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Rajendran And Anr. Vs. State Asstt.Commnr.Of Police Law &Order; on 2 December, 2008

Rajendran And Anr. Vs. State Asstt.Commnr.Of Police Law &Order; on 2 December, 2008Bench: Arijit Pasayat, Mukundakam Sharma

HELD: 1. Consequences of cruelty which are likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health, whether mental or physical of the woman are required to be established in order to bring home the application of s.498A IPC. Cruelty has been defined in the Explanation for the purpose of s.498A. Substantive s.498A IPC and presumptive s.113B of the Evidence Act, 1872 have been inserted in the respective statutes by Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983. S.304B and s.498A, IPC cannot be held to be mutually inclusive. These provisions deal with two distinct offences. It is true that cruelty is a common essential to both the Sections and that has to be proved. The Explanation to s.498A gives the meaning of `cruelty’. In s.304B there is no such explanation about the meaning of `cruelty’. But having regard to common background to these offences it has to be taken that the meaning of `cruelty’ or `harassment’ is the same as prescribed in the Explanation to s.498A under which `cruelty’ by itself amounts to an offence. Under s.304B it is `dowry death’ that is punishable and such death should have occurred within seven years of marriage. No such period is mentioned in s.498A. A person charged and acquitted under s.304B can be convicted under s.498A without that charge being there, if such a case is made out. If the case is established, there can be a conviction under both the sections. S.498A IPC and s.113B of the Evidence Act include in their amplitude past events of cruelty. [Para 8] [1011-B-G]

Akula Ravinder and others v. The State of Andhra Pradesh AIR (1991) SC 1142 and Balwant Singh & Ors. v. State of H.P. (2008) 10 JT 589, relied on.

2. S.498A IPC has two limbs. The first limb of s.498A provides that whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished. `Cruelty’ has been defined in clause (a) of the Explanation to the said Section as any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide. When there is demand of dowry, the case comes under clause (b) of the Explanation to s.498A. Clause (a) of the Explanation has definite application to the facts of the present case. Additionally, effect of s.113A of the Evidence Act cannot be lost sight of. Further as per s.113A of the Evidence Act when the question as to whether commission of suicide by a woman had been abetted by her husband or any relative of her husband and it is shown that she had committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband or such relative of her husband had subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume that such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband. This has not been rebutted by the appellants. [Paras 10 and 11] [1012-B-F]

Case Law Reference:

AIR (1991) SC 1142 relied on Para 8

(2008) 10 JT 589 relied on Para 9

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal Appeal No. 53 of 2002. From the final Judgment and Order dated 23.2.2001 of the High Court of Judicature at Madras in Crl. M.P. No. 6590 of 1992 in Criminal Appeal No. 581 of 1992.

WITH

Criminal Appeal No. 1139 of 2003.

Shekhar Naphade, Anil Kaushik, Jaspreet Aulakh, Meenakshi Thareja, A. Santhakumaran, Gopal Singh Chavan, Shiv Prakash Pandey, K.V. Vishwanathan, Deepak Jain, Judy James, Subra Rai, T. Raja and S. Thananjayan for the appearing parties.

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