* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
Judgment Reserved on: August 28, 2017
% Judgment Delivered on: September 11, 2017
+ CRL.A. 282/2002
MOHD. ASLAM ORS. ….. Appellants
Through: Mr.S.P.Singh Chaudhari,
with Appellants in person.
STATE (NCT OF DELHI) ….. Respondent
Through: Mr.Kewal Singh Ahuja, APP
for the State with SI Jitender,
PS Model Town
HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE PRATIBHA RANI
1. The appellants Mohd.Aslam, Mohd.Arif, Mohd.Ashraf
Smt.Parveen have preferred the instant appeal challenging the
judgment dated 13th March, 2002 and order on sentence dated 14th
March, 2002 passed in Sessions Case No.246/1996 whereby they have
been convicted for committing the offence punishable under Sections
304-B/498-A/34 IPC and sentenced as under:
(i) U/S 304-B/34 IPC to undergo RI for seven years.
(ii) U/S 498-A/34 IPC to undergo RI for three years with fine
of ₹5000/- each and in default of
payment of fine, to undergo SI for six
Both the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 1 of 16
2. The appellants before this Court are three brothers-in-law i.e.
two jeth and one devar and one sister-in-law i.e. jethani of deceased
Shakila. The mother-in-law of the deceased had already expired
3. All the appellants were charged for the offences punishable
under Section 304B/498A/34 IPC on the basis of the statement
Ex.PW-2/A made by PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed, father of the deceased,
before the SDM on 5th November, 1995.
4. In the complaint Ex.PW2/A, PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed stated
that his daughter Shakila got married to Anwar on 26 th May, 1995 and
the venue was in front of A-76, Bada Bagh. Just after four days of the
marriage, the mother-in-law, her sons and other family members
started demanding dowry and giving beating to his daughter for which
a Panchayat was held three-four months prior to her death. The
mother-in-law of the deceased used to make her do the entire
household work and also to serve her as her jethani had served her for
ten years. The mother-in-law used to ask Shakila to bring scooter,
fridge and money from her parental home. She was harassed by her
jeth-jethani. He suspected the hand of her jeth, jethani, devar and
mother-in-law behind her death. The mother, brother and bhabhi of
the deceased also made statement before the SDM on the same day.
On the basis of interim order Ex.PW-5/A made by the SDM, FIR
No.481/1995 Ex.PW5/B was registered under Section 304B/498A/34
IPC at PS Model Town and investigation was handed over to SI Ram
Sunder. The body was sent for postmortem and after completion of
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 2 of 16
investigation, all the appellants and the mother-in-law (deceased) were
sent to face trial.
5. During trial, since all the accused persons pleaded not guilty to
the charge, prosecution examined nine witnesses to bring home guilt.
The appellants were examined under Section 313 CrPC to explain the
incriminating evidence appearing against the appellants. In their
statement under Section 313 CrPC, the appellants have denied the
prosecution case and submitted that they were living separately and
the deceased alongwith her husband and mother-in-law was living
separately. There was no dowry demand either at the time of marriage
or thereafter. The appellants have examined Sh.Anwar – husband of
the deceased as DW-1 and Sh.Sabir Ali – resident of the same area as
DW-2 in their defence.
6. After trial, the learned Trial Court held all the appellants guilty
for the offence for which they had been charged and sentenced in the
manner stated above.
7. Mr.S.P.Singh Chaudhari, Advocate for the appellants has
submitted that this is a case where all the appellants were living in
their separate houses. They had nothing to do with the family affairs
of the deceased and her husband. It has been contended that the
deceased was leading a happy matrimonial life with her husband
which fact has been admitted by PW-1 Smt.Anisa Begum – mother,
PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed – father, PW-3 Smt.Khurshid – bhabhi and
PW-4 Sh.Farooq – brother of the deceased. The husband of the
deceased Shakila was also so much in love with her that on hearing
her death, he attempted to commit suicide and is dead now.
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 3 of 16
8. Learned counsel for the appellants has submitted that this is a
case where admittedly there was no dowry demand at the time of
marriage. Shakila committed suicide within six months of the
marriage and during that period of six months no complaint was ever
made against any family member for any alleged dowry demand being
made by them. The Panchayat was held at their (appellants) instance
as when Shakila went to her parents house, she consumed some tablets
and attempted to commit suicide after fight with her brother Sh.Farooq
(PW-4) and not because of any dowry demand by the appellants. It
has been contended that admittedly all the accused persons were living
separately with their family and settled in their respective houses.
Even if it is assumed that there was a dowry demand, it was attributed
to the mother-in-law by PW-1 to PW-4. The appellants could not
have been beneficiary of scooter and fridge allegedly demanded as it
would have remained in the house where the deceased was living i.e.
in her matrimonial home. Learned counsel for the appellants has
contended that merely because Shakila has committed suicide within
six months of marriage, the appellants who are brothers of her
husband and one jethani, could not have been held responsible for her
unnatural death as there is absolutely no evidence to prove that she
was ever harassed or treated with cruelty by them to fulfill the alleged
9. Mr.Kewal Singh Ahuja, learned APP for the State while
supporting the reasoning given by the learned Trial Court to hold the
appellants guilty for commission of offence under Section
304B/498A/34 IPC submitted that a young bride had died an unnatural
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 4 of 16
death in less than six months of marriage. She had absolutely no
complaint against her husband and was happily living with him. The
circumstantial evidence and the statement of her father, mother,
brother and bhabhi is sufficient to prove not only the dowry demand
made by the appellants but also that she was harassed to the extent that
she had no option but to put an end to her life, hence the appeal may
10. I have considered the rival contentions and carefully gone
through the record.
11. Since in a case of dowry death, the parents/close family
members are the witnesses to prove the dowry demand and the
harassment being caused to the deceased for non-fulfillment of the
dowry demand, it has become necessary to refer to the statement of
PW-1 Smt.Anisa Begum – mother, PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed – father,
PW-3 Smt.Khurshid (Bhabhi) and PW-4 Sh.Farooq (brother).
12. PW-1 Smt.Anisa Begum – mother of the deceased Shakila has
stated that mother-in-law (since expired) of her daughter Shakila was
demanding scooter and fridge and her daughter was given beating by
her mother-in-law. In her cross examination, PW-1 Smt.Anisa Begum
further clarified that her grudge was only against the mother-in-law of
Shakila who used to ask Shakila to serve her till 1.00 am. During her
cross examination, she admitted that the family of the accused persons
owned two hotels and Anwar Ahmed – her son-in-law used to look
after the hotel at Shadipur Depot and that no demand for dowry was
made before the marriage. Her son PW-4 Farooq was working as
Compounder and used to keep medicines at home. She admitted that
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 5 of 16
her daughter consumed harmful substance/tablets when PW-4 Farooq
(brother of Shakila) tried to make her understand that she should not
visit them without asking her in-laws. She admitted that Anwar
Ahmed – her son-in-law loved Shakila (deceased) and fulfilled all her
wishes. Father-in-law of Shakila died many years before the marriage
and her two jeths Mohd. Aslam and Mohd. Ashraf had separate
houses. PW-1 Anisa Begum stated that she did not make any
statement before the SDM or the police. She admitted that no dowry
was ever demanded from her by the appellants.
13. PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed – father of the deceased Shakila stated
that all the accused persons used to demand fridge and scooter from
Shakila. He also stated that once accused had called Panchayat and
matter was settled and both the parties were asked to maintain peace
and harmony. He admitted that when the police reached the spot after
his daughter committed suicide, he identified the dead body. He
admitted that mother-in-law of his daughter was related to their family
and family of the accused was residing at a distance of 20-25 feet from
his house. Accused Mohd. Ashraf and Mohd. Aslam were already
married and were living separately with their wife and children. PW-2
admitted that he was unemployed at the time of marriage of Shakila
and even on the date of his deposition. His son Farooq worked as a
Compounder with Private Doctor and earned about ₹1000 – 1500/- per
month. He has been confronted with his statement where there is no
mention of demand of fridge and scooter from Shakila by the accused
persons. He has admitted that he had no grudge against his son-in-law
Anwar Ahmed. He has also admitted that when Anwar Ahmed
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 6 of 16
learned about the death of Shakila, he consumed some poisonous
substance and remained admitted in the hospital for long duration. He
has admitted it to be correct that accused never demanded any
article of dowry directly from him. Though he has admitted that
Panchayat was called because Shakila had consumed some poisonous
substance at her parental home, he denied that it was called because
accused persons were afraid that Shakila might take such a step in
their house also.
14. PW-3 Smt.Khurshid – Bhabhi of deceased Shakila has stated
that after marriage of her Nanad Shakila, the accused persons started
demanding fridge, scooter and other dowry articles and threatened to
kill her if their demands are not made. She has stated that in
November, 1995 it was Saturday when at about 1.00 pm accused
Ashraf and Arif asked her to accompany their house where she saw
Shakila hanging with a chunni tied on a gardar.
15. In her cross examination, PW-3 Smt.Khurshid has admitted
that the accused did not raise any demand directly from her or
her husband. She could not tell specifically as which of the
accused demanded what item. She has admitted that the house of
the accused persons is visible from her house (parental home of
the deceased) which is at a walking distance of 2-3 minutes. She
has stated that her husband was earning about ₹900-950 per month by
working as a Compounder with a private doctor. She admitted that
Anwar – husband of Shakila used to treat her nicely and Shakila
always used to praise her husband. She admitted that the family of the
accused persons owned two hotels and all the brothers were running
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 7 of 16
the hotels jointly. She also admitted it to be correct that on hearing
about death of Shakila, Anwar tried to commit suicide and was
removed to hospital.
16. PW-4 Sh.Farooq- brother of the deceased has stated that they
performed good marriage of Shakila but after 4-5 days of the
marriage, accused Ashraf and accused Muradan (mother-in-law of
Shakila who has since expired) came to their house. Accused Ashraf
complained as to what had been given to them in the marriage of
Anwar and accused Muradan hurled abuses. In his examination-in-
chief, PW-4 Farooq has stated that he was not present when
accused Murada and accused Ashraf came to his house and he
was told about this by his wife.
17. Surprisingly, neither the mother (PW-1) nor wife (PW-3) of
Sh.Farooq (PW-4) had stated about any visit either by mother-in-law
or jeth of deceased Shakila to their house (parental house of Shakila)
to complain about the quality of the articles given in the marriage or
raise any demand of dowry. Even PW-2 – the father did not state
about any dowry demand being made from him.
18. PW-4 Sh.Farooq, during his cross examination, claimed his
salary as Compounded to be ₹1700-1800 per month and that his father
was not earning anything as well as the fact that the matrimonial house
of Shakila was just 10-15 paces away from her parental home. He has
denied that his sister Shakila when visited her parental home
consumed sleeping pills and Panchayat was summoned in that
connection. He has been confronted with his statement Ex.PW4/A
wherein he did not state that mother-in-law and jeth of Shakila visited
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 8 of 16
their house and complained about the quality of the dowry articles or
about any threat being given by any of the accused persons.
19. PW-9 SI Ram Sunder who reached the spot on receipt of copy
of DD No.10A Ex.PW9/A alongwith Ct.Devender, has stated that
when he reached the spot, the door was found broken open and the
body was found hanging with a cloth tied to a gardar in the room. The
body was brought down and placed on the bed. SHO and ACP reached
the spot. SDM was informed. He also took the photographs from his
camera. In cross examination, he has stated that he received the
information at 1.45 pm and reached the spot within 15 minutes. He
found parents of the deceased and other relatives present there. Many
independent persons were also present there. The relatives of the
deceased did not allege anything and he could not interrogate the
husband because he had consumed some poisonous substance just
after the incident.
20. DW-1 Sh.Anwar Ahmed – husband of the deceased Shakila has
stated that while he alongiwth his wife was living with his mother at
the ground floor, his other brothers were living separately. He stated
that his wife used to insist him to live separately but he asked her to
wait. He also stated that in first week of September, his wife had
some altercation with her brother (PW-4) and she consumed some
poisonous substance at her parental home. At that time, though he
wanted to take Shakila to Hindu Rao Hospital but was asked by her
family not to take her to the hospital to avoid a police case and Shakila
was treated at home. The treatment continued whole night and
thereafter Panchayat was called by them (her in-laws) and Shakila
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 9 of 16
informed the Panchayat that she consumed tablets because of certain
issues with her brother (PW-4 Farooq). DW-1 Sh.Anwar Ahmed has
also stated that Farooq (PW-4) used to earn about 1000-1200 per
month whereas he and his family were running two dhabas. When he
received the information about the suicide being committed by his
wife, he was at his Dhaba at Shadipur Depot. He was shocked and
did not want to live, hence purchased pesticide and consumed but he
was taken to hospital by his brother.
21. DW-2 Sh.Sabir Ali, who is resident of the same area, had
confirmed the incident of some tablets being consumed by Shakila at
her parental home. He has stated that 10-15 people attended the
Panchayat from both the sides. When the members of Panchayat
asked Shakila as to why she had consumed tablets, she replied that she
had gone to her parental house from her matrimonial house and at her
parental home her brother said something to her and that is why she
had consumed tablets. Farooq (PW-4) was also present during the
Panchayat and he assured the Panchas that no such complaint would
be in future.
22. The law as it exists now provides that where the death of a
woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise
than under normal circumstances within 7 years of marriage and it is
shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or
harassment by her husband or any relative for or in connection with
any demand of dowry such death shall be punishable under Section
304B. In order to seek a conviction against a person for the offence of
dowry death, the prosecution is obliged to prove that:
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 10 of 16
(a) the death of a woman was caused by burns or bodily injury or
had occurred otherwise than under normal circumstances;
(b) such death should have occurred within 7 years of her marriage;
(c) the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her
husband or by any relative of her husband;
(d) such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with
the demand of dowry; and
(e) to such cruelty or harassment the deceased should have been
subjected to soon before her death.
23. As and when the aforesaid circumstances are established, a
presumption of dowry death shall be drawn against the accused under
Section 113B of the Evidence Act which is a presumption of law.
24. In the decision reported as Amar Singh vs. State of Rajasthan
State of Rajasthan vs. Jagdish Anr. AIR 2010 SC 3391 has held as
‘……..A prosecution witness who merely used the work
“harassed” or “tortured” and does not describe the
exact conduct of the accused which, according to him,
amounted to harassment or torture may not be believed
by the Court in cases under Section 498A and 304B IPC.
For this reason, the High Court has taken a view that the
charges against Jagdish and Gordhani have not been
established beyond reasonable doubt and that their case
is distinguishable from that of Amar Singh and that
Jagdish and Gordhani appear to have been implicated
because they were members of Amar Singh’s family.’
25. In the case reported as Kans Raj vs. State of Punjab Ors.
(2000) 5 SCC 207, it was observed as under:-
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 11 of 16
‘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
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.’
26. On examination and appreciation of the testimonies of PW-1
Smt.Anisa Begum – mother, PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed – father, PW-3
Smt.Khurshid – Bhabhi and PW-4 Sh.Farooq – brother of deceased
Shakila as well as statement of defence witnesses, who are none-else
but husband and neighbour of the deceased (DW-1 Sh.Anwar Ahmed
and DW-2 Sh. Sabir Ali) who participated in the Panchayat, following
admitted facts can be discerned and are summarized as under:
(i) The family of the deceased and her in-laws were well known to
each other prior to this matrimonial alliance.
(ii) Her parental home and in-laws house is in close proximity at a
distance of 20-25 feet within the visible limit.
(iii) The marriage was solemnized in front of House No. A-76, Bada
Bagh and at the time of marriage there was no dowry demand.
(iv) All the accused persons except Arif (devar) were living
separately with their wife and children, having separate kitchen.
(v) The main grievance was against the mother-in-law (now
deceased) who used to ask the deceased to serve her like her elder
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 12 of 16
daughter-in-law who had been serving her for more than ten years
prior to marriage of Shakila (deceased)
(vi) None of the family members of the deceased i.e. her parents,
brother and bhabhi (PW-1 to PW-4) have stated about any dowry
demand being made by any of the appellants from them.
(vii) There was great disparity in financial status of the parental
family of the deceased and her in-laws family which can be shown as
a) Father – unemployed, doing nothing.
b) Mother – House wife
c) Bhabhi – House wife
d) Brother – Working as compounder, earning ₹1000 – 1500/- per
month and the only bread earner of the family.
a) Father-in-law was already dead.
b) Male members in the family of the accused persons i.e.
husband, two jeths and devar of deceased Shakila were jointly
running two restaurants one at Shadipur Depot and another at
(viii) Husband of the deceased was in deep love with her, so much so
that on hearing the news about commission of suicide by his wife, he
consumed some poisonous substance and attempted to commit suicide
but at that time his life was saved due to timely medical intervention.
Now he is dead.
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 13 of 16
27. Allegations against two jeth are that they used to abuse.
Against devar Arif that he once put wooden piece in her finger and
pressed. Against jethani that she used to harass her. There is
absolutely no specific allegation of any dowry demand being ever
made by any of the appellants or Shakila being harassed or tortured on
account of non-fulfilment of dowry demand.
28. PW-4 Farooq – brother of Shakila claimed that he was told by
his wife about the dowry demand by the mother-in-law but the wife
does not state so. Even the parents do not state that any of the
appellants had ever made any dowry demand from them at any point
of time or the deceased being harassed on non-fulfilment of the dowry
29. Parental family of the deceased having only one earning
member i.e. PW-4 – the brother who was a compounder and his
income was just enough to support his own family, were not in a
position to fulfil the dowry demand and it is an admitted fact that at
the time of marriage there was no dowry demand.
30. The temperament of the deceased was such that when she was
at her parental home, just after about two months of her marriage, after
having a fight with her brother, she consumed some harmful tablets
which her brother used to keep for treating the persons though he was
a compounder only. (As per the statement of mother – PW1).
31. The Panchayat in this case was called not at the instance of the
parents of the deceased but at the instance of the family of the husband
of the deceased as after coming to know about her suicidal tendency,
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 14 of 16
they wanted the matter to be put up before the Panchayat so that they
are not implicated, in case such type of incident is repeated.
32. DW-1 Anwar Ahmed has proved that he was living happily
with his wife and there was never any issue of dowry demand. His
elder brothers were separately settled with their wife and children and
had no reason or occasion to raise any dowry demand.
33. The deceased has not left any suicide note. As per post-mortem
report Ex.PW6/A the death was suicidal caused due to hanging.
34. Since the parental home of the deceased is just at a distance of a
few paces, when the police reached the spot members of her parental
family were already there. Despite arrival of the SDM and body being
identified by PW-2 Sh.Saiyed Ahmed – father of the deceased, at that
time no allegations of dowry demand or deceased being harassed or
tortured on non-fulfilment of dowry demand was levelled against any
of the appellants.
35. PW-1 to PW-4 had nowhere stated that deceased Shakila was
tortured or harassed on account of non-fulfilment of dowry demand.
When the appellants were living separately, the husband was in deep
love with his wife that he could not even bear the shock of her death
and consumed pesticide/poisonous substance, the financial capacity of
the parental family of the deceased being just enough for that family to
meet both the ends, marriage being performed without any dowry
demand, the house being in close vicinity to the extent that from her
parental house her in-laws’ house was visible, it could not have been a
case of dowry death, DW1- Anwar Ahmed – the husband of the
deceased, who even as per admission of PW-1 to PW-4, used to fulfil
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 15 of 16
all her wishes to keep her happy would not have let anybody to even
be harsh towards her what to talk of raising dowry demand or torturing
her for non-fulfilment of any dowry demand.
36. The learned Trial Court has convicted all the appellants on the
basis of conjectures and implications which could not have been done
as there was neither any proof of dowry demand nor harassment of
deceased by the appellants on account of any such dowry demand.
37. Recently a tendency has developed for roping in all the relations
of the in-laws as accused persons and this appears to be the case here
38. The prosecution has failed to prove either any dowry demand
by the appellants or the deceased being harassed by the appellants in
connection with any such dowry demand so as to prove that it was a
case of dowry death.
39. In view of above discussion, the appeal succeeds. The
appellants are acquitted of all the charges. Their bail bonds are
40. LCR be sent back alongwith copy of this order.
41. A copy of this order be sent to the concerned Jail
Superintendent for information.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
CRL.A. No.282/2002 Page 16 of 16