SC and HC Judgments Online at MyNation

Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Ranjit Dutta & Ors vs The State Of West Bengal on 19 July, 2019

IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA
CRIMINAL REVISIONAL JURISDICTION
APELLATE SIDE

The Hon’ble JUSTICE SUVRA GHOSH

CRR 2144 of 1994

Ranjit Dutta Ors.

V/s.

The State of West Bengal

For the Petitioner: Mr. Abhijit Basu, Adv.,
Mr. Subhas Medda, Adv.,
Mr. Arghya Kamal Das, Adv.,

For the State: Ms. Faria Hossain, Adv.,
Ms. Baisali Basu, Adv.

Heard on: 16.07.2019

Date: 19.07.2019

SUVRA GHOSH, J. :-

1) In the present revisional application the judgment and order dated

August 31, 1994 in Criminal Appeal No. 45 of 1991 passed by the

learned Additional Sessions Judge, Second Court, Hooghly, affirming

the order of conviction and sentence passed on August 10, 1991 by

the learned Assistant Sessions Judge, Additional Court, Hooghly in

Sessions Trial No. 211 of 1990 has been assailed.

2) The petitioners are the husband, brother in law, and the wife of the

brother in law of the victim. The petitioner no. 2 Ratan Dutta expired

during pendency of the case.

3) The complaint was lodged by one Samir Ranjan Majumdar, brother of

the victim against the petitioners under Section 498A/Section304 of the
Penal Code. Charge-sheet was submitted against the petitioners after

completion of investigation. The learned trial court, upon

consideration of the evidence on record, convicted the petitioners for

offence punishable under Section 498A/Section306 of the Penal Code and

sentenced them accordingly. The learned trial court held that no case

was made out against the petitioners under Section 304B of the Penal

Code and instead the petitioners were convicted under Section

498A/Section306 of the Penal Code.

4) The petitioners preferred an appeal against the said judgment and

order and the learned appellate court dismissed the appeal and

affirmed the order of the trial court.

5) Learned advocate for the petitioners submitted that the evidence of

prosecution witnesses no. 1, 9, 14, 22, and 24 is important, such

witnesses being the brother of the victim, the father of the victim, the

mother of the victim, the doctor who treated the victim and the

investigating officer of the case. Learned advocate has drawn the

attention of the court to the fact that the victim’s father did not

disclose the alleged ill-treatment/torture of the victim in the hands of

the petitioners before the investigating officer and there is no detailed

statement regarding the alleged torture or nature thereof in the

version of the witnesses. It was the petitioners who took the victim to

the hospital after she sustained burn injuries and no ingredient of

cruelty or abetment of commission of suicide is found on record. The

mother in law of the victim used to reside elsewhere and had no nexus
with the alleged incident. There was exchange of letters between the

victim and her mother in law and also between their respective

families. But there is no indication of torture of any kind in the said

letters. No presumption can therefore be drawn against the

petitioners under Section 113A of the Evidence Act, 1872. Learned

advocate prayed for setting aside the impugned judgment and order of

conviction passed against the petitioners.

6) The State is represented and has submitted that some of the

neighbours of the victim’s father who adduced evidence before the trial

court have supported the case made out by the prosecution.

According to learned advocate, it was most natural for the victim to

disclose her plight before her family than before the inmates of her

matrimonial house or neighbours thereof. The petitioners being rustic

villagers could not be expected to use appropriate terms constituting

cruelty or the alleged offence. The parents and brother of the victim

disclosed the said torture in their own way and demand of dowry by

the petitioners, torture and rough behaviour meted out upon the

victim can be inferred from the evidence of the witnesses. The victim

sustained 92% burn injuries and expired within a day. So the extent

of her consciousness as well as her physical and mental stability to

disclose the incident before the doctor is doubtful. Continuance

harassment and pressure upon the victim is reflected from the

evidence on record and it was only when the tolerance of the victim

was full to the brim that she decided on such drastic action. Section
113A of the Evidence Act, 1872 comes into play and the judgment and

order of conviction against the petitioners need to be affirmed. The

authority referred to by the petitioners has been distinguished by the

State on facts.

7) At the very outset, the provision laid down under Section 113A of the

Act of 1872 is set out:

“113-A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman.-

When the question is whether the 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, having

regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that such suicide had

been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband.”

8) The term “cruelty’ is explained in Section 498A of the Penal Code as

follows :

“(a) 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 (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to

coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand

for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or

any person related to her to meet such demand.”

9) The victim chose to end her life within four years of her marriage with the

first petitioner. She expired on November 20th, 1989 and the complaint

was lodged on the same date. The complainant who was the brother of

the victim gave a detailed account of the physical and mental cruelty

inflicted upon the victim by the petitioners in the complaint as well as in

his evidence. The victim used to narrate the incident of such torture

upon her before her brother, parents and neighbours of her parents, all of

whom have spoken about such torture in their evidence. It is true that in

her letters written to her mother in law, the victim never spoke about

such cruelty. But the court should not lose sight of the psychology of a

lady who would naturally disclose her pain and pleasure before her loved

ones and refrain from stating such facts to her mother in law. The letters

of course give out a smell of discord and displeasure between the mother

in law and the daughter in law.

10) It is true that no medical document was produced to suggest any physical

assault upon the victim in her matrimonial home. The victim being a

house wife residing with the petitioners may not have had the opportunity

to visit the doctor for every injury inflicted upon her and it is in any case

the mental makeup of a woman as ordinarily placed as the victim, to

continue to tolerate such behaviour till it becomes absolutely unbearable.

Demand of dowry, rough behaviour, assault and torture are reflected in

the evidence on record. The doctor who examined the victim also stated

that the victim complained of “ill relation” with her husband. The victim

also stated about a suicidal attempt by pouring kerosene on her person
and setting herself ablaze. The story of bursting of stove is inconceivable

as the victim herself stated before the doctor that she attempted to

commit suicide and also, no remnants of any stove were found at the

place of occurrence.

11) It is a fact that the prosecution case has been supported by witnesses

who are either related to the victim or closely acquainted with her

parental family. Law enjoins that the evidence of such related/interested

witnesses cannot be discarded merely on the ground that such witnesses

would, in all probability, lend support to the case made out by the

prosecution. Such evidence should be tested on the touchstone of truth

and credibility.

12) In this case, the witnesses have unanimously spoken about the cruelty

inflicted upon the victim by the petitioners, as disclosed before them by

the victim herself. The witnesses withstood the rigours of cross-

examination and their version of the incident is in conformity with the

contents of the complaint. Therefore their evidence can be safely relied

upon.

13) In the result, it can be inferred that it was proved beyond all reasonable

doubt that the petitioners subjected the victim to cruelty in her

matrimonial home and both the courts have rightly convicted the

petitioners for the offence under Section 498A of the Penal Code.

14) With regard to Section 306 of the Penal Code, it is trite law that a direct

and proximate link between the alleged instigation and the commission of
suicide is necessary in order to bring the offence within the ambit of

Section 306 of the Penal Code. In this case, though there are allegations

of cruelty upon the victim by the petitioners, it cannot be inferred that

such cruelty was the proximate cause of commission of suicide by the

petitioner. The offence under Section 498A of the Penal Code cannot be

stretched to such an extent as to constitute an offence under Section 306

of the Penal Code. Stray statements of the first petitioner asking the

victim to end her life cannot be termed as abetment to suicide in absence

of a direct link between such statements and the commission of suicide.

15) Reliance has been placed by the petitioners on the authority in Sri

Swapan Roy and another v/s. State of West Bengal and another reported

in (2016) 3 C Cr. LR (Cal) 311. It is held by this court that in absence of

the proximate link between the exhortation and the act of suicide, the

same cannot be constituted as an act of instigation.

16) The same proposition of law is laid down in Gurcharan Singh v/s. State of

Punjab reported in (2017) 1 Supreme Court Cases 433. Though the

factual aspects of the case can be distinguished from the case in hand,

the Hon’ble Supreme Court has dealt with the provision of Section 113A

of the Act of 1872 and Section 306 of the Penal Code. It is held that “in

order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC, there has to be a clear

mens rea to commit an offence and that there ought to be an active or

direct act leading the deceased to commit suicide, being left with no

option.”

17) In the light of the observation made above, I have no impediment to hold

that the ingredients of offence under Section 306 of the Penal Code have

not been substantiated against the petitioners and no presumption can be

drawn against them under Section 113A of the Act of 1872.

18) In the result, the revisional application succeeds in part.

19) The portion of the judgment and order of conviction dated August 10,

1991 in Sessions Trial No. 211 of 1990 passed by the learned Assistant

Sessions Judge, Additional Court, Hooghly convicting the petitioners for

offence under Section 498A of the Penal Code and sentencing them is

accordingly affirmed.

20) The portion of the judgment convicting the petitioners for offence under

Section 306 of the Penal Code is set aside.

21) The petitioners are directed to surrender before the learned trial court at

once for serving out the sentence for offence under Sectionsection 498A of the

Penal Code.

22) CRR 2144 of 1994 is disposed of accordingly.

23) Urgent certified website photocopies of this judgment, if applied for, be

supplied to the parties expeditiously on compliance with the usual

formalities.

(Suvra Ghosh, J.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2020 SC and HC Judgments Online at MyNation
×

Free Legal Help, Just WhatsApp Away

MyNation HELP line

We are Not Lawyers, but No Lawyer will give you Advice like We do

Please read Group Rules – CLICK HERE, If You agree then Please Register CLICK HERE and after registration  JOIN WELCOME GROUP HERE

We handle Women Centric biased laws like False Sectioin 498A IPC, Domestic Violence(DV ACT), Divorce, Maintenance, Alimony, Child Custody, HMA 24, 125 CrPc, 307, 312, 313, 323, 354, 376, 377, 406, 420, 497, 506, 509; TEP, RTI and many more…

MyNation FoundationMyNation FoundationMyNation Foundation