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R/O. As Above. vs Tq. & District: Aurangabad. on 28 June, 2012

Bombay High Court R/O. As Above. vs Tq. & District: Aurangabad. on 28 June, 2012Bench: A.M. Thipsay

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BEFORE THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF ou

BOMBAY, BENCH AT AURANGABAD CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 295 OF 2011 C

ARBAJKHAN S/o DILSHAD KHAN ) h

R/o Kohinoor Colony, Mogalpura, ) ig

Aurangabad. Now R/o Khultabad, ) District: Aurangabad ) H

2. HAJRA BEGUM W/o DILSHAD ) R/o. As above. ).. APPELLANTS y

VERSUS

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STATE OF MAHARASHTRA ) through Begumpura Police Station ) om

Tq. & District: Aurangabad. ).. RESPONDENT Mr. N. V. Agrawal, Advocate for the appellants B

Mr. N. R. Shaikh, APP for the respondent CORAM:-ABHAY M. THIPSAY, J. 1/38

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DATE ON WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS ou

RESERVED : 13TH MARCH, 2012 DATE ON WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS PRONOUNCED: 28TH JUNE, 2012. C

JUDGMENT:

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The appellants were prosecuted on the allegations of ig

having committed offences punishable under Sections 498A of the Indian Penal Code (“IPC” for short), r/w Section 34 of the H

IPC, Section 307 r/w Section 34 of the IPC and Section 312 r/w Section 34 of the IPC. The learned Addl. Sessions Judge-5, y

Aurangabad, convicted them of the aforesaid offences and ba

sentenced them as follows: (a) With respect to offences punishable U/sec. 498-A om

r/w Section 34 of IPC, RI for 3 years each and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- each, in default to suffer RI for 6 B

months;

(b) With respect to offences punishable U/sec. 307 r/w Section 34 of IPC, RI for 7 years each and to pay a fine 2/38

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of Rs.1,000/- each,. in default to suffer RI for one year; ou

© With respect to offences punishable u/Sec. 312 r/w Section 34 of the IPC, RI for 3 years each and to pay a C

fine of Rs.500/- each, in default to suffer RI for 6 months.

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The learned Sessions Judge directed that the substantive ig

sentences shall run concurrently. H

2. The appellants, being aggrieved by the conviction and the sentences imposed upon them, have approached this court y

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by filing the present appeal.

3. The prosecution case, as put forth before the trial court om

was, in brief, as follows: (i) Samina Begum (PW 1) was married to appellant B

No. 1 on 19/10/2008. Appellant No. 2 is the mother of the appellant No. 1 and consequently the mother-in-law of Samina 3/38

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Begum. After her marriage Samina Begum started residing ou

with her husband and in-laws at Kohinoor Colony, Aurangabad. About a month after the marriage both the appellants started C

insisting that Samina Begum should bring money from her father for purchasing a black yellow jeep. Appellant No. 1 is a h

driver by profession and drives a black yellow jeep, Samina ig

Begum had made a complaint (Exh.-27) to Mahila Takrar H

Niwaran Mandal, (“Mandal” for convenience) on 18/12/2008 complaining about ill-treatment and harassment from her in- laws. At the intervention of the Mandal, the matter was y

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compromised between Samina Begum and appellant No. 1 and a Deed of Compromise (Exh.-28) was effected and signed by om

Samina Begum as well as appellant No. 1. A declaration from both of them was also taken by the Mandal, in which, both of them, inter alia, agreed that they would lookafter each other, B

would treat each other properly and would live a happy married life. This compromise was effected on 26/2/2009 and pursuant 4/38

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thereto, Samina Begum started residing in the matrimonial ou

house. However, the harassment continued and, therefore, on 6/3/2009 Samina Begum informed the Mandal that she was C

again being harassed and that, therefore, she was calling her parents and going to their house with them. However, the h

matter was once again compromised on 16/3/2009, when ig

appellant No. 1 and Samina Begum agreed to stay together at H

the matrimonial house.

ii) That on 7/5/2009 in the afternoon at about 3 p.m. Samina Begum demanded meals, whereupon appellant No. 2 stated that y

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unless she would bring money from parents for purchasing black yellow jeep, meals would not be provided to her. Both om

the appellants abused her and appellant No. 1 also assaulted her by fist and kicks. The sister-in-law of Samina Begum – one Nasreen – (a juvenile) – caught hold of Samina Begum’s hands B

and appellant No. 1 poured kerosene on her legs. Appellant No. 2 then lighted matchstick and set her on fire. Samina 5/38

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Begum’s clothes caught fire. She came out in the same ou

condition and went inside the bakery of Akbarbhai (PW 4) situated just in front of the house. One Zahoor, who is working C

with Akbarbhai, extinguished the fire. From the bakery, Samina Begum again went to the Mandal. The police took her h

to Ghati Hospital for treatment and got her admitted there. ig

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iii) Samina Begum had sustained 43% burn injuries. She was pregnant and on Sonography the foetus was found to be alive. However, on 10/5/2009, the foetus died. On the same y

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day, the statement of Samina Begum was recorded by the police which was treated as the First Information Report om

(Exh.-34), and a case in respect of offences punishable under Sections 498A, 307, 323 and 504 of the IPC read with Section 34 of the IPC was registered against the appellants, the brother- B

in-law and sister-in-law of Samina Begum. After conclusion of investigation, the appellants were prosecuted and convicted as 6/38

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aforesaid.

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4. I have heard Mr. N. V. Agrawal, learned advocate for the appellants and Mr. N. R. Shaikh, learned APP for the State. I C

have been taken through the entire evidence adduced during the trial, as also the impugned judgment. h

5. The prosecution examined totally six witnesses during ig

the trial. Shaikh Latif Shaikh Raheman (PW 2) is the father of H

Samina Begum and Mirza Zakir Baig (PW 3) is a panch in respect of the spot panchnama (Exh.-36). The other witnesses have already been referred to earlier. The appellants also y

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examined two witnesses in defence – one Syed Shakil (DW 1) and one Sattarkhan Yakubkhan (DW 2). om

6. It is contended by Mr. Agrawal, learned advocate for the appellants that the impugned judgment and order is not in accordance with law. According to him, the case rested solely B

on the testimony of Samina begum and that her testimony was not reliable. He submitted that the appellants were not present 7/38

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at all, at the time when Samina Begum is said to have caught ou

fire. He also submitted that Samina Begum had not caught fire in the house but that actually she had caught fire in the bakery C

of Akbarbhai (PW 4).

7. Since the case indeed is based on the testimony of h

Samina Begum, her testimony needs to be properly scrutinized. ig

According to her, the harassment from the appellants started H

within about one month from the date of marriage and that the object behind the harassment was that Samina Begum should bring money from her father for enabling appellant No. 1 to y

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purchase a black yellow jeep. According to her, though appellant No. 1 was a professional driver, driving a black om

yellow jeep, he was not owning one and that he used to drive the vehicle belonging to some other person. About the incident that had taken place on 7/5/2009, she stated that on that day she B

demanded meals from appellant No. 2 and that appellant No. 2 said that, if Samina Begum would bring money from her 8/38

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parents then only she will be provided with food and not ou

otherwise. She then stated that the appellants abused her. She requested them not to abuse her. Appellant No. 1 by fist blows C

and kicks assaulted her. Her sister-in-law caught hold of her hands and that appellant No. 1 poured kerosene upon her legs, h

after which appellant No. 2 lighted a matchstick and set her on fire.

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8. It may be appropriate now, to refer to the evidence of other witnesses. Mr. Shaikh Latif Shaikh Raheman (PW 2), father of Samina Begum has stated that within about 8 to 10 y

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days after the marriage Samina Begum had disclosed to him that the appellants were ill-treating her and that they were om

demanding money for purchasing black yellow jeep. According to him, he had thereupon requested the appellants not to ill-treat Samina Begum but there was no change in the B

behaviour of the appellants. He does speak about the complaints lodged to the Mandal and about the compromise 9/38

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that had taken place. He also stated that even after the ou

compromise the ill-treatment continued and, therefore, again a complaint was lodged on 6/3/2009 and that again a C

compromise took place. As regards the incident, his version is that one Akbarbhai (presumably PW 4) called him on phone h

and informed him that his daughter had been set on fire ‘for ig

amount’ and that she was being taken to Ghati Hospital. He H

claims to have inquired with his daughter i.e. Samina Begum, as to what had happened when Samina Begum told him of the incident. In the cross-examination, he admitted that he had y

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made inquiries about the appellant No. 1, with the residents of the locality, before getting Samina Begum married to appellant om

No. 1.

9. The evidence of Mirza Zakir Beg (PW 3), a panch, is of a rather formal nature. He is a panch in respect of spot B

panchnama dated 8/5/2009 (Exh.-36). According to him, the police party in his presence entered the house of the appellants 10/38

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by breaking open the lock and that, inside the house he saw a ou

kerosene can, 2 half burnt matchsticks, a match box, a saree and some ash. He also speaks that the police seized those C

articles in his presence and under the panchnama. He has identified the kerosene can (Art.-1), the burnt matchsticks h

(Art.-3 colly.), Saree (Art.-5) match box (Art. 2) and ash (Art. ig

4), as also the lock (Art. 6) as the same, which he had seen at H

the time of panchama. Indeed, that this witness should identify even the burnt matchsticks and even the ash, is remarkable and speaks for itself. In the cross-examination, it is revealed that y

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he is the owner of the bakery situated opposite the house of the appellants. It is also revealed that one Zahoor, who is stated to om

have extinguished the fire caught by Samina begum, is his employee. According to him one Akbarbhai is his neighbour. It is further revealed in his cross-examination that the distance B

between the bakery and the house of the appellant is about 5 feet and that the area is surrounded by many houses. 11/38

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According to him, the panchnama was done in the afternoon. ou

The suggestion that the incident had taken place in his bakery was denied by him.

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10. The fourth witness Mirza Akbar Beg has stated that at about 3 to 3-30 p.m. On 7/5/2009, he heard the noise of a lady h

coming out of her house and saw that Samina Begum was in ig

flames. He then states about one Zahoor bringing gunny bag, H

covering Samina Begum and extinguishing the fire. According to him, Samina Begum was then taken to her paternal aunt’s house where the fire was fully extinguished and then this y

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witness and one more lady took Samina Begum to Commissioner’s office by walking. Police took all of them to om

Ghati Hospital by jeep.

11. The fifth witness Dr. Angha Shriramrao Warudkar was, at the material time, attached to the Ghati Hospital, B

Aurangabad. She had treated Samina Begum, who according to her was admitted as indoor patient till 8/7/2009. It may be 12/38

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recalled that she had found that Samina Begum was pregnant ou

and that the foetus was alive on 7/5/2009 but was found dead on 10/5/2009. Her evidence shows that Samina Begum had C

sustained 43% burn injuries. According to her ‘those burn injuries were ordinarily dangerous to life, if treatment was not h

provided immediately’. In the cross-examination, she ig

admitted that the burns could be caused even accidentally. H

12. The evidence of Investigating Officer Sunil Bajirao Lahane (PW 6), shows that on 7/5/2009, when he was on duty at Begumpura Police Station, he received an intimation on the y

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basis of which Medico Legal Case No. 69 of 2009 was registered at the said police station. The inquiry of the said om

medico legal case was entrusted to this witness. He then got the statement of the victim, recorded by a Special Executive Magistrate. He also issued a letter to the medical officer on B

duty to have Samina Begum examined. He recorded the statements of the neighbours and searched for the appellants. 13/38

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He has described the various steps taken by him in ou

investigation. Initially, he stated that he arrested the appellant on 26/5/2009 but later on corrected himself by saying that the C

appellants were arrested on 23/7/2009. He also sent seized articles to chemical analyzer for analysis and opinion. That on h

completion of investigation, he filed the charge-sheet.

13.

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A reference may, now be made, to the defence evidence. H

DW 1 Syed Shakil Syed Usman is a professional driver and drives black yellow jeep on Khultabad – Aurangabad Road. According to him, on 7/5/2009 he was standing with his jeep at y

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Baba Petrol Pump, Aurangabad. That, at about 3-30 p.m. three persons came towards him, one of whom was the father-in-law om

of the appellant. The said three persons requested him to convey message to appellant No. 1 that his wife was burnt. He also identified the father-in-law of appellant No. 1, who was B

present in the court hall at the time when the witness gave evidence by pointing out towards him. According to this 14/38

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witness, he went to Khultabad where appellant No. 1 was on ou

the jeep and conveyed the message to him. According to him, appellant No. 1 then left Khultabad for proceeding to C

Aurangabad. In the cross-examination, it is revealed that, that he knew appellant No. 1 since quite sometime as both were in h

the same profession. The suggestion that he was giving false ig

evidence, was denied by him. H

14. Sattarkhan Yakubkhan, DW No. 2, is the person, whose vehicle Appellant No. 1 drives. According to this witness, on 7/5/2009, at about 4 p.m. Appellant No. 1 came to him with his y

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vehicle and informed that his wife has been burnt and demanded Rs.3000/- which amount was paid by this witness, om

after which appellant No. 1 went away. The suggestion that he was giving false evidence was denied by him.

15. The defence of the appellants as appearing from the B

answers given by them, during their examination u/s 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the written statement filed by 15/38

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them, is to the effect that Samina Begum was not happy with ou

her marriage with appellant No. 1; that she had failed in the 10th Standard examination and, that, therefore, she had, on two C

or three previous occasions, attempted to commit suicide. She was not behaving properly in the matrimonial house as the h

marriage had taken place against her wishes. She did not want ig

to stay with appellant No. 1 and, therefore, she used to lodge H

false complaints at the Mandal; that the police officers attached to the Mandal used to threaten the appellants and on a number of occasions, they had obtained signatures of the appellants on y

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blank papers. That, on the day of incident, appellant No. 1 was doing his duties as usual when his colleague driver Arbaz Khan om

told him that his wife had caught fire and that his in-laws were searching him for beating him. Still, he went to Ghati hospital but his in-laws did not allow him to meet Samina Begum. B

That, Samina Begum used to demand Rs.25,000/- from him as Samina’s father wanted to have his own shop; that Samina had 16/38

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sustained 43% burn injuries is false, as she was quite ou

comfortable and able to walk. That after he would go out for his duty, Samina Begum would be in the bakery throughout the C

day and on that day also, in all probability, she must have caught fire in the bakery itself. h

16. There can be no doubt that the matrimonial life of ig

appellant No. 1 and Samina Begum was not happy and that H

there were disputes, quarrels and complaints. What was the nature of the disputes and quarrels and what were the terms of the compromise which had been effected between them at the y

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intervention of the said Mandal, can be gathered from the documents tendered in evidence. It must be noted that a om

complaint was lodged with the Mahila Takrar Niwaran Mandal on 18/12/2008 itself i.e. within two months from the date of marriage. No doubt in the complaint (Exh.-27) also Samina B

Begum spoke about the ill-treatment and demand of money of Rs.25,000/- but the compromise deed (Exh.-28) is silent on this 17/38

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aspect. What the deed records is that both the parties will not ou

trouble each other and both the parties will ensure that they would not fight over the small matters, which may occur in C

day to day life and ensure that their matrimonial life would be happy. It also stipulates that Samina Begum should not h

go to her parents without asking appellant No. 1 and that on ig

the occasions of festivals or because of illness etc., she would H

go to her parents with the permission of appellant No. 1. It also records that the relatives of Samina Begum and appellant No. 1 will not interfere in their married life and that the y

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responsibility of this would be on both of them. There is no specific mention about the demand of Rs.25,000/- or that it had om

been given up or not, and this is also of some significance because according to Samina Begum, even thereafter the said demand had continued. When a specific reason for the alleged B

ill-treatment and even for an attempt to kill, has been given, it was expected, that while settling the matter a specific mention 18/38

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in the compromise deed with respect to that would be found; ou

and that it does not find place in the compromise deed, is rather significant. Even, if the joint declaration (Exh.-29) C

given by appellant No. 1 and Samina Begum is seen, though an undertaking is taken from both of them, that they would make h

all endeavours to lead a happy married life and that an ig

undertaking is taken from appellant No. 1, that he would not H

trouble his wife; that he would not assault; that he would provide proper food to her, there is no undertaking that he would not make a demand of Rs.25,000/-from her. y

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17. It is also interesting to note that this compromise was effected on 26/2/2009 whereby Samina Begum agreed to stay om

with appellant No. 1 at the matrimonial house. However, on 6/3/2009 itself, she wrote a letter (Exh.-13) to the Mandal, stating that she was again being harassed and that, therefore, B

she would be calling her parents and going to their house with them. In the context, that she had been made to agree during 19/38

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the compromise that, she would not be going to her parents ou

often and without the permission of appellant No. 1, her writing such a letter is significant. C

18. It also appears that from the tenor of her complaints and the terms of the settlement, that the basic grievance of Samina h

Begum was against her mother-in-law and sister-in-law and not ig

against the applicant No. 1. It appears that for the second time H

the matter was settled with the understanding that appellant No. 1 would be taking a separate room and thereafter he will be taking Samina Begum to stay with him. y

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19. It is thereafter that the incident has happened.

20. The evidence of Samina Begum is required to be judged om

in the background of the factual situation as revealed from the documents relating to the complaints and the deeds of compromise effected between the parties. B

21. The contention raised by Mr. Agrawal, learned advocate for the appellants that the place where the fire was caught was 20/38

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the bakery and not the matrimonial house, has been turned ou

down by the trial court by observing that, it was unsubstantiated and that this was a mere suggestion without C

any evidence., Indeed, this contention has not been substantiated. It is true that an accused need not prove his h

defence and, if, what he says is made to appear, as plausible or ig

possible, creating a real and reasonable doubt about the truth of H

the prosecution version, he would be entitled to be acquitted. However, there must be some basis for the contentions raised though there need not be positive evidence; and in the instant y

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case, no attempt has been made during the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses to bring on record, evidence om

indicating the possibility of the fire having been caught at the bakery.

22. The other contention that the evidence shows that the B

aunt of the victim took her to hospital but that she was not examined as a witness, and that, therefore, the prosecution 21/38

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version should not be believed, does not impress me. The ou

other contention that there is no record or evidence to show that the police had taken Samina Begum to hospital, also does not C

impress me. It will have no bearing on the assessment of the merits of the conviction of the appellants. h

23. What really needs to be assessed, is, whether story of ig

Samina Begum can be safely believed. The question is H

whether it inspires that high degree of confidence, which is necessary, before the appellants are held guilty of the offences in question. It has already been seen that the version of Samina y

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Begum with respect to the incidents of cruelty and ill-treatment and particularly with respect to the demand of Rs.25,000/- is om

not convincing in the light of the happenings before the Mandal and the manner in which the matter was twice compromised, in which Samina Begum agreed to reside with B

appellant No. 1, without mentioning about appellant No. 1’s demand of Rs.25,000/- or without stipulating that such a 22/38

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demand had been given up.. ou

24. There can be no fixed rules or formula for judging the value of the evidence of a witness. The evidence of Samina C

Begum needs to be appreciated in the context of undisputed and proved facts and in the light of the other evidence adduced h

during trial in the case. The likelihood of harassment being ig

started within about 8 to 10 days from marriage also needs to H

be judged, going by the experience of worldly matters, particularly because no specific form of harassment, so soon after the marriage, has been mentioned, except that of a y

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demand of Rs.25,000/- which, as aforesaid, is difficult to accept as reliable.

om

25. It is too obvious that Sabina Begum was not happy with the marriage. Though the assertions of the appellants that she wanted to marry somebodyelse and that the marriage had taken B

place against her wishes are not substantiated by any evidence, the conduct of Samina Begum itself indicates – at least – that 23/38

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she was most reluctant to stay in the matrimonial house. Even ou

after the compromise was effected, she gave a letter to the said Mandal expressing her desire to stay with her parents and C

giving a reason for the same.

26. In the background that, the disputes between the parties h

had already been taken to the police, that at the intervention of ig

the said Mandal, twice the matter had been settled and even a H

warning, purportedly u/s 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, had been given by the police authorities to appellant No. 1 that he should refrain from committing any cognizable y

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offence, whether the appellants were likely to make an attempt to kill Samina Begum, needs to be seriously considered. om

Looked at from this angle, there are a number of factors which ought to be taken into consideration in assessing the truth of the prosecution version.

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27. In the cross-examination, it has been elicited from Samina Begum that appellant No. 1 used to go for his work and 24/38

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used to leave his office at about 9 a.m. to 9-30 a.m. and that he ou

used to return back at the night time itself. Now, the incident of setting Samina Begum on fire had taken place at about 3 C

p.m, but strangely, Samina Begum does not state in her evidence that on that day, the accused had somehow come h

home in the afternoon itself. If it was not the normal routine of ig

appellant No. 1 to be in the house at about 3 p.m., such a fact H

would have been specifically mentioned by Samina Begum.

28. Further, it is indicated from the contents of Exh.-13 that when the matter was compromised for the second time, it was y

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decided that appellant No. 1 and Samina Begum were to reside separately and that appellant No. 1 was to make an om

arrangement of securing one room for them to reside together. The basis of the compromise arrived was that appellant No. 1 and Samina Begum were to stay separlately from appellant No. B

2 and the other in-laws of Samina Begum. Since Samina Begum had indeed gone to reside with appellant No. 1 25/38

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thereafter, it is possible that appellant No. 2 was indeed ou

residing separately. It is true that unfortunately there is no proper cross-examination on this point but going by the C

happenings and the very record of the disputes and quarrels between the parties, it was quite probable that Samina Begum h

had gone to reside with appellant No. 1 only after arrangements ig

for their staying separately from the in-laws of Samina Begum, H

had been made.

29. Since the case is based mainly on the testimony of a sole witness – Samina Begum – before holding the appellants guilty, y

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Samina Begum, ought to be considered as a wholly reliable witness. If her evidence fails to create such a confidence, it om

would be difficult to hold the appellants guilty, particularly, with respect to the allegation of an offence punishable u/s 307 of IPC. Nothing can serve as a better guide for appreciation of B

evidence than judging the probability of the version advanced by the prosecution. The evidence cannot be appreciated by 26/38

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mechanically saying that a witness has said so and that there is ou

nothing to contradict the witness; and the first aspect that would need consideration is the likelihood of things having C

happened that way. Now, in the background of the disputes and quarrels between the parties, indeed, it would be possible h

for the appellants to decide to do away with Sabina Begum, ig

going by the belief that, what she stated about the ill-treatment H

and harassment, is true. The question is, whether, in that event, the appellant would let her leave after causing some injuries to her. Prudence dictates that the answer has to be in the negative. y

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It may be observed that all the injuries sustained by Samina Begum are on her limbs i.e. hands and legs. Even according to om

her version, kerosene was poured on her legs. Now, if the appellants had entertained a desire to burn her to death, they would have poured kerosene over her entire body and B

preferrably on the head and shoulders itself. Again, if they entertained an intention to kill her to death, they would have 27/38

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taken every precaution to see that she would not manage to ou

escape. In this context, if the evidence of Samina Begum is examined, it does not state what the appellants did after C

setting her on fire. The relevant part of her evidence reads as under:-

h

ig

“The accused No. 1 by fists and leg blows H

assaulted to me. My sister-in-law Nasrin caught hold my both hands. The accused No. 1 poured kerosene upon my leg. Accused No. 2 my y

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mother-in-law ignited matchstick and set me on fire. My clothes were burning and I came out in om

same condition. I came out from the house and went inside the bakery.”

B

30. Thus, the story is that she had been caught by his sister- in-law, husband poured kerosene and the mother-in-law set her 28/38

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on fire and the clothes started burning but the evidence does ou

not show as to what happened to the appellants thereafter. Samina Begum then speaks only of her coming out in the same C

condition and going inside the bakery. Samina Begum does not even refer to the appellants and does not state that they either h

remained there or they ran away. This weakness in the ig

evidence of Samina Begum is sought to be overcome by her H

father by saying that Samina Begum told him that after setting her on fire, the appellants ran away. It is difficult to accept this as correct. The evidence shows that the house is situated in a y

ba

thickly populated locality. It is surrounded by other houses. The bakery is situated just about 5 feet away from the door of om

the house of the appellants. Had the appellants ran away after setting Samina Begum on fire, they would have been noticed at least by some persons while running away. Neither Mirza Beg, B

(PW 3) nor Akbarbhai, (PW 4) say that they saw the appellants or any of them, either before or after the incident. 29/38

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31. If, in this context, that Zahoor, a material witness who is ou

stated to have extinguished the fire, has not been examined, is considered, it indeed becomes doubtful whether the appellants C

had indeed set Samina Begum on fire. Morever, as aforesaid it is quite illogical that the appellants wanted to burn Samina h

Begum to death, would not take the ordinary precatuion, ig

ensuring that she would not be able to run away. H

32. Undoubtedly, Samina Begum had sustained burn injuries. The trial court has reasoned that there was no reason for her to have falsely implicated the appellants. The trial y

ba

court also observed that she was pregnant and, therefore, a pregnant women was not likely to implicate her husband and om

mother-in-law falsely. The trial court ruled out the suggestion of the defence that Samina Begum was not happy in the matrimonial life, on the basis that she was pregnant and the B

logic of the trial court was that, if she was not happy with the marriage, she would not have got pregnant from appellant No. 30/38

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1. This reasoning of the trial court is unrealistic and erroneous. ou

33. Mr. Agrawal, learned advocate for the appellants advanced an argument which is worth considering. According C

to him when Samina Begum was pregnant, it was highly unlikely that the appellants would attempt to burn her to death. h

Though nothing can be said in that regards, the fact remains ig

that the reasoning of the trial court namely, that Samina Begum H

would not shield the real culprits and implicate the appellants, is rather pedantic. Such a proposition or consideration would not arise when the possibility of Samina Begum herself having y

ba

set herself on fire or her having caught fire accidentally is projected.

om

34. It is an admitted position that for whatever reasons Samina Begum had no desire to stay with the appellants. She was not happy in the matrimonial life. All the injuries suffered B

by her are on such parts of the body, as cannot be termed ‘vital’. A person seeking to burn a person, would not put kerosene on 31/38

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the legs and it may be recalled that Samina Begum specifically ou

states that the kerosene was poured upon her legs which is consistent with the injuries sustained by her. It cannot be C

ignored that Samina Begum’s efforts to live separately from the appellants were not successful, inasmuch as, the Mandal h

authorities were again and again making them to arrive at some ig

settlement but after the incident Samina Begum could stay H

separately and got full support from her parents for staying separately. Thus the possibility that Samina Begum caused injuries to herself while attempting to commit suicide, or that y

ba

the injuries caused to her being accidental, she decided to take advantage of the same and implicate the appellants, needs to be om

considered in the light of the circumstances revealed from the evidence.

35. When disputes started within eight days from the B

marriage, when the matter was taken to the police within two months from the marriage and when inspite of the settlement 32/38

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arrived at, Samina Begum was still unhappy and unwilling to ou

stay with the appellants, the possibility of her attempting to set herself on fire to get rid of the situation, cannot be ruled out. C

This is particularly so because the theory of the appellants being present in the house at that time cannot be easily h

accepted. At the cost of repetition, it may be stated that it was ig

not the normal time of appellant No. 1 to be in the house. H

Whether appellant No. 2 had been residing there is not free from doubt, in view of the compromise between the parties. That the appellants were not noticed by anyone after the y

ba

incident is also significant. It would be absolutely reasonable to infer that after the incident of burning, which must have om

attracted the attention of neighbours, it was not possible for the appellants to escape from the scene without being noticed by anyone in a thickly populated locality surrounded by residential B

houses. It is also worth considering that, if appellant No. 1 had indeed come back home in the afternoon itself, contrary to his 33/38

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routine time, then either he had brought the rickshaw to the ou

home or had kept it somewhere with someother person. There is no evidence as to whether he had come back home by the C

rickshaw and there is no evidence that any rickshaw was standing outside of the house at that time. h

36. It may be recalled that admittedly the house was locked. ig

It was by breaking open the lock that the spot panchnama was H

drawn. Now, that the appellants would, after Samina Begum, had run away out of the house while she was still burning and had been shouting, had rushed to the Bakery, just opposite the y

ba

house at a distance of about five feet, coolly lock the door of the house, before running away, is unlikely. The investigation om

is silent on the aspect as to whether the key to the lock was found with any of the appellants.

37. In a criminal trial, the guilt of an accused is required to B

be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The court is not required to come to a positive conclusion that the prosecution version 34/38

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must be false. The court is required to be satisfied that the ou

prosecution version must be true. Even if the court feels that the prosecution version “may be true” as distinguished from C

“must be true”, the same would not be sufficient for convicting an accused on a serious charge. h

38. This is a case where upon considering the evidence of ig

the prosecution and the defence evidence together with the H

explanation of the accused persons and all other relevant aspects of the matter, the possibility of the appellants being guilty, cannot be said to be more than the possibility of their y

ba

being innocent. Under these circumstances, the appellants were entitled to get benefit of doubt and ought to have been om

acquitted.

39. Hence the following order: The appeal is allowed. The impugned judgment and B

order of conviction is set aside. The appellants are acquitted. They be set at liberty 35/38

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forthwith, unless required to be detained in connection with ou

some other case.

Fine if paid, be refunded to them respectively. C

Sd/-

(ABHAY M. THIPSAY, J.)

h

ig

H

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md.saleem

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ou

BEFORE THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF C

BOMBAY, BENCH AT AURANGABAD CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 295 OF 2011 h

DATE ON WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS ig

RESERVED : 13TH MARCH`, 2012 DATE ON WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS PRONOUNCED: JUNE, 2012 H

HON’BLE SHRI JUSTICE ABHAY M. THIPSAY:

1. Whether Reporters of Local Papers ) be allowed to see the Judgment? ) y

2. To be referred to the Reporters or ) ba

not? )

3. Whether Their Lordships wish to ) see the fair copy of the Judgment? ) om

4. Whether this case involves a ) substantial question of law as to ) the interpretation of the ) Constitution of India, 1950 or any ) B

Order made thereunder? )

5. Whether it is to be circulated to ) the Civil Judges? ) 37/38

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6. Whether the case involves an impor-) ou

tant question of law and whether ) a copy of the judgment should be ) sent to Nagpur, Aurangabad & Goa ) Offices? ) C

h

ig

H

y

ba

om

B

38/38

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