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498A Quash – General, Hearsay accusation

Andhra High Court

Public Prosecutor, High Court Of …
T. Anand Kumar on 3 August, 2004

Equivalent citations: 2004 (2) ALD Cri 354, I (2005) DMC 162

Bench: P Narayana
JUDGMENT P.S. Narayana, J.

JUDGMENT P.S. Narayana, J.

1. Heard the learned Additional Public Prosecutor and the learned Senior Counsel Mr. Padmanabha Reddy.

2. The factual matrix germane for appreciating the episode of the prosecution is as follows:

Respondents A-l to A-4 were charged with the offence under Section 304-B, I.P.C. and A-2 was charged with the offence under Section 354, I.P.C. It is brought to the notice of this Court that A-2 died during the pendency of the appeal and hence the evidence so far as it relates to the offence under Section 354, I.P.C. needs no serious consideration at the hands of this Court. The prosecution had examined P.W. 1 to P.W. 17 and Exs. P-1 to P-11 were marked. The learned Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Hyderabad, on appreciation of evidence, recorded an order of acquittal by judgment dated 3.10.1996 and hence the State preferred the present appeal as against an order of acquittal.

Submissions of Additional Public Prosecutor:

3. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor while commencing submissions in all fairness maintained that the prosecution was unable to prove Section 304-B, I.P.C., but definitely, there is sufficient evidence to convict A-l, A3 and A-4 for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. The learned Counsel had taken this Court through the evidence of P.W. -1 and P.W. -3, P.W. -2 and P.W. -5 and submitted that on the aspect of payment of dowry amount and further demands made and harassment and ill-treatment of the deceased Vasantha Laxmi, the evidence is consistent and in a matter of this nature, direct evidence would not be available. The learned Counsel also would contend that the very illicit intimacy of A-l with Vijaya Laxmi, examined as P.W.-10, would be sufficient harassment so as to attract Section 498-A, I.P.C. though Section 304-B, I.P.C. had not been proved. The learned Counsel also submitted that definitely this charge had been proved as against A1 at least though it is taken that the allegations made against the other accused are of general nature. The learned Counsel also had drawn the attention of this Court to Section 113-A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and concluded that on the material available on record, A-l, A-3 and A-4 are liable to be convicted under Section 498-A, I.P.C.

Submissions of Mr. Padmanabha Reddy:

4. Mr. Padmanabha Reddy, the learned Senior Counsel representing the respondents/accused would contend that though if sufficient evidence is available despite the acquittal under Section 304-B, I.P.C. accused can be convicted under Section 498-A, I.P.C. but, in the present case, no such legally acceptable evidence is available and hence the findings need not be disturbed. The learned Counsel also would contend that the evidence of P.W. -1, P.W. -3, P.W. -5 and P.W. -2, at the best is hearsay evidence relating to harassment and such statements are not admissible under Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The learned Counsel also further had contended that inasmuch as Ex. P-l is a concocted document which was brought in, since the accused did not accept the demand of amount made by P.W. 1, the entire prosecution version would collapse. The learned Counsel also pointed out to the nature of evidence available on record and would contend that it is not trustworthy. The Counsel also would stress on the aspect that the evidence on record shows that several reports were given even prior to Ex. P-l and in the light of the evidence of P.W. -1, the allegations made in Ex. P-l are to be viewed with suspicion. The learned Senior Counsel would conclude that there is neither perversity nor unreasonableness in the reasonings of the learned Judge in recording acquittal and hence there is no need to disturb such well considered findings.

5. P.R.C. No. 38/94 was committed by the VI Metropolitan Magistrate, Hyderabad and after committal the learned Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Hyderabad tried S.C. No. 90/95 and recorded acquittal.

6. The de facto complainant P.W. -1 had given his daughter Vasantha Laxmi in marriage to A-l on 15.8.1990. It is also the case of the prosecution that it was agreed to the date of marriage that the de facto complainant should give Rs. 40,000/-, one Tola gold and one wrist watch to A-l and as agreed upon, P.W.-1 presented cash of Rs. 5,000/- to A-l at the time of vara pooja that was celebrated in the house of accused at Amberpet and Rs. 35,000/- a few days prior to the marriage. He also presented a wrist watch and one Tola of gold to A-l and the marriage was celebrated and Vasantha Laxmi was sent to the house of the accused. Out of the wedlock, Vasantha Laxmi begot a daughter by name Sowmya. A-l and A-4 are the sons of A-2 and A-3. A-2 and A-3 are husband and wife and all the four accused harassed and ill-treated Vasantha Laxmi for more dowry and also fridge, colour T.V., decolom cots, foam bed etc. When P.W.-l expressed his inability to present them, the ill-treatment increased. Vasantha Laxmi also came to know that A-l had illegal contact with another woman Vijaya Laxmi and he begot a son through her and he was neglecting Vasantha Laxmi. It is also the case of the prosecution that on one day in the absence of A-l to A-3 and A-4 as A-3 and A-4 went to Delhi, A-2 tried to molest Vasantha Laxmi, but she escaped from his attempts. No doubt as already referred to supra, A-2 is no more in this world, Vasantha Laxmi left the house on 30.11.1992 and was found missing and the said woman missing case ultimately landed the accused in the present litigation on the ground that the death of Vasantha Laxmi was due to harassment and ill- treatment by the accused and the said Vasantha Laxmi committed suicide because of the said harassment by jumping into Hussain Sagar. P.W. -1 deposed that he is a resident of Armoor and he got three daughters and three sons and his eldest daughter is Jyothi and other two daughters are Sudha Rani and Vasantha Laxmi and the sons are Mudhusudhan, Sham Sunder and Praveen Kumar and his daughter Vasantha Laxmi Was given in marriage to Anand Kumar in 1990 and they gave dowry of Rs. 40,000/- and one Tola of gold and a wrist watch and they gave Rs. 5,000/- at the time of vara pooja celebrated in the house of the bridegroom at Amberpet and they gave this amount to Rangaiah, father of Anand Kumar. About 25 to 30 days prior to the date of marriage, T. Rangaiah and T. Venkata Narasaiah came to his house and received Rs. 35,000/-, Rs. 1,200/- and one wrist watch from them and they celebrated the marriage of Vasantha Laxmi with Anand Kumar at Armoor. P.W. -1 also had deposed several other details and explained that Vasantha Laxmi had no freedom of speaking with them and whenever they visited the house of her parents-in-law she used to talk with fear and P.W.-l had given several details. He also deposed that during the course of conversation A-2 used to tell him that he could have got more dowry to his son, his son being a Post Graduate and P.W.-l paid only meagre amount towards dowry and P.W.-l explained that he was only a retired teacher and he was not in a position to give more amount and also requested them not to trouble Vasantha Laxmi. When Vasantha Laxmi visited their house, she used to tell P.W.-l and other family members that A-3 was scolding her for bringing less dowry and she used to instigate A-l to harass Vasantha Laxmi physically and the accused used to demand colour T.V., foam bed and cots, fridge and more money and A-3 used to treat Vasantha Laxmi as a maid servant and used to give less food and Vasantha Laxmi became so thin. On inquiry made by P.W. -1, A-3 used to tell that Vasantha Laxmi did not like to go to Doctor even though she was advised to go to a doctor. Vasantha Laxmi used to tell P.W. -1 and other family members that A-l to A-4 used to torture her for more dowry and P.W.-l used to console Vasantha Laxmi. P.W.-1 also deposed that Sudha Rani told him that A-3 and A-4 went to Delhi and in their absence and in the absence of A-l, A-2 tried to outrage the modesty of Vasantha Laxmi and she prevented it by bolting the doors of the room and she stayed for the whole night and opened the doors of the room only after A-2’s departure and when A-l came to the house and Vasantha Laxmi narrated this incident on 25.11.1992 and refused to stay in the house. On 25.11.1992 A-l brought Vasantha Laxmi to the house of Sudha Rani and stayed there for five minutes and went away. Vasantha Laxmi begot a daughter by name Sowmya. P.W.-l further deposed that hegave 1/2 Tola of gold. P.W. -1 also deposed that in between 25.11.1992 and 30.11.1992, P.W.-l visited the house of Sudha Rani twice or thrice and stayed for ten minutes as he was questioned about the bad behaviour of father and mother towards Vasantha Laxmi. On 30.11.1992, A-l came and asked Vasantha Laxmi to go with him to house as A-3 wanted to talk, but Vasantha Laxmi and Sudha Rani refused. P.W.-l also deposed that his son Sham Prasad was staying in Sudha Rani’s house during the relevant period and Sham Prasad was taken by A-l to see Vasantha Laxmi and he dropped her at the house of Sudha Rani after some time and went away. When Suda Rani enquired Sham Sunder told that he did not find Vasantha Laxmi at Amberpet. Then Sudha Rani sent for the husband about missing Vasantha Laxmi through Sham Sunder. P.W.-1 also deposed that Manohar gave telegram about missing of Vasantha Laxmi and they came to Ramnagar on 1.12.1992 and enquired with their relatives about Vasantha Laxmi and did not find her and thereafter gave a complaint to the police about the missing of Vasantha Laxmi. P.W.-l also deposed that on 4.12.1992 police informed them that a dead body was found in Hussain Sagar and asked them to verify whether the dead body is of Vasantha Laxmi. P.W.-1 along with relatives went to Amberpet Police Station and they were taken to Saifabad Police Station and from there they were taken to Osmania Hospital and they identified the dead body of Vasantha Laxmi when the help of the articles found on her dead body and they had taken the dead body and performed funeral and the face of the dead body of Vasantha Laxmi was very dark in colour when compared to the other parts of the body. Ex. P-l is the complaint and police had examined him. P.W.-l in cross-examination had deposed that he was examined by police on 2.12.1992 and he gave out the details of harassment to the police and he also deposed that he did not give any details of harassment in his complaint and on 5.12.1992 he showed the dead body of Vasantha Laxmi to Amberpet police and complained orally to them and they also took the dead body to the house of the accused and they found the door of the house of the accused locked and then they had taken the- dead body to their house. He also deposed that they used to write letters and he did not enquire about the harassment caused to the deceased by the accused in any of the letters addressed to A-2 and Vasantha Laxmi did not also write any thing about the harassment caused to her by the accused in her letters and he had taken advice from some of the local relatives and gave the complaint. P.W.-l also deposed that they went to Ramchandra Rao, Sarpanch of Armoor for compromise and it is true that they demanded Rs. 85,000/- for compromise from the accused. P.W.-1 also stated that he did not tell before police that he gave Rs. 5,000/- at the time of vara pooja at the house of A-2, 25 days prior to the marriage and he might have not stated before the police that he gave Rs. 35,000/- and Rs. 1,200/- and one wrist watch to A-2 and his brother Venkata Narasaiah. Certain other contradictions in Ex. P-l also had been elicited. P.W.-l denied the suggestion that A-2 is a sugar patient and is incapable of performing sexual intercourse and A-2 never tried to outrage the modesty of Vasantha Laxmi. P.W.-1 deposed that Sudha Rani informed about outraging of modesty of Vasantha Laxmi by A-2.

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7. P.W.-3 Sudha Rani is the most important witness who no doubt deposed about all the particulars and had corroborated the evidence of P.W.-l. The evidence of P.W.-l and P.W.-3 is that the deceased Vasantha Laxmi had narrated all these events and this evidence is sufficient to constitute harassment as per the version of the prosecution. P.W.-3 no doubt deposed about all the aspects in detail and she was also cross-examined at length. P.W.-2 is the son-in-law of P.W.-l and husband of P.W.-3. No doubt, P.W.-2 also narrates the same series of events.

8. P.W. 5 is the father of P.W.-2 and he deposes about the relationship and also deposed about P.W.-l giving Rs. 5,000/- at the time of varapooja to A-l and Vasantha Laxmi used to visit the house of P.W. 2 and P.W. 3 and she used to complain about the harassment by her in-laws and P.W.-2 informed that Vasantha Laxmi was missing and enquired the relatives about Vasantha Laxmi and then gave telegram to P.W.-l and after the arrival of P.W. -1 all of them went to the house of the accused and enquired about Vasantha Laxmi and they told that Vasantha Laxmi was missing and then all of them went to Amberpet Police Station and informed the police about missing of Vasantha Laxmi and police told that a case was already registered to that effect. This witness also was cross-examined at length.

9. P.W.-6 is another witness who speaks about P.W.-l approaching him for mediating between P.W.-l and the accused to settle the quantum of dowry and he discussed with the accused and settled the dowry at Rs. 40,000/-. This witness also deposed that on inquiry, Vasantha Laxmi narrated the family affairs and had given details. This witness also was cross-examined at length.

10. P.W.-4 was declared hostile and he was cross-examined wherein he had stated that he did not state before the police as in Ex. P-2.

11. P.W.-7 is the. Head Constable of Saifabad Police Station who held inquest over the dead body recovered from Hussain Sagar and it was a female dead body and the Panchayatdars were Dasarath and Mohd. Habeeb and he prepared inquest report and obtained signatures of Panchayatdars and he also signed in it which is Ex. P-3 and he had sent the dead body to post-mortem examination and sent requisition to the doctor for conducting post-mortem examination and Ex. P-4 is the requisition. P.W.-8 is the Sub-Inspector who deposed that he had received the case file in Cr. No. 658/92 and deputed H.C. 4467 to Osmania general mortuary to conduct inquest over the dead body of unknown female found floating in the water of Hussain Sagar which was shifted to mortuary. In the course of investigation, photographs of dead body were taken and it was published in local papers. On 5.12.1992 P.W. -1 came to the Police Station and disclosed his identity as the father of the unknown female dead body and she was the wife of P. Anand Kumar, his son-in-law and who gave report to Amberpet Police Station on 1.12.1992 as his wife was missing from 30.11.1992. He contacted Amberpet Police Station and gave particulars of Case No. 236/92 under woman missing and he contacted the husband of the deceased, but he did not evince any interest in taking the dead body and then he handed over the dead body to the father and he gave message to Amberpet S.H.O. and then he received memo stating that the section law was altered in the F.I.R. as Section 304-B, I.P.C. and he transferred the case to Amberpet Police Station. Ex. P-5 is the F.I.R. issued under Section 174, Cr.P.C. by Krishna and he can recognize the handwriting of Krishna. This witness also was cross-examined.

12. P. W. 9 is the Assistant Professor of Forensic Medicine of Osmania Medical and on 4.12.1992 at request he conducted autopsy over the dead body of an unknown female between 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. and on examination he had noted injuries on the body and the cause of death was due to drowning. Ex. P-6 is the post-mortem report containing 8 pages. P.W. 11 was declared hostile and Ex. P-8 was put to him in cross-examination. P.W.-12, no doubt deposed that he had let out one portion to the tenants and about 1 1/2 years back one Laxmi used to stay in a portion of his building and she used to run a school by name Standard Public School and Laxmi is a married woman and she used to stay alone and her husband used to visit the house once in a week and he can identify Laxmi who was his tenant and he can identify the husband of Laxmi also who is A-l, present in the Court. But however the learned Additional Public Prosecutor requested to treat this witness as hostile.

13. The evidence of P.W.-12 and the evidence of P.W.-10 may be relevant to the limited extent of proving the allegation that A-l has been living with yet another woman Vijaya Laxmi either by way of having a marital tie or pulling on with her having illicit intimacy. No doubt, P.W.-10 who came to Court on receipt of summons was declared hostile and she had denied that A-l is her husband and that she begot a son at the Divakar Nursing Home, Sithaphal Mandi. P.W.-13 was called by Police and he went and she saw a female dead body removed from Hussain Sagar and he affixed his left thumb impression on a paper at the request of police. Ex. P-3 is the inquest report.

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14. P.W.-14 is the Inspector of Police, Commissioner of Task Force and P.W.14 deposed that on 1.12.1992 at 11 a.m. he received a complaint from Anand Kumar and on complaint he issued F.I.R. No. 236/92 under woman missing and entrusted investigation to M.S. Baig, Assistant Sub-Inspector of Amberpet Police Station. P.W.-14 deposed that the Assistant Sub-Inspector took up the investigation and while the investigation was in progress on 1.12.1992 at about 10.30 a.m. P.W.1 gave a petition and on the basis of allegations made by P.W.-l the section of law was altered by changing from woman missing to Section 304-B, I.P.C. Ex. P-10 is the F.I.R. Ex. P-11 is the complaint given by A-l. After receipt of express report, A.C.P. Kacheguda Division took up investigation on the same day and as per the instructions of A.C.P. Kacheguda, he arrested A-1 to A-3 and sent them to Court for remand. Ex. P-12 is the alteration memo. P.W.-15 deposed that on 1.12.1992, P.W.-14 received complaint and registered a case as Cr. No. 236/92 under woman missing and during investigation he learnt that there were some misunderstandings between wife and husband and the victim woman left the house on 30.11.1992. On 2.12.1992 Anand Kumar, husband of the missing woman, handed over a photograph of his wife to him and he issued a lookout notice to all the concerned and on 5.12.19921 received information from Saifabad Police Station that they fished out a woman’s body from Hussain Sagar on 3.12.1992 and the dead body was preserved in Osmania General Hospital and he secured the presence of the parents of the deceased and A-l to identity the dead body and they identified the dead body. P.W.-16 is the A.C.P. of Kacheguda who received express memo from Inspector, Amberpet informing Cr. No. 236/92 was altered from woman missing under Section 174, Cr.P.C. to Section 304-B, I.P.C. and he recorded the statement of P.W.-l, P.W. -2, P.W.-3, P.W.-4, P.W.-5, P.W. -6, L.W.-9 Vijay Kumar, P. Sudhakar Reddy, K. Bhaskar Reddy and Bal Reddy and during the course of investigation he got transfer orders and handed over the charge to A.C.P. Laxman Rao. This witness was cross-examined at length and contradictions were put to him.

15. P.W. -17 deposed that on 31.12.1992 he took up the investigation of the case and arrested A-l to A-3 and produced before the Magistrate and filed chargesheet after collection of documents.

16. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor stressed on Section 498-A, I.P.C. and Section 113-A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and the said provisions read as hereunder:

Section 498-A, I.P.C.

Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation-For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-

(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive, the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman, where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account or failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

Section 113-A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

Presumption as to abatement 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.

Explanation: For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” shall have the same meaning as in Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

Now it has to be seen that though the prosecution was unable to establish Section 304-B, I.P.C. whether the accused can be convicted for a lesser offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. in the light of the oral and documentary evidence available on record. Ex. P-1 is the complaint made by P.W.- 1 lodged on 11.12.1992 and the contents thereof are as hereunder:

“I, T. Venugopalaswamy son of T. Krishnaiah, resident of Armoor (Mandal), Nizamabad District, Aged 62 years humbly submits as follows-

I performed marriage my daughter T. Vasantha Laxmi (present age marriage 23 years) with Anand Kumar son of Sri T. Rangaiah, resident of House No. 2-2-1055/21/B, Amberpet, Hyderabad on 15.8.1998 in Armoor (Mandal).

Previously when we attended our relative’s marriage their address we came to know and myself and my wife Jayaprada went to Amberpet and settled the match. They demanded 50,000 rupees, we said that the financial position of us will not allow so much dowry and offered Rs. 40,000/-, 1 Tola gold, 1 wrist watch valued Rs. 1,200/- and settled the match with the above conditions and nothing is written in writing as regards the terms of marriage. The dowry was already given in Armoor prior to the date of marriage and a wrist watch and one Tola of gold ring was also presented to bridegroom at the time of marriage. After marriage she is staying in her in-laws’ house and also she begot a female child by name Sowmya (14 months). We were visiting the house of my daughter to meet her to Armoor now and then and when they visited the house of Vasantha Laxmi, she was not so free even in talking to her parents and she used to talk with fear, and we found her thin. It is learnt that he is very reserve with my daughter. He used to absent the house on the pretext of tuitions and he used to absent for about 3 or 4 days. Afterwards it is learnt that Anandkumar loved prior to his marriage with Vijaya Laxmi and married in Tirupati and Vasantha Laxmi came to know this by her husband. Due to that reasons only he is not coming to the house regularly. Vasantha Laxmi told to her sister Sudharani recently stating that woman begot a son. Vasantha Laxmi’s daughter’s name giving function performed at Armoor. On that occasion he demanded one Tola of gold, I have half Tola of gold and valuable clothes. He is physically torturing with cruelty my daughter Vasantha Laxmi demanding more amount, colour T.V., foam bed, decolom cot, fridge, etc., and asking her to go to parents’ house and bring them. She used to tell the above when she comes here. For the good of her family we used to console her and sending to her in-laws’ house. She also told the above matter to her sister Sudharani, it is learnt.

Her mother-in-law (Aruna) treating inhumanly even without giving sufficient food and treating her not less than a slave. She used to abuse her saying ‘How we got this marriage alliance, etc and mentally tortured. Her father- in-law is a railway employee. Even though he got good salaried job he is greedy. Even food eating in the house is very disciplined. Whatever the items gives to others his permission is necessary. Even to her daughter-in- law she is not giving sufficient food. Instead of milk, she is giving tea to the baby.

He came to such a least position even to keep clothes a suit case he demanded and I gave a suit case valued Rs. 350/-.

Her father-in-law said that his son studied M.Sc. and went to do Ph.D. Lakhs of rupees would have given as a dowry for his education and suitable dowry is not given to his son. We tried not to create troubles to our daughter saying that our financial position is not so much to give any more amount. Her husband harassing his wife demanding foam bed, decolam cots and colour T.V., fridge, etc., and mentally torturing her.

His wife (Aruna), son (Bhaskar) came from Delhi on 24.11.1992. At that time when his daughter-in-law Vasantha Laxmi is alone and her husband Anand Kumar is not in the house on 24.11.1992 night he tried to rape her. However Vasantha Laxmi escaped. This I came to know when C, Sudharani her sister came to our house.

Her husband’s younger brother (Bhaskar) (age 20 years) misbehaving with her brother’s wife. He abusing her with more dowry and often used to talking in double meaning.

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All these things are told by Vasantha Laxmi to her sister Sudharani three to four days prior to her death.

Myself and my wife came to Zamistanpur from Armoor on 1.12.1992 evening by 6.00 after receiving the telegram issued by C. Manohar, my elder son-in- law. There we came to know that the missing of Vasantha Laxmi through my eldest daughter Sudharani. Not only that we came to know some more sorrowful things.

When Vasantha Laxmi’s mother-in-law (Aruna) absent her father-in-law Rangaiah also tried to rape his daughter-in-law. When Vasantha Laxmi told to Anand Kumar, he brought her to her sister’s house (Sudharani) on 25.11.1992. He kept there for 4-5 days. On 31.11.1992 he came to tell that his mother came from Delhi and sat from 10.00 to 12.30 p.m. Her sister Sudharani went to nearby school to give food to her daughter Pravali. In her absence at about 12.30 p.m. he went with Vasantha Laxmi. On the same day at about 1-00 Anand Kumar (husband) alone came. He told that Vasantha Laxmi left Amberpet from the house somewhere.

After knowing this information we came to the Police Station on 1.12 1992. We came to know that Anand Kumar gave a complaint that Vasantha Laxmi is missing. We searched several places to trace out the Vasantha Laxmi but not found her whereabouts.

On 4.12.1992 at about 7.00 p.m. we came to know in the Police Station that there is one female dead body in Osmania Hospital mortuary. They were asked to go and find out whether that dead body is of Vasanthalaxmi or not.

We that means, myself, Jayaprada, wife of Venugopalaswamy, eldest daughter Sudharani, son-in-law C. Manohar and their son syamsundar and relative went to mortuary on 5.12.1992 in the morning. There we saw the body and identified Vasantha Laxmi. The SI, Saifabad issued orders to hand over the dead body to us. We informed in Amberpet P.S. and brought the dead body to mother-in-law house. The house is locked. The neighbours came to know this news and frightened and worried. Vasantha Laxmi’s father-in-law’s brother T. Venkatanarasiah came to the graveyard alone with us. The last rites of the dead body performed on 5.11.1992 at 7.30 in the night.

Anand Kumar, Vasantha Laxmi’s husband and her father-in-law T. Rangaiah, mother-in-law Aruna, husband’s brother Bhaskar mentally and physically tortured her for not bringing more dowry and misbehaving with her and kept her daughter Sowmya (14 months). Hence action may be taken as per law.”

The evidence of P.W. -1, P.W. -2, P.W.-3, P.W.-4 and P.W. -5 also is what they came to know about the alleged harassment. P.W.-6 speaks about settlement of dowry and what had been narrated by the deceased Vasantha Laxmi. P.W.-l deposed that they have complained to police about Vasantha Laxmi and it should have been before 4.12.1992 since they received information from Amberpet Police Station that a female dead body was found in Hussain Sagar which was kept in mortuary room in Osmania Hospital. P.W.-l also deposed that he gave report on 2.12.1992 after enquiring the accused about the missing daughter Vasantha Laxmi. P.W.-l also deposed that he gave complaint to C.I. of Amberpet Police Station and he gave details of harassment. Again he says that he had not given details of harassment. Hence it is clear that there are certain earlier complaints other than Ex. P-l. P.W.-2 is silent about giving of any complaint. P.W.-3 says that herself, P.W.-l, P.W.-2, her mother and brother gave a complaint. From the evidence on record, complaint by the brother of the deceased Vasantha Laxmi must be the first information, but however Crime No. 236/92 was registered on the basis of the complaint made by A-l. The learned Judge at length discussed this aspect. From the evidence of P.W. -1 it is clear that since there was Panchayat by Sarpanch and the accused refused to pay Rs. 85,000/-, it is suggestive of the fact that it should have been the cause for this criminal litigation which originally commenced as woman missing case. Even if the evidence is to be accepted, clear finding had been recorded that it will not fall under dowry death. Relating to harassment, there is no legally acceptable evidence since the statements of P.W.-1, P.W.-3, P.W- .5, P.W.-6 and also P.W.-2 are what had been narrated by the deceased and these statements are not admissible in evidence. The evidence of P.W.-10 is more in the negative form which is in relation to the factum of marriage with A-l and begetting a son through A-l. P.W.-10 is said to be yet another wife of A-l. It is no doubt true that the evidence of P.W.-1 is not trustworthy/but P.W-1 deposed that A-l is not her husband and she specifically denied having given birth to a son through A-l. It is pertinent to note that Vasantha Laxmi left the house on 30.11.1992 and was found missing on 1.12.1992. P.W.-11, a friend of A-1, did not speak about this aspect. He denied the statement before the police marked as Ex. P-8. The photographs of A-l with Vijaya Laxmi taken by P.W.-11 also were not produced before the Court. P.W.-10 giving birth to a male child at Divakar Nursing Home, Sithaphal Mandi also had not been established. P.W.-12 no doubt speaks about staying of one Laxmi in his house as a tenant and that A-l is the husband of Laxmi and he used to visit the house of Laxmi now and then and she also got a male child, but P.W.-10 was not identified by P.W.-12 and at least the photograph of Laxmi was not put to P.W.-12 for the purpose of identification as the wife of A- 1. The photographs relating to the marriage of A-l with Laxmi at Tirupati also were not seized. P.W.-16 deposed that he did not make any investigation relating to second marriage of A-l. Hence for want of evidence, this part of the prosecution episode cannot be said to have been proved in accordance with law. The fact that Vijaya Laxmi left on 30.11.1992 and was found missing on 1.12.1992 and RW.-1 enquiring the accused about the missing daughter, giving complaint after 2.12.1992, P.W.-3 stating that her brother Sham Sunder gave a complaint and the evidence of P.W.I, P.W.-2 and P.W.-3 would throw any amount of suspicion relating to the allegations in Ex. P-l. The complaint of A-l, Ex. P-11, was filed on 1.12.1992. Attempt to get more money and failure thereof on the part of P.W.-l also should have been the cause for this litigation. Even strong suspicion, however strong it may be, cannot be a substitute to the proof of prosecution version. The way in which P.W.-10 deposed and the evidence of P.W.-12 no doubt creates suspicion in the mind of the Court about the marriage of Vijaya Laxmi with A-l. But definitely for reasons referred to supra, it cannot be said that the same was proved in accordance with law. In Tarun @ Gautam Mukherjee v. State of West Bengal (2001) DMC 401 (SC), where the deposition of P.W.-4, maid servant, in the chief examination revealed the fact that the accused used to assault the deceased almost daily on the instigation of his sister and in the cross- examination it was elicited that she did not state so in her statement to the police recorded under Section 161, Cr.P.C, such material omission would discredit her version in Court and if her evidence was taken out from the purview of consideration, then the evidence of P.W.-2 and P.W. -5 cannot be held to be of such a nature which would establish cruelty on the part of the husband to bring home the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. The meaning of “cruelty” for the purpose of Section 498-A, I.P.C. had been well explained in Ch. Narender Reddy v. State of A.P., 2000(2) ALT (Crl) 409 (A.P.). Living with another woman having illicit intimacy or contracting another marriage by the husband may amount to harassment, but the same is not proved. Benefit of doubt in criminal cases cannot be stretched too far so as to liberate the accused from the clutches of law, but at the same time on strong suspicion alone A-l cannot be convicted under Section 498-A, I.P.C. Allegations against the other accused are general and more as hearsay in nature and it is needless to say that such statements are inadmissible in evidence and in a case of this nature, presumption under Section 113-A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 cannot be drawn in favour of the prosecution.

17. On a careful scrutiny of the whole evidence available on record and also the findings recorded by the learned Judge, this Court is of the considered opinion that this appeal is sans any merit and deserves dismissal and accordingly the appeal shall stand dismissed.

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