Madras High Court A.Ravindran-vs-State By The Additional on 27 January, 2010
THE HONOURABLE MRS.JUSTICE ARUNA JAGADEESAN
State by the Additional Superintendent of Police
District Crime Record Bureau
Coimbatore, Mettupalayam Police Station Respondent
Prayer:- This Criminal Appeal is filed against the judgement dated 31.10.2002 passed in SC.No.65/2000 by the learned Additional District and Sessions Judge (FTC 4), Coimbatore at Tiruppur, convicting and sentencing the appellants for the offence under Section 498A and 304B of IPC and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act to undergo ten years of Rigorous Imprisonment. For Appellant : Mr.S.Ashok Kumar, SC for
For Respondent : Mr.Hasan Mohammed Jinnah, APP
This Criminal Appeal is filed against the judgement dated 31.10.2002 passed in SC.No.65/2000 by the learned Additional District and Sessions Judge (FTC 4), Coimbatore at Tiruppur, convicting and sentencing the appellants for the offence under Section 498A and 304B of IPC and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act to undergo ten years of Rigorous Imprisonment each.
2. The case of the Prosecution is as follows:-
a. The 1st Appellant/A1 is the son of the Appellants 2 and 3/A2 and A3. PW.1 Anbu and PW.2 Shanthamani are the parents of the deceased Amudhavani and PW.3 Babymani and PW.4 Krishnaveni are the sisters of the deceased. PW.5 Ravindran and PW.6 Chandrasekar are the brothers of PW.1. The marriage between A1 and the deceased took place on 6.9.1992 and they were living jointly. At the time of the marriage, the deceased was given 12 sovereigns of jewels. After one year from the date of their marriage, the accused have been harassing and torturing the deceased by demanding money and jewels. On 29.1.1996 the accused harassed the deceased by demanding a cash of Rs.5000/- and a bureau for keeping her belongings, by beating her by hands and treating her as a servant. The deceased came to the house of PW.1 with injuries on her shoulder and back and told about the ill treatment meted out to her and PW.1 pacified her and sent her back to his matrimonial home. Unable to tolerate with the ill treatment meted out to her, the deceased on 9.3.1996 at 3.00 a.m. committed suicide by consuming poisonous insecticide. b. PW.9 Dr.Kandasamy attached to the Government Hospital, Mettupalayam examined the deceased on 30.3.1996 at 2.00 p.m. and confirmed that the deceased died and gave information under Ex.P3 to the Police. PW.10 Doctor on 30.3.1995 at 4.55 p.m. attached to the said Hospital on receipt of requisition from the Revenue Divisional Officer, along with another Doctor Ravindran conducted postmortem on the body of the deceased at 4.55 p.m. on the same day and on receipt of chemical analysis reports Ex.P5 and 9, opined in the postmortem certificate Ex.P4 that the decease died due to consumption of poison. c. On receipt of information that the deceased died on 9.3.1996, PW.1 and the other witnesses went to matrimonial home of the deceased and found injuries on her shoulder and back. PW.1 went to the Police Station and gave a complaint Ex.P1. On receipt of Ex.P1, the Sub Inspector of Police attached to the Mettupalayam Police Station, registered a case in Cr.No.292/1996 for the offence under Section 304B of IPC against the accused. d. On receipt of FIR, Ex.P7 PW.11 the Revenue Divisional Officer went to the Hospital and conducted inquest on the body of the deceased and prepared inquest report Ex.P6 and examined the witnesses and recorded their statements and opined in Ex.P6 that the deceased committed suicide by the harassment and torture by the accused persons. e. On receipt of the case file, PW.12 Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore took up the case for investigation and went to the place of occurrence and prepared Ex.P2 observation mahazar and rough sketch Ex.P8 and examined the Doctors, who gave information to the police, the witnesses and the relatives of the deceased and recorded their statements. The accused persons have surrendered themselves in the Police Station and PW.12 examined the accused and recorded their statements in the presence of the witnesses and sent them for judicial custody and sent the case file to PW.13 the Deputy Superintendent of Police for further investigation. In the mean time, PW.13 was transferred and on his transfer, the Superintendent of Police one Seetharaman, after completing investigation, filed a final report against the accused under Sections 498A and 306 of IPC.
3. The case was taken on file in SC.No.65/2000 by the learned Additional District and Sessions Judge (FTC 4), Coimbatore at Tiruppur and necessary charges were framed. In order to substantiate the charges levelled against the accused, the prosecution examined as many as 13 witnesses (PW.1 to PW.13} and also relied on Exs.P1 to P10 and two material objects (Mos.1 to 2). On side of the defence, three witnesses have been examined as Dw.1 to 3 and Ex.D1 to D3 were marked.
4. On completion of the evidence on the side of the prosecution, the accused were questioned under Section 313 Cr.PC as to the incriminating circumstances found in the evidence of prosecution witnesses and the accused denied the same as totally false.
5. The court below, after hearing the arguments advanced on either side and looking into the materials available on record, found the accused/appellants guilty and awarded punishments as referred to above, which is challenged in this Criminal Appeal.
6. This court heard the submissions of the learned counsel on either side and also perused the material records placed.
7. Mr.S.Ashok Kumar, the learned senior counsel for the Appellant strenuously contended that the evidence of interested witnesses namely PW.1 to 6 are unacceptable and unreliable, as they have not told many vital things during investigation, which for the first time were stated in the court. The learned counsel pointed out to the material omissions in their evidence before the court elicited by the defence counsel in detail. Though PW.1 denied the suggestion about the said omission at the time of investigation, but PW.1 the investigating officer admitted about such omission in the statements made under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure of those witnesses. The learned senior counsel argued that no reliance could be placed on their testimony and pointed out that the Trial Court has not discussed the evidence in a right perspective manner and brushed aside the said material omissions very lightly. The learned senior counsel would further submit that the evidence on record clearly indicated that those witnesses were so enimical to the Appellants and that they had tried to prevail upon the investigating officer to some how charge the Appellants for commission of murder, although there was absolutely no evidence to substantiate the said charge.
8. The learned senior counsel for the Appellants referred to the testimony of PW.12 Murugeswaran, wherein he had admitted that there was heavy pressure from PW.1, the father of the deceased to charge the Appellants for murder and he refused to accede to their request further that he was so pressurised which forced him to request higher authorities to relieve him from the investigation of the case. The learned senior counsel contended that the improvements and embellishments made in the evidence of the Prosecution witnesses would clearly discredit their evidence and no safe reliance could be placed on such evidence.
9. On the other hand, Mr.Hasan Mohammed Jinnah, the learned Additional Public Prosecutor supported the judgement of the Trial Court and submitted that the Trial Court has analysed the evidence in a right perspective manner and it does not warrant any interference by this court.
10. In order to appreciate the above said contentions on either side, an independent scrutiny of the evidence on record has to be made to find out as to whether the arguments advanced by the learned senior counsel would be sustained.
11. At the outset, Ex.P5 the chemical analysis report do not support the case of the Prosecution that the deceased died as a result of consumption of poisonous substance. The Doctor has deposed that the chemical analysis report did not find any poison or toxic substance and so no definite opinion could be given relating to the cause of the death. But, however, he opined that the postmortem findings were not inconsistent with poisoning in nature. Therefore, it is apparent that no definite opinion could be given as to the cause of the death.
12. The Prosecution witnesses PW.1 to 6, who are all related to the deceased, have deposed that there were external injuries on the body of the deceased suggesting homicide. All those witnesses refer only to those injuries on the shoulder and back of the deceased which according to the Doctor who conducted postmortem that they are only ant bitten marks and there were no other external injuries on the body of the deceased. There is also no definite evidence in this case that the death was the resultant of consumption of poison by the deceased. Therefore, there is no conclusive evidence that the deceased committed suicide by consuming poison.
13. It is also established that PW.1 to 6 who are all highly interested witnesses were very much concerned to implicate the Appellants some how for a serious crime and had made deliberate improvements in their evidence so as to accomplish their task of false implication of the Appellants. PW.2’s evidence supports this view. At this juncture, it is to be pointed out that A4 who is the sister in law of the deceased (sister of A1) admittedly living separately with her husband has also been roped in for demand of dowry and ill treatment of the deceased.
14. It is common that close relations and friends of the deceased have a tendency to exaggerate or add acts which may not have been stated to them at all by the deceased. Therefore, their testimony had to pass the test of close and severe scrutiny before their testimony could be safely acted upon. It is no doubt true that the relationship or interestedness of those witnesses with the deceased is not enough to discard their testimony, unless it is proved that their evidence suffers from serious infirmities, which raise a considerable doubt on the veracity of the Prosecution version. Credibility of a witness has to be decided by referring to his evidence and finding out whether there are material improvements in the evidence of these witnesses.
15. In the present case, the learned senior counsel for the Appellants pointed out to such material improvements made by PWs.1 to 6 before the court and elicited through PW.12 that they have omitted to state important facts before the investigating officer. It is pertinent to mention here that in the complaint given by PW.1 at 11.15 hours on 9.3.1996 all that was stated was that all the accused demanded a cash amount of Rs.5000/- and ill treated her and the same was informed to them when deceased came to their home 10 days prior to the occurrence. No other specific allegation or overtacts have been attributed to the accused to have either seen them directly or been told by the deceased. But, in their evidence substantial improvements have been made which they could not have missed before the investigating officer in their statements recorded under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure, as from the beginning they were having an impression that the deceased had died only due to the ill treatment meted out to her. The said omission is definitely a material one amounting to a contradiction.
16. PW.1 to 6 have stated that the deceased was treated as a servant maid in the house of the accused and that the accused demanded 2 sovereigns for Deepavali Nonbu and created problem for not fulfilling the said demand, again demanded two sovereign of jewels for the ear boring ceremony of the son of the deceased and lastly demanded a bureau and a cash of Rs.5000/-. PW.1 would state that the said demand for bureau and the cash of Rs.5000/- was made by A1 in the house of PW.1 and A1 was pacified by PW.1 and PW.7 one Palani by saying that the deceased would be provided with some time later. This incident is said to have occurred ten days prior to her death. Whereas PW.2, the mother of the deceased stated that the deceased came with injuries on her shoulder and told them that she was assaulted with a belt for not providing her with a bureau to keep her belongings.
17. PW.2’s evidence indicated that the said demand was not made directly by A1, but the deceased had informed them about the said demand. Whereas PW.1’s evidence is that A1 made the demand directly in person and he was pacified. PW.3 to PW.6 have deposed in the same line with that of PW.2.
18. It is significant to point that Pws.1 to 6 have not stated about the above said demand and the ill- treatment meted out to her in their statement to the police. They have been confronted with all such statement with suggestion that no statement were made by them before the Inspector of Police at the time of investigation. Though PW.1 to 6 denied to such suggestion, but PW.12 investigating officer admitted about such omission in the statements under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure of those witnesses.
19. On a close scrutiny and analyze of the evidence of PW.1 to 6 in entirety, I am of the considered view that those witnesses thoroughly stand discredited and cannot be relied upon. That apart, the letter written by the deceased to A1 dated 19.2.1996 which presumably relates to the period of last demand referred to by the Prosecution does not indicate any such harassment suffered by the deceased, as she has written pleading her inability to return to the matrimonial home because of her ill health she had asked about the well being of her in laws. The letter clearly indicative of the fact of normal enquiry made by the deceased as any wife would do when she is away from her husband. If really there was any ill treatment pursuant to a demand of bureau and cash as projected by the Prosecution, the deceased would have mentioned about it or at least there should have been some indication with regard to the said fact. No person who had been put to torture, will make any enquiry about the well being of her in laws more so, when they have continuously ill treated and harassed her demanding dowry. That apart, the exaggeration and embellishment touch the core of the Prosecution and make the very Prosecution case unreliable.
20. The explanation given by the 1st Appellant by examining himself as DW.1 that the deceased wanted him to take her to her parent’s house and though he agreed to it, but he returned very late in the night which furiated the deceased and she was scolding him constantly and few minutes later he found froth coming from her mouth and immediately took her to the hospital appears to be a plausible one. His statement indicates that she has consumed insecticide poisonous powder which might have caused her death.
21. The materials and evidence on record are not sufficient to bring home any of the charges levelled against the Appellants. There is nothing on record to show that any demand of dowry was made soon before her death. In the absence of any evidence to show that cruelty or harassment was meted out to her for bringing insufficient dowry or not fulfilling the demand, it cannot be said to have been proved.
22. In the instant case, on a proper consideration and weighing of the evidence, the only reasonable view that can be taken is that no cogent and reliable evidence has been adduced by the Prosecution to establish that the Appellants had demanded any dowry and subjected the deceased to cruelty in lieu of such demand and therefore, the conviction and sentence imposed on the Appellants are not justified and sustainable.
23. In the result, this Criminal Appeal is allowed. The conviction and sentence imposed on the Appellants by the Trial Court in SC.No.65/2000 are set aside and the Appellants are acquitted of all the charges levelled against them. It is seen from the records that the Appellants had been enlarged on bail by this court and the bail bond if any executed by them shall stand terminated.
1.The Additional District and Sessions Judge (FTC 4), Coimbatore at Tiruppur
2.The Public Prosecutor, High Court,