IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HONOURABLE Mr.JUSTICE M.DHANDAPANI
Crl.A.No.642 of 2008
2.Kanthammal .. Appellants/Accused
The Sate rep.by,
Deputy Superintendent of Police,
Mecheri Police Station,
Salem District. .. Respondent/Complainant
PRAYER: Criminal Appeal filed under section 374(2) of the Criminal
Procedure Code, to set aside the judgment in S.C.No.411/2005 on the file
of the Sessions Judge, Mahila Court, Salem dated 31.07.2008 and acquit
For Appellants : Mr.C.Kanakaraj
For Respondent : Mr.R.Ravichandran
Government Advocate (Crl.side)
This criminal appeal has been filed by the appellants/accused as
against the conviction and sentence dated 31.07.2008 made in
S.C.No.411 of 2005 on the file of learned Sessions Judge, Mahila Court,
2.The brief facts of the prosecution case are as follows:-
The first accused and the deceased Chandra are the husband
and wife. P.W.1 and P.W.2 are the father and mother of the deceased.
The marriage of A1 and deceased was performed on 16.09.1999, with the
consent of both sides parents. At the time of marriage, no Seedhana
articles were given to A1. However, P.W.1 agreed to give ½ sovereign
gold after the marriage. Thereafter, they lived happily for six months.
Again A1 demanded Rs.2,000/- for the purpose of agricultural operations.
However, they managed to pay Rs.1,000/-. Thereafter, there was
frequent quarrel between A1 and deceased and after 1 ½ years of
marriage, A1 had attacked the deceased and driven her away from the
matrimonial home. With great pain, she reached P.W.1’s house and
informed the harassment made by A1 and his family. Thereafter, A1
came to P.W.1 house and requested P.W.1/parents of the deceased to
send back his daughter to matrimonial home. Though the deceased
refused to go along with A1, the panchayatar pacified the deceased and
convinced. Thereafter, she agreed to go along with A1 to the matrimonial
home. However, on 03.04.2001 at about 9.00 pm, P.W.1 and P.W.2
received the information from neighbour of A1, as if their daughter was
not well, she was taken to hospital and died mid way. Immediately, they
rushed to the deceased house and found her body laid on the floor.
Thereafter, P.W.1 lodged the complaint Ex.P1.
3.P.W.13, Sub Inspector of Police, received the complaint Ex.P1
from P.W.1 and registered a case in Crime No.321/2001 under Section
174 Cr.P.C. Ex.P10 is the printed FIR. P.W.12, after receipt of the report
from P.W.13, took up the case for further investigation and went to the
place of occurrence, prepared observation mahazar-Ex.P2 and rough
sketch-Ex.P11 and recovered material objects MO1 to MO6 (series) and
he has also conducted inquest over the dead body and issued inquest
report-Ex.P8. After examining the medical officer and other witnesses,
the offence was altered into under Sections 498A and 304b IPC. The
alteration report is marked as Ex.P12.
4.P.W.14 took up the case for further investigation and arrested
the accused on 06.04.2001. Thereafter, he laid a final report as against
the accused for the offences under Sections 498A, 304B and 306 IPC.
5.Based of the above materials, the trial Court framed the
charges for the offences under Sections 498A, 304B and 306 IPC against
the accused and the accused denied the same. In order to prove the
charges, on the side of prosecution, P.W.1 to P.W.14 were examined,
exhibits P1 to P12 were marked and material objects marked as MO1 to
6.When the trial Court examined the accused under Section 313
Cr.P.C., in respect of incriminating materials available against them, they
denied the same and pleaded innocence. However, they neither chose to
examine any witnesses nor marked any documents.
7.The trial Court, after considering the oral and documentary
evidence, found the accused guilty of the offences under Section 498A,
304B and 306 IPC. Accordingly, the trial Court convicted the accused and
sentenced them to undergo seven years rigorous imprisonment of the
offences under Sections 304B and 306 IPC and for the offence under
Section 498A IPC sentenced them to undergo three years rigorous
imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- in default three months
rigorous imprisonment. Challenging the said conviction and sentence, the
appellants 1 and 2 have preferred this appeal.
8.Heard the learned counsel for the appellants and the learned
the learned Government Advocate (Crl.side) for the respondents.
9.The learned counsel appearing for the appellants would
contend that there is no material whatsoever available on record to prove
the charges alleged against the accused. Ex.P1-complaint is totally
contrary to the evidence of P.W.1, P.W.2 and P.W.6. P.W.1 is father and
P.W.2 is mother and P.W.3 is sister of the deceased. Admittedly, the
deceased committed suicide at her husband’s house. Whereas, P.W.1,
P.W.2 and P.W.6 are residing in a different area and after hearing the
news, they rushed to the spot. The resident of the said village was
examined as P.W.4. The evidence of P.W.7 clearly indicates that there
was no quarrel between the husband and wife and the accused never
demanded any dowry from the deceased and the evidence of P.W.4
indicates that there is no compatibility in between the deceased and A1.
The independent witness deposed that the deceased did not like A1.
Therefore, the statement to the effect that the accused abused the
deceased is an improved version and cannot be believed. Hence, the
learned counsel prays for acquittal of the appeal.
10.The learned Government Advocate (Crl.side) would submit
that P.W.1, P.W.2 and P.W.6 have clearly spoken about the quarrel
between the deceased and accused and frequently the accused had
beaten the deceased and driven her away from the matrimonial home.
Thereafter, panchayat was conducted in order to pacify the deceased and
P.W.1 requested the deceased to go along with the accused to the
matrimonial home and the cruelty led the deceased to commit suicide.
Therefore, the judgment of the trial Court need not be interfered with.
11.In the light of the above submission, now it has to be
analysed as to whether the prosecution has proved the guilt of the
accused beyond all reasonable doubt.
12.The evidence of P.W.1, the father of the deceased, indicates
that the deceased was residing at matrimonial home, whereas prior to the
occurrence, A1 frequently beaten the deceased and driven away the
deceased from the matrimonial home and thereafter, the deceased stayed
for ten days in his house for treatment and after treatment, at the
instance of panchatyars, pacified the deceased and requested the
deceased to go along with A1 to the matrimonial home. However, P.W.1
and P.W.2 also corroborated with the above said incident and further
P.W.1 and P.W.2 also corroborated that at the time of marriage, no
seedhana was given to A1’s family. Admittedly, A2 and A3 are adoptive
parents, A3 was acquitted and A2 was convicted along with A1.
13.It is relevant to indicate that two days prior to the death of
the deceased, P.W.2 visited the deceased matrimonial home and enquired
about her matrimonial life and deceased informed that for small mistake,
the husband family got angry over her. However, there is no major
allegation, made against the accused family.
14.Further, P.W.6, sister of the deceased, also corroborated with
regard to the initial quarrel between the deceased and A1. However, she
did not reveal anything with regard to the harassment of demanding
15.P.W.4 and P.W.7 are the residents of the deceased village.
On perusal of their evidence indicates that there is no compatibility
between the deceased and A1 and further, the evidence of P.W.4
indicates the deceased did not like A1 and they do not have sexual
relationship. Further, P.W.4 in his cross-examination reveals that A1 is
not available in the scene of occurrence for one week and he had gone to
Tharapuram and the evidence of P.W.4 and P.W.7 clearly indicates that
there is no demand of dowry or harassment by A1 to the deceased.
16.P.W.5 is VAO. He did not reveal anything with regard to the
prosecution case. P.W.3 turned hostile. Admittedly, prior to the
occurrence, the deceased committed suicide when no one was in the
matrimonial home. After hearing the news, P.W.4 and P.W.7 rushed to
the spot and P.W.4 cut the rope with knife and laid the body of the
deceased on the floor and he gave initial first aid in the matrimonial house
17.It is relevant to note that the deceased committed suicide in
the husband’s house which is faraway from the house of P.W.1 and P.W.2
and there is no charge of the prosecution that prior to occurrence, there
was quarrel between the accused and the deceased. The entire
prosecution case is with regard to the demand of dowry and quarrel
between A1 and deceased, six months prior to the deceased committed
18.When that being the position, even assuming that there was
a quarrel in which the deceased was abused, at the earlier point of time,
in my view, the same would not amount to incitement or abetment to
force a person to commit suicide. The abetment involves a mental
process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing a
thing. Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid
in committing suicide, charge under Section 306 IPC cannot be inferred.
There should be a live link or proximity link between the act of the
accused and act of the deceased.
19.In the present case, the prosecution implicated the accused
under Section 304B IPC. The ingredients required under Section 304b
IPC are as follows:-
14.A perusal of Section 304B clearly shows that if a
married woman dies 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 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 the death. The
condition precedent for establishing an offence under this
(a) that a married women had died otherwise than
under normal circumstances;
(b) such death was within sever years of her
(c) the prosecution has established that there was
cruelty and harassment in connection with demand for dowry
soon before her death. This Section will apply whenever the
occurrence of death is preceded by cruelty or harassment by
the husband or in-laws for dowry and death occurs in
unnatural circumstances. The intention behind the section is
to fasten guilt on the husband or in-laws though they did not
in fact caused the death.
20.This Court has already analysed the evidence of P.W.1, P.W.2
and P.W.6, the father, mother and the sister of the deceased. This Court
is satisfied that they have not stated anything in their evidence with
regard to the harassment or ill-treatment of the deceased by the
21.As discussed above, a perusal of Section 304b IPC, it is
shown that there must be a material to show that soon before her death,
the victim was subjected to cruelty or harassment. In other words, the
prosecution has to rule out as to whether it is a natural or accidental
death, so as to bring within the purview of Section 304(b) IPC. It is the
duty of the prosecution to show that soon before the occurrence, there
was a cruelty or harassment and only in that case presumption would
arise. However, in the present case, the prosecution miserably failed to
establish that there was a cruelty soon before the death or the accused
instigated the deceased to take the extreme step of committing suicide.
22.As discussed above, the prosecution failed to establish the
guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the trial Court has committed error in
convicting the appellants. Therefore the judgment of conviction and
sentence passed by the trial Court is liable to be set aside.
23.In the result, the criminal appeal is allowed. The conviction
and sentence as against the appellants/A1 and A2 in the judgment dated
31.07.2008 in S.C.No.411 of 2005 passed by the learned Sessions Judge,
Mahila Court, Salem, are set aside. The appellants/A1 and A2 are
acquitted from the charges under Sections 498A, 304B and 306 IPC. The
fine amount, if any, paid by them is ordered to be refunded to them. The
bail bonds executed by them, shall stand terminated/discharged.
Speaking Order/Non Speaking Order
Index : Yes/No
Internet : Yes/No
1. The Sessions Judge, Mahila Court,
2.The Government Advocate (Crl.side)
High Court of Madras.
Crl.A.No.642 of 2008