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Bhagwan Singh & Another vs State Of U.P. on 28 September, 2018

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

AFR

Reserved

Court No.:- 42

Case :- CRIMINAL APPEAL No. – 164 of 2010

Appellant :- Bhagwan Singh Another

Respondent :- State Of U.P.

Counsel for Appellant :- Apul Misra,Brij Raj Singh,Noor Mohammad,P.N. Misra,R.P.S.Chauhan

Counsel for Respondent :- Govt. Advocate

Hon’ble Arvind Kumar Mishra-I,J.

Hon’ble Chandra Dhari Singh,J.

(Delivered by Hon.Chandra Dhari Singh,J.)

01. Heard Shri Noor Mohammad, learned counsel for the appellant and Sri Vivhav Anand Singh, learned AGA for the State and perused the entire record.

02. The instant criminal appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated 18.12.2009 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Court no.9, Aligarh in Sessions Trial No.986 of 2004, State vs. Bhagwan Singh and another, whereby the Additional Sessions Judge convicted the appellants Bhagwan Singh and Smt. Shanti Devi for the offence punishable under Sections 3/4 of D. P. Act and Sections 498-A and 304-B I.P.C. and sentenced them to undergo two years R.I. and fine of Rs.1000/ under Section 3/4 D. P. Act -. In default of payment of fine, they shall further undergo two months simple imprisonment. The appellants were also sentenced to undergo three years R.I. with fine of Rs.2000/- under Section 498-A I.P.C. In default of payment of fine, they shall further undergo three months simple imprisonment. They were also sentenced to undergo life imprisonment under Section 304-B I.P.C. All the sentences shall run concurrently.

03. Since argument has been advanced and confined to the point of quantum of sentence, details of entire facts need not be elaborated here as the same have been detailed in the judgment of the trial court, however, relevant facts are being narrated for purpose of understanding of the case.

04. Case of the prosecution in nutshell is that the deceased Gudiya got married to accused appellant no.1 Bhagwan Singh on 22.02.2003 as per Hidnu Rites and Rituals. At point of time Rs.3 lac was spent by the parents of the deceased as dowry but in-laws of the deceased were not happy with the amount of dowry. They started demanding Rs.30,000/- more for the same. They started torturing the deceased about which the deceased informed her parents in October, 2003, when she went her matrimonial house on the death of her brother. Her parents provided Rs.10,000/- to the appellants while informing that their financial condition is not well and only this much could have been managed. After getting Rs.10,000/-, mother-in-law of the deceased namely Shanti Devi gave assurance to the parents of the deceased and to complainant-P.W.1 (cousin of the deceased) that the deceased will not be tortured in future. Unfortunately, on 07.07.2004, it was informed by elder sister of the deceased through telephone around 9.30 A.M. that the deceased was burnt by her-in-laws and had been taken to District Hospital and her mother-in-law and husband had absconded. When the complainant reached hospital and met deceased, the deceased informed him that she had been burnt by her-in-laws. Information was provided to the police station Quarsi, District Aligarh and dying declaration of the deceased was recorded after obtaining medical certificate by the Doctor, wherein she specifically stated that her husband and mother-in-law had set her on fire. Initially an F.I.R. was registered under Sections 498-A and 307 I.P.C. and Section 3/4 of D. P. Act, but after death of the deceased on 10.07.2004 case under Section 307 I.P.C. was converted to Section 304-B I.P.C.. After completion of the investigation chargesheet was filed, subsequent to which, charges under Sections 498-A and 304-B I.P.C. and 3/4 of D. P. Act were framed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Aligarh on 04.01.2005 in Sessions Trial No.596 of 2004. The appellants herein abjured their guilt and pleaded for trial. The prosecution was required to adduce its testimony, whereupon prosecution produced in all fourteen witnesses. Brief sketch of the same is as herein under:-

Ramesh Singh PW-1 is the cousin brother of the deceased and informant in this case and proved the written report, Exhibit Ka-1. Rajendra Singh PW-2 and Virendra Singh P.W.3 are cousin brother of the deceased. Murari Lal P.W.4 is witness of inquest report, Exhibit Ka-2. Devendra Singh P.W.5 is the scribe of first information report, Exhibit Ka-1. Raj Kumar P.W.6, Sri Sundar Singh P.W.7 and Arun Kumar P.W.8 are witness of inquest report. Dr. M.K. Tandon P.W.9 has proved the fact that he certified about the condition of the deceased- Gudiya on 7.7.2004 whereafter her dying declaration was recorded. He has proved his certification as Exhibit Ka-3. Sangam Lal Yadav P.W.10 has prepared inquest report of deceased on 10.7.2004 and has proved the entire process. Constable Kunwar Pal P.W.11 has made relevant entries in the concerned Check FIR and the concerned General Diary of dated 8.7.2004. Gaya Prasad P.W.12 is the Naib Tehsildar, who recorded statement of deceased Gudiya prior to her death in Malkhan Singh Hospital on 7.7.2004. Dr. S.P. Gupta P.W.13 has conducted postmortem examination on the cadaver of deceased Gudiya on 10.7.2004 at Mortuary, Aligarh. Sunil Kumar Singh P.W.14 is the Investigating officer of this case, who took over investigation on 10.7.2004. He has filed the charge- sheet Exhibit Ka-11.

Thereafter, the trial court itself has examined Sujan Singh as a court witness no.1. He is the father of deceased Gudiya. Similarily, the trial court examined Smt. Sheela (bhabhi of deceased Gudiya) as a court witness no.2.

Thereafter, evidence for the prosecution was closed and statement of accused was recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C., wherein accused claimed various grounds for their innocence and submitted that some litigation was going on between accused side and the elder sister of the deceased due to which false allegations have been made.

Defence did not lead any oral testimony. However, they filed certain papers pertaining to the litigation concerning paper nos.124 Kha, 125 Kha of Original Suit No.79 of 1998, Kailash Singh Vs. Shanti Devi and others.

No other testimony was adduced by the defence except as above, therefore, evidence for the defence was also closed and Additional Sessions Judge, court no.9, Aligarh after vetting the merit of the case and appraisal of facts and circumstances returned aforesaid findings of conviction against the appellants vide judgment an order dated 18.12.2009.

Consequently, this appeal.

05. Learned counsel for the appellants while submitting submissions has confined his argument only with respect to the quantum of sentence awarded by the trial court. On the other hand learned counsel appearing for the State has supported the impugned judgment dated 18.12.2009 and has argued that sentence of the appellants should not be reduced.

06. Learned counsel for the appellants in support of his submissions has relied upon following judgments of the Supreme Court:-

(i) In the case of G. V. Siddaramesh vs. State of Karnataka (2010) 3 SCC 152, in which the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:-

“30) On the point of sentence, learned counsel for the appellant pointed out that the appellant is in jail for more than six years. The appellant was young at the time of incident and therefore, the sentence awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the High Court may be modified. In so far as sentencing under the section is concerned, a three Judge Bench of this court in case of Hemchand v. State of Haryana, has observed that:(SSCp.731.para 7)

“Section 304-B merely raises a presumption of dowry death and lays down that the minimum sentence should be 7 years, but it may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore, awarding the extreme punishment of imprisonment for life should be used in rare cases and not in every case.”

Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, this court reduced the sentence from life imprisonment awarded by the High Court to 10 years R.I on the above principle.

31) In conclusion, we are satisfied that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant was rightly convicted under Section 304-B IPC. However, his sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the courts below appears to us to be excessive. The appellant is a young man and has already undergone 6 years of imprisonment after being convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court. We are of the view, in the facts and circumstances of the case, that a sentence of 10 years rigorous imprisonment would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly while confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 304-B IPC, reduce the sentence of imprisonment for life to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. The other conviction and sentence passed against the appellant are confirmed.”

(ii) In the case of V. K. Mishra and another vs. State of Uttarakhand reported in LAWS (SC)-2015-7-65 the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:-

“38. For the offence under Section 304B IPC, the punishment is imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. Section 304B IPC thus prescribes statutory minimum of seven years. In Kulwant Singh Ors. vs. State of Punjab, (2013) 4 SCC 177, while dealing with dowry death Sections 304B and 498A IPC in which death was caused by poisoning within seven years of marriage conviction was affirmed. In the said case, the father-in-law was about eighty years and his legs had been amputated because of severe diabetes and mother-in-law was seventy eight years of age and the Supreme Court held impermissibility of reduction of sentence on the ground of sympathy below the statutory minimum.

39. As per prison records, the accused-Rahul Mishra is in custody for more than five years which includes remission. Bearing in mind the facts and circumstances of the case and the occurrence was of the year 1997 and that the accused Rahul Mishra is in custody for more than five years, interest of justice would be met if life imprisonment awarded to him is reduced to imprisonment for a period of ten years. Appellants V.K. Mishra and Neelima Mishra, each of them have undergone imprisonment of more than one year. Appellants No. 1 and 2 are aged about seventy and sixty four years and are said to be suffering from various ailments. Considering their age and ailments and facts and circumstances of the case, life imprisonment imposed on appellants V.K. Mishra and Neelima Mishra is also reduced to imprisonment of seven years each.

40. In the result while we uphold the conviction of the appellants under Section 304B IPC and other offences, sentence of life imprisonment imposed on Rahul Mishra is reduced to ten years. So also the sentence of life imprisonment imposed on V.K. Mishra and Neelima Mishra is reduced to seven years each. The conviction of the appellants for other offences and sentence of imprisonment imposed on each one of them are confirmed. Judgment of the High Court shall stand modified to the above extent and the appeals partly allowed and disposed off.”

(iii) In the case of Hem Chand vs. State of Haryana (1994) 6 SCC 727 the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:-

“7.Now coming to the question of sentence, it can be seen that Section 304-B I.P.C. lays down that

“Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.”

The point for consideration is whether the extreme punishment of imprisonment for life is warranted in the instant case, A reading of Section 304-B I.P.C, would show that when a question arises whether a person has committed the offence of dowry death of a woman that all that is necessary is it should be shown that soon before her unnatural death, which took place within seven years of the marriage, the deceased had been subjected, by such person, to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with demand for dowry. If that is shown then the court shall presume that such a person has caused the dowry death. It can therefore be seen that irrespective of the fact whether such person is directly responsible for the death of the deceased or not by virtue of the presumption, he is deemed to have committed the dowry death if there were such cruelty or harassment and that if the unnatural death has occurred within seven years from the date of marriage. Likewise there is a presumption under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act as to the dowry death. It lays down that the court shall presume that the person who has subjected the deceased wife to cruelty before her death shall presume to have caused the dowry death if it is shown that before her death, such woman had been subjected, by the accused, to cruelty or harassment in connection with any demand for dowry. Practically this is the presumption that has been incorporated in Section 304-B I.P.C. also. It can therefore be seen that irrespective of the fact whether the accused has any direct connection with the death or not, he shall be presumed to have committed the dowry death provided the other requirements mentioned above are satisfied. In the instant case no doubt the prosecution has proved that the deceased died an unnatural death namely due to strangulation, but there is no direct evidence connecting the accused. It is also important to note in this context that there is no charge under Section 302 I.P.C. The trial court also noted that there were two sets of medical evidence on the file in respect of the death of the deceased. Dr. Usha Rani, P.W. 6 and Dr. Indu Latit, P.W. 7 gave one opinion. According to them no injury was found on the dead body and that the same was highly decomposed. On the other hand, Dr. Dalbir Singh, P.W. 13 who also examined the dead body and gave his opinion, deposed that he noticed some injuries at the time of re-post mortem examination. Therefore at the most it can be said that the prosecution proved that it was an unnatural death in which case also Section 304-B I.P.C. would be attracted. But this aspect has certainly to be taken into consideration in balancing the sentence to be awarded to the accused. As a matter of fact, the trial court only found that the death was unnatural and the aspect of cruelty has been established and therefore the offences punishable under Sections 304-B and 201 I.P.C. have been established. The High Court in a very short judgment concluded that it was fully proved that the death of the deceased in her matrimonial home was a dowry death otherwise than in normal circumstances as a result of cruelty meted out to her and therefore an offence under Section 304-B I.P.C. was made out. Coming to the sentence the High Court pointed out that the accused-appellant was a police employee and instead of checking the crime he himself indulged therein and precipitated in it and that bride killing cases are on the increase and therefore a serious view has to be taken. As mentioned above Section 304-B I.P.C. only raises presumption and lays down that minimum sentence should be seven years but it may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore awarding extreme punishment of imprisonment for life should be in rare cases and not in every case.

Hence, we are of the view that a sentence of 10 years’ R.I. would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly while confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 304-B I.P.C. reduce the sentence of imprisonment for life to 10 years’ R.I. The other conviction and sentence passed against the appellant are, however, confirmed. In the result, the appeal is dismissed subject to the above modification of sentence.”

(iv) In the case of Hari Om vs. State of Haryana and another (2014) 10 SCC 577 the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:-

“17. This issue has been the subject matter of debate before this Court in several cases, which arose out of Section 304-B read with Section 498-B and wherein this Court while interpreting the expression “may” occurring in Section 304-B IPC held that it is not mandatory for the Court in every case to award life imprisonment to the accused once he is found guilty of offence under Section 304-B. It was held that the Court could award sentence in exercise of its discretion between seven years to life imprisonment depending upon the facts of each case. It was held that in no case it could be less than seven years and that extreme punishment of life term should be awarded in “rare cases” but not in every case.

18. In Hem Chand Vs. State of Haryana, (1994) 6 SCC 727, the courts below had awarded life term to the accused under Section 304-B read with Section 498-A but this Court reduced it to 10 years. This was also a case where the accused was a police officer who had suffered life imprisonment. This Court held as under:(SCC p.731 paras 7-8)

“7…….. the accused-appellant was a police employee and instead of checking the crime, he himself indulged therein and precipitated in it and that bride-killing cases are on the increase and therefore a serious view has to be taken. As mentioned above, Section 304-B IPC only raises presumption and lays down that minimum sentence should be seven years but it may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore awarding extreme punishment of imprisonment for life should be in rare cases and not in every case.

8. Hence, we are of the view that a sentence of 10 years’ RI would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly while confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 304-B IPC, reduce the sentence of imprisonment for life to 10 years’ RI. ….”

19. Similarly this Court in State of Karnataka Vs. M.V. Manjunathegowda and Anr., (2003) 2 SCC 188, while convicting the accused under Section 304-B awarded 10 years imprisonment in somewhat similar facts.

20. Recently in G.V. Siddaramesh Vs. State of Karnataka, (2010) 3 SCC 152, this Court while allowing the appeal filed by the accused only on the question of sentence altered the sentence from life term to 10 years on more or less similar facts. Hon’ble H. L. Dattu, J. (as His Lordship then was) speaking for the Bench held as under:

“31. In conclusion, we are satisfied that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant was rightly convicted under Section 304-B IPC. However, his sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the courts below appears to us to be excessive. The appellant is a young man and has already undergone 6 years of imprisonment after being convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court. We are of the view, in the facts and circumstances of the case, that a sentence of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly while confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 304-B IPC, reduce the sentence of imprisonment for life to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. The other conviction and sentence passed against the appellant are confirmed.”

07. The learned counsel for the State while countering the submissions made by learned counsel for the appellants submitted that having regard to totality of circumstances emerging from the evidence and the fact that a young woman was burnt to death within few months of her marriage, the award of sentence of life imprisonment to the appellants is fully justified and hence, this Court should not interfere in the quantum of sentence.

08. It is submitted by learned A.G.A. that the punishment for causing dowry death is imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. In the case of Dev Prasad vs. State of U.P. [2002 Cr.LJ 4291], it is observed that while an ordinary murder can be punished by a death sentence under Section 302 I.P.C., a dowry death, which is a much worse offence has a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

09. It is further submitted that an ordinary murder is committed in a fit of rage or for property, but a dowry death is not just an ordinary crime, it is a social crime. It outrages the modern conscience and makes the whole of society revert to feudal barbarism.

10. Though, the appellants did not make any attempt to assail the finding of his conviction on merit, yet with a view to satisfy ourselves as to whether the finding of the court below on conviction are legally sustainable or not, we perused the record and especially the evidence. Having so perused, we are satisfied that no case is made out to interfere in finding of the court below on merits for the following reasons.

(i) Firstly, Gudia sustained burn injury and died within few months of her marriage. This even attracted rigors of Section 304 B read with Section 498A I.P.C. and Section 113 B of Evidence Act, 1872 .

(ii) Secondly, her death was due to persistent illegal demand of dowry made by the appellants one after the other to Gudia and to her parents.

(iii) Thirdly, the death of Gudia had direct nexus with demand of dowry duly proved by evidence and dying declaration mentioning therein the reasons.

(iv) Fourthly, the dying declaration was duly proved by the concerned witnesses.

(v) Fifthly, the defence was not able to demolish or weaken the prosecution case on any of these material issues.

(vi) Lastly, in the light of these established facts, a clear case under Section 304-B read with Section 498-A I.P.C. and Section 113 B of the Evidence Act for drawing presumption as to dowry death under Section 304 B was made out against the appellants.

11. We, therefore, on our part uphold the finding of conviction and hold that the court below was justified in holding the appellants to be guilty of committing the offences punishable under Section 304-B read with Section 498-A I.P.C., which caused the death of deceased Gudiya.

12. Now, the question arises as to whether, we should reduce the sentence imposed on appellants and if so, to what extent, as urged by the learned counsel for the appellants.

13. Before examining submission of learned counsel for the appellants about the quantum of punishment on merit it would be useful to reproduce Section 304-B I.P.C.:-

“304B. Dowry death.–

(1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or har­assment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death. Explanation.–For the purpose of this sub-section, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprison­ment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.]”

14. Perusal of Section 304-B IPC clearly shows that in a case where wife dies under suspicious circumstances and if it is a homicidal death which takes place within seven years of the marriage, then there is a presumption that the accused and his relatives are responsible for the death of the wife and the burden is cast on the accused to rebut the said presumption.

15. The expression ‘may’ occurring in Section 304-B I.P.C., it is not mandatory for the court in every case to award life imprisonment to the accused once he is found guilty of offence under Section 304-B I.P.C. The Court could award sentence in exercise of its discretion between seven years to life imprisonment depending upon the facts of each case. In the case it could be less than seven years and that extreme punishment of life term should be awarded in ‘rare cases’ but not in every case.

16. The offence of dowry death has been inserted in the I.P.C. as Section 304-B by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986. Section 304-B has been inserted with a view to curb the growing atrocities against women, when thousands of young women were done to death due to failure to pay up the dowry demanded. Section 304-B I.P.C. does not explain the term cruelty. However, Section 498-A I.P.C., which was inserted by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986, explains as to what amounts to ‘cruelty’ thus: “whoever, being the husband or relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

17. In the case of Hem Chand Vs. State of Haryana, (1994) 6 SCC 727, the courts below had awarded life term to the accused under Section 304-B I.P.C. read with Section 498-A I.P.C. but this Court reduced it to 10 years. This was also a case where the accused was a police officer who had suffered life imprisonment. This Court held as under:

“7…….. the accused-appellant was a police employee and instead of checking the crime, he himself indulged therein and precipitated in it and that bride-killing cases are on the increase and therefore a serious view has to be taken. As mentioned above, Section 304-B I.P.C. only raises presumption and lays down that minimum sentence should be seven years but it may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore awarding extreme punishment of imprisonment for life should be in rare cases and not in every case.

8. Hence, we are of the view that a sentence of 12 years’ RI would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly while confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 304-B I.P.C., reduce the sentence of imprisonment for life to 10 years’ RI…..”

18. In the case of G.V. Siddaramesh Vs. State of Karnataka, (2010) 3 SCC 152, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while allowing the appeal filed by the accused only on the question of sentence altered the sentence from life term to 10 years on more or less similar facts. Hon’ble H. L. Dattu, J. (as His Lordship then was) speaking for the Bench held as under:

“31. In conclusion, we are satisfied that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant was rightly convicted under Section 304-B I.P.C. However, his sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the courts below appears to us to be excessive. The appellant is a young man and has already undergone 6 years of imprisonment after being convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court. We are of the view, in the facts and circumstances of the case, that a sentence of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly while confirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 304-B I.P.C., reduce the sentence of imprisonment for life to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. The other conviction and sentence passed against the appellant are confirmed.”

19. In the case of Sunil Dutt Sharma vs. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) (2014) 4 SCC 375, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:-

“5.The power and authority conferred by use of the different expressions noticed above indicate the enormous discretion vested in the Courts in sentencing an offender who has been found guilty of commission of any particular offence. No where, either in the Penal Code or in any other law in force, any prescription or norm or even guidelines governing the exercise of the vast discretion in the matter of sentencing have been laid down except perhaps, Section 354(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which, inter-alia, requires the judgment of a Court to state the reasons for the sentence awarded when the punishment prescribed is imprisonment for a term of years. In the above situation, naturally, the sentencing power has been a matter of serious academic and judicial debate to discern an objective and rational basis for the exercise of the power and to evolve sound jurisprudential principles governing the exercise thereof.”

20. In the case of V. K. Mishra and another vs. State of Uttrakhand and another (2015) 9 SCC 588, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held:-

“42. For the offence under Section 304B IPC, the punishment is imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. Section 304B IPC thus prescribes statutory minimum of seven years. In Kulwant Singh Ors. vs. State of Punjab, (2013) 4 SCC 177, while dealing with dowry death Sections 304B and 498A IPC in which death was caused by poisoning within seven years of marriage conviction was affirmed. In the said case, the father-in-law was about eighty years and his legs had been amputated because of severe diabetes and mother-in-law was seventy eight years of age and the Supreme Court held impermissibility of reduction of sentence on the ground of sympathy below the statutory minimum.”

21. As per the report of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aligarh, the appellant no.2 is reported to have died and vide order dated 23.04.2015 of this Court, the criminal appeal on her behalf has already stood abated. Now the only surviving appellant is appellant no.1, Bhagwan Singh.

22. The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the surviving appellant has pointed out the mitigating circumstances in the present case to reduce the sentence. It is further submitted that after the death of his first wife Gudia, the appellant got married second time and from his second wife, he has two children aged about 10 years and 8 years. There is no earning member in family of appellant to survive the minor children and second wife. Second wife is also not keeping well and entire family is facing great starvation and hardship. The appellant is languishing in jail for long time and there is no complaint about his conduct in the jail. He was on bail during trial, he has also not misused the liberty of bail.

23. Learned counsel for the appellant has placed reliance upon the case of Ranjt Singh vs. State of Punjab reported in (2013) 12 SCC 333 and submitted that in this case the deceased was died within four months of the marriage by throttling/strangulation. The Hon’ble Apex Court in this case modified the sentence only on the basis of mitigating circumstances at paragraph no.26 of the judgment at the end of argument the learned counsel for the appellant made an alternative submission and requested to took a lenient view in view of the fact that after death of Jaswinder Kaur (first wife) the appellant got married second time and from his second wife he has three children out of which one son is handicapped and his mother is also paralyzed. Taking into consideration the aforesaid fact, we reduce the sentence awarded under Section 304-B I.P.C. to seven years along with the sentence of two years imposed under Section 498A I.P.C.

24. Applying the principle of law laid down in the aforementioned cases, having regard to the totality of facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the considered opinion that the ends of justice would meet, if we reduce the sentence of the appellant no.1 Bhagwan Singh awarded for charge under Section 304-B I.P.C. from life imprisonment to that of 10 years. In our view, this case does not fall in the category of “rare case” as envisaged by the Hon’ble Apex Court so as to award to the appellant no.1 life imprisonment. That apart, we also notice that while awarding life imprisonment, the court below did not assign any specific and substantial reasons.

25. In the light of foregoing discussion, the appeal succeeds and is allowed in part. While conviction of the appellant no.1, Bhagwan Singh under Section 304-B, 498-A I.P.C. and 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act is upheld, the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to the appellant no.1 is altered and modified to 10 years R.I. However, the sentence imposed by the trial court for other charges 498-A I.P.C. and 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act shall remain intact. Sentences to run concurrently. Accordingly, the impugned judgment and order dated 18.12.2009 stands modified to the extent as above. If the appellant has already undergone 10 years, he will be released on bail forthwith, if he is not required in any other criminal case.

26. Office is directed to communicate this order to the court concerned to ensure compliance and further send back the lower court record.

27. Judgment be certified and be placed on record.

Order Date:-.28th September, 2018

Asha

(Chandra Dhari Singh,J.) (Arvind Kumar Mishra-I,J.)

 

 

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