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Bhagirath And Ors vs State on 6 February, 2019

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR RAJASTHAN AT
JODHPUR
S.B. Criminal Appeal No. 898/2015

1. Bhagirath S/o Bhau Ram by caste Jat

2. Bhau Ram S/o Hanuwata Ram, by caste Jat

3. Smt.Shanti Devi W/o Bhau Ram, by caste Jat

All Resident of Bodwa, P.S.Kuchera, district Nagaur.

—-Appellants
Versus
State of Rajasthan

—-Respondent

For Appellant(s) : Mr.Nishant Bora with Ms.Chhavi Kalla
For Respondent(s) : Mr.O.P.Rathi, PP

HON’BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE PRADEEP NANDRAJOG

Judgment

06/02/2019

1. Heard learned counsel for the parties.

2. Bhagirath and his parents Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi have

been convicted for offences punishable under Sections 306/34,

498-A/34 and 201 IPC. For the offence of abetment to commit

suicide they have been sentenced to undergo SI for a period of

seven years and to pay fine in sum of ₹5000/-, in default to

undergo SI for six months. For the offence punishable under

Section 498A/34 IPC they have been sentenced to undergo SI for

two years and pay fine in sum of ₹2000/-, in default to undergo SI

for three months. For the offence punishable under Section 201

IPC they have been sentenced to undergo SI for one year and pay

fine in sum of ₹1000/-, in default to undergo SI for one month. All

sentences have been directed to run concurrently.

(2 of 5) [CRLA-898/2015]

3. Bhagirath has already undergone a sentence of 6 years 8

months and 17 days as on 24.1.2019. His parents have undergone

a sentence of 11 months and are on bail. Bhagirath is still in jail.

4. It is the case of the prosecution that Bhagirath’s wife named

Santosh committed suicide in her matrimonial house on 6.5.2012.

Since it is not in dispute that Santosh poured kerosene oil on

herself and set herself on fire resulting in extensive burn injuries

and due to shock caused thereby she died, I note only such

evidence which would be relevant to sustain the charge for having

abetted Santosh’s suicide. Abetment being in the form of

instigation by demanding dowry that Santosh was left with no

alternative but to end her life.

5. For the offence punishable under Section 201 IPC, I note

that there is evidence of the place where victim set herself on fire

was tampered with, in that, using cow-dung and mud an attempt

was made to re-plaster the place.

6. I note the testimony of the parents and relatives of Santosh

on the issue of dowry demand and harassment.

7. PW-2 Mohan Ram, a cousin of Santosh deposed that

marriage of Santosh was solemnized eight years back. She joined

company of her husband after two years of the marriage. After a

year or two of joining her husband in her matrimonial house, his

sister was troubled on account of dowry. Two children were born

to Santosh. On the 4th of the month when his sister died the

ceremony of the maternal-uncle of the girl to give gifts to her was

held and for which his sister had come to the parental house. On

the 5th his sister returned to her matrimonial house.

8. The next witness is PW-6 Chhoti Devi, the mother of

Santosh. She deposed that her daughter was married to Bhagirath
(3 of 5) [CRLA-898/2015]

and at the time of the marriage dowry was given in sum of ₹2.25

lacs as also jewellery. Immediately after the marriage dowry

demands were raised. ₹3 lacs and a motor-cycle were demanded.

On 4th her daughter had come to parental house for the ceremony

of “Mayara”. Santosh told her that two days prior her in-laws had

broken her mobile phone. Santosh returned to her matrimonial

house on the 5th.

9. PW-8 Ram Kishore, another cousin of Santosh deposed that

after the marriage his sister was harassed on account of dowry

demand. A motor-cycle and ₹1 lac were demanded.

10. PW-12 Budharam, the father of Santosh deposed that his

daughter was married eight years back and at the time of

marriage he gave ₹2 lacs and jewellery. The in-laws demanded a

motor-cycle and ₹3 lacs. She was harassed for said reason. On 4 th

his daughter had come to their house for the ceremony of

“Mayara”.

11. PW-17 Ramlal, the brother of Santosh also deposed that his

sister was married eight years back and joined company of her

husband after two years of the marriage. On account of demand

of a motor-cycle and ₹75,000/- his sister was being harassed by

her in-laws.

12. PW-20 Punaram, a cousin of Santosh also deposed that

Santosh was married 7-8 years ago and joined company of her

husband after two years. On account of dowry demand of

₹75,000/- his sister used to be troubled by her in-laws. After the

ceremony of “Mayara” his sister returned to the house of her in-

laws on 5th and died on the 6th.

(4 of 5) [CRLA-898/2015]

13. PW-24 Leela Devi, a relative of Santosh deposed that

Santosh was troubled by her in-laws and used to complain her

that reason thereof was her parents giving less dowry.

14. From a perusal of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses

it emerges that witnesses have spoken in the plural i.e. in-laws

demanding dowry without specifying whether it was the husband

or the mother-in-law or the father-in-law.

15. Relevant would it be to highlight that apart from there being

a consistent stand that a motor cycle was demanded, the money

demand varies between ₹75,000/- to ₹3 lacs. The witnesses have

not stated the day or even the month when the dowry was

demanded and on this aspect the learned Judge convicting the

appellants has held that it would be difficult for the witnesses to

remember the dates when dowry was demanded.

16. Suffice it to state that for the offence of abetment to suicide

if it is the case of the prosecution that the victim was instigated to

commit suicide on account of being troubled then harassment has

to be to such an extent that she was left with no option other than

to kill herself, the test of proximity between the date when the

victim took the extreme step and trouble inducing incitement to

do the act has to be established. Harassment by itself cannot

constitute abetment or instigation. Instigation means active

stimulus.

17. In the instant case, none has established. The conviction of

the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 306/34

IPC thus cannot be sustained.

18. Learned counsel for the appellants does not dispute the

offence concerning plastering of place of the crime using cow-dung

and mud and the presence of the appellants in the house.

(5 of 5) [CRLA-898/2015]

Effectively, the conviction of the appellants for the offence

punishable under Section 201 IPC is not challenged.

19. No serious attempt has been made to question the conviction

of the appellants for the offence punishable under Section

498A/34 IPC but the prayer made is that both parents Bhau Ram

and Shanti Devi be sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the

period which they have already undergone, which is 11 months.

As regards Bhagirath, he has already undergone a sentence much

beyond two years.

20. The appeal is disposed of acquitting the appellants for the

offence punishable under Section 306/34 IPC.

21. The appellants are convicted for the offences punishable

under Sections 498A/34 IPC and 201 IPC. For both offences I

inflict sentence of imprisonment for the period already undergone

by both parents Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi. Sentence of two

years imposed upon Bhagirath is maintained. He has already

undergone a sentence much beyond two years.

22. Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi have been admitted to bail. Their

bail bonds and surety bonds are therefore discharged.

23. Bhagirath is directed to be set free forthwith, if not required

in any other case.

(PRADEEP NANDRAJOG),CJ

5-Parmar/-

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