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Devi Ram vs State Of Haryana on 17 January, 2002

Devi Ram vs State Of Haryana on 17 January, 2002Equivalent citations: 2002 (50) BLJR 873, JT 2002 (2) SC 166, (2002) 10 SCC 76 Bench: N S Hegde, D Raju


1. The appellant before us challenges the conviction and sentence imposed on him by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh in criminal appeal No. 458-DBA of 1988. The appellant and four others were charged for an offence punishable under Section 306 read with Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code before the learned sessions judge, Hissar, on an allegation that they abetted the suicide of one Simla who was the daughter-in-law of the appellant. On a consideration of the evidence adduced in the trial, the sessions court came to the conclusion that the prosecution has not established the case for conviction against accused A2 and A5, and acquitted them of the charges framed against them. It convicted accused A1 and A4 for offences punishable under Sections 306 read with Section 498A IPC and sentenced them to undergo 5 years’ RI with a fine of Rs. 500/-each. In regard to accused A3 before it, the learned sessions judge by a convoluted reasoning held as follows: “A3 was the father of A1, He was old and feeble sighted. On facts and circumstances of the case, I feel that their complicity in the crime was not free from doubt.”

2. And based on the above finding, it acquitted the appellant herein. Against the said acquittal, the State of Punjab preferred an appeal against the acquittal of A2, A3 and A5 which includes the appellant herein, and the convicted persons, namely, A1 and A4 also preferred appeals against their conviction. The High Court on a re-appreciation of the evidence, allowed the state to appeal only against the appellant herein and convicted the appellant under Sections 306 read with Section 498A IPC and sentenced them to undergo RI for a period of 1 year under the said two sections and to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000/-, in default to undergo further RI for six months. It directed that the fine, if recovered, shall be paid to the father of the deceased. Since we are not concerned either with the appeal filed by the convicted accused or the revision filed by the father of the deceased, we will not dwell upon those facts.

3. It is contended on behalf of the appellant that the High Court has committed an error in misreading the evidence of DW2 who is the son-in-law of the appellant. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant took us through the evidence of DW2 and we find that this argument of the learned counsel is correct and nowhere in his evidence, DW2 had admitted that the appellant herein had beaten the deceased during her stay in the matrimonial home. To this extent, we find that the observation made in the judgment of the High Court is not correct. However, on a further perusal of the judgment it is seen that the conviction of the appellant by the High Court is not based on the sole evidence of DW2 but there are other materials in the prosecution evidence which, in our opinion, support, the finding of the High Court. It is seen from the evidence of PW2, on which the High Court has relied, that the appellant was a party to the demand of dowry made before the panchayat which was convened by the villagers to settle up the dispute. This convening of the panchayat is supported by the evidence of DW2 and it is clear from the evidence of panchayati witness PW2 that the appellant made a specific demand of Rs. 25,000/- from the father of the deceased. This evidence of PW2 has not been dislodged in any manner during the course of cross-examination and we find that the High Court aptly relied upon this evidence to find the appellant guilty of the charge framed against him. We also find that the reasoning adopted by the sessions judge for acquitting the appellant, which we have extracted hereinabove, is wholly unsustainable.

4. Learned counsel appearing for the appellant however, relied upon a judgment of this Court in Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhatisgarh wherein this Court while discussing the ingredients

of Section 113A of the Evidence Act held that before drawing a presumption under the said section, 3 ingredients should be satisfied. They are: (i) the woman has committed suicide; (ii) such suicide has been committed within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage; and (iii) the husband or his relatives, who are charged had subjected her to cruelty.

And contended that if the said test laid down in the case of Ramesh Kumar (supra) is applied to the facts of this case, the prosecution has failed to satisfy the said test. On the contrary, having carefully examined the evidence of the prosecution, we are satisfied that in regard to the first two tests laid down in Ramesh Kumar’s case (supra), the prosecution has proved that the deceased died of suicidal injuries and that the suicide had been committed within 7 years from the date of marriage which fact is not in dispute. In regard to the 3rd test, as discussed by us hereinabove, the evidence of PW2 clearly goes to show that the appellant specifically demanded a sum of Rs. 25,000/- as dowry for setting his son in business during the course of a panchayat. We have agreed with the findings of the High Court in this regard. Therefore, in our opinion, the third test laid down by this Court in Ramesh Kumar’s case (supra) is also satisfied.

5. After hearing learned counsel for the parties and considering the material on record, we are satisfied that the finding of the High Court is just and cannot be interfered with. However, the learned counsel for the appellant fervently pleaded that the appellant is an aged person and the incident in question has taken place as far back as 1987 and he has already served out a part of the sentence, therefore, the sentence of one year’s RI awarded by the High Court be reduced. We have heard learned counsel for the state on this count and are satisfied that this is a case in which we should, while upholding the conviction of the appellant, reduce the sentence to the period already undergone. We, however, direct the appellant to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000/- as directed by the High Court, and if the same is realised, it shall be paid to the father of the deceased Bimla. If for any reason, the fine is not realised then the appellant shall surrender to his bail bonds and serve out the sentence of 6 months RI, in default of payment of fine. The appellant is on bail. If he pays the fine imposed on him, the bail bonds shall stand discharged. If not, the appellant shall be arrested to serve out the sentence awarded, in default, hereinabove. With the above modifications, the appeal stands dismissed.

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