IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
The Hon’ble Justice Joymalya Bagchi
The Hon’ble Justice Manojit Mandal
C.R.A. 243 of 2013
Peru @ Perua Mandal Ors.
State of West Bengal
For the Appellant : Mr. Tapan Dutta Gupta, Advocate
For the State : Mr. Partha Pratim Das, Advocate.
Heard on : March 27, 2019
Judgment on : March 27, 2019
Joymalya Bagchi, J. :-
The appeal is directed against judgment and order dated 20.03.2013 and
passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Fast Track, 4th Court,
Malda in Sessions Trial No. 06/2011 arising out of Sessions Case No.50/2011
convicting the appellants for commission of offence punishable under Sections
498A/302/34 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing them to suffer rigorous
imprisonment for two years each and to pay fine of Rs.1,000/- each, in default,
to suffer simple imprisonment for two months more for the offence punishable
under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and to suffer imprisonment for life
each and to pay fine of Rs.5,000/- each, in default, to suffer simple
imprisonment for one year for the offence punishable under Sections 302/34 of
the Indian Penal Code with a further direction that both the sentences shall run
The prosecution case, as alleged, against the appellants is to the effect that
the victim, Rekha Kurmi was married to Peru @ Perua Mandal, appellant no.1
herein four years prior to the incident. A female child was born to the couple who
was aged about one and half years at the time of occurrence. Appellant no.1
demanded motor cycle as well as a share in the ancestral property of his wife. As
such demands were not made, it was alleged that the victim housewife was
subjected to torture. One month prior to the incident, the victim housewife and
her daughter were brought to her parental home. On 14.12.2009, Halder Mandal,
the father-in-law of the victim housewife came to her parental home and
requested her to return to her matrimonial home. Thereupon, the victim and her
daughter returned to the matrimonial home. On the next day i.e. on 15.12.2009
at about 2.00 p.m. in the afternoon, P.W.2, father of the victim housewife received
information that his daughter and grand-daughter are in serious condition. He
rushed to the matrimonial home of the victim and found both of them dead with
burn injuries. Over the incident, he lodged first information report resulting in
registration of Malda P. S. Case No.255 of 2009 dated 15.12.2099 under Sections
498A/304B/34 of the Indian Penal Code. In conclusion of investigation, charge
sheet was filed against the appellants. The case was committed to the Court of
Sessions and transferred to the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Fast
Track, 4th Court, Malda for trial and disposal.
In the course of trial, charges were framed against the appellants under
Sections 498A/34 IPC, Sections 304/34 IPC and Section 302 of the Indian Penal
Code. To prove its case, prosecution examined 16 witnesses and exhibited a
number of documents. The defence of the appellants was one of innocence and
In conclusion of trial, the Trial Judge by the impugned judgment and
order dated 20.03.2013 and 22.03.2013 convicted and sentenced the appellants,
Mr. Dutta Gupta, learned Counsel appearing for the appellants submitted
that there is no direct evidence showing that the appellants had murdered the
victim. On the other hand, the appellants claimed that they were not at the
house at the time of occurrence. Evidence on record also do not establish that
the appellants had tortured the victim. Hence, the conviction of the appellants is
liable to be set aside.
On the other hand, Mr. Das, learned Counsel appearing for the State
argued that the victim housewife was subjected to torture for demands of a motor
cycle and a share in her ancestral property by the appellant no.1. She took refuge
at her parental home. One day prior to the incident, her father-in-law, appellant
no.2 herein, took her back to the matrimonial home. On the next day, she and
her daughter were burnt alive by the appellants. No explanation is forthcoming
from the appellants with regard to the circumstances in which the victim
housewife and her daughter had suffered such a ghastly end. Hence, the appeal
is liable to be dismissed.
P.W.2, Munilal Kurmi, is the father of the victim housewife and the de-facto
complainant in the instant case. He deposed that the victim was married to Peru
@ Perua Mandal four years prior to the incident. From the wedlock, a female
child viz., Shanti was born to the couple. The child was one and half years at the
time of the incident. Appellants demanded money and denied food to Rekha. She
was also driven out of their house with the child. P.W.2 sent his son (P.W. 10) to
the matrimonial home of her daughter to negotiate with the accused persons. His
daughter told him that her husband demanded motor cycle as well as share in
land. He paid Rs.5,000/- to her daughter and sent her to her in-laws house. On
14.12.2009, the father-in-law of his daughter assured him that there will be no
disturbance. On the next day at about 2.00 P.M., he received information over
telephone that his daughter and grand daughter are in critical condition. On
reaching the spot, he found her daughter and grand daughter in dead condition.
Officer-in-charge and Block Development Officer conducted inquest over their
dead bodies. He put his signature thereon, Ext.2. He lodged written complaint
which was scribed by P.W.13, Ext.3. He proved his signature, Ext.2.
P.W.10, Uttam Kurmi, is the brother of the victim housewife. He
corroborated his father, P.W.1 that Rekha was married to Peru @ Perua Mandal
and a female child was born to the couple who was one and half years at the time
of the incident. The accused persons used to demand money and misbehaved
with his sister. Peru @ Perua Mandal demanded one motor cycle. He also
demanded share in the landed property. They failed to meet such demand.
Father-in-law of Rekha undertook that no further torture would take place and
on the previous day, Rekha was taken back to her matrimonial home. On the
next day, they received information Rekha and her daughter are in critical
condition. Police came to the spot. He signed on the inquest report.
P.W.3, Ashoke Kurmi, another relation of the victim housewife has
corroborated the version of P.W.10.
P.W.4, Rajendra Sil and P.W.5, Kapildeb Tewari are the barber and priest
to the marriage.
P.W.8, Abhishek Singha videographed the marriage of the victim with Peru
@ Perua Mandal.
P.W.6, Sharmila Roy is a neighbour. She deposed with regard to demand of
motor cycle and other articles by Peru @ Perua Mandal. She also deposed that on
the day prior to the incident, father-in-law of Rekha had taken her back to the
P.W.7, Gopal Mondal is a neighbour of the appellants. He deposed that
after marriage Peru @ Perua Mandal and his wife stayed in his own house. Dead
bodies of the victims were recovered from the house of Peru @ Perua Mandal. He
is also a signatory to the inquest report.
P.W.14, Tarun Bhattacharjee, B.D.O. held inquest over the dead bodies of
the victims. He proved the inquest report, Ext.2/2.
P.W.12, Mrinal Das, took photographs of the dead bodies of the victims. He
proved the photographs, Mat. Ext.II.
P.W.15, Dr. Rajib Prosad is the post mortem doctor who conducted post
mortem over the bodies of Rekha and her daughter Shanti. On examination of
the dead body of Rekha, he found the following injuries;
“a) 5th and 6th degree burn injuries over the following areas:-
1) face, forehead; (2) both forearm; (3) anterior aspect of both arm and
axlia; (4) upper part of the chest and abdomen upto inguinal and pubic
area, all around the both lower limbs;”
Upon examination of the body of Shanti, he found similar injuries. He
opined that the death of both the persons were due to ante mortem burn injuries.
He proved the post mortem reports, Exts.6 and 7.
P.W.16, Sunil Kumar Roy is the Investigating Officer in the instant case.
From the evidence on record, it is well established that Rekha was married
to Peru @ Perua Mandal four years prior to the incident. From the wedlock, a
female child viz., Shanti was born one and half years prior to the incident. Peru @
Perua Mandal demanded a share in the ancestral property as well as a motor
cycle. As the said demands were not made, Rekha was subjected to torture. Due
to torture, she took refuge at her parental home. Her father-in-law Halder Mandal
intervened and assured P.W.1 that Rekha would not be tortured. Accordingly, on
14.12.2009 she returned to her matrimonial home. On the next day i.e. on
15.12.2009 at about 2.00 P.M. Rekha and her daughter Shanti suffered 5th and
6th degree burn injuries on their bodies and died. It has been argued that there is
no direct evidence that the appellants had set Rekha and her daughter on fire.
Hence, the charge under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code ought to fail.
I have analyzed the evidence on record in the light of the aforesaid
submission. I note that the housewife and her daughter were subjected to torture
over demands of motor cycle and a share in property by Peru @ Perua Mandal,
the husband. One day prior to the incident, she was brought back to her
matrimonial home by her father-in-law. On the next day, both the victims
suffered burn injuries and died. Indisputably, both the victims had suffered
unnatural burn injuries on the date of the incident at her matrimonial home and
died. Such injuries may either be accidental, suicidal or homicidal. There is
nothing on record to probabilise an accidental fire at the matrimonial home.
Appellant no.1 viz., Peru @ Perua Mandal, husband of the victim has not
explained the circumstances in which his wife and daughter died due to severe
burn injuries at the matrimonial home. A faint plea was raised by him that he
was not at his residence at the time of occurrence. No such suggestion was given
to any of the witnesses by the said appellant. In the course of trial, no defence
evidence was also adduced to probabilise such plea. On the other hand, evidence
has come on record that Peru @ Perua Mandal used to reside with his wife and
daughter in his house after marriage. One day prior to the incident, the victims
had returned to the said house.
Hence, there is no escape from the conclusion that the victims suffered
severe burn injuries at the house of Peru @ Perua Mandal. Evidence of P.W. 7
established the fact that the couple resided separately from the in-laws. Hence, it
was incumbent on Peru @ Perua Mandal who resided with the victims to explain
how they suffered burn injuries. He has singularly failed to do so and has raised
a false plea that he was not at the spot. Failure on the part of Peru @ Perua
Mandal to explain the burn injuries resulting in the death of the victims and the
false plea of alibi raised by him leads to an adverse inference against the said
appellant that he had murdered the victims. This conclusion is further fortified
by the opinion of the post mortem Doctor, P.W.15 who found 5th and 6th degree
burn injuries on the bodies of both the victims probabilising a case of homicidal
burn and improbabilising the possibility of accidental or suicidal death.
With regard to the roles of the other appellants, viz., appellant no.2, Halder
Mandal and appellant no.3, Ketu @ Tetul Mandal, I find that the demand of
dowry was raised by the husband viz., Peru @ Perua Mandal and not by the said
appellants. It is true that the appellant no.2, Halder Mandal, father-in-law of the
victim housewife had intervened and sought to mediate the differences between
the couple by assuring that she would not be tortured. However, such effort
appears to have been in vain and the victim and her daughter were set on fire the
very next day by his son Peru @ Perua Mandal. Evidence has also come on light
that Peru @ Perua Mandal and his family i.e. the victims were residing separately
in his house since marriage till the inident. In this factual backdrop, failure on
the part of Halder Mandal, father-in-law of the victim housewife to prevent his
son from setting Rekha and her daughter on fire, in my considered opinion, does
not establish the prosecution case against them beyond doubt.
Hence, I am inclined to extend the benefit of doubt to the said appellants
viz., appellant Nos.2 and 3 herein and acquit them of the charges levelled against
Conviction of the appellant no.1 viz., Peru @ Perua Mandal is recorded
under Section 498A and 302 of the Indian Penal Code. Sentences imposed on the
appellant No.1, Peru @ Perua Mandal by the trial Court on the aforesaid counts
are upheld and both the sentences shall run concurrently.
Conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant No.2, Halder Mandal
and appellant no.3, Ketu @ Tetul Mandal are set aside.
The appeal is allowed in part.
Period of detention suffered by the appellant no.1 viz., Peru @ Perua
Mandal during investigation, enquiry and trial shall be set off from the
substantive sentence imposed upon him in terms of Section 428 of the Code of
The appellant Nos. 2 and 3 shall be released from custody forthwith, if not
wanted in any other case, upon execution of a bail bond to the satisfaction of the
trial court which shall remain in force for a period of six months in terms of
Section 437A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The lower court records along with a copy of this judgment be sent down at
once to the learned trial court for necessary action.
Photostat certified copy of this order, if applied for, be given to the parties
on priority basis on compliance of all formalities.
(Manojit Mandal, J.) (Joymalya Bagchi, J.)