Satyawati & Ors vs State on 9 May, 2017

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
+ CRL.A. No.437/2001
Date of Decision : May 9th, 2017

SATYAWATI ORS ….. Appellant
Through: Mr.M.L. Yadav, Adv.

versus

STATE ….. Respondent
Through: Mr.Sundershan Joon, APP for the
State.
Insp.Uma Dutt, PS Mangol Puri.

CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE P.S.TEJI

JUDGMENT

P.S.TEJI, J

1. Aggrieved by the judgment of conviction dated 30.05.2001

convicting the appellants, namely, Smt.Satywwati, Shyam Sunder,

Kanhiya Lal, Subhash Chand and Smt.Malti finding them guilty

under Sections 304B and 498A/34 IPC and order on sentence dated

31.05.2001 vide which the appellants were sentenced to undergo

seven years rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section

304B IPC and also to undergo one year rigorous imprisonment for

the offence under Section 498A IPC with fine of Rs.1,000/- each,

in default of payment of fine they were ordered to further undergo

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 1 of 13
simple imprisonment for one month, the present appeal has been

preferred.

2. The factual matrix emerging from the record is that on

21.04.1997, on receipt of DD No.17A, SI Sanwar Mal along with

Ct.Subash Chand reached at House No.Q-6/105, Mangol Puri

where a dead body of deceased Mithlesh was found lying at a

takhat. There were ligature marks on the front side and left hand

side of the neck of the deceased. It was revealed that the deceased

had committed suicide by hanging. One saree was produced by

appellant Malti which was seized. On 22.04.1997, SDM got the

post-mortem conducted on the dead body of the deceased. On

23.04.1997, statements of Jawahar Lal and Yogesh Kumar, father

and brother of the deceased respectively were recorded.

Thereafter, the SDM had ordered for registration of FIR.

3. In his statement, the complainant Jawahar Singh, father of

the deceased had stated that Mithlesh was married with appellant

Sham Sunder on 26.02.1995. In the marriage, he gave dowry

articles though no dowry was settled. After 2/4 months of

marriage, his daughter fell ill and came to his house. She told that

her in-laws used to tell her that she had brought insufficient dowry

and used to demand scooter or motorcycle. She also told that

accused Rajinder Kumar Kohli was having illicit relations with her

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 2 of 13
mother-in-law; he used to reside there; they used to take liquor; eat

meat and appellant Sham Sunder also used to take liquor. After

taking liquor, appellant Sham Sunder used to beat her and abuse

her and say that motorcycle was not given in the dowry. He used

to tell the deceased to bring scooter or cash in lieu thereof.

Deceased came to the house of the complainant; started weeping

and asked him to pay the cash or scooter else her husband, mother-

in-law and Rajinder Kumar Kohli would beat her. The complainant

paid Rs.15,000/- to his daughter. After two months, his daughter

called him again and stated that her husband and mother-in-law

used to harass her for dowry and demanded cash. In July 1996, his

daughter was pregnant but she was beaten up for demand of dowry

which led to a miscarriage. The deceased used to send letters to

the complainant demanding money; complaining against her

mother-in-law, husband, Malti and Kanhiya Lal that they used to

give beatings to her. Thereafter, accused persons and others came

to the house of the complainant and took the deceased. In the said

panchayat, they promised not to demand dowry and not to beat the

deceased. Thereafter also, the complainant received letters from

the deceased that she was being harassed on account of dowry and

the complainant had paid Rs.30,000/- in instalments. In February

1997, appellant Sham Sunder came to his house and demanded

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 3 of 13
Rs.40,000/- for running a factory and after mortgaging his

agricultural land, the complainant gave Rs.20,000/- to him. On

21.04.1997, the complainant received a call that his daughter

Mithlesh had expired.

4. During investigation, the police seized the letters allegedly

written by the deceased. After completion of investigation, charge

sheet was filed in the Court.

5. Charge under Sections 498A/304B/34 IPC was framed

against all the appellants to which they pleaded not guilty. The

prosecution had examined as many as fourteen witnesses, namely,

PW1 Bhagwan Singh, PW2 Yogesh Kumar, PW3 Rajinder Kumar,

PW4 Mohan Singh (also PW9), PW5 Jahwar Singh, PW6 Ramesh,

READ  Uma Shankar Raipuria-vs-State Of West Bengal And Ors. on 12 December, 2003

PW7 HC Ram Chander, PW8 Vinay Bhushan, PW10 Ct. Mahesh,

PW11 Dr.K.K. Goel, PW12 HC Naresh Kumar, PW13 Ct.Subash

and PW14 SI Sanwar Mal.

6. The statements of the accused persons were recorded under

Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. Accused persons did not examine any

witness in their defence.

7. The appellants were held guilty by the learned Additional

Sessions Judge vide judgment of conviction dated 30.05.2001 and

passed the order on sentence on 31.05.2001.

8. The grounds challenging the judgment of conviction is that

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 4 of 13
there is no iota of evidence against the appellants to substantiate

the charge against them. During the matrimonial life, the deceased

had been living with appellant Shyam Sunder and had been visiting

her parental home but neither she nor any of her family member

ever make any complaint regarding any demand of dowry or

harassment by the appellants. No independent witness from the

locality of the house of the appellants or from the house of the

deceased had been produced by the prosecution. The letters

produced on record by the prosecution allegedly written by the

deceased do not suggest any demand of dowry. It is further

submitted that there is no evidence on record to say that there was

demand of dowry or that the deceased was ever harassed or beaten

by any of the appellants for or in connection with demand of

dowry.

9. Per contra, arguments advanced by learned Additional

Public Prosecutor for the State are that the appellants have been

rightly held guilty under Sections 498A/304B IPC by the trial

court. The father as well as other relatives of the deceased have

duly supported the case of prosecution that the deceased was

subjected to cruelty and harassment on account of demand of

dowry by the appellants. There is sufficient evidence against the

appellants to hold them guilty for the offences of harassment on

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 5 of 13
account of demand of dowry and of dowry death.

10. Arguments advanced by the counsel for the appellants as

well as learned APP for the State were heard.

11. In his testimony, PW1 Bhagwan Singh had deposed that the

deceased was his real brother’s daughter. He was working in a

factory at 395, Gali No.6, Tuglakabad Extn. as a tailor. He used to

visit the deceased. Mithlesh told him that accused Satyawati had

relations with one Rajinder as husband and wife; they both used to

drink liquor together and Rajinder used to sleep with Satyawati;

PW1 produced the letters and photographs handed over to him by

Mithlesh and proved the same as Ex.PW1/1 and Ex.PW1/2.

12. PW2 Yogesh Kumar, brother of the deceased had deposed

that on 26.02.1995, his sister Mithlesh was married to accused

Sham Sunder. Whenever his sister used to come to their house, she

used to tell that her mother in law Satyawati was living with

Rajinder Kohli and used to take liquor with him. Sham Sunder

also used to take liquor with them. His sister was beaten by them.

He further deposed that all the accused persons used to demand

motor cycle and cash and used to harass his sister. His father

agreed to pay money in instalments of Rs.2,000/- or Rs.3,000/-.

Once, his father gave Rs.15,000/- to accused Sham Sunder to

purchase motor cycle. His sister used to write letters to them. In

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 6 of 13
the year 1996, his sister became pregnant and she was beaten and

the doctor informed that the child had died inside her womb. In the

month of December 1996, 10-12 persons including the accused

persons came from Mangol Puri and said that the sister of PW2

would be kept properly and would not be harassed. After one/two

months, they received a letter from Mithlesh and also by telephone,

she informed that she was being harassed and beaten and money

was being demanded. In February/March 1997, accused Sham

Sunder came to their house and demanded Rs.40,000/- for running

a factory. His father after mortgaging agricultural land gave

Rs.20,000/- to accused Sham Sunder.

13. PW3 Rajinder Kumar also made similar statement as that of

PW2.

14. PW4 (PW9) Mohan Singh was the neighbour of the

appellants. In his deposition, he had deposed that on 20.04.1997

when he was going to attend the call of nature and was passing

READ  The Commissioner Of Income Tax Ii vs Kuldeep Singh on 12 August, 2014

from the house of the appellants, he heard Rajinder Singh and

Satyawati saying to Mithlesh that she was asked to bring

Rs.40,000/- and why she had brought Rs.20,000/-. She was asked

to bring Rs.20,000/- more else she would be killed.

15. PW5 Jawahar Singh, father of the deceased had also deposed

on the same lines of PW2 and PW3. He deposed that he gave

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 7 of 13
Rs.2,000/- to his daughter on three occasions and Rs.4,000/- on

two occasions and Rs.15,000/- on one occasion. In February 1997,

accused Sham Sunder came to his house and demanded

Rs.40,000/-. This witness gave Rs.20,000/- to accused Sham

Sunder after mortgaging his land.

16. From the testimony of PW1 to PW5, it is amply clear that

the deceased was being harassed by the appellants for or demand of

dowry. In their testimony, these witnesses have deposed that after

the marriage of the deceased with the appellant Sham Sunder, she

was harassed and beaten up by the appellants for or in connection

with demand of dowry. They have stated that the appellants used

to demand motorcycle or cash in lieu thereof from the deceased

and for the same, they used to harass her and also gave beatings to

her. It is also stated by the witnesses that Jawahar Singh, father of

the deceased gave Rs.2,000/- or Rs.3,000/- to the deceased on

several occasions. It is also stated by the witnesses and specifically

by PW5 Jawahar Singh that PW5 gave Rs.20,000/- to the appellant

Sham Sunder after selling his agricultural land.

17. Thus, from the testimony of above witnesses, there is

enough evidence on record from which it has been established that

the deceased was being harassed by the appellants for or in

connection with demand of dowry. Therefore, the conviction of

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 8 of 13
the appellants deserves to be upheld under Section 498A/34 IPC.

18. So far as the conviction of the appellants under Section 304B

IPC for causing the dowry death of the deceased is concerned, in

the case of Devi Lal vs. State of Rajasthan AIR 2008 SC 332,

Hon’ble Apex Court has observed that the ingredients of provisions

of section 304 B IPC are (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. It

was further observed that before an accused is found guilty for

commission of an offence, the Court must arrive at a finding that

the ingredients thereof have been established. It was held that

statement of a witness for the said purpose must be read in its

entirety. It is not necessary for a witness to make a statement in

consonance with the wording of the section of a statute. What is

needed is to find out whether the evidences brought on record

satisfy the ingredients thereof.

19. Necessary ingredients of dowry death as provided under

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 9 of 13
Section 304B of IPC are :

(i)Deceased was the subject matter of cruelty on account of
dowry and culminates into guilt of accused under Section
498A
IPC;

(ii)The death should have taken place due to bodily injuries
other than normal circumstances; and

(iii)Such death was the subject matter of cruelty soon before
death.

20. As far as death of the deceased Mithlesh is concerned, it is

not in dispute that she died due to hanging which shows that the

death of the deceased was not under normal circumstances and was

due to the bodily injuries which fulfil the first ingredient for the

commission of offence under Section 304B IPC.

21. The second ingredient that death of the deceased had taken

place within seven years of her marriage with the appellant is

established from the evidence, as marriage had taken place on

26.02.1995 and her death took place on 21.04.1997 i.e. within three

READ  Raja @ Ram Pal vs State (Nct) Of Delhi on 9 February, 2011

years of her marriage.

22. The next and the most important ingredient required to be

proved from the evidence is that the deceased was subjected to

cruelty and harassment on account of demand of dowry by her

husband or any relative of her husband and that was done soon

before death. The prosecution has produced PW1 to PW5 to prove

these ingredients. PW1 happened to be uncle of the deceased,

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 10 of 13
PW2 PW3 happened to be brothers of the deceased, PW4

happened to be neighbour of the appellants and PW5 happened to

be father of the deceased. The detailed discussion of their

testimony has already been made.

23. The last ingredient is based upon the commission of offence

under Section 498A IPC and while committing the offence under

Section 498A IPC, if it connects with the death, then it would be an

offence punishable under Section 304B IPC. The prosecution has

failed miserably to establish beyond reasonable doubt that any

cruelty or harassment was meted out to the deceased for or in

connection with demand of dowry by any of the appellants soon

before her death. The ingredient of harassing or beating the

deceased for or in connection with demand of dowry soon before

her death is missing from the testimony of above mentioned

prosecution witnesses. Though from their testimony, it has duly

been established that the deceased was subjected to harassment and

cruelty for or in connection with demand of dowry, but no incident

or occasion had been brought on record to connect any of the

appellant with the said harassment or cruelty meted out to the

deceased soon before her death.

24. The argument advanced by the learned APP for the State is

that Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act leads to the

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 11 of 13
presumption of the guilt of the appellants. Section 113B of the

Indian Evidence Act reads as under :

“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 has 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.”

25. The presumption under Section 113B of the Evidence Act

can be drawn only where the ingredients of Section 304B IPC are

fulfilled. The prosecution has failed to establish the necessary

ingredient of dowry death i.e. cruelty or harassment meted out to

the deceased by the appellant “soon before her death”. As

mentioned above, the prosecution has failed to prove the chain of

necessary ingredients to raise the presumption under Section 113B

of the Indian Evidence Act.

26. From no stretch of imagination, the evidence led by the

prosecution in the present case could culminate into conviction of

the appellants under Section 304-B read with 34 IPC.

27. It has been brought on record that all the appellants remained

behind the bar before suspending their sentence by this Court as

evident from their nominal roll.

28. In view of the above discussion and the evidence discussed,

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 12 of 13
this Court upholds the judgment of conviction and order on

sentence awarded to the appellants under Section 498A read with

Section 34 of the IPC.

29. However, the judgment of conviction and order on sentence

awarded to the appellants under Section 304B read with Section 34

IPC is set aside.

30. Apparently, the death of the deceased had taken place on

21.04.1997; the charge was framed on 02.03.1998; judgment of

conviction was passed on 30.05.2001; order on sentence was

passed on 31.05.2001; sentence of the appellants was suspended by

this Court in 2001/2002; the appellants have faced the protracted

trial for about 20 years and since there is no minimum sentence

provided under Section 498A IPC, the interest of justice would be

met if the sentence of the appellants is modified to the extent

already undergone by them. It is held accordingly.

31. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.

32. Pending application, if any, is also disposed of.

(P.S.TEJI)
JUDGE

MAY 09, 2017
dd

Crl.A. No.437/2001 Page 13 of 13

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