Purushottam S/O Sumappa Ghodke vs State Of Maharashtra on 21 August, 2017

CRI.APPEAL.183.03
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IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
BENCH AT NAGPUR, NAGPUR.

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 183/2003

Purushottam s/o Sumappa Ghodke
Aged 35 years, R/o Deolgaonraja,
Dist. Buldana .. APPELLANT

v e r s u s

State of Maharashtra
Through : Police Station Deolgaonraja
Dist. Buldana .. RESPONDENT

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Mr. Nachiket Moharir with Mrs. Radhika Bajaj, Advocate for appellant
Mr. N.H.Joshi, Additional Public Prosecutor for respondent-State
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

CORAM: MRS.SWAPNA JOSHI, J.
DATED: 21st August, 2017

ORAL JUDGMENT:

The present appeal has been preferred against the judgment

and order delivered by learned ad-hoc Additional Sessions Judge,

Buldana, on 21st February, 2003 in Sessions Case No.88/2001 whereby

the learned Judge convicted the appellant under section 498A of the

Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment

for two years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default, to suffer further

RI for three months. However the appellant and his relatives were

acquitted of the offence punishable u/s 306 r/ws. 34 of the IPC.

2. I have heard Mr. Nachiket Moharir along with Radhika

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Bajaj, learned counsel for the appellant and Mr.N.H.Joshi, the learned

Additional Public Prosecutor for the respondent. I have carefully gone

through the record of the case.

3. The prosecution case in brief is that Kirti (now deceased)

was married with appellant some time in the month of April,1993. After

marriage, she started residing with the appellant and in-laws, at

Deulgaonraja, District:Buldana. Kirti was blessed with her first daughter

in the year 1995. For the second time in theyear 1997, Kirti was again

blessed with a female child. It is the case of the prosecution that due to

the birth of second female child, the appellant was addicted to liquor

and under the influence of liquor, he used to beat her. It was further

alleged that the in-laws of Kirti used to instigate the appellant. On

15.2.2001 Kirti had been to her parental home to attend the marriage

ceremony of her sister Kalpana. At that time, Kirti narrated her that she

is being heavily ill-treated at the hands of her husband-Purushottam (the

appellant) and under the influence of liquor he beats her. The second

reason for his ill-treatment was that Kirti did not beget a son. On

27.3.2001 Kirti committed suicide by jumping into a well. An accidental

death was registered in respect of death of Kirti by Assistant Police

Inspector (Buckle No.1003). PW 5-Prasanna Bungle conducted the spot

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panchnama (Exh.28). The dead body of Kirti was sent for post-mortem.

The Medical Officer PW4-Dr.Mukund Kulkarni opined that the cause of

death of Kirti was asphyxia due to drowning. He tendered the PM notes

(Exh.36). On 8.4.2001, the father of Kirti lodged an oral report (Exh.

24) against the appellant and his relatives. On the basis of the said

report, an offence was registered for offence puinishable u/ss. 498A

and 306 r/ws. 34 of the IPC. Investigation was carried out. Charge-

sheet was filed. The learned trial Judge framed the charge and

conducted the trial. On appreciation and analysis of the evidence led by

the prosecution, the learned Judge convicted the appellant, as aforesaid.

4. The learned counsel for the appellant contended that the

judgment and order passed by the learned trial Judge is illegal and

perverse, in as much as the learned Judge has acquitted the appellant

under section 306 IPC, however came to the conclusion that there was

no evidence to show that there was a immediate cause for Kirti to take

such a drastic step of committing suicide. He further opined that there is

no nexus in between cruelty and suicide. Learned counsel for the

appellant submitted that when the learned Judge had come to the

conclusion that there was no immediate cause for deceased Kirti to

commit suicide, then it is not clear as to how the learned Judge came to

the conclusion that the appellant had ill-treated Kirti by assaulting her

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under the influence of liquor. The learned counsel further submitted

that Kirti delivered second female child in the year 1997 whereas the

allegations of cruelty are made by relatives of Kirti after her death which

had taken place on 27th March, 2001 i.e. nearly four years after the birth

of second daughter. According to learned counsel for the appellant, the

prosecution has failed to prove the charge u/s. 498A of IPC against the

appellant.

5. Mr.N.H.Joshi, the learned Additional Public Prosecutor

vehemently argued that since Kirti had begotten two female children

consecutively, she was subjected to ill-treatment by her husband i.e. the

appellant. He submited that it has come on record that the appellant

used to consume liquor regularly and assault her.

6. In order to appreciate the rival contentions of the respective

parties, it is necessary to go through the evidence led by the prosecution.

The prosecution has heavily relied upon the testimony of PW1-Ramesh

Chavrasnge. PW1 has categorically deposed that Kirti got married with

the appellant in the year 1994. In due course, Kirti blessed with two

children out of the wedlock. The appellant and his relatives were

nervous as Kirti was blessed with a female child. After three years, again

Kirti delivered a second female child. After her second delivery, Kirti had

been to his house and she narrated that due to the birth of female child

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her husband Purushottam was addicted to liquor and he used to beat

her. PW1 stated that he gave an understanding to Kirti that he would

talk to Purushottam. According to PW1 on 15.2.2001 Kirti had been to

his house for attending the marriage of his daughter Kalpana.

Purushottam came along with her. After marriage of Kalpana, Kirti

narrated him that she is being heavily ill-treated at the hands of her

husband, after consuming liquor. PW1 gave an understanding to her and

informed her that he would pacify Purushottam on his visiting

Deolgaonraja. On 21.2.2001, PW1-Ramesh went to Deolgaonraja and

gave understanding to Purushottam and his relatives to properly behave

with Kirti and not to ill-treat her. On 27.3.2001 PW 1-Ramesh received

a message about the death of Kirti due to drowning in a well. PW1

then lodged complaint against the appellant and his near relatives on

8.4.2001. PW1 deposed that his son-Pradip (PW 3) had received a

letter on Kirti prior to the marriage of Kalpana, dated 4.1.2001. He

produced the said letter before the police. According to PW1 due to the

ill-treatment at the hands of appellant and his relatives, Kirti committed

suicide by jumping into the well. During the cross-examination, PW1 it

has come in his evidence that after marriage Kirti stayed at Deolgaonraja

for quite some time and thereafter she started residing with her

husband and children at Pune in 1995. Kirti was running a Beauty

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Parlour at that time. Few days prior to her death, it appears that Kirti

started residing with her husband and in-laws at Deolgaonraja.

7. From the testimony of PW1 it appears that the appellant

along with Kirti and his children started residing at Deolgaonraja as his

father had suffered an heart attack. From the testimony of PW1, it is

noticed that his son-Pradip had received a letter from Kirti just two

months prior to her death. Pradeep showed the said letter to PW1,

therefore, he disturbed and, therefore, he has lodged the complaint

against the appellant and his relatives. Now coming to the letter dated

4.1.2001 that Kirti was disturbed as her daughters Anu and Ketaki used

to whine. It further reveals that her husband also quarreled with her for

no reason on which she could not control herself. She stated that her

husband behaves like an autocrat and asks her to work as a maidservant.

Kirti further stated in her letter that her father-in-law could not tolerate

the whining of her daughters. It appears that Kirti was mainly disturbed

due to the whining of her two daughters. Significantly, the letter of Kirti

shows that she was cooled down thereafter. She further stated that after

she returned home no altercation whatsoever had taken place in the

family and everyone was behaving with her properly. Kirti asked her

brother not to worry about her. From the letter sent by Kirti to her

brother about two and a half months prior to her death, does not in any

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manner indicate that Kirti was ill-treated by the appellant and his

relatives. Importantly, the learned Judge of the Court below has come

to the conclusion that there was no immediate cause, so that Kirti should

commit suicide. He further went on saying that there was no nexus

between cruelty and suicide of Kirti. Admittedly, the suicidal death of

Kirti has not been disputed by the appellant. It was mentioned in the

suicide note of Kirti that she was committing suicide and no one should

be held responsible for her suicide. Under these circumstances, only

because the letter was written by Kirti to her brother just 2½ months

prior to her death which does not depict any serious cause to commit

suicide, it cannot be said that due to said cruelty at the hands of

appellant, Kirti committed suicide. The testimony of PW1-Ramesh do

not manifest any cruelty as such at the hands of the appellant. The

only allegation made is that the appellant used to consume liquor and

under the influence of liquor he used to beat Kirti. Significantly, prior to

death of Kirti, no complaint was lodged either by PW1-Ramesh or

Kirti, who was an educated lady against the appellant, for the alleged

cruelty at the hands of the appellant.

7A. So far as the testimony of PW2-Ashok Karanjkar is

concerned, he has stated that in the marriage of Kalpana which was held

on 15.2.2001, Kirti informed him that Purushottam is heavily

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consuming liquor and beating her. However, the said version of PW 2 is

in the form of improvement. Hence no reliance can be placed on the

testimony of PW 2.

8. As regards the testimony of PW 3- Pradip Chavrange, he is

the brother of Kirti. He stated that on 15.2.2001 i.e. during the marriage

of Kalpana, Purushottam had consumed liquor. Significantly, the said

version was an improvement in the testimony of PW3. Hence it cannot

be considered. PW3 deposed that one month prior to the marriage of

Kalpana, he received a letter from Kirti. However since there was a

marriage in the family, he did not disclose the said letter to his father.

After the death of Kirti on 7.4.2001, he recollected that he had

received a letter from Kirti and, therefore, he handed over the said

letter to his father. As already discussed above, no incriminating

material has been found in the letter dated 4.1.2001 sent by Kirti to her

brother PW3-Pradip. The testimony of PW3 is of no assistance to the

prosecution case.

9. On careful scrutiny of testimony of the witnesses cited by

the prosecution, one cannot say that the appellant had ill-treated Kirti

and, therefore, she committed suicide. The learned trial Judge has

committed an irregularity by coming to the conclusion that the appellant

had ill-treated Kirti, although the learned Judge has opined that due to

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the said ill-treatment Kirti did not commit suicide.

10. In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case,

the Appeal needs to be allowed by setting aside the order of the trial

Court. Hence the following order:-

ORDER

(i) Criminal Appeal No. 183/2003 is allowed.

(ii) The judgment and order dated 21.02.2003 passed by the learned

Ad-hoc Additional Sessions Judge, Buldana in Sessions Case No.

88/2001 is set aside. The appellant is acquitted of the offence punishable

under section 498A of the IPC.

(iii) The bail bonds of the appellant shall stand cancelled.

JUDGE

Sahare

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