Padma Ram & Anr vs State on 3 October, 2017

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR RAJASTHAN AT
JODHPUR
S.B. Criminal Misc. Bail No. 6343 / 2017

1. Padma Ram S/o Ladu Ram, Aged About 22 Years, By Caste Nai,
Resident of Peeraniyo Ki Dhani, Setrava Police Station Dechu
District Jodhpur.

2. Smt. Asu Devi W/o Ladu Ram, Aged About 45 Years, By Caste
Nai, Resident of Peeraniyo Ki Dhani, Setrava Police Station Dechu
District Jodhpur.

(At Present Lodged in Central Jail, Jodhpur).

—-Petitioners
Versus
The State of Rajasthan

—-Respondent
__
For Petitioner(s) : Mr. Mahesh Bora, Senior Advocate with Mr.
Saaransh Viz., Mr. Ramesh Purohit and Mr.
Varun Gupta.

For Respondent(s) : Mr. K.V. Vyas, Public Prosecutor.
For Complainant(s): Mr. J.S. Choudhary, Senior Advocate with Mr.
Tarun Dhaka.

__
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE P.K. LOHRA
Order
03/10/2017

Accused petitioners, on being apprehended pursuant to

investigation into FIR No.120/17 of Police Station Dechu, District

Jodhpur, have laid this bail application under Section 439 Cr.P.C.

In the FIR, besides both the petitioners, accused Lalu Ram is

also charged for offence under Sections 498A 304-B IPC. Upon

completion of investigation, police submitted charge-sheet against

all the three accused persons for offence under Section 304-B/34

IPC.

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Mr. Mahesh Bora, learned Senior Counsel, submits that

allegations of subjecting deceased to cruelty or harassment in

connection with any demand for dowry in the FIR and police

statements of complainant Champa Ram are omnibus. Learned

Senior Counsel would, therefore, contend that basic ingredient for

constituting offence of “dowry death” within the meaning of

Section 304-B IPC is conspicuously missing in the matter. Learned

counsel has urged that there are serious contradictions in the

police statements of complainant Champa Ram and Ms. Premi

Devi (wife of complainant and mother of deceased) inasmuch as

she has projected an improved version contrary to the recitals in

the FIR. Mr. Bora, learned Senior Counsel has also placed reliance

on the police statements of three independent witnesses; Purak

Singh, Dalpat Singh and Devi Singh, who are neighbours of the

petitioners. While referring to the statements of these witnesses,

learned Senior Counsel has argued that none of them have

insinuated the petitioners of perpetrating cruelty or harassment to

the deceased for demand of dowry. Learned counsel has also

submitted that as per the statements of three independent

witnesses, deceased was suffering from epilepsy and was under

treatment. Learned counsel has further submitted that although

mother of the deceased in her police statements has alleged that

she received a phone call from her daughter deceased Mamta just

before the calamity but those revelations are not inspiring

confidence inasmuch as during investigation call details have not

been collected by the investigating agency. Lastly, learned Senior
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[CRLMB-6343/2017]

Counsel has submitted that autopsy report of the deceased is

clear and unequivocal showing cause of death as “antemortem

drowning leading to asphyxia and then death”. Elaborating his

submission regarding postmortem report, learned Senior Counsel

has argued that only some abrasions and bruises were found on

the dead body and absence of any external injury on abdominal

wall of the deceased is sufficient to infer that the so called injuries

might have been sustained by the deceased when she jumped into

water tank.

Per contra, learned Public Prosecutor submits that death of

Ms. Mamta within fourteen months of marriage and visible sign of

external injury on her person is sufficient to draw a presumption

about offence under Section 304-B IPC. Learned Public Prosecutor

submits that allegations of cruelty or harassment for demand of

dowry are very much discernible from FIR as well as the

statements of witnesses recorded by police and therefore offence

under Section 304-B IPC is clearly made out against the

petitioners. Learned Public Prosecutor has argued that the plea

sought to be raised by petitioners that deceased was suffering

from epilepsy, is wholly untenable sans any evidence to

substantiate the same. Learned Public Prosecutor has also

submitted that visible signs of injuries on some body parts of the

deceased including her back, are prima facie sufficient to show

that she was subjected to cruelty and harassment by the

petitioners.

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[CRLMB-6343/2017]

Mr. J.S. Choudhary, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the

complainant, has reiterated the arguments advanced by learned

Public Prosecutor. Learned Senior Counsel, while referring to

police statements of Premi Devi, has urged that prima facie

offence of demand for dowry immediately before death is available

so as to constitute offence under Section 304-B IPC. Learned

Senior Counsel lastly submitted that looking to the short duration

of matrimony, i.e. 14 months, and unnatural death of deceased

with requisite evidence of dowry demand, presumption under

Section 113-B of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 can be pressed into

service.

I have bestowed my consideration to the arguments

advanced at the Bar and perused the materials available on

record.

There remains no quarrel that deceased Ms. Mamta has not

died a natural death and undeniably her death is unnatural under

certain mysterious circumstances. The so called ailment of the

deceased, that she was suffering from epilepsy, is prima facie, not

visible from the materials available on record, and moreover the

defence has not been able to substantiate the same.

Unnatural death of a lady during subsistence of matrimony

in tiny span of 14 months coupled with allegations of cruelty or
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[CRLMB-6343/2017]

harassment with demand of dowry cannot be underplayed at this

stage while considering bail plea of the petitioners. The statement

of mother of deceased also cannot be ignored wherein she has

asserted that soon before death of her daughter demand for

dowry was made. Even otherwise, the expression “soon before” is

a relative term which is required to be considered under specific

circumstances of each case and no straitjacket formula can be laid

down by fixing any time of allotment. As such, the term “soon

before” is synonymous with the term “immediately before”.

It is also noteworthy that the Court while dealing with grant

of bail can only satisfy itself where there is any genuine case

against the accused and the prosecution will be able to produce

prima facie evidence in support of the charge. At this stage, Court

is not expected to scrutinize evidence so minutely with precision

as if to ascertain the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable

doubt.

In view of foregoing discussion, while refraining to make any

comment on merits, in the backdrop of facts and circumstances of

the case, I feel disinclined to enlarge the petitioners on bail.

Resultantly, bail application fails and same is hereby

dismissed.

(P.K. LOHRA)J.

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