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Kishori Lal & Anr. vs State on 27 March, 2017

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
+ CRL.A. No.300/2000
Date of Decision : 27th February, 2017

KISHORI LAL ANR. ….. APPELLANTS
Through Mr.M.L. Yadav, Adv.

versus
STATE ….. RESPONDENT

                            Through       Mr.Panna Lal Sharma, APP for
                                          State.

     CORAM:
     HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE P.S.TEJI
     P.S.TEJI, J

1. The present appeal has been filed by the appellants

aggrieved by the judgment of conviction dated 24th February, 2000

convicting the appellants under Sections 498-A 304-B of the

Indian Penal Code (IPC) and order on sentence dated 7th March,

2000 vide which the sentence was passed to undergo rigorous

imprisonment for a period of ten years each for the offence of

dowry death of the victim and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- each for

an offence of cruelty and in default of payment of fine, convicts

were ordered to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four months

each.

2. The factual matrix emerging from the record is that an FIR

No.509/1995, under Sections 498-A/304B of the Indian Penal

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 1 of 14
Code was registered with Police Station Trilok Puri, on the basis of

complaint lodged by the complainant Ishwar Singh. It was stated

by him that marriage of appellant no.2 Durga Dass was solemnized

with her daughter Sangita on 8th April, 1995 and after marriage, she

resided in her matrimonial home at Trilok Puri, Delhi. After about

four months of marriage, on 24th August, 1995, Sangita poured

kerosene oil on herself and set herself ablaze. She was taken to the

Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital where she was declared

brought dead.

3. A report was lodged at the SDM, Shahdara by Mr.Ishwar

Singh, father of the deceased Sangita to the effect that the husband

and father-in-law of his daughter used to harass and beat her for the

demand of dowry. It was further alleged in the report that as per

the information received by him from his daughter, a scooter and

cash to the tune of Rs.20,000/- were demanded by her husband

Durga Dass and her father-in-law and that the same demand was

made by her husband at the time he visited the complainant’s

house on 20th August, 1995 in order to take Sangita to her

matrimonial home. Mr.Ishwar Singh further alleged that on 22nd

August, 1995, Kishori Lal, father-in-law of his daughter, visited his

house and raised the same demand of scooter and Rs.20,000/- in

cash and when the complainant showed his inability to fulfil the

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 2 of 14
demand of Kishori Lal, while leaving his house, he remarked that

he would see them. Thus, on the report of the complainant Ishwar

Singh, FIR was registered under Sections 498-A 304B of the

IPC against the husband and father-in-law of the deceased Sangita.

4. Since the appellant no.1 died, the proceedings qua him stood

abated vide order dated 8th February, 2016. So far as the appellant

no.2 is concerned, he has undergone imprisonment for four years

ten months and twenty two days and that the sentence of

imprisonment awarded to him was suspended vide order dated 19th

September, 2000 passed by this court.

5. Learned counsel for the appellant has submitted that the

judgment of the court below is bad in law inasmuch as no legal

evidence against the appellants justifying their conviction came to

the fore. It was further contended that at the time of marriage,

there was no demand of dowry and that the charge framed against

the appellants is legally defective. It was further stated that no

prior complaint was made either by the deceased Sangita or by her

family members, which clearly establishes that the complaint on

the basis of which the FIR was lodged, was only an afterthought,

just to implicate the appellants. It was further added that medical

evidence in the present case, does not support the prosecution case

at all. Learned counsel for the appellants has thus argued that the

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 3 of 14
allegations levelled against the appellants are general in nature. In

the entire FIR, there is no specific allegation. It is stated that

allegations being general in nature, the same cannot be made a

ground to convict the appellants. It was further submitted that

there are inconsistencies in the statements of the prosecution

witnesses which make their testimony unworthy of credence.

There is no evidence on record to show that there was any cruelty

or harassment to the deceased on account of demand of dowry soon

before the death of the deceased.

6. Per contra, learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the State

has submitted that the accused were rightly held guilty and

convicted under Sections 498-A 304-B of the IPC inasmuch as

unnatural death of the deceased Sangita took place after four

months of marriage and that she was subjected to cruelty due to

dowry demand soon before death i.e. within a reasonable time

period close in proximity to her death, which is clear from the

testimonies recorded in the case.

7. I have gone through the available records including the

arguments advanced by learned counsel for the appellants as well

as by learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the State.

8. Upon hearing the rival contentions of the parties at length, a

few important evidence led is being examined. PW 14 Ishwar

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 4 of 14
Singh, in his statement stated that the marriage of his daughter

Sangita was solemnized with Durga Dass, son of Kishori Lal took

place in April, 1995 as per Hindu rites and that sufficient dowry

was given in the marriage. He stated that not being satisfied with

the dowry articles given, the accused persons started harassing his

daughter immediately after marriage. He further stated that on the

next day of marriage when his son-in-law along with his parents,

came to his house, they informed that they had expected much

more dowry from him. He stated that his daughter also told him

that family members relatives of her in-laws remarked that she

came from a low standard. This witness stated that three-four days

after marriage, when her daughter came to his house, all the

ornaments given by him were taken away by her husband Durga

Dass. PW 14 further stated that after about a month when he

visited his daughter’s house, he noticed some injury marks on her

face and that her face was swollen. On enquiry, he came to know

that she was not allowed to sleep at night and that she was given

beatings. He further stated that Sangita told him that the accused

persons were demanding a scooter and Rs.20,000/-. This witness

stated that on 20th August, 1995 when his son-in-law visited his

house, he repeated the same demand of Rs.20,000/- cash and

scooter and that on 22nd August, 1995, when Kishori Lal, father-in-

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 5 of 14
law of Sangita visited his house, he also repeated the same demand.

This witness stated that he tried to pacify the accused Kishori Lal

and told him that he was not in a position to pay Rs.20,000/- and

give a scooter to which Kishori Lal replied that he had no concern

with his problem. This witness further stated that being

apprehensive of torture towards his daughter, he along with his

wife visited the house of the accused and when after a repeated

request their daughter came, they noticed that she was brutally

beaten and was weeping. Their daughter also apprised them that

she was being beaten daily and on that day, she was tortured since

morning for demand of Rs.20,000/- and scooter. PW 14 further

stated that his daughter also informed him that she was

apprehensive that the accused would kill her. This witness further

stated that on 24th August, 1995 at about 11.30/12.00 p.m., he

received a message in his office that his daughter had sustained

burn injuries at her house in Trilok Puri. PW 14 stated that he first

reached his house and thereafter along with his wife, reached the

house of his daughter where they came to know that Sangita was

alive and was admitted to the hospital. Thereafter, on asking the

constable present at the spot, this witness went to police station and

thereafter, they were taken to SDM office, Shahdara where his

statement was recorded (vide Ex.PW 1/B).

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 6 of 14

9. PW 8 Smt.Veer Mati, mother of Sangita in her statement

testified and corroborated the entire testimony of PW 14 Ishwar

Singh with regard to the marriage of her daughter Sangita with

Durga Dass and with regard to the harassment, torture as well as

beatings given on account of less dowry being given as well as

demand of Rs.20,000/- cash and one scooter. She further stated

that on 24th August, 1995, two persons came to her house and

informed her about the burning of her daughter Sangita with a

stove while cooking roti. She stated that she along with her

husband reached the house of her daughter and came to know that

the dead body of her daughter was removed to mortuary.

10. PW 2 Ram Charan in his statement stated that he arranged

the marriage between Sangita and Durga Dass and that Mr.Ishwar

Singh, the father of Sangita, gave sufficient dowry. He further

stated that there was no demand of dowry at the time of marriage

and that Ishwar Singh told him that when Sangita returned to his

house, she informed him that her in-laws were demanding the

scooter and Rs.20,000/- for the reason that she had brought less

dowry. He further stated that he pacified both the parties but on

22nd August, 1995 when Ishwar Singh and his wife visited

Sangita’s house, her father-in-law threatened them. This witness

further stated that on 24th August, 1995, when he came to his

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 7 of 14
house, he was informed that Sangita received burn injury and that

she was admitted to the hospital. PW 2 stated that he along with

Ishwar Singh went to Irwin hospital on the next day and received

the dead body of Sangita.

11. PW 5 Smt.Kamla in her statement stated that she was in

visiting terms in the house of Ishwar Singh and that his daughter

Sangita was married with Durga Dass. She further stated that on

22nd August, 1995, when she visited the house of Ishwar Singh for

the purpose of surety to a loan, Kishori Lal, father-in-law of

Sangita was also there and that he demanded one scooter and

Rs.20,000/- cash from Ishwar Singh. PW 5 Smt.Kamla further

stated that after exchange of present list, Kishori Lal told Ishwar

Singh that he had not given scooter in dowry neither at the time of

marriage nor on the day of Rakhi when his son Durga Dass visited

there. This witness stated that Kishori Lal further demanded

Rs.20,000/- from Ishwar Singh for the purpose of getting his

daughter employed. PW 5 deposed that Ishwar Singh stated to

Kishori Lal that he could not arrange for the demand as he got his

daughter married only four months back. She further deposed that

Kishori Lal angrily left the house of Ishwar Singh and gave threats

that he would see him. Kishori Lal further added that as he had

only one son, he did not receive sufficient dowry. PW 5 stated

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 8 of 14
that on 24th August, 1995, she got the information about the death

of Sangita which means that Kishori Lal proved his threat.

12. PW 6 Ram Swaroop in his statement deposed that he resided

near the house of Ishwar Singh and had cardinal relationship with

him. PW 6 stated that he joined the marriage of Sangita with the

son of Kishori Lal and that after the marriage, Sangita told him that

she was being harassed by her husband and in-laws and that her in-

laws demanded scooter and Rs.20,000/- cash. This witness further

stated that Ishwar Singh and his wife Veerwati told him that their

daughter was being harassed and tortured by her husband and in-

laws and that they were unable to meet the demands. PW 6 stated

that after six months of marriage, he received the information about

the death of Sangita by burning.

13. PW 11 Dr.Lalit Kumar in his statement stated that on 25th

August, 1995, while posted at Maulana Azad Medical College,

Delhi, he performed post-mortem on the body of Sangita and that

the cause of death of Sangita was due to burn shock, consequent

upon burn injuries. It was also opined that the burns were ante-

mortem, recent in duration and was caused due to fire. He further

stated that on the direction of SDM and in order to rule out any

unknown poison, viscera of the victim was sealed and preserved in

his presence for the purpose of sending the same for chemical

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 9 of 14
analysis. It was also stated that scalp hair sample and partically

burnt clothes were preserved and sealed in his present for the

purpose of sending the same to chemical analysis in order to

confirm the presence of kerosene oil. The detailed post-mortem

report Exh.PW 11/A bore his signature at point ‘A’.

14. In the case of Devi Lal vs. State of Rajasthan AIR 2008 SC

332, Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed that the ingredients of

provisions of section 304 B IPC are

(A) that the death of the woman was caused by any burns or

bodily injury or in some circumstances which were not normal;

(B) such death occurs within seven years from the date of her

marriage;

(C) that the victim was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her

husband or any relative of her husband;

(D) such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection

with the demand of dowry ; and

(E) it is established that such cruelty and harassment was made

soon before her death.

15. It was further observed that before an accused is found guilty

for commission of an offence, the Court must arrive at a finding

that the ingredients thereof have been established. It was held that

statement of a witness for the said purpose must be read in its

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 10 of 14
entirety. It is not necessary for a witness to make a statement in

consonance with the wording of the section of a statute. What is

needed is to find out whether the evidences brought on record

satisfy the ingredients thereof.

16. When the above ingredients are established by reliable and

acceptable evidence, such death shall be called dowry death and

such husband or his relatives shall be deemed to have caused her

death. If the above mentioned ingredients are attracted in view of

the special provision, the court shall presume and it shall record

such fact as proved unless and until it is rebutted.

17. The phrase, “soon before her death”, no doubt, is an elastic

expression and can refer to a period either immediately before the

death of a women or within a few days or even a few weeks before

it. But the proximity to her death is the pivot indicated by that

expression. The legislative intent in providing such a radius of time

by employing the words “soon before her death” is to emphasise

the idea that her death should, in all probabilities, have been the

aftermath of such cruelty or harassment. There should be a

perceptible nexus between her death and the dowry related

harassment or cruelty inflicted on her.

18. It is clear from the testimonies of Sh.Ishwar Singh and

Smt.Veer Mati, parents of the deceased, that for the purpose of

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 11 of 14
demand of dowry, their daughter was treated with cruelty by the

accused persons so as to intimidate and pressurize her to meet their

illegal demands. They have specifically given the dates i.e. 20th

August, 1995, when their son-in-law (Durga Dass) visited their

house and made demand of Rs.20,000/- cash and scooter which

demand was repeated by Mr.Kishoril Lal, father-in-law of the

deceased, when he visited the house of Ishwar Singh on 22nd

August, 1995. The statements of Ram Charan, Kamla Ram

Swaroop corroborated the allegations levelled by Mr.Ishwar Singh,

father of the victim, to the effect that Sangita was ill treated by her

husband and father-in-law and that a demand of Rs.20,000/- cash

and a scooter was made by her husband and in-laws. It is,

therefore, apparent that Sangita was harassed with a view to coerce

her to meet unlawful demands of dowry from her husband

father-in-law. Therefore, necessary ingredients of Section 498-A

of the IPC are clearly established. It is also clearly established

that for the reasons of such cruelty and harassment which was

made soon before her death, Sangita had set herself ablaze by

pouring kerosene oil and that the same was the real cause of her

death which is also evident from the statement of Dr.Lalit Kumar

who opined that the cause of death of Sangita was burn shock,

consequent upon burn injuries. So far as the present case is

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 12 of 14
concerned, it is apparent that the hiatus between the concerned

cruelty or harassment and the death of the victim was not much

which led to the effect of cruelty and death of the victim.

Therefore, the proposition of soon before death is clearly

established in the facts and circumstances of the present case.

Therefore, necessary ingredients of Section 304-B of the IPC are

also made out in the present case.

19. In the light of the above discussion, this court is of the

considered opinion that Sangita suffered death at her matrimonial

home, otherwise than under normal circumstances, within five

months of her marriage (i.e. within seven years), and the case

squarely falls within the ambit of dowry death. In the present

case, in view of the specific allegations made as well as from a

bare reading of the evidence of the complainant as well as other

witnesses, this court finds that the harassment of the deceased

Sangita was with a view to coerce her to convince her parents to

meet the demands for dowry which further led to her death. All

the above facts clearly establish the legal requirements for an

offence falling under Sections 304B and 498A IPC against the

appellants and the conviction and sentence imposed, therefore, do

not call for any interference.

20. In view of the above scenario, this Court does not find any

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 13 of 14
illegality, irregularity or impropriety in the judgment dated 24th

February, 2000 passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge

and that the same does not call for any interference.

21. In the light of foregoing discussion, this court does not find

merit in this appeal which thus fails, and is accordingly dismissed.

As a result, the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant

no.2 by the court below is upheld.

22. The appellant no.2 is accordingly directed to undergo the

remaining period of his sentence. The bail bonds of the appellant

no.2 stand cancelled to enable him to surrender and undergo the

remaining period of sentence. The appellant no.2 is directed to

surrender before the trial court concerned within fifteen days from

today to serve the remaining sentence.

23. A copy of the order be sent to concerned court for

compliance.

(P.S.TEJI)
JUDGE
FEBRUARY 27, 2017
aa

Crl.A. No.300/2000 Page 14 of 14

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