Delhi High Court Rajendra Nath Chopra & Ors vs State on 3 April, 2013Author: S. P. Garg
* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
RESERVED ON : 6th FEBRUARY, 2013
DECIDED ON : 3rd APRIL, 2013
+ CRL.A. 175/1994
RAJENDRA NATH CHOPRA & ORS ….. Appellants Through : Mr.K.B.Andley, Sr.Advocate with
STATE ….. Respondent Through : Ms.Fizani Husain, APP.
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE S.P.GARG
1. R.N.Chopra, V.K.Chopra, Smt.Subhashna Chopra & V.K.Kalra were arrested in Sessions Case No. 136/1989 arising out of FIR No.239/1989 PS Kirti Nagar and were challened to the Court for Trial on the allegations that on or before 12.07.1989 they harassed and maltreated Kamal Chopra, legally wedded wife of V.K.Chopra on account of dowry demands during her stay at the matrimonial home at 7/204, Ramesh Nagar, Delhi. On 12.07.1989 at about 10.00 A.M. Kamal Chopra CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 1 of 7 committed suicide. During the course of investigation, Mr.V.K.Jain, SDM recorded statement of the deceased’s father and lodged First Information Report. Post-mortem examination on the body of the deceased was conducted. Statements of the witnesses conversant with the facts were recorded. The accused were arrested. After completion of investigation, they were charge-sheeted and brought to Trial. The prosecution examined twenty one witnesses to substantiate the charges. In their 313 Cr.P.C. statements, the accused pleaded false implication. They examined seven witnesses in defence. On appreciating the evidence and considering the rival contentions of the parties, the Trial Court, by the impugned judgment, convicted all of them under sections 498A/304B IPC. Vide order dated 29.07.1994, all the four accused were sentenced to undergo RI for two years with fine ` 2,000/- each under Section 498A/34 IPC. Subhashna Chopra and V.K.Kalra were sentenced to undergo RI for seven years under Section 304 B IPC. R.N.Chopra and V.K.Chopra were sentenced to undergo RI for ten years under Section 304 B IPC.
2. The convicts challenged the judgment of conviction in Crl.A.No.175/1994. This Court vide judgment dated 10.10.2001 dismissed the appeal. The matter went to Supreme Court. Appeal preferred by R.N.Chopra (Father-in-law) abated due to his death. Appeal CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 2 of 7 preferred by Subhashna Chopra (Mother-in-law) and V.K.Chopra (husband) was dismissed. They had also undergone the sentence awarded by the Trial Court. Appeal preferred by V.K.Kalra was accepted and the judgment of this Court was set aside. The matter was remanded to this Court for disposal on merits vide order dated 17.03.2009.
3. Counsel for the appellant- V.K.Kalra urged that he was not a family member of the deceased and had no concern with their affairs. Allegations against him are uncertain, vague and unspecific. Learned APP urged that the appellant harassed Kamal Chopra and instigated her in-laws to turn her out of the matrimonial home to extort money from her parents. There are specific allegations that at the time of ‘Vidai’, he forced Kamal’s parents to pay ` 25,000/- though the demand was for ` 50,000/-. The appellant did not allow PW-11 (Bawa Jai Gopal Singh), Kamal’s father to go out of the home when he went to see his daughter on getting information about her death.
4. Admittedly, V.K.Kalra is the brother-in-law and was married to the sister-in-law (nand) of the deceased prior to her marriage. He lived with his family at a distance of about 3 K.M. from the matrimonial home. Kamal was married to V.K.Chopra on 21.10.1987. She committed suicide at the matrimonial home on 12.07.1989. No complaint was ever lodged CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 3 of 7 against the appellant by the deceased or her parents for harassment and torture on account of dowry demands. There were specific allegations of harassment on account of dowry demands against husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law. None of the witness examined by the prosecution claimed any specific demand of dowry by the appellant either from the deceased or her parents. It is not the prosecution’s case that any dowry article including cash was ever given by deceased’s parents to the appellant to fulfil his demand. He is not a beneficiary. The parents of the deceased were regular visitors to the matrimonial home. No dowry demand was ever made by the appellant from them any time. The prosecution witnesses did not depose if during their visit to the matrimonial home, the appellant was found present or he participated in any meeting or interfered in the family affairs of his in-laws. He also never visited the house of the deceased’s parents after the marriage.
5. In his statement (Ex.PW-11/A) made to the SDM soon after the occurrence, PW-11 (Bawa Jai Gopal Singh) did not give specific instance of harassment by the appellant. He made vital improvement in Court statement that at the time of ‘Vidai’, he had demanded ` 50,000/- though the deceased’s parents were to pay only customary amount of ` 5,001/-. He was duly confronted with his statement (Ex.PW-11/A) where CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 4 of 7 there was no such mention. PW-17 (G.S.Bawa), Kamal’s brother did not depose if any such demand was made at the time of ‘Vidai’. Apparently, the appellant was not beneficiary of that payment. It is alleged that the appellant used to dominate the affairs in the matrimonial home and instigated his in-laws to turn Kamal Chopra out of the matrimonial home to extort money. Again, PW-11 did not disclose this vital fact in his statement Ex.PW-11/A made to the SDM. No specific date was given when the appellant allegedly instigated deceased’s in-laws. His alleged instigation had no impact and there is nothing to infer if the deceased was ever ousted from the matrimonial home. Rather it has come in evidence that the deceased was transferred to Ajmer and she stayed there for substantial period even without pay. PW-11 did not give specific dates when the deceased remained in their house for substantial period. There is no substance in the allegation that the appellant prevented PW-11 not to go out of the matrimonial home after he saw the body of her daughter. Presence of the appellant being son-in-law was natural at the time of death. PW-17 (G.S.Bawa) did not corroborate the testimony of PW-11 (Bawa Jai Gopal Singh) that he was prevented to go out to lodge the report with the police. PW-21 (Mr.V.K.Jain) has categorically stated that he went to the spot at 12.30 P.M. and recorded statement of deceased’s CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 5 of 7 father. The information about the death of the deceased was given by her in-laws to her parents. No other role whatsoever has been attributed to the appellant. There are no allegations that he ever demanded any dowry articles or maltreated the deceased on account of non-fulfillment of dowry demands. There are no allegations of any physical or mental torture to the deceased at the hands of the appellant. The deceased was stenographer in Union Bank of India. She used to send letters to her parents during her stay at Ajmer. No such letter in which she ever complained harassment at the hands of the appellant was brought on record. No report was ever lodged by the deceased either at Delhi or Ajmer for subjecting her to cruelty.
6. The prosecution did not examine any independent public witness to establish appellant’s involvement in the incident. PW-3 (Kartar Singh Bajaj) in the cross-examination expressed his ignorance if Kamal was ever maltreated at the matrimonial home. The appellant- V.K.Kalra had no direct confrontation with the deceased and at no stage, he threatened her to leave the matrimonial home or to bring dowry articles from her parents. The accusations attributed to the appellant were not sufficiently deep seated or grave to constitute cruelty under Section 498A IPC. The allegations that the appellant used to provoke her in-laws do not CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 6 of 7 amount to harassment with a view to coercing the deceased to meet an unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. The evidence is scanty and is not enough to prove appellant’s complicity or nexus with the unnatural death.
7. In the light of above discussion, the impugned judgment convicting the appellant-V.K.Kalra under Sections 498A/304B IPC cannot be sustained and is set aside. The Appeal of the appellant, V.K.Kalra, is allowed. His bail bond and surety bond stand discharged. (S.P.GARG)
APRIL 03, 2013
CRL.A. 175/1994 Page 7 of 7