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498A Quash – Delay in lodging the FIR, No cruelty in suicide Note.

Delhi High Court

Nagesh Tyagi
vs
State

ORDER Dalveer Bhandari, J.

1. This revision petition is directed against the Order dated 30.8.1999 passed by the learned ASJ by which he framed the charges framed against the petitioner under Sections 306 read with Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.

2. Brief facts which are necessary to dispose of this petition are recapitulated as under:

Deceased Anupama Tyagi got married to the petitioner (Nagesh Tyagi) on 13.12.1994. Admittedly there was no demand for dowry from Nagesh Tyagi or from his relations. Anupama and Nagesh lived separately from Anupama’s inlaws. Anupama and Nagesh both used to work. According to the averments incorporated in the FIR lodged by the father of the deceased, it is clear that Anupama was not happy because she had to do the entire household work after doing the whole day’s job. Her husband did not help her in day to day household work. The complainant mentioned that on 20.12.1997 at 3.15 p.m. his elder daughter Priyadarshini Mittal informed him that Anupama was admitted at Orthonova and that she was unconscious. On 24.12.1997 she was shifted to AIIMS where she died in the evening of 24.12.1997.

On 25.12.1997 at 5.00 p.m. the complainant and other relatives gave statements before the SDM Hauz Khas. In the statement it is clearly stated that there was no demand for dowry. The complainant mentioned that he did not know the reasons of death. The complainant requested that the investigation be conducted by the police because deceased Anupama drank ‘Baygon Spray’. In the statement it is also mentioned that he did not suspect anyone for the cause of death of Anupama. Ultimately, the proceedings were dropped by the SDM.

3. On 26.12.1997 Nagesh handed over the suicide note to the complainant’s elder daughter Priyadarshini Mittal. The suicide note has been placed on record by the petitioner. It is in the form of a letter written by the deceased Anupama to her husband Nagesh in which she complained about his not helping her in the day to day household work. Anupama’s further grievance was that even if the petitioner did some household work he would talk about it for days together. She also complained about regular beating.

4. A comprehensive reading of the suicide note indicates the usual problems of the middle-class families. It also reveals their mutual differences and disputes on trivial issues about the husband’s indifference in household work particularly where the wife is working. The suicide note reveals the husband beating his wife. It is clearly mentioned that “we cannot live with each other because of temperamental differences”. It is also indicated in the said note that she did not want to go to her parents to become a burden on them. The suicide note also reveals that she wants that her son born out of the wedlock to be kept by her parents because even after her parents are no more, her brother would treat (deceased’s son) like his own son. She further mentioned in the suicide note that in the circumstances there was no other option left for her but to commit suicide so that day-to-day bickering and ill-treatment will come to an end.

5. It may be pertinent to mention that Anupama died on 24.12.1997. In the statement recorded immediately thereafter none of the relatives mentioned that there was any demand for dowry nor they suspected Nagesh had committed any crime under Section 306 IPC. The complainant (father of Anupama) categorically mentioned that he did not suspect anyone for the cause of the suicide of Anupama.

6. In the instant case, the alleged incident has taken place on 25.12.1997 and immediately thereafter statements of the complainant and other relatives were recorded by the SDM. Neither the complainant nor the other relatives stated about physical torture or beating to the deceased by her husband. No one also suspected that the petitioner had abetted Anupama to commit suicide. On the basis of the statements, the SDM had even submitted the report by which the case was closed. The FIR in this case was lodged after more than 5 months, i.e., on 6.5.1998. No specific incident has been mentioned by him regarding the husband beating her. The complainant also does not mention that physical torture was to the extent that it would compel her to commit suicide. There is no explanation for the delay of more than five months in lodging the FIR.

7. The complainant introduced the suicide note. The suicide note on comprehensive reading reveals that there were temperamental differences between Anupama and Nagesh. They used to quarrel on trivial issues particularly on the issue that Nagesh was not helping her in day to day household work. She also mentioned that “we cannot get along because of temperamental difference and the only solution to all our surviving problems is by my putting an end to my life”. In the statement before the SDM neither the complainant nor any other relatives of Anupama suspected any foul play in her death or suspected that the petitioner had abetted her to commit suicide. The FIR was lodged by the father of Anupama after a lapse of five months of the incident. According to the petitioner, the unexplained long and undue delay in filing the FIR creates suspicion about the credibility of the entire prosecution version.

8. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that no charge can be framed either under Section 498A or under Section 306 IPC against the petitioner. Apart from considerable unexplained delay in lodging the FIR, both the FIR and the suicide note read together also do not lead to irresistible conclusion that the petitioner had abetted the commission of any crime under Section 306 IPC. The gist of the FIR and suicide note reveal somewhat common story of the Indian middle-class families. It seems that apart from working for usual office hours, she had to do entire household work in which she was not getting any support or help from her husband and she was finding it difficult to take on so much of work. There were differences and disputes on trivial issues which is also not uncommon in middleclass families. There are allegations of beating but those allegations were totally absent in the statements of the complainant and his relatives recorded by the SDM immediately after her death.

9. In support of his submission, learned counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on the judgment of this court reported in Pradeep Kumar Ors. Vs. State 1994 IV AD (Delhi) 856. The facts of this case are quite similar to the facts of the present case.

10. According to the learned counsel for the petitioner no charge under Sections 498A IPC can be made out against the petitioner. Section 498 read as under:

498-A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty. – 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 punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation:- For the purposes 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 of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

11. Even if all the averments incorporated in the FIR are taken to be correct, then also the wilful conduct of the petitioner cannot be said to be of such a nature which would drive his wife Anupama to commit suicide. According to the explanation (a) of Section 498A before the petitioner can be charged under Section 498A the petitioner’s wilful conduct should be of such a nature. In the facts and circumstances of this case no charge under Section 498A can be framed.

12. As far as explanation (b) of Section 498-A is concerned, there are no allegations of any kind of demand for any property or valuable security. Therefore, by no stretch of imagination any charge under Section 498-A IPC can legally framed against the petitioner.

13. Admittedly Anupama and Nagesh were living separately from Anupama’s in-laws. The suicide note shows constant disputes and differences on trivial issues. Her main grievance against the petitioner was that he did not help her in day to day household work and she was finding it difficult to cope with the work along with her job. A comprehensive reading of FIR and suicide note do not lead to the conclusion that the petitioner is guilty of cruelty to an extent which would drive Anupama to commit suicide. Normal trivial household differences and disputes cannot always be brought within the meaning of Section 498A.

14. Mr. Sethi, learned counsel for the petitioner, submitted that no charge under Section 306 IPC can be legally framed against the petitioner and the learned ASJ has seriously erred in framing the charge under Section 306 IPC.

15. It is quite evident that if no charge under Section 498A IPC can be framed or sustained against the petitioner then in the circumstances of the present case no charge under Section 306 IPC also can be made out against the petitioner.

16. In the instant case there is totally an unexplained and long delay of over five months in lodging the FIR. This delay is extremely significant and casts serious doubt on the entire prosecution version.

17. On careful consideration of the entire facts and circumstances, no charge under Section 498A and Section 306 IPC can be made out against the petitioner. The order of the learned ASJ is accordingly set aside.

18. This petition is accordingly allowed and disposed of.

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