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Bhera @ Bheru Lal vs State on 15 February, 2019

D.B. Criminal Appeal No. 1067/2011

Bhera @ Bheru Lal S/o Shri Jeeva Meena, by caste Meena, aged
about 23 years, Resident of Nichal Karcha, P.S. Kherwada,
(Presently lodged in Central Jail, Udaipur)
State of Rajasthan

For Appellant : Mr. Shambhoo Singh
For Respondent(s) : Mr. J.P.S. Choudhary, PP



Per Honble Mr. Vinit Mathur, J.


The instant appeal under Section 374(2) Cr.P.C. has

been preferred by the appellant Bhera @ Bheru Lal against the

judgment dated 19/12/2011, passed by learned Additional

Sessions Judge, Fast Track No.3, Udaipur Headquarter, Salumbar

in Sessions Case No.50/2011, whereby the accused-appellant has

been convicted and sentenced as under :-

Offence Sentence Fine In default
302 IPC Life Imprisonment Rs. 3000/- 3 months’ R.I.
304-B IPC Life Imprisonment Rs.3,000/- 3 months’ R.I.
498-A IPC Two and half years Rs.1,000/- 15 days R.I.
rigorous imprisonment
(2 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

The prosecution story as narrated in the written complaint

(Ex.P.5) filed by Narayan (PW.3), father of the deceased Reena on

01/03/2011 wherein he stated that his daughter Reena @ Veena

was married to the appellant Bhera ten months ago. When his

daughter came home on the occasion of Rakhi, she informed that

the appellant was harassing her with a demand of Rs. 20,000/-.

Since, he had no money, therefore, she went back empty handed

to her in-laws’ house after staying with him for five days. Again a

demand of Rs. 15,000/- was raised by the appellant but since he

had no money, the same could not be fulfilled. Two days prior to

the date of incident, his daughter came and took away her entire

jewelery. On being asked, she informed that her in-laws had asked

her to bring the same. A day later, brother-in-law of his daughter

Veena informed that she had sustained burn injuries. The same

was informed to him by his wife on telephone at Ahemadabad

where he was working as a labour. On getting the information, he

and his cousin brother Jeevat Ram etc. went to Udaipur. When

they saw Veena in the hospital, she was not in a position to speak.

He suspected that his daughter had been burnt by the appellant

when the demand of dowry was not fulfilled or she might have

committed suicide on being harassed by the appellant.

On the aforesaid complaint, a formal FIR No.55/2011 was

registered against the accused for the offence under Section 304-

B IPC at the Police Station Kherwada, District Udaipur. During the

course of investigation, the police added Section 498A IPC in the


After completion of investigation, police filed a charge-sheet

against the accused-appellant for the offences under Sections

304-B and 498A IPC.

(3 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

Learned Trial Court framed, read over and explained the

charges for the offences under Sections 302, 304B and 498A of

I.P.C to the accused appellant who denied the charges and sought


During the trial, the prosecution examined as many as 10

witnesses and exhibited 18 documents. Two witnesses Jeeva DW.1

and Bhera DW.2 were examined in defence and as many as 3

documents were exhibited .

The accused-appellant was examined under Section 313

Cr.P.C. and he was confronted with the evidence adduced against

him during the course of trial to which he denied and stated that

he was innocent and falsely implicated in this case.

Learned trial Court, after hearing the arguments from both

the sides, taking into consideration and appreciating the

documentary evidence and the statement of witnesses, convicted

and sentenced the accused-appellant vide judgment dated

19/12/2011. Hence this appeal.

We have heard learned counsel for the appellant and the

learned Public Prosecutor.

Learned counsel for the appellant has vehemently submitted

that the appellant and the complainant belong to Meena

Community of Kherwada District Udaipur where there is no custom

of giving dowry. More over, in the present case, dowry was neither

asked for nor the same was given at the time of marriage by the

complainant. He further submits that the allegation of demand of

dowry as portrayed in the statements of PW.3 Narayan Lal, PW.4

Jeevat Ram and PW.5 Mani Devi is false and frivolous. He further
(4 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

submits that it has come on record that a Bajanti (traditional

ornament) was presented by the family of the appellant to father

of the deceased, Narain Lal. Besides this, other gifts were given to

the deceased Veena from the matrimonial side at the time of

marriage. Counsel submits that neither any complaint was made

nor any Panchayat was held with respect to demand of dowry

being raised or harassment being meted out to the deceased by

the appellant and his family. He, therefore, submits that the

allegation of harassment or demand of dowry is sheerly a false

and fabricated.

Learned counsel further argues that the deceased was

suffering from Epilepsy for which she was taken to Ahemdabad

and other places by the accused and expenditure of treatment was

borne mostly by the family of the appellant. The relationship

between the appellant and his wife and other members of the

family was cordial. Immediately on getting the information that

the deceased sustained burn injuries, it was the appellant and his

family members who rushed her to the hospital and informed the

mother and father of the deceased on telephone. Had there been

any ill-will on the part of the appellant, he would not have

immediately informed the parents of the deceased.

Learned counsel on the strength of these arguments submits

that the prosecution could not prove beyond the pale of doubt that

present appellant was guilty of the offences alleged in the present

case and therefore, the learned trial court committed grave factual

and legal error while convicting and sentencing the accused-

appellant for the alleged offence as above vide Judgment dated
(5 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

19/12/2011, which warrants interference by this Court and the

accused-appellant may be acquitted from the charge levelled

against him.

On the contrary, learned public prosecutor submits that

within a short span of ten months of marriage, Smt. Veena wife of

the appellant died in unnatural circumstances, therefore, the

presumption of an unnatural death within a period of seven years

clearly brings the appellant within the ambit of Section 304B IPC.

He further submits that the allegation that the deceased was

harassed and humiliated in the matrimonial home on account of

demand of dowry is proved conclusively by the evidence of PW.3

Narayan Lal, father of the deceased; PW.4 Jeevat Ram, uncle of

the deceased; PW.5 Smt. Mani Devi, mother of the deceased and

PW.6 Mani Lal, uncle of the deceased. Thus, as per him, the

prosecution has been able to prove the charges levelled against

the appellant by clinching evidence and by virtue of the

presumption under Section 113 B of the Indian Evidence Act. The

testimony of these witnesses is thoroughly corroborated by the

medical evidence in the form of statement of PW.9 Dr. Anupam

Johari who conducted the autopsy of deceased Veena and stated

that the cause of death was shock and secondary bacterial

infection which developed in the extensive burn injury sufficient

to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Besides this, the

postmortem report (Ex.P.9) also shows the cause of death was

shock due to septicemia caused by secondary bacterial infection

over the extensive burn area sufficient to cause death in ordinary

course of nature. He urged that the learned trial Court, after

analyzing the evidence on record and appreciating the facts of the
(6 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

case, has rightly convicted the appellant vide judgment dated

19/12/2011 which calls for no interference by this Court.

We have considered the submissions made at bar and closely

scrutinized the record of the trial Court.

PW.3 Narayan Lal, being the father of the deceased stated

that Reena was married to the appellant ten months before the

incident and all throughout this period, she was harassed by the

appellant for bringing Rs.20,000/- and Rs.15,000/-. She was

assaulted on three occasions and on each time, Reena came to his

house and was counselled and sent back. Last time when she

came, she took away the ornaments. She was burnt alive after

pouring kerosene on her body. When the incident happened and

his wife informed him about the same, he was at Ahmedabad. He

lodged the report to the police under his signatures.

In the cross-examination, this witness deposed that at the

time of marriage, he asked the appellant for a Bajanti (traditional

ornament). He further stated that although there was custom of

taking Dapa from the groom’s family but he did not take any Dapa

in the marriage and, no other custom was prevalent in their

community. His daughter was quite fair and beautiful but the

accused was very ordinary looking and had her daughter seen the

appellant Bhera beforehand, she would not have married him.

Neither any complaint was lodged for harassment being meted out

to his daughter for not bringing dowry nor any Panchayat was held

for the same.

PW.4 Jevat Ram, being the uncle of the deceased stated

almost on the same lines as stated by PW.3 Narayan Lal. He

stated that neither any complaint was lodged against the appellant
(7 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

or his family for harassing the deceased Veena nor was any

Panchayat held for such allegations.

PW.5 Smt. Mani Devi, mother of the deceased also stated

almost on the same lines as deposed by PW.3 Narayan Lal.

However, in the cross-examination, she stated that when her

daughter Veena went to her matrimonial home, she was not

keeping well. For treatment of Veena, she was taken to Village

Godi where her in-laws also accompanied them and they also

spent about Rs.700-800. Thereafter, there was significant

improvement in her health. She was taken to different temples

and offerings were made.

PW.6 Manilal, uncle of the deceased also deposed on the

same lines as stated by PW.3 Narayan Lal. He also admitted that

no complaint was ever lodged before any authority regarding

harassment against her in-laws.

PW.9 Dr. Anupam Johari who conducted the postmortem

stated that body of deceased Veena was 95% burnt and cause of

death was shock and infection because of excessive burn injury

which was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of


PW.10 Jeevan Singh is the Investigating Officer who

investigated the matter. During the course of investigation, he

recorded statements of witnesses, collected samples, prepared

memos in accordance with the provisions of law and submitted the

charge sheet before the Court of competent jurisdiction.

D.D.1 Jeeva, father of the accused appeared and deposed

before the Court that Veena was suffering from illness right from

inception of her marriage. The illness was something like Epilepsy

due to which she used to suffer from convulsions and would often
(8 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

fall down while walking. He took her to Ahemdabad for treatment

along with her father and his son. She was also taken to different

temples including one at Village Godi. The relationship between

her and her husband was quite normal and cordial. At the time of

incident, he was in Ahemdabad and on getting the information, he

reached to the hospital at Udaipur where he was informed that

Veena had caught fire while preparing tea and was burnt.

D.D.2 Bheru also stated similar to the statement made by his

father D.D.1. He further stated that while preparing tea on stove,

his wife caught fire and sustained burn injuries. He took her to the

hospital and informed his in-laws.

Postmortem Report is Ex.P.9 wherein the cause of death was

shown as “shock due to septicemia caused by secondary bacterial

infection over extensive burnt area sufficient to cause death in

ordinary course of nature by its own”.

On a close scrutiny of the testimony of PW.3 Narayan Lal and

PW.5 Mani Devi, we note that the allegation of demand of dowry

is wholly unfounded because no custom of dowry is prevalent in

the community to which the parties belong and on the contrary it

has come on record that at the time of marriage, the family of the

boy brings and offers ornaments, clothes etc. for the girl i.e. bride

and this custom is called ‘Dapa’. Therefore, the allegation of

demand of dowry is not really made out. It has also come on

record that father of the deceased asked the appellant to bring

Bajanti (traditional ornament) for his daughter Veena.

We further note that because of the illness of deceased

Veena, she was taken for treatment at different places. It has

come in the statement of PW.5 Smt. Mani Devi that the in laws not
(9 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

only accompanied Veena but they also spent certain amounts for

her treatment. Therefore, it can reasonably be inferred that the

relationship between deceased Veena and her in-laws including

her husband was not strained on account of demand of dowry as

alleged in the statements of prosecution witnesses. On a conjoint

reading of the statements of PW.3 Narayan Lal, PW.4 Jeevat Ram

and PW.6 Mani Lal, it is also clear that no complaint was ever

made for subjecting the deceased to maltreatment by appellant

and his family members. Not only this, no Panchayat was held for

the purpose in their Village or Society. Hence, we are persuaded to

take a view that never was any dispute between the two families

on account of demand of dowry.

We note that Veena was fair and beautiful and whereas the

appellant was of dark complexion and, therefore, it was probably a

mismatch of personalities between husband and wife, on account

of which there might have been altercations and possibility of

disputes and quarreling between the husband and wife on trivial

issues cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, the fact that the

deceased was suffering from an epilepsy type illness and the her

parental family members tried to hide this fact is also a significant

circumstance which creates a doubt on the bonafides of the

prosecution case. The possibility of strained relationship between

the appellant and his wife because of her illness which caused her

to suffer frequent bouts of convulsions and fainting can also not

be ruled out. To say the least, we are not convinced that the

prosecution has been able to bring home the allegation of

harassment to the deceased Veena for demand of dowry or not

meeting the demand for payment of cash.

(10 of 10) [CRLA-1067/2011]

In this background, we feel that rather than it being a case

of suicide committed by the deceased owing to harassment for

demand of dowry, it is a case wherein, the apparent disparity in

the build and complexion of the spouses and the ailment being

suffered by the deceased led to some altercations and the things

went beyond tolerance of the deceased who took the extreme step

of ending her life by self immolation. Thus, the case at best travels

within the preview of instigation meted out by the accused to the

deceased for committing suicide punishable under Section 306

IPC. Further the presumption of Section 113-A of the Evidence

Act supports our observation in the present case.

For the foregoing reasons, we feel persuaded to convert the

conviction of the appellant from the charges under Sections 302,

304-B to one under Section 306 IPC.

In view of the discussion made herein above, the present

appeal is partly allowed. The impugned judgment dated

19/12/2011 is modified and while acquitting the appellant from

the charge under Sections 302/304 B IPC, his conviction is altered

to the offence under Section 306 IPC and he is sentenced to seven

years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs.5,000/-. In default

to payment of fine, he shall further undergo two months rigorous

imprisonment. His conviction and sentence for the offence under

Section 498A IPC is maintained. The record of the trial court be

returned forthwith.



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