involves any of the ingredients of either offence under Section 498- A/304-B IPC as neither such an act nor conduct has the effect of driving the woman to commit suicide nor of causing grave injury nor is likely to cause danger to life or limb nor did it amount to tormenting her either physically or mentally to compel or harass her or her relatives to fulfill the demands of any property or valuable security. In the case of Savitri Devi Vs. Ramesh Chand & Ors. Crl LJ 2759, the Hon?ble High Court held that there is a growing tendency amongst the women which is further perpetuated by their parents and relative to rope in each and every relative including minors and even school going kids nearer or distant relatives and in some cases against every person of the family of the husband whether living away or in other town or abroad and married, unmarried sisters, sister in laws, unmarried brothers, married uncles and in some cases grand- parents or even more relatives of the husband. In the case of Kans Raj Vs. State of Punjab & Ors. AIR 2000 Supreme Court 2324, the Hon?ble High Court also held that a tendency has developed for roping in all the relations of the in- laws of the deceased in the matter of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. It was FIR No. 314/12 16 of 18 held that in their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused. From this point of view, the evidence of the relatives of the deceased has been scrutinized and it has transpired that the witnesses have remained contended by simply asserting in evidence that accused Lata Sharma and Neelam Sharma commented that the dowry articles were not sufficient and asked them to give the left over articles in Delhi. To say the least, this solitary assertion would not bring the case within the ambit of Section 304-B IPC and for this reason, the police had not even arrested accused Lata Sharma and Neelam Sharma during investigation.

19. While it is proved that the husband being the companion in the house ought to be able to explain as to the circumstances under which his wife was found lying hanged in the bedroom but there also exists an obligation on the part of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt. Criminal jurisprudential system of the country has been to that effect and there is neither any departure nor any escape there from. Undoubtedly, it is a social and heinous crime to have the wife hanged to death but without any proper and reliable evidence, the court cannot by itself justify its conclusion of murder by the husband. Therefore, prosecution has failed to prove the alternative charge under Section 302/34 IPC.

20. Hence, in view of my aforesaid discussion, I am of the opinion that prosecution has been able to prove its case against the accused Rakesh Sharma but has failed to substantiate the charges against accused Neelam Sharma and Lata Sharma. Accused Rakesh is therefore convicted under Section 498-A/304-B IPC while accused Neelam Sharma and Lata Sharma are acquitted.

FIR No. 314/12 17 of 18 However, they are directed to furnish bonds in the sum of Rs. 20,000/- with surety of the like amount each under Section 437-A Cr. PC.

ANOUNCED IN THE OPEN COURT (RAVINDER DUDEJA)

ON 30.03.2015. ADDL. SESSIONS JUDGE:
FTC/E- COURT/KKD/DELHI.

1 thought on “498A acquited – Failed prove suicide as Dowry death

  1. But the accused got convicted….how does this case help fight false 498a cases?

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We handle Women centric biased laws like False 498A, Domestic Violence(DVACT), Divorce, Maintenance, Alimony, Child Custody, HMA24, 125 CrPc, 307, 313, 376, 377, 406, 420, 506, 509 etc

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