Gadiraju Rama Raju And Anr. vs State Of A.P. on 30 April, 2002Equivalent citations: AIR 2002 SC 2276, 97 (2002) DLT 899 a SC Bench: R Sethi, D Raju
1. Appellant No. 1 – Gadiraju Rama Raju is the husband of Gadiraju Sita Mani, who died an unnatural death on 5.3.1988. The marriage of the parties had been solemnized on 24.4.1985. Treating it as a case of dowry death the appellants along with two others were charged under Section 304B read with Section 34 and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Accused Nos. 2 and 4 were acquitted of both the charges but the appellants were convicted by the trial court for the offences punishable under Section 304B read with Section 34 of IPC and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for seven years. They were also sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 498A of IPC, Both the sentences were directed to run concurrently. In appeal the judgment of the trial court was modified and instead of Section 304B of IPC, the accused were held guilty for the offence punishable under Section 306 read with Section 34 of IPC besides for the offence punishable under Section 498A of IPC. Upon conviction under Section 306 of IPC the appellant No. 1 was sentenced to suffer RI for a period of four years and the appellant No. 2 was sentenced to suffer RI for a period of two years. Their conviction and sentences under Section 498A of IPC was confirmed.
2. Learned counsel appearing for the appellant wanted us to re-appreciate the whole evidence for the purposes of finding as to whether any offence has been committed by the appellants or not. We are not inclined to make such a venture in view of the concurrent findings recorded by both the courts below so far as the involvement of the appellant No. 1 is concerned. We do not find any ground to interfere with the conviction and sentence awarded to appellant No. 1, the husband of the deceased.
3. The learned counsel has, however, vehemently contended that there was nothing in evidence to connect the appellant No. 2, the mother-in-law of the deceased, with the commission of the crime. He has pointed out that no overt act was attributed to the said accused either for the purpose of attracting provisions of Section 498A of IPC or for her liability for abetment so far as commission of offence punishable under Section 306 of IPC is concerned. We find substance in his submissions. The courts below have not referred to any evidence, which would show involvement of appellant No. 2 so far as the demand of dowry or harassment in consequence thereof or abetment to suicide is concerned.
4. This Court in Kans Raj v. State of Punjab , has held that in cases of dowry deaths or cases relating to dowry deaths, a tendency has developed to rope in as many relations of the deceased’s husband as possible. However, other relations of the husband cannot be held guilty unless some overt act is attributed to them and proved at the trial. Pealing with such a situation this Court held:
“For the fault of the husband, the in-laws or the other relations cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry. In cases where such accusations are made, the overt acts attributed to persons other than the husband are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. By mere conjectures and implications such relations cannot be held guilty for the offence relating to dowry deaths. A tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weakens the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case.”
5. We are satisfied that prosecution had failed to prove the involvement of appellant No. 2 with the commission of any, crime for which she was charged and convicted. The appeal filed by her is to be allowed by setting aside the conviction recorded and sentence awarded.
6. Under the circumstances, the appeal is partly allowed, conviction and sentence as awarded to the appellant No. 1, the husband of the deceased, is upheld. The conviction and sentence, so far as accused No. 2, the mother-in-law of the deceased is concerned, is set aside. Both the appellants are stated to be released on bail. Bail bonds furnished by appellant No. 2 shall stand discharged and bail bonds furnished by appellant No. 1 shall stand can celled. Accused No. 1 shall be taken into custody for undergoing the remaining sentence, if any.