498A Cruelty – Not proved by the Wife

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL No. OF 2008
[Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.5689 of 2007]

Narayanamurthy ….. Appellant
Versus
State of Karnataka & Anr. ….. Respondents

JUDGMENT :Lokeshwar Singh Panta, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. Appellant-Narayanamurthy (A-1) has filed this appeal against the judgment and order dated 05.12.2006 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Criminal Appeal No.903/2000, whereby and whereunder appeal filed by the State against the judgment
and order dated 19.04.2000 passed by the III Additional Sessions Judge, Bangalore City, in S.C. No.178/1995 acquitting the appellant and Shivabhushanamma (A-3), for the offences under Sections 498A and 304B of the Indian Penal Code [for short `IPC] and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, has been allowed in part and A-1 has been convicted and ntenced under Section 498A and Section 304B, IPC.

3. In all, three accused persons, namely, Narayanamurthy (A-1), his father Kannappa (A-2) and mother Shivabhushanamma (A-3), were tried by the learned III Additional Sessions Judge, Bangalore City, under Sections 498A and 304B of IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act, 1961 [for short `DP Act]. During the pendency of trial, A-2 died. The learned trial Judge found the evidence of prosecution witnesses insufficient and lacking for holding A-1 and A-3 guilty of the offences alleged against them and, accordingly, they were acquitted of the charges.

4. On appeal by the State, the Division Bench of the High

Court convicted A-1 for offences under Sections 498A and

304B of IPC and sentenced him to suffer rigorous

imprisonment for a period of seven years under Section 304B,

IPC, and rigorous imprisonment for two years under Section

498A, IPC, and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/-, in default of

payment of fine, to undergo imprisonment for three months.

The amount of fine, if realised from A-1, has been ordered to

be paid to Smt. Pavanamma (PW-1), mother of the deceased

Jagadeshwari. Both the sentences shall run concurrently.

The High Court, however, acquitted A-1 for offence under

Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the DP Act, 1961, whereas the

judgment of acquittal passed by the learned trial Judge in

favour of A-3 has been upheld.

5. Briefly stated, the case of the prosecution was that on

03.09.1989 the marriage of Jagadeshwari, daughter of B.V.D

Mani-complainant and Pavanamma (PW-1) was celebrated

with A-1 in DRDO Community Hall, Bangalore. An amount of

Rs.4,000/- in cash and five sovereign gold ornaments

allegedly were given to A-1 in dowry at the time of the

marriage. After the marriage, Jagadeshwari started living with

A-1, A-2 and A-3 in their house at Yellamma Temple Road

Cross, Nagarapalya, Bangalore. It was alleged that after

marriage, A-1 to A-3 started harassing Jagadeshwari for not

bringing sufficient dowry and were compelling her to bring

more dowry from her parental house. Jagadeshwari during

her pregnancy period stayed at the house of her parents for

about five months. She gave birth to a female child. It was

alleged that on the day fixed by the parents of Jagadeshwari

for performing the customary thread changing ceremony of the

child, A-1 refused to participate in the said ceremony and he

made demand of a gold ring, silver plate and silver

panchapatre as dowry. Since B.V.D Mani, father of

Jagadeshwari, was not financially sound to fulfill the

demanded articles, he gifted a steel panchapatre and steel

plate to A-1. A-1 expressed his displeasure and went back to

his house. After few days, Ravichandra (PW-2) took his

sister Jagadeshwari and her child to the house of A-1, A-2 and

A-3 at Nagarapalya and told them that his parents would try

to meet their demand of dowry articles within a short time,

but still they continued to ill-treat and harass Jagadeshwari.

6. On or about 7-8 days before 11.11.1990, Jagadeshwari

had gone to her parents house and informed them that she

was being harassed and assaulted by her husband, father-in-

law and mother-in-law for not satisfying their dowry demand.

The parents of Jagadeshwari persuaded her to go back to her

in-laws house and she, accordingly, returned to her husband.

On 11.11.1990 around 2:00 p.m., Jagadeshwari alleged to

have bolted the door of the kitchen from inside and poured

kerosene oil on her body and then set herself on fire.

Chikkathayappa (PW-15) and Mariappa (PW-16), neighbours

of the accused, having noticed smoke emanating from the

kitchen of the house of the accused, broke open the door and

removed dead body of Jagadeshwari from there. A-1, at the

relevant time, was not present at his house. Parents of the

deceased, on receipt of the information of the death of their

daughter through one of the relatives of PW-1, rushed to the

house of the accused and on visual inspection they noticed

extensive burn injuries on the dead body of Jagadeshwari. On

the following day, i.e. on 12.11.1990 at 2:30 p.m., B.V.D Mani,

father of the deceased, lodged a complaint (Ex. P-1) with

Byappanahalli Police Station, on the basis of which, a case in

Crime No.263/1990 was registered against accused persons

for an offence punishable under Section 304B, IPC.

Thereafter, on 12.11.1990 after receipt of the requisition, B.

Nagaraj (PW-12), who at the relevant time was working as

Tehsildar, Bangalore South Taluk, visited the place of

occurrence and conducted IP on the dead body of

Jagadeshwari in the presence of Panchas and her close

relatives. He recorded the statements of the parents, brother

of the deceased and their neighbours who were present at the

spot. He sent original inquest papers to S.D.M., Bangalore

and furnished the copy thereof duly signed by him to the

concerned police. S.E.D. Dsouza (PW-13), who at the relevant

time was working as PI in COD (ADC) Bangalore, conducted

the investigation of the case and recorded the statements of

B.V.D. Mani – complainant, Ravichandra (PW-2), Rathanamma

(PW-4) and Adhilakshmi (PW-6) and visited the place of

occurrence where he drew rough sketch (Ex. P-12). Post

mortem examination on the dead body of the deceased was

conducted by Dr. Thirunavakkarasu (PW-7). On 18.04.1991,

the Investigating Officer collected a copy of the post mortem

report (Ex. P-5) of the deceased. On 22.04.1991, he recorded

the statement of Anthony Mary (PW-5). On 25.04.1991, the

Investigating Officer examined and recorded the statements of

PW-1, mother of the deceased, and Kumar @ Armugam (PW-

10).

7. After completion of the investigation and after receipt of

the post mortem report, charge sheet was filed against

accused persons for the commission of the offences

punishable under Sections 498A and 304B of IPC and

Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the DP Act. As already stated above,

Kannappa (A-2) died during the pendency of the trial. The

prosecution, in support of its case, examined as many as 16

witnesses. In their statements recorded under Section 313 of

the Code of Criminal Procedure, A-1 and his mother A-3

denied the allegations of the prosecution and pleaded false

implication on suspicion and claimed to be innocent. They,

however, led no evidence in defence. After considering the

entire evidence on record, the learned trial Judge held that the

prosecution has failed to prove the alleged offences against A-

1 and A-3 beyond reasonable doubt and, accordingly,

acquitted them. On appeal being preferred by the State, the

High Court has convicted and sentenced A-1 as aforesaid.

Now, the appellant has filed this appeal by special leave

against the judgment of the High Court.

8. We have heard learned counsel for the parties who have

taken us through the material evidence placed on record.

9. In support of the appeal, Mr. P. Vishwanatha Shetty,

READ  All Deaths are not Dowry Related

learned senior counsel appearing for A-1, submitted that the

prosecution has failed to prove that A-1 at any point of time

has made demand of dowry or the deceased was subjected to

cruelty or harassment or that the harassment was for or in

connection with the demand of dowry immediately before the

death of Jagadeshwari and therefore, in the absence of any

believable and reliable evidence led by the prosecution, the

conviction of A-1 by the High Court is wholly wrong and

unjustified. He contended that the interference of the High

Court in the context of reversal of acquittal is against the well-

established principles laid down by this Court in series of

decisions, therefore, on this ground as well the judgment of

the High Court has to be set aside.

10. Mr. Sanjay R. Hegde, learned counsel for the

respondent-State, on the other hand, submitted that Section

304B, IPC, has to be read in the context of Section 113B of

the Evidence Act, 1872. The Court could presume the death

of the deceased to be dowry death and it was open to the

Court to presume further that the appellant, being husband of

the deceased, was responsible for the dowry death of the

deceased. He submitted that the High Court has re-appraised

the entire evidence on record and found the appellant guilty of

the charged offences and this Court normally should not be

obliged to interfere with the well-merited and well-reasoned

judgment of the High Court, which, in no circumstances, can

be termed as perverse or illegal.

11. In the backdrop of the above-said contentions of the

learned counsel for the parties, before dealing with the

evidence coming on record we may refer to a few decisions of

this Court in regard to the jurisdiction and limitations of the

appellate court while considering appeal against an order of

acquittal. In the case of Tota Singh v. State of Punja [1987 (2)

SCC 529], this Court held: (SCC p.532 para 6)

6. … The jurisdiction of the appellate
court in dealing with an appeal against
an order of acquittal is circumscribed by
the limitation that no interference is to be
made with the order of acquittal unless
the approach made by the lower court to
the consideration of the evidence in the
case is vitiated by some manifest illegality
or the conclusion recorded by the court
below is such which could not have been
possibly arrived at by any court acting
reasonably and judiciously and is,
therefore, liable to be characterised as
perverse. Where two views are possible
on an appraisal of the evidence adduced
in the case and the court below has
taken a view which is a plausible one, the
appellate court cannot legally interfere
with an order of acquittal even if it is of
the opinion that the view taken by the
court below on its consideration of the
evidence is erroneous.

12. In State of Rajasthan v. Raja Ram ((2003) 8 SCC 180), it

was held that the golden thread which runs through the web

of administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two

views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one

pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his

innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused should

be adopted. The paramount consideration of the court is to

ensure that miscarriage of justice is prevented. A miscarriage

of justice, which may arise from acquittal of the guilty, is no

less than the conviction of an innocent. Further, it is held

that in a case where admissible evidence is ignored, a duty is

cast upon the appellate Court to re-appreciate the evidence in

a case where the accused has been acquitted, for the purpose

of ascertaining as to whether any of the accused committed

any offence or not. The principle to be followed by the

appellate Court considering the appeal against the judgment

of acquittal is to interfere only where there are compelling and

substantial reasons for doing so. If the impugned judgment is

clearly unreasonable, it is a compelling reason for

interference. These aspects were again highlighted by this

Court in Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra

[(1973) 2 SCC 793]; Ramesh Babulal Doshi v. State of Gujarat

[(1996) 9 SCC 225] and Jaswant Singh v. State of Haryana

[(2000) 4 SCC 484] and same parameters were reiterated in

the latest judgment of this Court in State of Goa v. Sanjay

Thakran & Anr. ((2007) 3 SCC 755).

13. In Surajpal Singh v. State [AIR 1952 SC 52], a two-Judge

Bench observed that it was well-established that in an appeal

under Section 417 of the Cr.P.C. (old), the High Court had full

power to review the evidence upon which the order of acquittal

was founded. But it was equally well-settled that the

presumption of innocence of the accused was further

reinforced by his acquittal by the trial court, and the findings

of the trial court which had the advantage of seeing the

witnesses and hearing their evidence could be reversed only

for very substantial and compelling reasons
(emphasis supplied).

14. In Aher Raja Khima v. State of Saurashtra [AIR 1956 SC

217], the accused was prosecuted under Sections 302 and

447 IPC. He was acquitted by the trial court but convicted by

the High Court. Dealing with the power of the High Court

against an order of acquittal, Bose, J. speaking for the

majority (2:1) stated: (AIR p. 220, para 1)

It is, in our opinion, well settled that it is
not enough for the High Court to take a
different view of the evidence; there must
also be substantial and compelling
reasons for holding that the trial court was
wrong. (emphasis supplied)

15. Section 304B, IPC, deals with `dowry death, which

reads as follows:-

304B. Dowry death.–(1) Where the
death of a woman is caused by any burns
or bodily injury or occurs 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.

Explanation.–For the purpose of this
sub-section, dowry shall have the same
meaning as in Section 2 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall
be punished with imprisonment for a
term which shall not be less than seven
years but which may extend to
imprisonment for life.

16. The legislature has also introduced Section 113B of the

Evidence Act alongside insertion of Section 304B, IPC.

113B. Presumption as to dowry
death.–When the question is whether a
person has committed the dowry death of
a woman and it is shown that soon before
her death such woman had been
subjected by such person to cruelty or
harassment for, or in connection with
any demand for dowry, the Court shall
presume that such person had caused
the dowry death.

Explanation.–For the purpose of this
Section dowry death shall have the
same meaning as in Section 304B of the
Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

17. The basic ingredients to attract the provisions of Section

304B, IPC, are as follows:-

(1) That the death of the woman was caused by any burns or bodily injury or in some circumstances which were not normal;
(2) such death occurs within 7 years from the date of her marriage;
(3) that the victim was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband;
(4) such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with the demand of dowry; and
(5) it is established that such cruelty and harassment was made soon before her death.

READ  498a, 306 Aquittal - All Words are not used with criminal intent always.

18. In the case of unnatural death of a married woman as

in a case of this nature, the husband could be prosecuted

under Sections 302, 304-B and 306 of the Penal Code. The

distinction as regards commission of an offence under one or

the other provisions as mentioned hereinbefore came up for

consideration before a Division Bench of this Court in Satvir

Singh v. State of Punjab [(2001) 8 SCC 633] wherein it was

held: (SCC p. 643, paras 21-22)

21. Thus, there are three occasions
related to dowry. One is before the
marriage, second is at the time of
marriage and the third is `at any time
after the marriage. The third occasion
may appear to be an unending period.
But the crucial words are `in connection
with the marriage of the said parties.
This means that giving or agreeing to give
any property or valuable security on any
of the above three stages should have
been in connection with the marriage of
the parties. There can be many other
instances for payment of money or giving
property as between the spouses. For
example, some customary payments in
connection with birth of a child or other
ceremonies are prevalent in different
societies. Such payments are not
enveloped within the ambit of `dowry.
Hence the dowry mentioned in Section
304-B should be any property or valuable
security given or agreed to be given in
connection with the marriage.

22. It is not enough that harassment
or cruelty was caused to the woman with
a demand for dowry at some time, if
Section 304-B is to be invoked. But it
should have happened `soon before her
death. The said phrase, no doubt, is an
elastic expression and can refer to a
period either immediately before her
death or within a few days or even a few
weeks before it. But the proximity to her
death is the pivot indicated by that
expression. The legislative object in
providing such a radius of time by
employing the words `soon before her
death is to emphasise the idea that her
death should, in all probabilities, have
been the aftermath of such cruelty or
harassment. In other words, there should
be a perceptible nexus between her death
and the dowry-related harassment or
cruelty inflicted on her. If the interval
which elapsed between the infliction of
such harassment or cruelty and her
death is wide the court would be in a
position to gauge that in all probabilities
the harassment or cruelty would not have
been the immediate cause of her death. It
is hence for the court to decide, on the
facts and circumstances of each case,
whether the said interval in that
particular case was sufficient to snuff its
cord from the concept `soon before her
death.

19. In Hira Lal v. State (Govt. of NCT), Delhi [(2003) 8 SCC 80], this Court observed that: (SCC pp. 86-87, para 9]

The expression soon before her death
used in the substantive S. 304-B, I.P.C.
and S.113-B of the Evidence Act is
present with the idea of proximity test.
No definite period has been indicated and
the expression soon before is not
defined. A reference to expression soon
before used in S. 114. Illustration (a) of
the Evidence Act is relevant. It lays down
that a Court may presume that a man
who is in the possession of goods soon
after the theft, is either the thief has
received the goods knowing them to be
stolen, unless he can account for his
possession. The determination of the
period which can come within the term
soon before is left to be determined by
the Courts, depending upon facts and
circumstances of each case. Suffice,
however, to indicate that the expression
soon before would normally imply that
the interval should not be much between
the concerned cruelty or harassment and
the death in question. There must be
existence of a proximate and live link
between the effect of cruelty based on
dowry demand and the concerned death.
If alleged incident of cruelty is remote in
time and has become stale enough not to
disturb mental equilibrium of the woman
concerned, it would be of no
consequence.

20. The same opinion was expressed by this Court in

Kaliyaperumal v. State of T. N. [(2004) 9 SCC 157] (SCC para

4); Kamesh Panjiyar Alias Kamlesh Panjiyar v. State of Bihar

[(2005) 2 SCC 388] (SCC para 10); State of A. P. v. Raj Gopal

Asawa [(2004) 4 SCC 470] (SCC paras 10 and 11); Harjit Singh

v. State of Punjab [(2006) 1 SCC 463] and Biswajit Halder Alias

Babu Halder & Ors. v. State of W. B. [(2008) 1 SCC 202].

21. In the present case, we have independently analysed

and scrutinized the evidence of the material witnesses and

found that there is practically no evidence to show that there

was any cruelty or harassment for or in connection with the

demand of dowry.

22. PW-1, mother of the deceased, deposed that after about

11 months of the marriage, her daughter delivered a female

child and after staying in her house for about 5 months, she

sent her daughter and the child along with her son PW-2 to

the house of A-1. Jagadeshwari on 2 or 3 occasions came to

her parental house and disclosed that her husband, parents-

in-law and sister-in-law had been quarrelling with her for

having not brought silver plate, cot, almirah and silver

panchpathere at the time of thread changing ceremony of the

newly born child. She stated that she gave gold ring to the

child of the deceased. A complaint (Ex. P-1) was lodged by her

husband B.V.D. Mani in the Police Station in regard to the

commission of the alleged offences against the husband

Narayanmurthy (A-1), father-in-law Kannappa (A-2) and

mother-in-law Shivabhushanamma (A-3) of the deceased. The

complainant-father of the deceased could not be examined as

witness in the Court because by that time he had died. The

testimony of PW-1 does not support the allegations of demand

for dowry by A-1 and his parents. This witness has not

deposed that her daughter committed suicide because she

was subjected to cruelty and harassment by A-1 in connection

with the demand for dowry.

23. PW-2, the brother of the deceased, stated that his sister

delivered a female child at their house and he along with his

sister and her child went to the house of A-1. It is his

testimony that A-1 and his sister used to quarrel with each

other on some small and petty matters and her husband and

parent-in-laws were demanding an Almirah, cot, silver plate,

etc. from his parents. The testimony of this witness is totally

contrary to the version of PW-1 and secondly he has not

corroborated the allegations made in complaint (Ex. P-1)

lodged at the first point of time by his late father, on the basis

of which a case was registered against A-1 and his parents in

the Police Station. The evidence of this witness does not

reveal that the deceased was ever ill-treated or harassed by A-

1 for not satisfying dowry demand or there was any demand of

dowry soon before her death so as to drive the deceased

Jagadeshwari to take extreme steps of committing suicide.

24. Saradhamma (PW-3) – maternal aunt of deceased

Jagadeshwari, deposed that after the marriage of

Jagadeshwari with A-1, she came to her house and informed

that she was being tortured by her parents-in-law as she

READ  Dowry Death and Witness Statement

could not give silver plate to them. This portion of the

statement of the witness is totally inconsistent with and

contrary to the versions of PWs-1 and 2, who have not

deposed that after marriage Jagadeshwari had ever

complained to them that she was given beatings by her

parents-in-law or was ever maltreated or harassed by them.

This witness admitted in cross-examination that she did not

make statement before the Police Officer; that before her

death, Jagadeshwari came to her house and made complaint

that her husband and in-laws had harassed for having not

brought a silver plate from the house of her parents. Thus,

PW-3 herself has contradicted her statement recorded by the

Investigating Officer under Section 161, Cr.P.C. therefore, the

evidence of this witness is of no help to the prosecution to

hold A-1 responsible for committing the alleged crime. The

learned trial Judge has appreciated the evidence of PWs.-1, 2

and 3 in its right perspective and concluded that the evidence

of these star witnesses has not established that the deceased

Jagadeshwari was being ever harassed or ill-treated by the

accused for bringing inadequate and insufficient dowry at the

time of her marriage with A-1 or that the accused ever

demanded dowry articles from the parents of the deceased

before she committed suicide. PW-1 denied having made

statement (Ex.D-1) to the Investigating Officer that her

husband gave Rs.4,000/- to A-1 towards marriage expenses.

It is the categorical evidence of PWs-1 and 2 that the accused

had borne the entire expenses of the marriage and paid rent of

Kalyanamantap and also expenses of the food and other items.

The complaint (Ex. P-1) does not reveal that the accused had

raised demand of dowry either in cash or in kind at the time of

the marriage.

25. Dr. Thirunavakkarasu, (PW-7), Professor of Forensic

Medicine, Victoria Hospital, conducted post mortem on the

dead body of Jagadeshwari on 12.11.1990 and found first,

second and third degree burns present all over the body

except both feet, cuticle over the burnt areas blackened,

charred and peeled off at places, areas of redness here and

there over chest, on the front and over limbs, scalp hairs

burnt and partially singed, burnt cloth sticking over the arms,

chest and abdomen. Eye brows, eye lashes, axicially and

pubic hairs were singed. Doctor deposed that the burns were

ante mortem in nature to the extent of 95% and opined that

the death was due to shock as a result of burns sustained.

The record reveals that the original post mortem report was

not placed before the court besides of notices, but true copy

thereof was produced and marked as Ext.P-5. It is not in

dispute that the deceased Jagadeshwari had sustained burn

injuries to the extent of 95% and as a result thereof she died.

26. Rathanamma (PW-4) and Mariappa (PW-16), the wife

and husband respectively, are the owners of the house in

which the accused and his parents along with deceased

Jagadeshwari were residing. PW-4 deposed that A-1 and his

wife during their stay in the house were living happily and on

two occasions, Jagadeshwari disclosed her that as she

(Jagadeshwari) was not keeping good health, therefore, she

wanted to go to her parents house and stay there for some

time. She deposed that on the day of occurrence of the

incident, at about 3:00 p.m. while she was in her house, she

noticed smoke emanating from the house in occupation of A-1

and when she went there, she found the door of the house

locked from inside and after breaking open the door, she went

inside and saw the dead body of the wife of A-1 with burn

injuries all over her body and the child of A-1 was also lying in

the kitchen at a short distance who also sustained minor

burns on her leg. Despite cross-examination by the learned

Public Prosecutor, nothing substantial in support of the

prosecution case could be elicited from her statement

indicating that Jagadeshwari committed suicide because of ill-

treatment or harassment meted out to her at the hands of her

husband or his parents.

27. Anthony Mary (PW-5), Adhilakshmi (PW-6) and Kumar

@ Armugam (PW-10), the other neighbours, examined by the

prosecution in support of the allegations of ill-treatment or

harassment of the deceased by A-1 or his parents for the

demand of dowry, have not supported the prosecution case.

The evidence of these witnesses would show that they have

denied having made statements before the Police that the

deceased Jagadeshwari committed suicide because of being

maltreatment and harassed by A-1 or his parents.

28. It is proved on record that deceased B.V.D. Mani, father

of deceased Jagadeshwari, gifted a silver Panchapatre and

silver plate to A-1 at the time of performing customary thread

changing ceremony in connection with birth of girl child and

such ceremony is prevalent in their society. Such gifts are not

enveloped within the ambit of `dowry. It is also to be noticed

that the High Court on the same set of evidence has chosen to

acquit A-3 (the mother of A-1), whose case is no better than

that of A-1. Even the unproved allegations of ill-treatment,

harassment and demand for dowry and the evidence led by

the prosecution are similar to that led against A-3. We agree

with the High Court that the evidence against mother (A-3) is

insufficient and inconsistent to convict her and, in our view, it

is the same against A-1. This deficiency in the evidence

proves fatal to the prosecution case. Even otherwise, mere

evidence of cruelty and harassment is not sufficient to being

in application of Section 304B, IPC. It is to be established

that `soon before death, deceased was subjected to cruelty or

harassment by her husband for, or `in connection with

demand for dowry. In the afore-mentioned situation, the

provisions of Section 304B, IPC, and Section 113B of the

Evidence Act could not be attracted to hold A-1 guilty of the

offence of dowry death and/or cruelty in terms of Section

498A, IPC. The prosecution, therefore, must be held to have

failed to establish any case against A-1 herein.

29. Having given our careful consideration to the above-

stated submissions made by the learned counsel for the

parties and in the backdrop of the evidence discussed

hereinabove and tested in the light of the principles of law

highlighted above, it must be held that the evaluation of the

findings recorded by the High Court suffer from manifest error

and improper appreciation of the evidence on record.

Therefore, the judgment of the High Court setting aside the

order of acquittal of A-1 cannot be sustained.

30. For the reasons stated above, we are of the considered

opinion that the evidence led by the prosecution in regard to

the involvement of A-1 in the death of Jagadeshwari is not

proved beyond reasonable doubts by the prosecution, hence,

the High Court was in error in basing conviction of A-1 on

weak and slender evidence appearing against him.

31. In the result, this appeal succeeds and the same is

allowed. The judgment of the High Court dated 05.12.2006

passed in Criminal Appeal No.903/2000 is set aside and the

order of acquittal of A-1 recorded by the learned trial Judge

shall stand restored. The amount of fine imposed by the High

Court upon A-1, if paid, shall be remitted to him.

Narayanamurthy shall be set at liberty by the Jail authorities

if his detention is not required in any other case.

(S. B. Sinha)
(Lokeshwar Singh Panta)

New Delhi,May 13, 2008.

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