S.M. Sachdev vs State (Govt Nct Of Delhi) on 18 July, 2017

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

Judgment delivered on : July 18th, 2017

+ Crl. A. No. 143/2003
S.M. SACHDEV ….. Appellant
Through: Mr.R.N. Mittal, Senior Advocate with
Mr.Rupendra Pratap singh, Ms.Arushi
Tanqvi, Adv.

versus

STATE (GOVT NCT OF DELHI) ….. Respondent
Through: Mr. Panna Lal Sharma, Additional
Public Prosecutor for the State with
Sub Inspector Raj Kumar, Police
Station K.M. Pur, Delhi.

AND

+ Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003
MEENA KATHURIA ….. Petitoner
Through: Ms.Vaishali Soni, Advocate.

versus

STATE OF NCT DELHI ANR ….. Respondent
Through: Mr. Panna Lal Sharma, Additional
Public Prosecutor for the State with
Sub Inspector Raj Kumar, Police
Station K.M. Pur, Delhi.

CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE P.S.TEJI

Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 1 of 9
JUDGMENT

P.S.TEJI, J.

1. The present appeal has been filed by the appellant S.M.
Sachdev being aggrieved by the judgment of conviction dated
24.02.2003 passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi
convicting the appellant for the offence punishable under Section
498A of Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as I.P.C.) and order
on sentence dated 28.02.2003, whereby the appellant has been
sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years
and fine of Rs.10,000/- and in default of payment of fine he was
further sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months.

2. On the other hand, petitioner Meena Kathuria, filed a revision
petition under Section 397 Cr.P.C. for setting aside the impugned
judgment of acquitting the accused for offence committed under
Section 304B IPC. Since both appeal and revision petition have been
preferred against the same judgment, therefore, both the cases are
decided together.

3. The facts in brief are that Sh.A.D Malik had made a statement
to the police that his daughter Ratna was married to accused Shyam
Sundar on 3.12.1985. The accused used to live in Delhi and Ratna post
marriage shifted to Delhi and started living with the accused. Post
marriage, the accused and his mother started harassing, maltreating
Ratna with cruelty for want of dowry. The accused turned out Ratna
outside her matrimonial home on a number of occasions and the entire
stay of Ratna with the accused was faced with torture and cruelty on
Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 2 of 9
account of demand of dowry. The complainant had given money
several times to his daughter to meet the demands of accused persons.
On 23.03.1989, he received a telephone call that his daughter Ratna
had got burnt and was admitted in hospital and thereafter she
succumbed to her injuries.

4. On the basis of statement made by the complainant, FIR of the
present case was registered and the accused was arrested. After
completion of investigation, charge sheet was filed before the trial
court.

5. The appellant was charged with the offence punishable under
Sections 498A and 304B of IPC to which he pleaded not guilty and
claimed trial.

6. To bring home the guilt of the appellant, the prosecution
examined PW1 Sh.Ved Prakash, PW2 Ascharaj Lal, PW3
Dr.B.Swain, PW4 Kaushal Sachdeva, PW5 Y.D. Malik, PW6
Mrs.Meena Kathuria, PW7 A.D. Malik, PW8 J.L. Kalra, PW10
Dr.Sebastian, PW13 Janak Raj, PW15 Dr. Iqbal Singh Cheema, the
then SDM apart from other witnesses.

7. After conclusion of prosecution evidence, statement of the
accused persons was recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C.

8. After considering the facts, evidence led on behalf of both the
sides and the material on record, the learned Additional Sessions
Judge held the appellant guilty for an offence punishable under
Section 498A of IPC, however he has been acquitted for the offence
Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 3 of 9
punishable under Section 304B IPC. Hence the present appeal has
been preferred against the impugned judgment and order on sentence.

9. Learned counsel for the appellant contended that the letters
allegedly written by the deceased did not implicate the appellant as
there is nothing in it against the appellant. In her dying declaration,
the deceased did not give any reason for burning herself. The
appellant himself tried to put off the fire with blanket and in the
process he also sustained burn injuries. There was no evidence on
record from which it can be said that the appellant had ever demanded
any dowry from the deceased or from her family members or that the
deceased was ever meted with cruelty by the appellant for or in
connection with demand of dowry. It was further contended that the
trial court has not appreciated the evidence brought on record in
correct perspective.

10. In support of the above contentions, learned counsel has relied
upon the judgment in the case of State of Uttar Pradesh v. Abhai Raj
Singh 2004 AIR SC 3235, Sukhlal Ors. V. State of U.P. 2014 Law
Suit (All) 1665, Kunwar Bahadur Singh v. Sheo Baran Singh AIR
2003 SC 2066, Savitri Dvi v. Ramesh Chand Ors. 2003 Cri.L.J.
2759, Hans Raj Sharma v. State of Govt. of NCT 2010 (175) DLT
446 and Ramesh Chander v. State of Delhi (Crl.A. 526/2002)to press
the contention that harassment means to torment a person subjecting
him or her through constant interference or intimidation. If such
tormentation is done with a view to coerce any person and the wife to
do any unlawful act and to meet the unlawful demand of property or
Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 4 of 9
valuable security, it amounts to harassment as contemplated by
Section 498A IPC.

11. To appreciate the arguments advanced, it would be appropriate
to go through the evidence adduced before the trial court.

12. A.D. Malik (PW7) is the father of the deceased. In his
testimony, he had stated that before the marriage of his deceased
daughter Ratna, both the accused complained about the dowry to be
given in the marriage. They had stated that there was no TV, fridge
and other articles and demanded more gold and diamond jewellery.
This witness had taken loan and arranged for the demands made by the
accused. He spent about 1.5 lacs in the marriage. After marriage, the
deceased was harassed all the time. She was given beatings and
threatened to bring Maruti Car and Rs.50,000/- else she would be
killed. He met the accused and expressed his inability to give car and
cash, however he gave Rs.5,000/- to accused. Ratna was turned out of
her matrimonial home in March, 1986. Thereafter, she was taken back
by the accused. Ratna was again turned out of her matrimonial home
in April, 1987 and thereafter she took admission in B.Ed. Court in
Agra. In July, 1988 accused brought Ratna to Delhi. Thereafter,
again accused started beating Ratna and taunted her for less dowry and
started asking for costly items. In September-October 1988, this
witness purchased an almirah, cooler, stereo, etc. for Rs.8,000/- and
gave the same to accused.

13. From the testimony of PW7 i.e. father of the deceased, it is
apparent that there was demand of dowry by the accused from the
Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 5 of 9
deceased and that the deceased was harassed and tortured on account
of demand of dowry. It has come in his testimony that the accused
used to beat, taunt and harass the deceased for bringing less dowry and
had demanded car and cash of Rs.50,000/-. It was stated by the
witness that he had given a sum of Rs.5,000/- and Rs.10,000/- a few
times to the accused but his behavior towards the deceased did not
change and she had faced the constant trauma of harassment and
cruelty.

14. PW6 Mrs.Meena Kathuria, sister of the deceased has
corroborated the testimony of her father PW7. PW6 had stated that
after marriage, husband of Ratna i.e. the appellant-herein and his
mother used to harass Ratna. When Ratna visited the house of PW6,
she told about the harassment meted out to her. She was harassed for
money and articles from her maternal home. She was asked to bring
money and different articles. PW6 further stated that Ratna had
visited her house about 8/10 days prior to the incident. Accused
wanted a VCR and she conveyed his demand to her father. Ratna used
to tell PW6 that the accused used to beat her in a cruel manner and
sometimes used to break her hand and sometimes beating marks used
to be there on her back.

15. From the testimony of PW6 also, it has been duly established
that the accused used to demand money and other articles from the
deceased and used to harass her to meet his demands of dowry
articles. She had specifically stated that the deceased told her that

Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 6 of 9
accused used to harass and beat her mercilessly. There was specific
demand of VCR by accused from the deceased.

16. The testimony of the father (PW7) and sister (PW6) of the
deceased clearly proves the case of the prosecution that the appellant
used to harass the deceased for or in connection of demand of dowry.
Various instances have been given by these witnesses from which it
has been proved that accused used to demand money, articles, VCR
and car from the deceased and used to harass and beat her in
connection with the said demands.

17. In view of the totality of evidence discussed above, this Court is
of the view that the prosecution had successfully established its case
against the appellant that he used to harass and meted the deceased
with cruelty for or in connection with demand of dowry and his
conviction under Section 498A IPC deserves to be upheld.

18. So far the quantum of punishment is concerned, it is apparent
from the record that the marriage of the appellant with the deceased
had taken place on 03.12.1985. The deceased died on 22.03.1989.
The FIR of the instant case was registered on 25.03.1989. The
judgment of conviction was passed on 24.02.2003 and the order on
sentence was passed on 28.02.2003. Thereafter, the instant appeal was
filed and the sentence awarded to the appellant was suspended.

19. It is apparent from the record that the appellant remained behind
the bars for about seven months. It is further apparent from the record
that since the day of registration of FIR, the appellant has faced the

Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 7 of 9
protracted trial of about 28 years. So, it would be in the interest of
justice to release the appellant on the period already undergone by
him.

20. In view of the above discussion, the judgment of conviction
passed by the trial court is accordingly upheld. However, the sentence
awarded to the appellant is modified to the extent of period already
undergone by him.

21. Now coming to the revision petition. It has been alleged by the
petitioner that the offence of committing dowry death of the deceased
was committed within the walls of the house and it is impossible to
bring any direct evidence. There is sufficient evidence on record to
establish that the deceased was continuously harassed for want of
dowry, not only physically but mentally also. The death of the
deceased had taken within seven years of her marriage and there is
every reason to raise presumption under Section 113B of the Evidence
Act against the husband of the deceased. There was sufficient
evidence to convict the accused-husband under Section 304B of the
IPC. The petitioner has prayed for setting aside the judgment of
acquittal of the accused under Section 304B IPC.

22. I have gone through the record produced on file in detail. The
evidence adduced by the prosecution does not show anything on
record that the deceased was subjected to harassment or cruelty for or
in connection with demand of dowry by the accused-husband soon
before her death. Though there are allegations of harassment and
cruelty meted out to the deceased for demand of dowry by the
Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 8 of 9
accused-husband, but one of the essential ingredients of causing
dowry death i.e. such harassment or cruelty soon before death of the
deceased is missing. Therefore, in the absence of clear and
convincing evidence of causing dowry death, this Court is not inclined
to interfere in the judgment of conviction passed by the trial court.

23. As discussed above, this Court is of the view that the petitioner
in the revision petition has failed to show any illegality, infirmity or
impropriety in the judgment of conviction dated 24.02.2003
convicting the accused-husband under Section 498A IPC and
acquitting him for the offence under Section 304B IPC. There is no
merit in the present revision petition and same deserves to be
dismissed.

24. As discussed above, both appeal as well as revision petition are
disposed of.

(P.S.TEJI)
JUDGE
JULY 18, 2017
dd

Crl. A. No.143/2003 Crl.Rev.P. 534/2003 Page 9 of 9

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