Rukma Devi vs State N.C.T. Of Delhi on 25 May, 2017

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

Judgment delivered on : May 25, 2017

+ CRL.A. 239/2002

SOHAN LAL ….. Appellant
Through Mr.Rohit Minocha, Adv. with
Mr.Chaitanya, Adv.

versus

STATE N.C.T. OF DELHI ….. Respondent
Through Mr. Kewal Singh Ahuja, APP for the
State
Inspt.Rajeev Yadav, PS Inderpuri.

WITH

+ CRL.A. 189/2002
RUKMA DEVI ….. Appellant
Through Mr.Rohit Minocha, Adv. with
Mr.Chaitanya, Adv.

versus

STATE N.C.T. OF DELHI ….. Respondent
Through Mr. Kewal Singh Ahuja, APP for the
State, Inspt.Rajeev Yadav, PS
Inderpuri

AND

+ CRL.A. 651/2002
RAJESH KUMAR …..Appellant
Through Mr.Rohit Minocha, Adv. with
Mr.Chaitanya, Adv.

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 1 of 10
versus
STATE (NCT OF DELHI) ….. Respondent
Through Mr. Kewal Singh Ahuja, APP for
the State, Inspt.Rajeev Yadav, PS Inderpuri.

CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE P.S.TEJI

JUDGMENT

P.S.TEJI, J.

1. Since all the three appeals have been preferred against the
common judgment and order on sentence passed, they are being
decided by this common judgment.

2. The instant appeals have been filed being aggrieved by the
judgment of conviction dated 28.02.2002 passed by the learned
Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi convicting the appellants for the
offence punishable under Section 498A/34 and Section 306/34 IPC,
and order on sentence dated 04.03.2002. All the appellants were
sentenced to undergo imprisonment under
Section 498A IPC for a
period of two years each with a fine of Rs.500/- each and in default of
fine, to further undergo simple imprisonment for one month each.
Appellant Sohanlal along with appellant Rajesh were further
sentenced to undergo imprisonment under
Section 306 for a period of
five years and further a fine of Rs.2,000/- each and in default further
simple imprisonment of 6 months. Appellant Rukma, with respect to
offence under
Section 306 IPC, was senetenced to undergo
imprisonment for a period of two years and a fine of Rs.1,000/- and in

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 2 of 10
default one month simple imprisonment.

3. The factual matrix that emerges from the record is that the
deceased Sandhya was married with the appellant Rajesh Kumar on
02.04.1982 and subsequently two children were born out of this
wedlock. Initially, the behavior of all accused persons was fine with
respect to the deceased but thereafter, they started demanding money
and the father of the deceased, Devi Lal (complainant in the present
matter) gave Rs.70,000/- but there was further demand of Rs.50,000/-.
On 05.09.1998, the father of the deceased received a telephone call
from the accused Rajesh informing him that his daughter Sandhya was
feeling suffocated and was further informed that he was calling from
Janki Das Hospital. Father of the deceased thereafter reached the
hospital and found his daughter lying on a stretcher, with her body
covered with a cloth. He removed the cloth to find that froth was
coming out of his daughter’s mouth and returned to his house. After 3-
4 days he went to the police station Inder Puri and lodged a complaint.

4. After completion of the investigation, charge sheet was filed in
the Court. The trial court framed the charage under
Section
498A/
306/34 of IPC against all accused persons, namely – Rajesh
Kumar, Sohan Lal and Rukma Devi to which they pleaded not guilty
and claimed trial.

5. To bring home the guilt of the appellants, the prosecution
examined as many as 10 witnesses. They are Dr. Alexander F.
Khakha (PW-1); Devi Lal (PW-2); Geeta Devi (PW-3); Roshan Lal

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 3 of 10
(PW-4); V. Venugopal (PW-5), HC Ganesh Das (PW-6); HC Manjeet
Singh (PW-7); Ramesh Kumar (PW-9) and SI Juggu Ram (PW-10).

READ  Gajender vs State on 18 July, 2014

6. The statement of the appellants was recorded under Section 313
of the Cr.P.C in which they claimed innocence. The defence in order
to prove its case, examined two witnesses DW1- Shanti Devi and
DW2- Ramdhan.

7. After considering the facts, evidence led and the material on
record, the learned Additional Sessions Judge held the appellants
guilty for an offence punishable under
Section 498A/34 and 306/34 of
IPC vide judgment and order on sentence, as mentioned above.
Aggrieved by such judgment, the appellants have filed the instant
appeal challenging the impugned judgment on conviction as well as
order on sentence.

8. During pendency of the present appeal, the sentence imposed
upon the appellants was suspended vide order dated 18.03.2002
(Rukma Devi) and 28.10.2002 (Rajesh Kumar) while the third
appellant Sohan Lal was granted bail vide order dated 11.07.2002.

9. The impugned judgment of conviction has been challenged on
the ground that no proper appreciation of material on record has been
made by the Trial Court. That the father of the deceased and the
brother of the deceased both had not complained about deceased being
subjected to harassment or cruelty on account of demand of dowry.
No cruelty has been proved as there is no specific allegation of
demand for dowry. The ingredients of presumption as provided under

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 4 of 10
Section 113A of the Evidence Act have not been fulfilled in the
present case inasmuch as the date of marriage was in 1982 and the
deceased died in the year 1998 i.e. after a span of seven years of her
marriage.

10. Per contra, learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the State
has submitted that the deceased Sandhya had died otherwise than
under normal circumstances in her matrimonial home. The deceased
was being harassed and tortured by the appellant as evident from the
testimony of her relatives in the Court. It was due to harassment and
cruelty which led to the taking of extreme step of ending her life by
the deceased. Therefore, the judgment and order on sentence as
passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge do not suffer from any
irregularity or illegality.

11. Arguments advanced by both the sides were heard and the
evidence as well as material placed on record has been gone into.

12. Devi Lal (PW-2), who is father of the deceased, has specifically
deposed that his daughter Sandhya was married with accused Rajesh
on 02.04.1982 and was subsequently blessed with two children from
the said wedlock. Within a few years into the marriage, the accused
mother and father in laws of the deceased started demanding money
from her and this witness stated that he paid Rs. 70,000/- in total, on
different occasions. On 05.09.1998, this witness received a telephone
call from the accused Rajesh stating that his daughter was feeling
suffocated and had been admitted to a hospital. On reaching the said

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 5 of 10
hospital this witness found his daughter’s body lying on a stretcher
outside the hospital and covered with a cloth, on removing which he
saw that froth was coming out from her mouth. This witness after a
few months lodged a report (Ex.PW2/A) in the police station
Inderpuri. This witness has further deposed that before the death of his
daughter, she had visited him at his house and told him that her in-
laws and husband were demanding Rs.50,000/- to which he said that
he did not have the courage to pay the said amount. His daughter
subsequently left his house in a crying state mentioning that her in-
laws would kill her.

READ  Rabeya Bibi & Ors.-vs-The State Of West Bengal on 14 July, 2000

13. Geeta Devi (PW-3), mother of the deceased Sandhya
corroborated the testimony of PW2. She had deposed in her testimony
that her daughter had come to visit her a day prior to her death and
informed her that her mother in law was demanding Rs. 50,000/-. This
witness told the deceased that she would be inable to give her the said
amount of money, hearing which her daughter left her house. PW 3
also stated that on various occasions she used to give her daughter
some money to give to her in-laws.

14. Roshan Lal (PW-4) is the brother of the deceased who has also
corroborated the testimony of PW2 and PW3. PW4 had stated that his
elder sister was not very happy with her marriage as accused Rajesh
used to threaten them to take her back as she did not know how to
cook. This witness stated that he was not present at the house when
deceased Sandhya came visiting a day prior to her death, but was
informed by his parents that she had requested them to give her

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 6 of 10
Rs.50,000/- which her in-laws were demanding from her. The next
day his father received a phone call wherein they were informed that
Sandhya was not keeping well.

15. Ramesh Kumar (PW-9), brother of deceased Sandhya also
deposed on similar lines as PW 2, 3 4 in as much as that Sandhya
had frequented their house and requested for money to help her as the
same was being demanded by her in-laws and husband. This witness
has stated that Rs.70,000/- in small amounts, on different occasions
was given to her in order to pass it on to her in-laws and husband who
were torturing her for the same.

16. From the aforesaid narrations of depositions of material
witnesses PW-2, PW-3, PW-4 and PW-9, it is apparent that there were
specific demands of money from the deceased by all the accused
persons and the same was narrated by her to her father, mother and
brothers. It has also come in their testimony that the deceased was not
happy in her marriage and was constantly harassed on account of
demand of dowry. Further, a day prior to her death the deceased had
visited her parental home to seek help from her parents with respect to
the demand of Rs.50,000/- from her matrimonial home, failing which
she stated that her in-laws and husband would kill her. It has also
come in the testimony of these witnesses that the parents of the
deceased had already given a total sum of Rs.70,000/- to the
appellants though on different occasions.

17. A cumulative consideration of the evidence regarding demand

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 7 of 10
for dowry satisfies the ingredients of charge qua the appellants. Hence,
the prosecution has successfully proved the ingredients of Section
498-A of IPC beyond reasonable doubt. The testimony of parents of
the deceased i.e. PW2 and PW3 along with her brothers PW-4 and
PW- 9 clearly proves that the deceased was constantly harassed and
meted out with cruelty on account of demand of dowry. They have
specifically stated that a day prior to the death of the deceased, the
deceased informed them that the appellants were demanding
Rs.50,000/- on account of demand of dowry, failing which they would
kill her. The evidence and material brought on record is sufficient to
bring home the guilt of the appellants within the four corners of
Section 498A of IPC.

READ  (Arabinda Dutta & Ors vs State Of W.B. & Anr.) on 25 July, 2017

18. Coming to the conviction of all the accused persons under
Section 306 IPC, it would be compelling to reproduce Section 113A of
the Indian evidence Act herein :

113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married
woman.–When the question is whether the commission of
suicide by a woman had been abetted by her husband or any
relative of her husband and it is shown that she had
committed suicide within a period of seven years from the
date of her marriage and that her husband or such relative of
her husband had subjected her to cruelty, the Court may
presume, having regard to all the other circumstances of the
case, that such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by
such relative of her husband.

19. A bare reading of Section 113A of the Evidence Act provides
that abetment of suicide by a married woman shall be deemed to be
presumed wherein, primarily, the suicide has been committed by the
Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 8 of 10
married woman within a period of seven years from the date of
marriage. On existence and availability of the said circumstances, that
is (i) the woman has committed suicide, (ii) such suicide has been
committed within a period of seven years from the date of her
marriage, (iii) the husband or his relatives had subjected her to cruelty,
the court may presume that such suicide had been abetted by her
husband or by such relatives of her husband.

20. As per the facts of the present case, the deceased Sandhya got
married with accused Rajesh on 02.04.1982 and died on 05.09.1998.
The date of death of the deceased is clearly beyond the period of seven
years from the date of her marriage and this alone would fail to attract
the scope of
Section 113A of the Evidence Act and, therefore, the
charge and conviction under
Section 306 IPC shall not hold good
either. In the absence of this vital link of “within a period of seven
years from the date of marriage”, the mere fact that there is a finding
of harassment would not lead to the conclusion that there is “abetment
of suicide”.

21. In the light of the aforesaid discussions, facts and circumstances
of this case, the present appeal is partly allowed. The conviction of the
three accused namely Sohan Lal, Rajesh Kumar and Rukma Devi is
upheld with respect to
Section 498A/34 of the IPC.

22. However, as discussed above, the conviction and order on
sentence awarded to the appellants under
Section 306/34 of the IPC
are set aside.

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 9 of 10

23. So far as order on sentence is concerned, considering the fact
that the incident in question is of the year 1998; the appellants have
faced the agony of trial for about 19 years, and further that conviction
under
Section 306 IPC has now been turned down by this court, it
would be appropriate and in the interest of justic to reduce the period
of sentence imposed upon the appellants to the period already
undergone by them.

24. In view of the aforesaid discussion, the present appeal filed by
the appellants is partly allowed to the extent indicated above and is
disposed of as such.

(P.S.TEJI)
JUDGE
MAY 25, 2017
dd

Crl. A. No. 239,189651/2002 Page 10 of 10

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