Madras High Court Murugan @ Ravi-vs-State Of Tamil Nadu By on 17 November, 2009
THE HONOURABLE MRS.JUSTICE ARUNA JAGADEESAN
Murugan @ Ravi Appellant
State of Tamil Nadu by
Thirumullaivoyil Police Station
Prayer:- This Criminal Appeal is filed against the order dated 28.2.2006 passed in SC.No.94/2005 by the learned Assistant Sub Judge, Poonamallee, convicting and sentencing the appellant (a) for the offence under Section 306 of IPC to undergo seven years of Rigorous Imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default to undergo 6 months Rigorous Imprisonment and (b) for the offence under Section 498A of IPC to undergo three years Rigorous and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- in default to undergo 6 months Rigorous Imprisonment. For Appellant : Mr.R.Gothandaraman
For Respondent : Mr.Hasan Mohammed Jinnah, APP
This Criminal Appeal is filed against the judgement dated 28.2.2006 passed in SC.No.94/2005 by the learned Assistant Sub Judge, Poonamallee, convicting and sentencing the appellant (a) for the offence under Section 306 of IPC to undergo seven years of Rigorous Imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default to undergo 6 months Rigorous Imprisonment and (b) for the offence under Section 498A of IPC to undergo three years Rigorous and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- in default to undergo 6 months Rigorous Imprisonment.
2. The case of the Prosecution is as follows:-
a. The Appellant and the deceased Kavitha were married on 5.6.1998 and she lived with him till 17.9.1998 until she was taken by her family members to her parental home, since it was reported to them by the deceased that her husband was suspecting her and was linking her with one Krishnamurthy said to be her VERNACULAR (TAMIL) PORTION DELETED
and a letter had been taken from her under compulsion admitting her relationship with the said Krishnamurthy. While taking her to her parental home, the said letter was also taken from him. When she was living with him, it was alleged that the appellant demanded a motorcycle, a house site and the balance two sovereigns of jewels and she was harassed by the Appellant and his mother. b. After she came to her parental house, she was living there for about 3 years and in the mean while, she lodged a complaint against the Appellant with the All Women Police Station for dowry harassment and the same was pending. She was working in Ambattur and it is alleged that while she was returning, one Prasanna a women constable had told her that she will lose the case as she has given a letter in writing admitting her illicit relationship. It is further alleged that on 30.3.2002 when she returned home from her Company, she is said to have told PW.5 Rajeswari that the Appellant threatened her which was also conveyed to PW.1, the father and PW.2, PW.3, PW.4, the brothers of the deceased. On the same day, at about 6.00 p.m. she immolated herself by pouring kerosene on her body in the bath room in her parents house. On the next day, when they searched her room, they found a unsigned letter written by her stating that her matrimonial life was not happy and her husband had suspected her fidelity and linked one Krishnamurthy with her and she was forced to give a letter admitting her relationship with the said Krishnamurthy, which caused mental agony and she had committed suicide. c. Immediately after the incident, PW.1 lodged a complaint with the Thirumullaivoyil Police Station and PW.15 Inspector of Police registered a case in Cr.No.80/2002 and prepared Ex.P7 FIR. On instructions given by PW.15, PW.13, Head Constable went to the place of occurrence and took video and handed over the video cassette to PW.15. In the mean while, PW.8, the Tahsildar conducted inquest on the body of the deceased and prepared inquest report Ex.P9. On receipt of the request made by the Tahsildar concerned through PW.14, Sundaramoorthy, Constable, PW.8, Professor C.Manoharan, attached to the Government Hospital, Kilpauk conducted postmortem at 1.10 p.m. on the same day and found burn injuries on the deceased and opined in Ex.P4 Postmortem certificate that the deceased died of burn injuries. d. On the same day of occurrence, PW.16, the Deputy Superintendent of Police on receipt of FIR EX.P7 went to the place of occurrence and prepared observation mahazar Ex.P5 and a rough sketch Ex.P11 in the presence of PW.9 Pachayappan and PW.10 Balu and also other witnesses and recorded their statements and seized letters Ex.P2 and 3. PW.16 on 5.4.2002 arrested the accused near Annanoor Railway Station and obtained confession statement from him and sent him for judicial custody and filed a final report before the court below.
3. The case was taken on file in SC.No.94/2005 on the file of the learned Assistant Sub Judge, Poonamallee and necessary charges were framed. In order to substantiate the charges levelled against the accused, the prosecution examined as many as 16 witnesses and also relied on Exs.P1 to P11.
5. On completion of the evidence on the side of the prosecution, the accused was questioned under Section 313 Cr.PC as to the incriminating circumstances found in the evidence of prosecution witnesses and the accused denied the same as totally false.
7. The court below, after hearing the arguments advanced on either side and looking into the materials available, found the accused/appellant guilty and awarded punishments as referred to above, which is challenged in this Criminal Appeal.
8. This court heard the submissions of the learned counsel on either side and also perused the material records placed.
9. Mr.R.Gothandaraman, the learned counsel for the Appellant took me to the entire evidence of Pws.1 to 6 and PW.12 and contended vehemently that the alleged harassment said to have been suffered by the deceased because of her husband’s conduct in suspecting her fidelity relates back to three years prior to her death and it clearly showed that suicide by the deceased was not proximate to the instances shown by the Prosecution and it was not the direct result of the alleged conduct of the Appellant in suspecting her conduct. He also pointed out to the inconsistencies and improvements in the evidence of her relatives PW.1 to PW.5 and submitted that their evidence is not credible and no reliance can be placed on their evidence.
10. The Prosecution has relied on the evidence of Pws.1 to 6 and PW.12 and also Ex.P2 and P3 letters said to have been written by the deceased. It is not disputed that the deceased lived with her husband only for a short period i.e. from 5.6.1998 to 17.9.1998 and even according to the Prosecution, the above acts of harassment attributed to the Appellant had taken place between the period from 5.6.1998 to 17.9.1998 and thereafter, she was living with her parents for about 3 years prior to her death.
11. In so far as the evidence of PW.1 to 6 is concerned, there are lots of improvements and inconsistencies in their evidence. Though PW.1 has stated that the Appellant had beaten her for not getting a motorcycle, a house site and two sovereigns of jewels when his daughter lived with her husband for a short period, but he admitted that the above said allegations were not stated in the complaint given by his daughter to the All Women Police Station. PW.2 to Pw.5 have not stated the above said allegations, when they were examined by the investigating officer. Their evidence clearly indicates that it is a clear improvement made by those witnesses. More importantly, in Ex.P1 complaint PW.1 has not stated anything about the alleged demand by the Appellant.
12. It is relevant to point out to the testimony of PW.16, the Inspector of Police that during his cross-examination he was confronted with all such statements of the witnesses PW.1 to PW.6 and he had asserted that no such statement was made by them before him at the time of investigation. Though PW.1 to PW.6 denied to such suggestion put to them, but PW.16 investigating officer admitted about such omission in the statement under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure of PW.1 to 6. Thus, it is substantiated by the defence that it is the case of material omission.
13. A few days after her marriage, it is said that the Appellant scolded the deceased for allowing one Krishnamurthy who is not related to her, but called as
VERNACULAR (TAMIL) PORTION DELETED
to put the metti to her at the time of her marriage and suspected her saying that she was having relationship with him. In the wake of the said incident, he is said to have made the deceased to write a letter admitting her illegal relationship with the said person.
14. According to Pws.2 to 4, the said letter was got back from the Appellant, when they brought back the deceased after quarreling with the Appellant. It is their evidence that they have handed over the said letter to the All Women Police Station, when the deceased lodged a complaint against the Appellant. But, the investigating officer has deposed that he has seized the said letter from PW.3 along with the unsigned letter said to have been written by the deceased prior to her death.
15. The relevant portion in PW.3’sevidence is extracted below:-
VERNACULAR (TAMIL) PORTION DELETED
It is not known as to how the said letter had come to the hands of PW.3 when it had been handed over to the All Women Police Station even on 17.9.1998 or few days thereafter. The defence is that the letter was written voluntarily by the deceased and the Prosecution has brought the letter into the evidence in order to put the blame on the Appellant as though he forcibly made the deceased to write such a letter. The discrepancy noted above would only countenance the defence version.
16. Another letter said to have been written by the deceased prior to her death marked as Ex.P3 is said to have been addressed to the Inspector of Police by the deceased. This letter is said to have been handed over by PW.3 to the investigating officer on the next day. But, strangely those letters have not been seized under any mahazar. There is no material to show that the said letter was written by the deceased in her own hand. That apart, the letter contains the narration regarding the conduct of the Appellant in suspecting her conduct, when she lived with him for a shorter period and no attribution is made against the accused after she left the matrimonial home.
17. It is the specific case of the Prosecution that on the date of her commission of suicide, she was threatened by the Appellant and that is the reason which forced her to commit suicide. But, the evidence of PW.1 reveals that it was one Prasanna a woman constable who had met her in the court and is alleged to have said that the deceased would lose the case in view of the letter written by her admitting her illegal relationship with one Krishnamurthy. Even PW.16 speaks to the said fact. In Ex.P2 letter, written prior to the commission of suicide there is no reference to the alleged threat made by the Appellant or the said Prasanna. The said letter having been written by the deceased immediately prior to her death, she would not have omitted to state had she been threatened by the Appellant. Therefore, no attribution would be made to the Appellant for the suicide committed by the deceased. It is an after thought and an improvement made by the witnesses at the later point of time.
18. Another piece of evidence, which was relied upon by the Prosecution is the testimony of PW.12 the house owner of the Appellant where he resided with the deceased and his mother after the marriage. PW.12 has stated that he saw the Appellant beating his wife with a bumper pipe and the deceased was bleeding from her nose. This incident he has neither stated to the relatives of the deceased nor to the investigating officer while he examined him at the time of investigation. Apart from the fact that the said incident is alleged to have taken place 3 years prior to her death, the improvement made by the said witness while deposing before the court for the first time discredit his testimony. So no credence could be given to the testimony of PW.12.
19. According to the learned counsel for the Appellant, the ingredients of abetment as envisaged under Section 306 of IPC read with 106 of IPC are totally absent and therefore, the Appellant is liable to be acquitted. He would submit that on a proper interpretation of the facts and also the provisions of Section 306 of IPC, it can never be said that the Appellant herein was in any manner responsible for abetting the suicide committed by the deceased which was an independent act of the deceased. He would also submit that there was no infliction of cruel act or harassment by the Appellant to the deceased and therefore, conviction and sentence under Section 306 and 498A of IPC are liable to be set aside.
20. It is relevant to point that the deceased had committed suicide 3 years after her separation and the Prosecution concentrated only on the evidence with regard to what was allegedly demanded and what was exchanged at the time of marriage during their living for a shorter period. Even regarding the conduct of the Appellant in suspecting the fidelity of his wife, the evidence adduced related back to 3 years before her death. In any event, no evidence has been brought on record to show that there has been any act of omission or commission on the part of the Appellant immediately before the death of the deceased to demonstrate that the Appellant was responsible for her suicide.
21. The facts which are disclosed from the evidence on record clearly establish that the Appellant had no part in the commission of suicide by the deceased and there is absolutely no proximity or nexus between the conduct of the Appellant in suspecting her conduct that is 3 years prior to her death with that of the suicide committed by the deceased. Besides that, there is clear evidence that after her separation from the Appellant, the Appellant had vacated the house and went to a different place.
22. The Trial Court failed to consider the entire evidence in a proper perspective and therefore, I am unable to agree with the findings of the Trial Court holding the Appellant guilty under Section 306 and 498A of IPC.
23. Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, there is necessity to interfere with the findings of the Trial Court and I am constrained to set aside the impugned judgement of the trial court.
22. In the result, the conviction and sentence imposed on the Appellant by the court below are set aside. The Appellant is acquitted of the charges levelled against him. The bail bond if any executed by the appellant shall stand terminated and the fine amount if any paid is ordered to be refunded to him. Srcm
The Public Prosecutor, High Court,