Form No. J(1)
IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA
CRIMINAL APPELLTE JURISDICTION
The Hon’ble Justice Joymalya Bagchi
The Hon’ble Justice Suvra Ghosh
CRA 785 of 2015
The State of West Bengal
For the Appellant : Mr. Kushal Paul,
Ms. Soma Chowdhury (Bandhu)
For the State : Mr. Saibal Bapuli, Ld. A.P.P.,
Mr. Bibhaswan Bhattacharya
Heard on : 14.01.2020
Judgment on : 14.01.2020
Joymalya Bagchi, J.:
On the Navami of Durga Puja in 2012, when everyone was engaged in
festivities, an unfortunate 19-year-old girl put an end to her torture by hanging
herself from a ceiling fan at her matrimonial home. Appellant before her us is her
Prosecution case as unfolded in the First Information Report lodged by
Haradhan Pandit (PW 3), father of the victim girl, is to the effect that his daughter
was married to the appellant on 26 Sravan 1419 B.S. according to Hindu rites and
customs. As per demand of appellant and other accuseds i.e. in-laws of the victim
housewife Rupees 1 lakh in cash, five tollas of gold ornaments and other articles
were given as dowry. Soon thereafter the appellant and other in-laws subjected the
victim housewife to torture on further demands of dowry. She was not even given
proper food. Unable to bear the torture, in the morning of 23.10.2012 she committed
suicide. Around 11:00 am her father (PW 3) was informed that his daughter is no
more. Hearing the news he along with his wife and others went to her matrimonial
home and found her hanging from the ceiling fan in her bedroom. Pursuant to the
written complaint lodged by PW 3, Gurap Police Station Case No.85/12 dated
under Sections 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code was registered for
investigation against the appellant and one Alok Ghosh, Renuka Ghosh and Anjali
Santra i.e. brother-in-law, mother-in-law of the victim housewife and the
matchmakers respectively. In conclusion of investigation, charge sheet was filed
against the appellant and other accused persons under Sections 498A/304B/34 of
the IPC and under Section 302/34 of the IPC.
In the course of trial, prosecution examined 16 witnesses and exhibited a
number of documents. In conclusion of trial, the trial Judge by the impugned
judgment and order dated 08.10.2015 and 09.10.2015 convicted and sentenced the
appellant under section 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to
suffer rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs.2,000/-, in
default, to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two months more for the offence
punishable under Section 498A of the IPC and to suffer rigorous imprisonment for
ten years for the offence punishable under Section 304B of the IPC; both the
sentences to run concurrently, as aforesaid. By the self-same judgement and order
the trial court was pleased to acquit the other accused persons of the charges
levelled against them.
Learned counsel appearing for the appellant argued that the prosecution has
failed to prove torture upon the victim housewife over further demands of dowry.
Evidence in that regard is woefully vague and non-specific. In view of the fact that
PW 3 is a daily labour it is argued that he lacked financial wherewithal to pay
Rs.1,00,000/- and 5 bhories of gold ornaments as dowry. On the other hand, there is
ample evidence that relationship between the family members were cordial. Victim
visited the parental home with the appellant (her husband) on two occasions and
gifts were exchanged between the families prior to Durga Puja. Hence ingredients of
the offence under Section 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code are not proved.
It was further argued that the victim committed suicide due to depression as
the prior marriage of the appellant had been suppressed from her by her own
parents. While accused persons were acquitted of the charges levelled against them,
appellant has been convicted on the self-same evidence. Hence, he is entitled to an
order of acquittal.
Learned counsel for the State argued that P.W 2 and 3, parents of the victim
girl, have succinctly narrated the torture meted out to her over further demands of
dowry. She had informed her parents about such incidents over telephone. Other
prosecution witnesses including P.W 4, a neighbour, have also corroborated their
version in Court.
In the backdrop of such evidence relating to cruelty on the housewife over
demands of dowry, suicide of the latter within four months of marriage at the
matrimonial home clearly establishes the offences against the appellant. Evidence
has also come on record that the appellant used to ill-treat his earlier wife. In view of
the materials on record, he does not stand on the same footing with the co-accused
persons who were acquitted and the appeal is liable to be dismissed.
P.Ws 2 and 3 are the parents of the victim housewife. They have unequivocally
stated at the time of the marriage between the appellant and the victim, a sum of
rupees one lakh, five bhories of gold and other articles were given as dowry as per
demand. After marriage, victim was subjected to torture by the appellant and other
in-laws, over further demands of dowry. She complained about such fact to her
parents over telephone. On the fateful day, P.W 3 was informed over telephone with
regard to the death of his daughter. They rushed to the matrimonial home and found
her daughter lying dead at the verandah. P.W 3 lodged written complaint which was
scribed by his nephew, P.W 1. Police seized plastic chair and a saree from the place
of occurrence. P.W 3 signed on the seizure list. Evidence of the parents of the victim
girl is corroborated by her cousin and scribe P.W 1, her brother P.W 6, her aunt and
uncle, P.W 7 and 8 respectively. All these witnesses have spoken in unison with
regard to payment of Rs. 1 lakh, five bhories of gold and other articles as dowry as
per demand at the time of marriage. They also deposed with regard to torture upon
the victim owing to further demands of dowry. These witnesses have been extensively
cross-examined on behalf of the defence about the lack of financial capacity of P.W 3
to give costly gifts i.e. Rs. 1 lakh and five bhories gold as dowry as he is a day
labourer. In cross examination, P.W 3 has categorically explained the source of funds
for giving such expensive gift. He stated he owns 2/3 bighas of landed proprety and 4
bighas as a share cropper. He had sold 800 bags of potatos and 40 bags of paddy to
procure Rs. 1 lakh.
In the light of the aforesaid evidence clearly disclosing the source of money for
giving dowry, I have no reason to disbelieve the prosecution evidence with regard to
giving of dowry as per demand of the accused persons at the time of marriage.
Further demand of dowry and torture on the housewife owing to inability of P.W 3 to
meet such demand was severely criticised on the ground that the prosecution
evidence lacks specification with regard to the date and time of such demand and
consequential torture. One ought not to be unmindful of the fact that the victim had
barely survived for four months at the matrimonial home. During this period on
repeated occasions over telephone she communicated her woes to her parents. Other
prosecution witnesses including P.W 4, a neighbour have corroborated such
evidence. Evidence on record, therefore, clearly shows that the demand of dowry was
a continuing affair which ultimately drove the victim to commit suicide.
In the backdrop of such evidence on record, it is absurd to reject prosecution
case on the premise specific dates of demand of dowry and/or torture have not been
narrated by the witnesses. It was a continuing event occurring on a day to day basis
in the matrimonial life of the victim.
It has been strenuously argued that reason for suicide is not torture in
connection with demands of dowry as proposed by the prosecution but the fact that
a previous marriage of the appellant had been suppressed from the victim girl.
Suggestion in this regard has been squarely denied by the witnesses. No evidence is
also forthcoming to probabilise such desperate hypothesis engineered by the defence.
On the other hand, evidence of P.W 11, the mother of the earlier wife of the
appellant, shows that the appellant used to assault and torture his previous wife
also. Bad conduct of the appellant in his previous marriage is, therefore, proved
In the light of the aforesaid discussion, I am convinced that the evidence on
record clearly establishes the ingredients of the offence of dowry death beyond doubt
against the appellant. Victim committed suicide within four months of marriage.
There was continuos torture on the victim over further demands of dowry and the
live link between such torture and her ultimate unnatural demise is clear and
In the light of the aforesaid facts, it was incumbent on the appellant to rebut
the statutory presumption under section 113B of the Evidence Act which he has
singularly failed to do. Desperate plea that the victim committed suicide as previous
marriage of the appellant had been supressed from her is not born out from the
records of the case. Finally, it has been argued as the co-accused persons have been
acquitted, similar benefit ought to be extended to the appellant.
I am unable to accept such contention. Appellant is the husband of the victim
housewife and the latter committed suicide in the room which was occupied by the
couple. Appellant had tortured his earlier wife also.
Keeping in mind the aforesaid conspectus of circumstances, I am of the
opinion that the appellant does not stand on the same footing with the acquitted
accused persons. Ample evidence of torture of the housewife by the acquitted
accuseds have come on record. In view of the aforesaid facts, I have considerable
doubt with regard to the correctness of such conclusion. However, in the absence of
an appeal against their acquittal, I refrain from making any further comment with
regard thereto. Therefore, I am loath to extend the benefit of such unmerited
acquittal to the appellant in the facts of the case.
Conviction and sentence of the appellant is, accordingly upheld.
Period of detention suffered by the appellants during investigation, enquiry
and trial shall be set off from the substantive sentence imposed upon him in terms of
428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.
Copy of the judgment along with L.C.R. be sent down to the trial court at once.
Urgent Photostat Certified copy of this order, if applied for, be supplied
expeditiously after complying with all necessary legal formalities.
(Suvra Ghosh, J.) (Joymalya Bagchi, J.)