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4 Whether This Case Involves A … vs Sunilkumar I Thakar & … on 8 December, 2017

R/CR.A/504/1994 CAV JUDGMENT

IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 504 of 1994

FOR APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE:

HONOURABLE SMT. JUSTICE ABHILASHA KUMARI
and
HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE B.N. KARIA

1 Whether Reporters of Local Papers may be allowed Yes
to see the judgment ?

2 To be referred to the Reporter or not ? Yes

3 Whether their Lordships wish to see the fair copy of No
the judgment ?

4 Whether this case involves a substantial question of No
law as to the interpretation of the Constitution of
India or any order made thereunder ?

STATE OF GUJ….Appellant(s)
Versus
SUNILKUMAR I THAKAR 3….Opponent(s)/Respondent(s)

Appearance:

MR HARDIK SONI, ADDITIONAL PUBLIC PROSECUTOR for the Appellant
ABATED for the Opponent(s)/Respondent(s) No. 3
MR K J PANCHAL, ADVOCATE for Respondents Nos. 1, 2 4

CORAM: HONOURABLE SMT. JUSTICE ABHILASHA KUMARI
and
HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE B.N. KARIA

Date : 08/12/2017
CAV JUDGMENT

(PER : HONOURABLE SMT. JUSTICE ABHILASHA KUMARI)

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1. By way of this appeal, the appellant – State of 

Gujarat   has   assailed   the   judgment   and   order   dated 

02.03.1994, passed by the learned Additional Sessions 

Judge,   Bharuch,   whereby   the   respondents   (original 

accused)   have   been   acquitted   of   the   offences 

punishable under Sections 302, 304B (2), 306 and 498A 

of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 4 of 

the   Dowry   Prohibition   Act,   1961   (“the   Dowry 

Prohibition Act” for short).

2. Sonalben   (deceased)   was   the   wife   of   respondent 

No.1­   Sunilkumar   Indulal   Thakar.   Indiraben   Indulal 

Thakar is the mother­in­law of the deceased. Indulal 

Ganpatrao   Thakar   was   the   father­in­law   of   the 

deceased, who has since died and the appeal qua him 

has abated. Pannaben Mukeshbhai Bhatt is the married 

sister­in­law   of   the   deceased.   The   marriage   between 

respondent   No.1   and   the   deceased   took   place   on 

04.02.1990 at Borsad. The case of the prosecution is 

that   on   the   night   intervening   12.10.1990   and 

13.10.1990,   between   1:00   AM   to   2:00   AM,   respondent 

No.1 caused the death of the deceased with the help of 

respondents   Nos.2   and   4   (mother   and   sister 

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respectively). Alternatively, respondents Nos.1, 2 and 

4   have   also   been   charged   with   harassment   to   the 

deceased  for   dowry   which   led   her  to  commit   suicide. 

Hence, they are also charged with abetment of suicide. 

As  per   the   case   of   the   prosecution,  the   respondents 

used to harass and torture the deceased and demanded 

utensils, a double­bed and a scooter from Rajanikant 

Bapalal Patel, father of the deceased, at the time of 

marriage. These articles were given to the respondents 

and were accepted by them. During the wedding, it is 

alleged   that   respondent   No.1   demanded   Rs.2,000/­   to 

alight from the vehicle and an amount of Rs.10,000/­ 

to   sit   in   the   wedding   Mandap   which   was   paid   by   the 

father of the deceased. Respondents Nos.1, 2 and 4 are 

also   alleged   to   have   driven   the   deceased   to   commit 

suicide by making demands for dowry.

3. Upon   investigation,   as   sufficient   material   was 

found   against   the   respondents,   a   charge­sheet   was 

filed in the Court of the learned Judicial Magistrate, 

First Class, who committed the case to the Court of 

Sessions. The charge was framed against the accused at 

Exh.10. Later on, the charge was modified and Sections 

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3 and 4 of the Dowry  Prohibition Act were came to be 

added   on   28.03.1993.   The   respondents   denied   the 

allegations   levelled   against   them   and   claimed   to   be 

tried.   The   prosecution   examined   eight   witnesses   in 

support   of   its   case   and   produced   voluminous 

documentary evidence. 

4. The   learned   Sessions   Judge,   after   appreciating 

and   examining   the   oral   and   documentary   evidence 

acquitted respondents Nos.1, 2 and 4 of the offences 

with which they were charged, on the ground that the 

prosecution had failed to produce sufficient material 

to prove their guilt. 

5. The   statements   of   the   accused   persons   under 

Section   313  of  the   Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,   1973 

(“the   Code”   for   short),   were   recorded.   In   his 

statement   under   Section   313   of   the   Code,   respondent 

No.1   has   stated   that   his   wife,   Sonal,   was   of   a 

stubborn nature. Before her marriage, she had a love 

affair with somebody and she often used to say that 

she does not want to live, as she has no interest in 

life. He used to counsel her and tell her to forget 

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her   past   and   advise   her   to   live   in   the   present. 

However, Sonal did not listen to him and often used to 

get   angry   without  any   reason.  When   Sonal   got  angry, 

she lost control of herself and said that she does not 

want to live and may commit suicide.

6. As per the explanation given by respondent No.1 

in his statement under Section 313 of the Code, on the 

day   of   the   incident   he   had   gone   for   work   in   the 

afternoon.   He   returned   home   at   10:00   PM.   His   wife, 

Sonal, was not present at home; therefore, he opened 

the door with his own key and entered the house. He 

got   a   telephone   call   from   Sonal   that   she   was   at 

Jagdishbhai’s house and that he should join her there. 

Respondent   No.1   went   to   Jagidshbhai’s   house.   After 

taking   dinner,   both   Sonal   and   he   returned   home.   At 

11:00 PM, he put on the television and was watching 

it. Sonal was writing Diwali cards to her relatives. 

After she finished writing, she went to the bedroom. 

Respondent   No.1   dozed   while   watching   television   and 

did not know when he fell asleep. Sonal did not come 

to wake him up, as usual. When he awoke, he went to 

the   bedroom   and   saw   Sonal   hanging   with   her   dupatta 

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from   the   fan.   He   tore   the   dupatta  from   the   middle, 

lifted   Sonal’s   body   and   laid   it   on   the   bed. 

Thereafter, he called up his friends Yogeshbhai (PW­2) 

and   Girishbhai   (not   examined).   When   Yogeshbhai 

arrived, he informed the Police and Sonal’s parents. 

He   also   telephonically   informed   the   parents   of 

respondent   No.1   at   Vadodara   regarding   the   incident. 

Respondent   No.1   further   states   that   he   has   never 

inflicted any physical or mental torture upon his wife 

Sonal. His parents and sister have also never tortured 

or   harassed   her   in   any   manner.   Nor   have   they   ever 

asked for any article or money. He states that a false 

case has been foisted upon them.

7. Assailing   the   judgment   of   the   Trial   Court, 

Mr.Hardik Soni, learned Additional Public Prosecutor, 

has   submitted   that   the   Trial   Court   has   given 

unnecessary weightage to a supposed love affair of the 

deceased before her marriage. What actually happened 

is not on record and has emerged only in the statement 

under Section 313 of the Code.

7.1 That the deceased died an unnatural death within 

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seven months of marriage. No complaint has been made 

by   respondent   No.1   to   the   parents   of   the   deceased 

regarding   her   so­called   suicidal   tendencies.   The 

presumption under Section 113A of the Indian Evidence 

Act, 1872 would, therefore, come into play.

7.2 That the conduct of the accused is required to be 

noticed.   Instead   of   taking   the   deceased   to   the 

hospital, he straightaway called up his friend Yogesh, 

who   informed   the   Police   and   the   parents   of   the 

deceased.

7.3 That the weight of the deceased was between 56 to 

59  Kilograms.   Had  she   hung  herself   from   the   ceiling 

fan, there would be damage to the fan or blades, which 

is not the case. Hence, there is every likelihood that 

respondent   No.1   strangled   the   deceased   and   hung   her 

body.

7.4 That   the   findings   of   the   Trial   Court   regarding 

the discrepancies in the deposition of PW­3, father of 

the   deceased,   and   the   letter   written   by   him   to   the 

Superintendent of Police, Bharuch, are not proper. The 

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finding that there is no allegation of dowry demand or 

torture   in   the   said   letter   cannot   be   read   out   of 

context as the letter had been written to conduct a 

fair investigation. It is not necessary that each and 

every detail is required to be mentioned. Pw­3 is of 

the view that his daughter was murdered, therefore, he 

had demanded proper investigation. It cannot be said 

that   there   are   contradictions   in   his   deposition   and 

the   letters   written   by   him.   Even   if   there   are   some 

contradictions,   they   are   minor   in   nature   and   the 

testimony   of   the   complainant   cannot   be   discarded   on 

this ground. 

7.5 That the deceased was eight to ten weeks pregnant 

so there was no reason for her to commit suicide, as 

stated by respondent No.1. In the alternative, it is 

submitted by the learned Additional Public Prosecutor 

that,   if   the   Trial   Court   did   not   find   sufficient 

material to convict the accused under Section 302 IPC, 

they could have been convicted under Sections 304B(2) 

and   306   IPC.   Failure   to   do   so   has   occasioned 

injustice.   The   prosecution   witnesses   have   deposed 

regarding   the   harassment   and  the   demands   for   dowry 

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meted out to the deceased. However, their depositions 

have not been considered in proper perspective by the 

learned Judge.

7.6 That   respondent   No.1   was   last   seen   together   in 

the company of the deceased. Hence, he would be the 

prime suspect and his involvement in the murder of the 

deceased is made out. 

7.7 On   the   basis   of   the   above   submissions,   the 

learned   Additional   Public   Prosecutor   has   urged   that 

the appeal be allowed and the judgment of acquittal be 

reversed.

8. Strongly opposing the above submissions, Mr.K.J. 

Panchal, learned counsel for respondents Nos.1, 2 and 

4,   has   submitted   that   the   prosecution   has   utterly 

failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The 

case   rests   solely   upon   circumstantial   evidence   as 

there are no eye­witnesses to the incident. The chain 

of   circumstances   pointing   out   to   the   guilt   of 

respondents   Nos.1,   2   and   4   is   not   at   all   complete. 

Several doubts emerge from the evidence on record and 

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the   strong   possibility   that   the   deceased   committed 

suicide,   as   she   was   of   a   sensitive   nature   and   was 

depressed   about   her   previous   love   affair,   cannot   be 

ruled out.

8.1 That respondent No.1 and his family members have 

never   demanded   any   dowry   from   the   deceased   or   her 

family members. On the contrary, there is evidence on 

record, in the shape of the letters of the deceased, 

that respondent No.1 had ordered a double­bed for the 

deceased and had asked her to choose the design. He 

was   also   about   to   purchase   a   refrigerator   from   the 

bonus he was likely to receive. This has been stated 

by the deceased herself in her letter to her parents. 

In the voluminous letters on record, the deceased has 

not once stated that she is being harassed or tortured 

or   that   respondent   No.1   and   his   family   members   are 

demanding dowry from her. The tone and tenor of the 

letters suggests a cordial married life.

8.2 That is an admitted position that respondent No.2 

– mother­in­law of the deceased and respondent No.4, 

her   married   sister­in­law,   were   residing   separately. 

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Hence, there is no question of harassment from them. 

The marriage of the deceased took place on 04.02.1990. 

The deceased resided with respondent No.1 at Bharuch 

for two or three days thereafter and returned to her 

parents’   place   at   Mehsana,   to   appear   in   an 

examination. She came back with respondent No.1 in the 

month of July, 1990. In the seven months of married 

life, she has stayed at her parents’ place at Mehsana 

from February to July. Therefore, in the short span of 

three or three and a half months when she resided with 

respondent No.1, there is nothing on record to suggest 

that any harassment was meted out to her.

8.3 That the charge regarding torture to extort dowry 

and   the   deceased   being   done   to   death   for   non­

fulfilment of dowry demands, is not supported by any 

evidence on record. In the initial information given 

by PW­3, no such allegations were levelled against the 

respondents. It is only later on, at the intervention 

of   the   leaders   of   the   community   when   an   article 

regarding   the   death   of   the   deceased   appeared   in   a 

newspaper,   that   allegations   regarding   the   murder   of 

the deceased for dowry were made by the complainant, 

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by   writing   letters   to   the   Police   authorities,   Chief 

Minister and Home Minister.

8.4 That it has come on record that after her death, 

all articles belonging to the deceased were returned 

by the respondents to her parents.

8.5 That   PW­3,   father   of   the   deceased,   is   not   a 

truthful witness as he has made several improvements 

and embellishments in his testimony before the Court. 

He has stated different versions at different times. 

The   story   regarding   an   alleged   extra­marital 

relationship   of   respondent   No.1   with   a   lady   called 

Shaila, has not been proved and no material regarding 

this   allegation   is   produced   on   record.  Nor   is   there 

any evidence regarding his being a drunkard. In short, 

there is no evidence to connect the accused with the 

commission of the alleged offence.

8.6 That   the   evidence   of   PW­7,   Dr.   Bharat   Vadilal 

Mehta, who performed the Postmortem of the deceased, 

states that the cause of death is “asphyxia following 

hanging” and not due to strangulation. The Postmortem 

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was   performed   by   a   panel   of   two   doctors   and   the 

opinion is of both doctors.

8.7 That,  had  there  been  any  grain  of  truth  in  the 

story   of   the   prosecution   that   respondent   No.1 

strangled the deceased and then hung her from the fan, 

there would have been signs of violence in the room 

which were not found as per the Panchnama of the Scene 

of   Offence.   Further,   there   were   no   marks   indicating 

violence on the body of the deceased.

8.8 That   there   is   no   recovery   or   discovery   of   any 

objectionable or incriminating article at the instance 

of the respondents. The dupatta used by the deceased 

for hanging herself was seized by the Police but not 

sent   to   the   Forensic   Science   Laboratory   for 

examination.

8.9 That the conduct of respondent No.1 when he found 

his wife hanging cannot be questioned. He was shocked 

and   was   crying.   His   first   reaction   was   to   call   his 

friend Yogeshbhai, who also found him crying when he 

arrived. Respondent No.1 was not in a position to call 

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his own relatives or those of the deceased and it was 

Yogeshbhai   who   informed   the   Police   and   relatives   by 

telephone.   This   cannot   be   considered   as   unnatural 

conduct on the part of a grief­stricken husband.

8.10 Though   it   may   be   true   that  respondent   No.1 

was last seen together in the company of the deceased, 

however, the onus to prove how the deceased died is 

not   upon   him.   He   is   required   to   give   a   plausible 

explanation, which he has done in his statement under 

Section 313 of the Code. The letters written by the 

deceased   to   respondent   No.1   have   been   exhibited   and 

reveal the over­sensitive nature of the deceased. It 

is   for   the   prosecution   to   prove   its   case   beyond 

reasonable doubt, which it has failed to do.

8.11 That   the   deceased   has   committed   suicide 

because   she   was   not   desirous   of   having   a   child   and 

found herself pregnant. She did not want a child so 

early in her marriage as she had applied in a Bank for 

employment.   The   deceased   was   of   a   hyper­sensitive 

nature and the fact that she was pregnant could have 

led   her   to   commit   suicide.   None   of   the   charges 

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levelled against the respondents are made out. There 

is no evidence of dowry demand or abetment of suicide 

and   the   ingredients   of   the   said   offences   are   not 

present.   The   prosecution   has   utterly   failed   to 

establish that the deceased was treated with cruelty 

by the respondents or that they are involved in her 

death.

8.12 That   the   view   taken   by   the   Trial   Court   is 

plausible   and   probable,   considering   the   facts   and 

circumstances and evidence adduced in the case. Hence, 

the   said   view,   being   a   possible   one,   may   not   be 

disturbed.

8.13 In support of the above submissions, learned 

counsel   for   the   respondents   has   relied   upon   certain 

judgments.

(1) The first judgment relied upon is in the case of 

Subramaniam   Vs.   State   of   Tamil   Nadu   and   Another 

reported   in  (2009)   14   SCC   415,  where   the   Supreme 

Court has held as below:

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“23. So   far   as   the   circumstance   that   they   had 
been living together is concerned, indisputably, 
the   entirety   of   the   situation   should   be   taken 
into   consideration.   Ordinarily   when   the   husband 
and   wife   remained   within   the   four   walls   of   a  
house and a death by homicide takes place it will 
be for the husband to explain the circumstances 
in which she might have died. However, we cannot 
lose sight of the fact that although the same may 
be   considered   to   be   a   strong   circumstance   but  
that by alone in the absence of any evidence of 
violence   on   the   deceased   cannot   be   held   to   be  
conclusive.   It   may   be   difficult   to   arrive   at   a 
conclusion that the husband and the husband alone  
was responsible therefor.”

(2) Reliance is next placed upon the judgment in the 

case   of  Mula   Devi   and   Another   Vs.   State   of  

Uttarakhand  reported in  (2008)  14 SCC  511, in which 

the   judgment   in   the   case   of  State   of   Rajasthan   Vs.  

Raja   Ram  reported   in  (2003)   8   SCC   180,  has   been 

discussed   by   the   Supreme   Court,   wherein   the   law 

relating   to   circumstantial   evidence   has   been 

delineated.   The   relevant   paragraphs   from  State   of  

Rajasthan Vs. Raja Ram (supra) are as under:

“15. In   Hanumant   Govind   Nargundkar   and   Anr.   V. 

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State   of   Madhya   Pradesh,   (AIR   1952   SC   343), 
wherein   it   was   observed   thus:   “It   is   well   to  
remember that in cases where the evidence is of a 
circumstantial   nature,   the   circumstances   from 
which   the   conclusion   of   guilt   is   to   be   drawn  
should   be   in   the   first   instance   be   fully 
established   and   all   the   facts   so   established 
should be consistent only with the hypothesis of  
the   guilt   of   the   accused.   Again,   the 
circumstances   should   be   of   a   conclusive   nature 
and   tendency   and   they   should   be   such   as   to 
exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to  
be proved. In other words, there must be a chain 
of evidence so far complete as not to leave any 
reasonable   ground   for   a   conclusion   consistent 
with the innocence of the accused and it must be 
such as to show that within all human probability 
the act must have been done by the accused.” 

A reference may be made to a later decision in 
Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, 
(AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with 
circumstantial   evidence,   it   has   been   held   that 
onus   was   on   the   prosecution   to   prove   that   the  
chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in 
prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or 
plea.   The   conditions  precedent   in   the   words   of 
the this Court, before conviction could be based  
on   circumstantial  evidence,   must   be   fully 
established. They are: 

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(1)  the   circumstances  from  which  the  conclusion 
of   guilt   is   to   be   drawn   should   be   fully  
established. The circumstances concerned must or 
should and not may be established; 

(2) the facts so established should be consistent  
only   with   the   hypothesis   of   the   guilt   of   the  
accused,   that   is   to   say,   they   should   not   be 
explainable  on  any  other  hypothesis  except  that 
the   accused   is   guilty;   (3)   the   circumstances 
should be of a conclusive nature and tendency; 

(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis 
except the one to be proved; and

(5) there must be a chain of evidence so compete 
as   not   to   leave   any   reasonable   ground   for   the  
conclusion  consistent  with  the  innocence  of  the 
accused   and   must   show   that   in   all   human  
probability   the   act   must   have   been   done   by   the 
accused.” 

(3) In   the   case   of  Dasari   Siva   Prasad   Reddy   Vs.  

Public   Prosecutor,   High   Court   of   A.P.,  the   Supreme 

Court has discussed the aspect of last seen together, 

in the following terms:

“23. However, there  is one circumstance which is 
suggestive   of   the   strong   possibility   of   the 
presence of the accused at his house. As per PW 
3’s   evidence   which   was   believed   by   the   trial 

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court, the appellant contacted him in the morning  
at a.a. And brought PW 3 to his house giving a  
hint   that   something   untoward   happened   to   his 
sister   (i.e.   the   deceased).   Added   to   this,   the 
accused, in the normal course, is expected to be 
at his house in the night. However, these factors 
need not give rise to an irresistible inference 
that   the   accused   remained   in   the   house   in   the  
previous   night   and   the   accused   alone   must   have 
been responsible for the murder. At best, it can 
be said that the view taken by the trial court is  
not   the   only   possible   view.   But,   that   is   not  
enough to reverse the acquittal.”

(4) The   judgment   in   the   case   of  Arun   Kumar   Sharma  

Vs. State of Bihar reported in (2010) 1 SCC 108, has 

also been referred to, wherein the judgments and order 

of   conviction   passed   by   the   Trial   Court   and   the 

Appellate   Court   were   set   aside   and   the   accused   was 

acquitted of all offences. However, this judgment is 

not   required   to   be   discussed   in   detail   as   the 

respondents herein have already been given the benefit 

of a clear acquittal by the Trial Court.

(5) The next judgment on which reliance is placed by 

the learned counsel for the respondents is that in the 

case   of  Jose   Alias   Pappachan   Vs.   Sub­Inspector   of 

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Police,  Koyilandy  And  Another  reported in  (2016)  10 

SCC 519, wherein the characteristics of suicidal death 

and   death   due   to   strangulation   have   been   discussed. 

The relevant paragraphs are as under:

“52. On an overall consideration of the evidence 
available   on   record,   it   would   be,   in   our   view, 
wholly unsafe to hold the appellant guilty of the 
charge of murder of his wife by strangulating her 
with   the   nylon   rope   as   seized   and   then   hanging 
her from the roof with the saree to complete the 
act.  The  circumstantial  evidence  adduced  by  the 
prosecution in our assessment falls short of the  
requirement in law to return a finding of guilt 
against   the   appellant   without   any   element   of 
doubt whatsoever. The fact that both the accused  
persons   had   been   exonerated   of   the   charge   of 
cruelty under  Section 498A IPC and that the co­
accused, who allegedly had assisted the appellant 
in the perpetration of the crime had been fully 
acquitted by the courts below of all the charges 
also takes away the wind from the sails of the 
prosecution. 

53.   It   is   a   trite   proposition   of   law,   that 
suspicion however grave, it cannot take the place  
of   proof   and   that   the   prosecution   in   order   to  
succeed   on   a   criminal   charge   cannot   afford   to 
lodge its case in the realm of “may be true” but  
has   to   essentially   elevate   it   to   the   grade   of  
“must   be   true”.   In   a   criminal   prosecution,   the 

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court has a duty to ensure that mere conjectures 
or suspicion do not take the place of legal proof 
and   in   a   situation   where   a   reasonable   doubt   is 
entertained   in   the   backdrop   of   the   evidence 
available,   to   prevent   miscarriage   of   justice, 
benefit   of   doubt   is   to   be   extended   to   the 
accused.   Such   a   doubt   essentially   has   to   be 
reasonable   and   not   imaginary,   fanciful, 
intangible   or   non­existent   but   as   entertainable 
by   an   impartial,   prudent   and   analytical   mind, 
judged   on   the   touch   stone   of   reason   and   common 
sense.   It   is   also   a   primary   postulation   in 
criminal   jurisprudence   that   if   two   views   are 
possible on the evidence available, one pointing 
to the guilt of the accused and the other to his 
innocence,   the   one   favourable   to   the   accused 
ought to be adopted.” 

9. In the background of the above legal and factual 

submissions,   it   would   be   fruitful   to   advert   to   the 

relevant oral and documentary evidence on record.

10. PW­1,   Ashwin   Natvarlal   Talati,   is   the   Panch 

Witness of the Panchnama of the Scene of Offence. He 

deposes   regarding  the   factum   of   drawing   up   the   said 

Panchnama and his appending his signature thereupon. 

He states that he acted as a Panch Witness because he 

was   available   and   the   Police   told   him   to   sign   the 

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Panchnama.   He   does   not   remember   whether   any   other 

person   was   present   there   at   that   time.  He   further 

states that the bed, in the bedroom, was a little away 

from the wall and was crooked.

11. The   Panchnama   of   the   Scene   of   Offence   is   at 

Exh.42.   It   is   stated   therein   that   a   piece   of 

multicoloured dupatta (green, yellow, brown and red) 

was hanging from the fan and the other half had been 

freshly cut. The roof was about nine feet above the 

ground   and   the   fan   was   about   seven   feet   and   eight 

inches   from   the   floor.   The   other   half   of   the 

multicoloured dupatta was found on the bed. No marks 

were found on the dupatta.

12. PW­2,   Yogeshbhai   Nagjibhai   Patel,   the   friend   of 

respondent No.1, was the first to arrive at the spot 

after the respondent called him. He states that on the 

day of the incident he returned home from work late at 

night after the second shift. He received a telephone 

call from respondent No.1, calling him to his house. 

This   witness   went   with   Girishbhai   to   the   house   of 

respondent No.1 and found nobody in the drawing room, 

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the   door   of   which   was   open.   He   then   went   to   the 

bedroom and got the impression that the deceased was 

sleeping   on   the   bed.   Respondent   No.1   was   sitting 

there,   crying.   On   asking   him   what   had   happened, 

respondent   No.1,   still   crying,   pointed   towards   a 

dupatta   hanging   from   the   middle   of   the   fan.   This 

witness states that as it appeared that the deceased 

was   dead,   he   informed   their   other   friends   and   the 

parents   of   the   deceased   and   respondent   No.1 

telephonically.   Thereafter   he,   accompanied   by 

Girishbhai, went to the Police Station to inform the 

Police.   The   complaint   was   recorded,   which   is   at 

Exh.44.

In cross­examination, this witness states that in 

his complaint he had stated that the saree was hanging 

from the middle of the fan, from its base. He states 

that he knew the deceased. The deceased and respondent 

No.1 had a happy married life. He further states that 

respondent No.1 had told him that he had fallen asleep 

while watching television at night. When he awoke and 

entered   the   bedroom,   he   found   Sonal   hanging.   He 

further states that on 15.10.1990, the parents of the 

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deceased and other persons from Borsad had come in a 

tempo to the house of respondent No.1 and damaged his 

property, which he came to know later. 

13. The complaint given by PW­2 to the Police is at 

Exh.44.  It is stated therein that he had been called 

by   respondent   No.1   telephonically   late   at   night   at 

about   2:00   AM.   He   went   there   on   his   scooter   with 

Girishbhai   and  saw   the   door   open.   When  they   entered 

the   bedroom,   they   saw   Sonal   lying   on   the   bed. 

Respondent   No.1   was   crying.   They  asked  him   what  had 

happened and why he was crying. Respondent No.1 showed 

them the Saree hanging from the fan. It is stated that 

respondent   No.1   had   told   him   that   he   was   watching 

television in the other room till late at night and 

fell asleep. When he awoke and entered the bedroom, he 

saw his wife, Sonal, hanging from the fan. He cut the 

Saree, brought her body down and put it on the bed. As 

he  felt   that   Sonal   was   dead,   he   informed   Vinodbhai, 

who lived in the society, as well as the parents of 

the   deceased   and   respondent   No.1,   regarding   the 

incident.

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14. The   father   of   the   deceased,   Rajnikant   Bapalal 

Patel, has been examined as PW­3. He states that there 

is   no   custom   of   giving   dowry   in   his   community. 

However, the parents­in­law of his daughter informed 

him that their son was a Chemical Engineer, therefore, 

they would have to give dowry at the time of marriage. 

According to this witness, the parents of respondent 

No.1   demanded   cash,   a   double­bed,   a   scooter   and   a 

refrigerator.   When   the   engagement   took   place, 

respondent No.2 wrote a list of articles that were to 

be given, in her own handwriting, which is at Exh.58. 

This witness further states that he was told to give 

an   amount   of   Rs.2,000/­   to   respondent   No.1   for 

alighting from the car which he gave, though there is 

no   such   custom   in   his   community.   The   mother   of 

respondent   No.1   told   him   to   pay   an   amount   of 

Rs.10,000/­ for her son to sit in the Mandap. After 

consulting his relatives, he had paid Rs.10,000/­ and, 

thereafter, the wedding ceremony began. According to 

this   witness,   his   daughter   Sonal   went   to   her 

matrimonial  house  and   then  returned  to  his   house   in 

order  to  appear   for   her  B.A.   Examination.  After  the 

examination was over, respondent No.1 came to pick her 

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up   and   demanded   kitchen   utensils   and   a   double­bed. 

Utensils   worth   Rs.2,000/­   were   given   to   respondent 

No.1   and   he   and   Sonal   returned   to   Bharuch   with   the 

said   utensils.   This   witness   admits   that   respondent 

No.1 and Sonal lived at Bharuch, separately from the 

parents of respondent No.1 and his married sister, who 

lived in Vadodara and Surat, respectively.

This   witness   states   that   on   17.09.1990, 

respondent   No.1   and   his  daughter  had   come  to  attend 

the   ‘Besna’   ceremony   of   his   sister­in­law.   After   it 

was   over,   respondent   No.2   (mother­in­law   of   the 

deceased) asked him why he was not giving the articles 

as   agreed   upon.   The   respondents   returned   in   the 

evening   but   his   daughter   Sonal   stayed   back.   That 

evening, his daughter cried and informed her relatives 

that   she   did   not   want   to   return   to   her   matrimonial 

home. She said this in the presence of his brothers­

in­law Navinkumar Thakar and Madhubhai Thakar, mother 

and father­in­law of this witness, his wife and other 

relatives. On asking her the reason, Sonal is stated 

to have said that respondent No.1 has the bad habit of 

consuming liquor and has an extra marital affair with 

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a girl named Shaila, which she does not like. It is 

for this reason that she does not want to go back to 

him. According to this witness, Sonal also stated that 

if the articles, as demanded, are not given by them, 

the   respondents   would   kill   her.   The   relatives   then 

counselled Sonal to return as the festival of Diwali 

was   approaching   and   it   was   her   first   Diwali   in   the 

matrimonial   home.   Sonal   was,   therefore,   sent   to 

Bharuch with a cousin of this witness, named Dinaben. 

This witness further narrates that early in the 

morning   of   13.10.1990,   he   received   a   telephone   call 

informing him that Sonal’s condition was not good and 

he should reach Bharuch immediately. He, accompanied 

by his wife and son, left Mehsana for Bharuch at 4:00 

AM and reached there at around 8:00 to 8:30 AM. When 

they went to the house of respondent No.1 and called 

Sonal,   there   was   no   reply.   A   man   pointed   towards   a 

room and so they went to the room and saw Sonal’s body 

lying on the bed. Her legs were hanging to the ground 

and   her   maxi   had   come   upto   her   thighs.   Her   clothes 

were   disorderly.   On   coming   close,   they   found   that 

Sonal had died. Foam was coming out from her mouth and 

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brown­coloured   marks   were   found   on   her   neck.   This 

witness   states   that   his   wife   examined   the   body   and 

found  a   sticky  substance   on   her   private   parts.   This 

witness further states that there were scratch marks 

on her neck and semen stains on her thighs. 

PW­3   states   that   he   has   worked   as   a   Medical 

Practitioner for the last thirty years and, according 

to   him,   it   seemed   that   someone   had   killed   Sonal   by 

strangling her. 

This   witness   further   states   that   a   man   named 

Kishorebhai Jamadar,  belonging to his community, had 

told   him   to   inform   other   persons   from   Borsad,   his 

native   place.   As   they   did   not   arrive   on   time,   they 

cremated   the   body.   He   states   that   after   reading   an 

article   in   the  newspaper   regarding   the  death  of  his 

daughter,   he   felt   that   she   had   been   killed   by 

strangulation.   When   they   were   leaving   after   the 

‘Besna’   was   over,   respondent   No.3   stated   that   they 

should take an amount of Rs.10,000/­ as he wanted his 

son to remarry. Therefore, a cheque of Rs.4,000/­ and 

a   promissory   note   of   Rs.6,000/­   was   given   to   this 

witness. The promissory note is signed by respondent 

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No.1.

This witness further states that at the time of 

his   daughter’s   death,   she   was   pregnant.   She   had 

informed them regarding this fact by letter, stating 

that   Dr.Kapadia   had   told   her   so.   This   letter   was 

jointly written by both Sonal and respondent No.1. It 

was also stated in the letter that both of them are 

happy regarding her pregnancy. 

In cross­examination, this witness states that in 

the   document   at   Exh.58,  the   articles   required   to   be 

given by the bridegroom have also been mentioned. He 

states   that   when   he   saw   Sonal’s   body,   he   told   the 

Police that it is not a case of hanging and expressed 

his suspicions regarding her death. 

This witness admits that in his statement before 

the   Police,   he   has   not   stated   that   a   demand   of 

Rs.2,000/­ was made by respondent No.1 at the time of 

the wedding, for alighting from the car. Nor has he 

stated   that   Rs.10,000/­   was   demanded   by   respondent 

No.2 as dowry on the ground that her son is a Chemical 

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Engineer.   It   is   also   not   stated   that   a   double­bed, 

scooter and refrigerator were demanded. 

PW­3 further admits that he has not stated before 

the Police that when he saw the deceased lying on the 

bed, her feet were hanging above the ground, her maxi 

had   come   upto   her   thighs   and   her   clothes   were   in   a 

disorderly condition. He states that he does not know 

whether   it   is   written   in   his   Police   statement   that 

foam was coming out from Sonal’s mouth and there were 

brown abrasions on her neck, or that his wife examined 

Sonal’s private parts and found a sticky substance and 

semen marks on her thighs and a scratch mark on her 

neck.   He states that he does not know whether it is 

written   in   his   Police   statement   that   on   17.09.1990, 

during the ‘Besna’ of Truptiben, respondent No.2 asked 

him why he was not giving the articles as agreed upon, 

or that the deceased had told him that respondent No.1 

has the bad habit of drinking liquor and has an extra 

marital   affair  with   a  girl  called   Shaila,  which  she 

does not like. He states that he does not know whether 

it is written in his Police statement that Sonal had 

told him to give the articles that were demanded, else 

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she would be killed. 

Denying   the   contents   of   his   Police   statement 

given on 13.10.1990, PW­3 states that he did not state 

before the Police that no physical or mental torture 

was given to his daughter Sonal by respondent No.1 or 

her in­laws, or that they were living separately. He 

denies   having   stated   that   his   daughter   had   never 

complained of any harassment from the respondents to 

him or his wife. 

This witness further denies having stated before 

the Police that he had heard from respondent No.1 and 

his father that Sonal was pregnant by two months but 

she did not want to keep the child and wanted to abort 

it.   He   denies   stating   that   there   was   a   discussion 

regarding this between respondent No.1 and Sonal and 

respondent No.1 told her that they would not take any 

decision   without   discussing   this   issue   with   Sonal’s 

parents,   or   on   a   sudden   impulse,   without   thinking, 

Sonal had ended her life by hanging herself from the 

fan   and   committed   suicide.   He   denies   having   stated 

before the Police that he has no other suspicions. 

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PW­3 further states that on 24.10.1990, he found 

many suspicious aspects in the matter, therefore, he 

wrote   a   letter   to   the   Superintendent   of   Police   for 

proper   investigation   as   he   feared   that   his   daughter 

was killed. 

He   further   admits   that   after   15.10.1990,   the 

respondents   returned   the   articles   belonging   to   the 

deceased. He denies that he had come to the house of 

respondent No.1 on 15.10.1990 with other persons in a 

tempo   and   damaged   the   household   articles.   He   admits 

the letters written by the deceased as being in her 

own handwriting. 

15. PW­4, Hasumatiben Rajnikant, is the mother of the 

deceased.   Her   testimony   is   more   or   less   along   the 

lines of her husband, PW­3. She has deposed regarding 

the   dowry   demands   alleged   to   have   been   made   by   the 

respondents from them.

16. PW­5, Dinaben Amrutlal Bhatt, is the aunt of the 

deceased.   According   to   this   witness,   she   and   the 

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deceased travelled together from the parental house of 

the deceased after the ‘Besna’ of Truptiben was over. 

They   boarded   the   local   train   from   Borsad   to   Bharuch 

and travelled together for about three hours. During 

this   time,   Sonal   had   told   her   that   her   husband 

consumes   liquor   and   is   fond   of   arranging   “mehfils” 

(gatherings).   According   to   this   witness,   Sonal 

informed her that her mother­in­law, father­in­law and 

sister­in­law used to tell her that in spite of the 

fact   that   her   father   is   a   Doctor,   she   had   brought 

nothing   with   her   and   used   to   torture   her   regarding 

this   aspect.   This   witness   states,   in   cross­

examination,   that   Sonal’s   husband,   father­in­law, 

mother­in­law and sister­in­law used to torture her.

17. PW­6   is   Madhubhai   Ambalal   Thakar,   who   is   not 

related to the deceased but appears to be a leader of 

the   community   to   which   her   father   belongs.   He 

reiterates   the   story   regarding   the   dowry   demand   and 

Sonal’s   disclosure   regarding   this   to   her   relatives, 

after   the   ‘Besna’   of   Truptiben   was   over.   He   states 

that   Sonal   had   said   that   respondent   No.1   used   to 

consume   liquor,   was   fond   of   “mehfils”   and   time   and 

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again demanded a scooter, refrigerator and cash from 

her father. He also used to taunt her. According to 

this   witness,   Sonal   also   disclosed   that   respondent 

No.1 used to torture her mentally and her in­laws used 

to  visit  Bharuch   frequently   in   order   to   harass   her. 

When respondent No.1 took Sonal to Vadodara, he used 

to call his sister respondent No.4, who also used to 

taunt the deceased. It is for this reason that Sonal 

did not want to go to her matrimonial house. 

This witness states that it does not appear that 

Sonal committed suicide on her own but she could have 

been driven to do so due to mental torture. That the 

community leaders had got together and discussed the 

issue and arrived at the conclusion that, in order to 

prevent   such   incidents   from   occurring,   some   action 

should be taken. They, therefore, made an application 

dated 14.10.1990 to the Chief Minister, with a copy to 

the Superintendent of Police, Bharuch, upon which all 

leaders of the community had signed. 

18. Dr.Bharat   Vadilal   Mehta,   who   performed   the 

Postmortem   on   the   body   of   the   deceased,   has   been 

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examined as PW­7. This witness states that there was a 

ligature mark of 1.5 centimeters on both sides of the 

neck of the deceased and foam was coming out from her 

mouth and nose. However, there were no marks of injury 

on the other parts of her body, including her private 

parts.

19. PW­8,   Kalusinh   Sujosinh   Rathod,   is   the 

Investigating   Officer.   Contradicting   the   testimonies 

of PW­3, father of the deceased and PW­4, mother of 

the deceased, he states that PW­3 did not state before 

him   that   respondent   No.1   had   demanded   an   amount   of 

Rs.2,000/­ for alighting from the car and respondent 

No.2 has not asked for Rs.10,000/­ as dowry for her 

son,   on   the   ground   that   he   is   a   Chemical   Engineer. 

This   witness   states   that   the   respondents   have   not 

stated before him that when they went to the house of 

the   deceased,   they   saw   her   feet   hanging   above   the 

ground or that her maxi had come upto her thighs and 

her clothes were disorderedly and she was foaming from 

the mouth. They did not state that there were brown­

coloured abrasions on both sides of her neck. On the 

contrary, this witness has stated that PW­3 had stated 

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before him that his daughter and respondent No.1 were 

happily   married   and   his   daughter   was   not   tortured 

physically   or   mentally   by   her   husband   or   any   other 

person. That his daughter has never complained of any 

harassment   from   them   either   to   him   or   his   wife,   by 

letter or word of mouth. 

20. The   Postmortem   Report   is   at   Exh.98.   The 

Postmortem has been performed by PW­7. He and another 

doctor, have signed thereupon. The cause of death is 

stated to be:­

“In   our   opinion,   cause   of   death   is   due   to  

Asphyxia following hanging”

21. Several   letters   written   by   the   deceased   to 

respondent No.1 and her parents are on record, which 

assume importance as they are indicative of the mental 

state of the deceased and reveal the kind of family 

life she shared with respondent No.1. 

22. Upon   appreciation   and   evaluation   of   the   entire 

oral and documentary evidence on record, we find that 

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the   Trial   Court   is   correct   in   concluding   that   the 

death of the deceased was an unnatural one. We also 

find that the conclusion of the Trial Court that there 

is no material on record to indicate that the deceased 

was done to death by respondent No.1, with the aid of 

respondents   Nos.2   and   4,   or   tortured   physically   and 

mentally   for   dowry,   to   be   correct.   The   conclusion 

arrived   at   by   the   Trial   Court   that   the   deceased 

committed   suicide  for   some  reason   of   her   own,   maybe 

because   of   a  failed   previous   love   affair,  cannot   be 

said to be improbable, looking to the nature of the 

evidence on record.

23. We   have   carefully   scrutinised   and   evaluated   the 

entire   evidence   and   perused   the   reasons   recorded   by 

the   learned  Judge  in  support   of   his  findings.   After 

doing so, we find ourselves in full agreement with the 

same, for the following amongst other reasons.

23.1 There is no evidence on record regarding any 

marital   discord   between   the   deceased   and   respondent 

No.1. On the contrary, the letters of the deceased to 

respondent No.1 indicate that after meeting him, she 

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had   regained   faith   in   love,   after   the   previous 

disillusionment   suffered   by   her.   A   letter   dated 

03.12.1989, written by the deceased to respondent No.1 

before their marriage, is indicative of her feelings 

in this regard. It appears from the said letter that 

the deceased had suffered some kind of disappointment 

earlier, due to which she had become “like a stone”. 

She   has   stated   that   she   likes   respondent   No.1   and 

desires   to   be   in   his   company,   but  would   require   a 

little time. There are several other letters on record 

indicating   the   relationship   between   respondent   No.1 

and   the   deceased.   In   a   letter   dated   08.03.1990, 

written   after   their   marriage,   the   deceased   has 

referred   to   another   letter   from   respondent   No.1, 

asking her to choose a design for a double­bed that he 

intended   to   order   for   her.   In   another   letter   dated 

13.03.1990,   she   states   that   she   had   buried   feelings 

like love, sympathy and faith five years ago and had 

become “like a stone”. This may be indicative of an 

earlier,   failed   love   affair.   Another   letter   dated 

23.09.1990,   written   by   the   deceased   to   respondent 

No.1, reveals her excitement regarding the impending 

purchase of a television set by him. She writes that 

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she would like to come home quickly so that she can 

watch   television.   In   a   letter   dated   09.10.1990, 

written jointly by respondent No.1 and the deceased to 

the   parents   of   the   deceased,   it   is   stated   by 

respondent No.1 that Sonal is pregnant, her pregnancy 

test   is   positive   and   she   is   in   good   health.   In   the 

part written by the deceased, she has stated that she 

is  well   and  has   informed   her   brother   Dipu  regarding 

her pregnancy but told him not to reveal it to anyone. 

In   another   letter   dated   06.09.1990,   written   by   the 

deceased   to   her   parents,   she   has   stated   that 

respondent   No.1   would   soon   be   purchasing   a 

refrigerator from the bonus he would be receiving.

23.2 These letters reveal that far from demanding 

dowry,   respondent   No.1   was   trying   to   fulfil   his 

obligations as a husband and was purchasing household 

and   electronic   goods   for   the   deceased   in   order   to 

provide her with the comforts of life. In none of her 

letters has the deceased even remotely referred to any 

kind   of   ill­treatment,   harassment,   torture   or   dowry 

demand by respondent No.1 or his family members. The 

letters   indicate   a   cordial   marital   relationship 

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between husband and wife and no strife with his family 

members. 

23.3 The   allegation   that   respondent   No.1   has 

committed   the   murder   of   the   deceased   by   first 

strangling her and then hanging her body from the fan, 

appears to be a figment of the imagination of PW­3, 

who   never   ever   whispered   regarding   ill­treatment   of 

his daughter or dowry demands in his initial statement 

to the Police.  On the contrary, he had stated that he 

has   no   suspicions   regarding   respondent   No.1   or   his 

family   members   as   his   daughter   was   never   tortured, 

either   physically   or   mentally,   by   them   and   she   and 

respondent No.1 were living a happy married life. It 

appears that it is only after the intervention of the 

leaders   of   the   community,   such   as   PW­6,   that   PW­3 

began nurturing the idea of converting the apparently 

suicidal   death   of   his   daughter   into   a   murder   by 

implicating respondent No.1 and his family. Even the 

parents and married sister­in­law of respondent No.1, 

who   are   admittedly   living   separately   in   different 

cities,   have   been   roped   in.   There   is   no   shred   of 

evidence   regarding   any   dowry   demand.   The   list   at 

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Exh.58   is   regarding   customary   articles,   required 

during a marriage ceremony by both sides. 

23.4 There   is   no   material   on   record   suggesting 

that the deceased was killed by first strangling her 

and   then   hanging   her   body   from   the   fan.   PW­7,   Dr. 

Bharat   Vadilal   Mehta,   has   categorically   stated   that 

the   death   of   the   deceased   was   due   to   asphyxia, 

following hanging. The word ‘hanging’ has been used as 

the cause of death in the Postmortem Report prepared 

by two doctors. Had it been a case of strangulation, 

the word ‘strangulation’ would have been used instead 

of   ‘hanging’.   There   is   a   difference   between 

strangulation and suicide by hanging and the Doctors 

are competent to medically differentiate between the 

two.

23.5 Several   contradictions   appear   in   the 

statements   of   the  father   and   mother  of  the   deceased 

given before the Police and their depositions before 

the   Court.   Dinaben,   PW­5,   also   emerges  as  a   tutored 

witness. It appears that the story of murder and dowry 

demand has been introduced as an afterthought, after 

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careful   deliberation   with   community   leaders.   The 

allegations made by PW­3 and his letters to the Chief 

Minister,   Home   Minister   and   the   Superintendent   of 

Police, give different versions and are inconsistent 

with each other. Most important, the allegations made 

in   the   said   letters   have   not   been   substantiated   by 

producing cogent or credible evidence on record.

23.6 The   parents   of   respondent   No.1   were 

admittedly   living   separately   at   Vadodara   while 

respondent   No.1   and   the   deceased   lived   at   Bharuch. 

Respondent   No.3­   the   married   sister­in­law   of   the 

deceased,   lived   in   her   matrimonial   home   at   Surat. 

There   is   no   material,   whatsoever,   to   connect   these 

respondents with the commission of the alleged crime 

or dowry demands.

23.7 The   version   that   respondent   No.1   demanded 

Rs.2,000/­ to alight from the car and Rs.10,000/­ to 

sit in the Mandap and respondent No.2 demanded dowry 

for her son as he was a Chemical Engineer, appear to 

be  an  afterthought   as   a  result   of   consultation   with 

community   leaders   who   decided   to   make   the   case   an 

example so that such incidents do not recur. However, 

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there is ample evidence on record, in the shape of the 

letters   of   the   deceased,   to   indicate   that   she   had 

received a set­back in her love affair before marriage 

that had turned her into a “stone”. The tone and tenor 

of   her   letters   to   respondent   No.1,   even   before 

marriage,   indicate   her   hyper­sensitive   nature  and 

propensity   to   dwell   in   the   past   rather   than   the 

present. She had told her brother not to disclose her 

pregnancy to anyone. As per the explanation given by 

respondent No.1, the deceased did not want to conceive 

a   child   and   when   she   found     she   was   pregnant,   she 

wanted to abort it. She, therefore, took the extreme 

step and ended her life.

23.8 It is not for the respondents to prove their 

defence   but   for   the   prosecution   to   prove   its   case 

beyond reasonable doubt, which it has utterly failed 

to  do.   Why   the  deceased  committed   suicide  cannot   be 

answered   with   any   certainty.   However,   the   entire 

weight   of   evidence,   including   the   medical   evidence, 

points strongly towards a suicidal death rather than 

death by strangulation.

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23.9 The presence of respondent No.1 in the house 

on the fateful night, being the husband, is entirely 

natural. It cannot give a boost to the theory of “last 

seen   together”   sought   to   be   propounded   by   the 

prosecution,   in   the   absence   of   any   corroborative 

material   indicating   that   he   had   killed   the   deceased 

and her death was not a suicidal one.

24. The   case   rests   upon   circumstantial   evidence   and 

the prosecution has failed to establish the chain of 

incriminating   circumstances   against   the   respondents. 

No such facts have been established by the prosecution 

that   can   be   said   to   be   consistent   only   with   the 

hypothesis of the guilt of the respondents, ruling out 

every   other   hypotheses.   The   chain   of   circumstantial 

evidence   is   far   from   complete   and   the   links   of   the 

chain are scattered and uncohesive. The nature of the 

evidence adduced in the present case is so flimsy that 

it would be highly imprudent to base the conviction of 

the respondents upon it. In our view, the Trial Court 

has properly appreciated the evidence and arrived at a 

legally   correct   conclusion,   by   acquitting   the 

respondents.

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25. We,   therefore,   find   no   justifiable   reason   to 

interfere   with   the   judgment   and   order   of   acquittal 

recorded by the Trial Court.

26. The appeal fails and is dismissed.

27. Bail bonds, if any, stand cancelled. The R  P be 

sent back to the concerned Trial Court.

(SMT. ABHILASHA KUMARI, J.)

(B.N. KARIA, J.)
piyush

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