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Ou vs H on 17 July, 2012

Bombay High Court Ou vs H on 17 July, 2012Bench: A.P. Bhangale

Apeal255.1998

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY NAGPUR BENCH AT NAGPUR.

rt

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 255 OF 1998 ou

Arun S/o Balkrishna Bhoyar,

Aged about 23 years,

Occupation : Cultivator / Labourer, R/o. Katurli, Police Station Adyal, Tah : Pauni, District : Bhandara. :: APPELLANT C

-: Versus :-

h

The State of Maharashtra :: RESPONDENT ig

……………………………………………………………………………………………… Ms Preeti Rane, Advocate for the Appellant Ms R. A. Deshpande, APP for the Respondent-State H

……………………………………………………………………………………………… CORAM : A. P. BHANGALE, J.

DATED : 17TH JULY, 2012

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ORAL JUDGMENT:

ba

The Appellant has challenged the validity and om

legality of the Judgment and Order dated 21st July, 1998 passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Bhandara in Sessions Trial No. 10 of 1995, whereby the appellant B

(accused) was found guilty of offence punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and he was sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/-, in default of which to suffer rigorous imprisonment for six months. By the impugned Judgment and Order, the appellant (accused) was however acquitted of the ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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offence punishable under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

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2. Facts briefly stated are as under : – Deceased Renukabai, who was sister of first C

informant namely; Manohar Khedikar, had married with appellant (accused) on 30/05/1994, and was residing with her h

husband. It is the case of prosecution that at the time of ig

marriage, a sum of Rs. 2,000/-, gold ring and a wrist watch were given to the appellant (accused). At the time of Ashadi H

(the festival when the married woman visits her parents) in 1994, deceased had visited house of first informant namely y

Manohar Khedikar (brother of deceased). At that time, she ba

conveyed the demand of Rs. 2,000/- made by appellant (accused). Since first informant namely Manohar was facing financial deficit, he was unable to meet the demand made by om

her husband-appellant (accused). Meanwhile, father-in-law also came there and while having meals, he conveyed the B

demand made by husband of the deceased for Rs. 1,000/-. 10-15 days thereafter, the first informant had occasion to visit village Palandur where deceased was residing with her husband. First informant met appellant (accused) and was asked to come to village Katorli. Appellant-accused had not disclosed the reason as to why he wants to meet the first ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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informant namely; Manohar and, therefore, first informant did not visit Katorli. Thereafter, the first informant along with his rt

grant-father and friends visited house of the appellant ou

(accused). At that time, the first informant did not find his sister in the house of the appellant (accused) and, therefore, he inquired with her husband. Her husband told him that she C

went to attend labour work. The first informant then showed an inland letter dated 16/08/1994, received by him as regards h

illness of Renukabai. The first informant’s sister namely ig

Renukabai came in the night hours, she prepared food and served them. On the following day, the first informant, his H

grand-father and friends asked appellant (accused) as to why letter was sent. The appellant (accused) told them that the y

letter was sent so as to take away Renukabai. But, the ba

appellant did not take away his sister at that time. 3-4 days thereafter, the first informant went to village Katorli and brought his sister to his house. Renukabai was not feeling om

well and, therefore, she was taken to Masal for medical treatment. On that occasion, Renukabai told first informant B

about ill-treatment being meted out to her by her husband and mother-in-law on the pretext of demand of Rs. 1,000/-. Since that demand was not fulfilled by the first informant, the accused and his mother were taunting and abusing her. Renukabai stayed for 5-6 days at her brother’s house and on Sunday at 11.00 p.m., she went missing and, therefore, her ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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mother was weeping. Her brother Manohar then lodged a report to the Police Station. Later on, unfortunate incident rt

came to light that her dead body was found lying in the Well. ou

On being identified her dead body, the first informant lodged complaint against appellant (accused) and investigation followed in the form of inquest panchanama and spot C

panchanama. The dead body of the Renukabai was referred for post-mortem. Then, the police seized the clothes of the h

deceased. After completion of the Investigation, the ig

appellant (accused) was charge-sheeted in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Pauni (for short “JMFC”), and H

said JMFC committed the case to the Sessions Court. Thus, the accused was facing the trial upon charge that he along y

with his mother had committed the offence punishable under ba

Sections 498A and 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. They had pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried. The prosecution had examined altogether nine om

witnesses to support the prosecution case. The question before the trial Court was; as to whether the prosecution had B

succeeded to prove that the accused in furtherance of common intention subjected Renukabai with cruelty and said cruelty is of such a nature as is likely to drive her to commit suicide and also upon accusations that they had abetted Renukabai to commit suicide?

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3. Learned trial Judge appreciated the evidence led by the prosecution on record and came to the conclusion that rt

although offence punishable under Section 306 read with ou

Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code was not proved by the prosecution, prosecution had succeeded to establish cruelty punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code C

as against the appellant (accused). While mother-in-law of the appellant (accused) was acquitted for want of evidence. h

4.

ig

It appears that the first informant – Manohar was examined as P.W. 1 in the case. He deposed before the trial H

Court that his sister had married with the appellant (accused) on 30/05/1994. His evidence disclosed that at the time of y

marriage, the first informant had paid amount of Rs. 2,000/-, one gold ring, one watch to the appellant (accused) and one ba

nose ring to Renukabai. According to him, Renukabai had visited his house only for 2-3 times after the marriage. At the om

time of Ashadi festival, Renukabai had complained about demand for Rs. 1,000/- made by appellant (accused) but, the first informant had no money at that time and, therefore, he B

cannot meet the demand of appellant (accused). The evidence also indicates that the father-in-law of the Renukabai also visited the house of the first informant and conveyed the demand of Rs. 1,000/- made by his son. At that time also, the first informant – Manohar had expressed his ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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inability to pay the money but assured to be paid later on. Afterwards, when Renukabai visited the house of first rt

informant, she again conveyed that because of ou

non-compliance of demand of Rs. 1,000/-, her mother-in-law was talking with her in a pinching manner. Thereafter, her husband (accused) had beaten her on the pretext that she C

does not know how to prepare food. His evidence also indicates that husband of Renukabai had called him to village h

Katorli without disclosing any reason, nonetheless first ig

informant had visited house of the appellant (accused). On reaching his house, he found that his sister was weeping and H

her mother-in-law had said to take away Renukabai as she does not know how to work properly. He also found that his y

sister was sent for labour work. When first informant returned ba

to his house, he found that one inland letter dated 16/8/1994 from accused, in which, there was message about serious health of Renukabai. When first informant, his friend om

Tulshiram Wanjari and Jageshwar Bankar went to village Katorli, the appellant (accused) told them that Renukabai B

went to the field for weeding. The first informant made an enquiry as to why she was sent to field for work when she was not feeling well. In the evening, Renukabai returned from the field. According to first informant, report was lodged to Police so as to protect Renukabai from more harassment. Thus, first informant gave evidence about harassment received by his ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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sister Renukabai and demand made in the sum of Rs. 1,000/-, which was not fulfilled after her marriage. Under these rt

circumstances, Renuakabai had been brought to the house of ou

the first informant. She was fed up with the harassment and demand made by appellant (accused) and, therefore, after staying for 5-6 days at first informant’s house, she ended her C

life by jumping into the well. h

5. Grand-father of Renukabai namely; Shri Rajaram Khudanji Khedikar was examined as P.W. 3. He also supports ig

to the evidence of first informant. His evidence discloses that H

when he along with first informant went to the house of the accused, they found that Renukabai was sent for work on daily wages and on her return to house, she was weeping. He y

also came to know that accused was beating her and no food ba

was being provided to her. At that time, they went to Police Station and lodged report. Later on, when they came to know om

that Renukabai was beaten, she was brought to the house of first informant in village Pohara. The evidence indicates that health condition of Renukabai was not good and she was in B

need of medical treatment but husband did not care and coerced her to earn daily wages by doing weeding work in agricultural field for whole day.

6. P.W. 4 – Baburao Kisan Mangare also knew about the marriage of Renukabai with appellant (accused) and he ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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had occasion to visit house of the accused after her brother requested to accompany him as his sister was being ill- rt

treated by the accused. When they went to the house of the ou

accused, accused told them that the deceased was not doing any work and he does not want that girl and she shall be taken away. Thus, Renukabai was sent with them to the first C

informant’s house. At that time, she was suffering from fever and had undergone treatment in hospital. Thus, the evidence h

clearly shows that although her health was not good she was ig

sent to agricultural field for work on daily wages and ultimately she was ill-treated and driven to go along with her H

brother to his house.

y

7. P.W.5 – Dhanraj Dashrathji Khedikar also supported ba

the evidence of the first informant about demand made by accused in the sum of Rs. 1,000/-, and the fact that Renukabai was brought to the house of the first informant om

when accused told them that amount should be brought from first informant.

B

8. P.W.7 – Tulshiram Tima Wanjari also deposed about his visit along with first informant to the house of the accused at village Katorli. When they reached the house of the accused, they asked about Renukabai. Appellant (accused) told them that Renukabai was sent outside for work. In the ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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evening, Renukabai returned to the house and on seeing her brother along with others, she started weeping. He also rt

deposed about the report to the police station regarding ill- ou

treatment meted out to Renukabai.

9. The prosecution had also examined Investigating C

Police Officers as P.W.8 and P.W. 9, regarding investigation carried out into the case and the charge-sheet filed against h

the appellant (accused). The evidence indicates that an inland letter (Exh.32) was sent by the appellant (accused) to ig

his brother-in-law Manohar Khedikar, which was received at H

village Pohara. In that letter, the first informant was informed that Renukabai was not keeping good health, sometimes she vomits and she was taken to private hospital but her case y

being serious, she was to be taken to Bhandara but there is ba

no one to accompany and, therefore, first informant was called immediately to village Katorli. It was stated in Marathi om

which is as under:

**rjhi.k vki.k i= feGrk {k.khp tj vkiY;k eqyhph fQdj vlsy rj yodjkr yodj i= B

feGrkp ;s.ks**

If you care your daughter, you must come as soon as you receive the letter.

The letter also averred in the nature of following words.

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**tj rqEgkyk vkiyh eqyxh ftoar igk;ph vlsy rj i= feGrkp ;s.ks-**

rt

If you want to see your daughter alive, you should ou

come immediately after receipt of letter. The accused also informed through letter that only C

he and Renukabai were at home and, therefore, they were unable to take medical treatment. h

10.

ig

According to learned Advocate for the appellant, the letter only indicates anxiety of husband and not H

ill-treatment and it does not contain any threat. y

11. However, according to learned APP, tenor of the ba

letter and the words used by accused ought to be read in the light of other evidence on record. It indicates threat from her om

husband and his careless attitude towards his wife. It is also in evidence that report was made to Adyal Police Station by first informant (Exh. 37). When police were informed about B

the letter dated 16/8/1994 sent by the accused and the fact that when first informant went to see Renukabai, he found that she was sent for weeding work and there was complaint made by her husband that she does not work properly, she was unable to work and, therefore, she shall be taken to the house of the first informant. At that time, first informant had ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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apprehended danger to the life of Renukabai and informed to the police.

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12. It is under these circumstances in the present case, the evidence is required to be appreciated, more so when ultimately Renukabai decided to end her life by jumping into C

the well within a very short period of her marriage with the appellant (accused) namely; Arun. h

13.

ig

Learned trial Judge convicted the appellant (accused) for offence punishable under Section 498A of the H

Indian Penal Code. The Court is required to consider the fact as to the date of marriage, the conduct of the accused after y

the marriage, and if married woman is being harassed with a ba

view to coerce her or to any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand of money, which fall within the meaning of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the Legislature has om

added an explanation to Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, giving the meaning of the term ‘cruelty’. Thus, the B

meaning of cruelty includes any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (mental or physical) of the woman or harassment of the woman whether such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet rt

such demand. This is not a case of false allegations. I have ou

read the entire evidence including oral as well as documentary. Learned trial Judge did give benefit of doubt to mother-in-law of Renukabai in respect of accusations made C

against her under Section 306 as well as 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Even appellant was also given benefit of doubt to h

the extent of accusations made under Section 306 of the ig

Indian Penal Code. However, this is a case where request letter was addressed to the first informant by husband of the H

newly married lady entailing first informant to come immediately on receipt of the letter if he cares his sister y

Renukabai and if he wants to see his sister alive. The tenor of ba

the letter and the words used have to be understood in the context of accusations made against the accused and evidence in support thereof. The evidence do establish om

beyond reasonable doubt that there was unlawful demand from the husband, may be in the sum of Rs. 1,000/- but first B

informant was unable to meet the demand of the accused and the fact that despite ill health of Renukabai, appellant (accused) had sent Renukabai for work on daily wages. It was nothing but cruelty.

14. No explanation was adduced from the defence side ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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as to whether Renukabai was properly cared by her in-laws taking her to doctor for medical treatment. In view of the fact rt

that Renukabai had occasion to visit her brother’s house ou

during Ashadi festival and that she had conveyed the demand made by her husband for Rs. 1,000/- and the evidence of witnesses, who cannot have an axe to grind against the C

accused for deposing falsely against him, the evidence of witnesses do indicate that the harassment was meted out to h

Renukabai by her husband which can be considered as ig

deliberate behaviour against newly married woman when demand made by husband was not met and it amounts to H

harassment or cruelty punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

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ba

15. Learned Advocate for the appellant submitted that in the ruling of Onkar Nath Mishra and others Versus State (NCT of Delhi) and another reported in (2008) 2 om

SCC 561, the Apex Court considered Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code in paras 19 to 21 of the ruling. In that case B

a prayer was made by the appellants to quash the charge- sheet and the consequential proceedings pursuant to first information report (FIR) No. 155 of 1995, instituted in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi. In that context, the Apex Court made observations in the light of facts and circumstances of that case. Since there was not even a ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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whisper of a wilful misconduct of the accused regarding harassment so as to attract provisions of Section 498A read rt

with Explanation thereto, the Apex Court was convinced that ou

the allegations of misbehavior on the part of the accused and illegal demand were afterthought and not bona fide. At the same time, the Apex Court noted that Section 498A of the C

Code of Criminal Procedure was introduced with the avowed object under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code to combat h

the menace of dowry deaths and harassment to a woman but ig

cautioned that the provision could be used as a device to achieve oblique motives. Looking into the facts of that case, H

the case was at preliminary stage and allegations were found to be afterthought and mala fide. The said ruling, therefore, y

is not applicable in the facts and circumstances of the present ba

case. When the entire evidence is before the trial Court regarding the cruelty punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which include documentary evidence in om

the form of letters (Exh. 32 and 37), corroborating oral evidence to support the accusations made by the first B

informant, I think, the trial Court has considered the entire evidence and appreciated it in the light of documentary evidence, relied upon, and came to a logical and correct conclusion as against appellant (accused) holding that the prosecution had proved that the appellant (accused) namely; Arun had subjected Renukabai to cruelty punishable under ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Under these circumstances, I do not find any reasonable ground so as to rt

interfere with the impugned Judgment and Order whereby the ou

appellant (accused) was found guilty for offence punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. C

16. At this stage, learned Advocate for the appellant (accused) prayed for leniency. She submitted that the h

incident had occurred long back and appellant had already ig

undergone imprisonment for a period of six months. She, therefore, prayed to impose the sentence of imprisonment to H

the period already undergone by reducing it accordingly. She further submitted that there is no criminal antecedents y

against the appellant (accused). The appellant (accused) has ba

an old aged mother. Learned Advocate for the appellant (accused) placed reliance upon the ruling in the case of B. T. Jayaram v. State of Karnataka reported in 2006 CRI. L. J. om

2141, wherein sentence of six months and fine in the sum of Rs. 10,000/- was imposed for offence punishable under B

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The Apex Court had considered the imprisonment undergone by the accused and in the facts and circumstances of the case, the sentence was reduced to the period already undergone. Learned Advocate for appellant (accused) also relied on the ruling in the case of Nagunuri Srinivas & Anr v. State of A.P. reported in 2009 ::: Downloaded on – 09/06/2013 18:49:42 ::: Apeal255.1998

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CRI.L.J. 2499, in which the offence was punishable under Section 498-A. The Andhra Pradesh High Court in that case rt

was pleased to reduce the sentence to the period already ou

undergone by the appellant (accused). Learned Advocate for the appellant (accused) further submitted that the appellant (accused) has already undergone the sentence of C

imprisonment for a period of six months. It appears that the learned trial Court also noted that the appellant (accused) h

was in jail during the period from 30/09/1994 to 07/3/1995. In ig

the light of the facts and circumstances of the case, that the appellant (accused) is the only earning member in his family H

and he has already lost his wife and in absence of any criminal record against him and the fact that the incident had y

occurred long back on 26/9/1994, the appellant do deserve ba

leniency as prayed for in the facts and circumstances of the case. Hence the following order. om

ORDER

1] Sentence of appellant’s imprisonment is reduced B

to the period already undergone. 2] The Judgment and Order passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Bhandara in Sessions Trial No. 10 of 1995, shall stand modified accordingly.

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3] The Appeal is party allowed to the extent of rt

sentence only.

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4] The fees quantified at Rs. 3,000/- shall be paid to Ms Preeti Rane, Advocate for the Appellant C

(accused) from High Court Legal Aid Services Sub- committee, Nagpur.

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ig JUDGE Punde

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