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Satbir Dalal & Ors. vs State (Govt. Of Nct Of Delhi) on 14 February, 2019

* IN TH E H IG H CO U RT OF D E L HI A T N E W D EL HI
% Judgment delivered on: 14th February 2019

+ CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Crl. M.A. 15667/2015

SATBIR DALAL ORS ….. Petitioners

versus

STATE (GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI) ….. Respondent
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Petitioner : Mr. Anunaya Mehta and Mr. Akshay Deep Singhal, Advs
For the Respondents : Ms.Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State

CORAM:-
HON’BLE MR JUSTICE SANJEEV SACHDEVA

JUDGMENT

SANJEEV SACHDEVA, J

1. The petitioners impugn order on charge dated 08.09.2015 and the
consequent charge framed against the petitioners under Section
498A/304B/34 IPC.

2. Petitioner No.1 is the father-in-law of the deceased. Petitioner No.2
is the mother-in-law. Petitioner No.3 is the brother of the husband and
petitioner No.4 is the wife of the brother of the husband.

3. Case of the prosecution is that in the night intervening 20-
21/02/2015 an information regarding quarrel was received at police station
Begumpur. A head constable who was directed to investigate. He reached
the spot and found that the address given was incorrect. He was diverted to
the correct address. On reaching there he came to know that a woman had
been taken to Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital. Simultaneously an
information was received at the police station Begumpur from Sanjay

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 1 of 8
Gandhi Memorial Hospital that one woman had been admitted and was
declared brought dead by the doctor. The doctor opined on the MLC
“alleged history of hanging and declared brought dead”.

4. It is the case of the prosecution that the deceased was married to one
Harvinder Dalal on 27.11.2009 and her death had taken place within seven
years. Statement of the parents of the deceased was recorded who alleged
that the husband and in-laws had started harassing the deceased after 5-6
months of marriage on small matters and demanded money from time to
time. It is alleged that a Santro car was given as dowry but there was
demand for a bigger car.

5. The father of the deceased had given money on several functions to
the husband and on account of quarrel the deceased and her husband had
shifted to Rohini and all expenses were borne by him. It is alleged that on
shifting to Rohini the father of the deceased had given money and also
bought all the items required in the flat. Subsequently on the night of the
incident the son of the complainant received a call from the husband that
something had happened to his daughter. It is alleged that he reached
Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital. He found his daughter dead.

6. It is alleged that the husband of the deceased and the in-laws i.e. the
petitioners used to harass her. On the statement of the complainant subject
FIR was registered.

7. It is contended by learned counsel for the petitioners, who are the in
laws, that in so far as petitioners are concerned, the basic ingredients of
Section 304B are not made out. It is contended that admittedly the deceased
was not residing with the petitioners for last several years. It is alleged that

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 2 of 8
the averments in the complaint are general and bald allegations have been
made against them which are not substantiated. It is alleged in the
statements apart from general averments against the petitioners, there is no
specifics given as to any harassment for dowry or otherwise on the part of
the petitioners leave alone any harassment or demand for dowry soon
before the death of the deceased.

8. It is contended that there is no proximate connection between the
alleged harassment and the death. Relying on the judgment of this Court in
Hans Raj Sharma Vs. State Govt. of NCT of Delhi, 175 (2010) DLT 446 and
of Jai Prakash Pandey vs. Prabhawati Ors, 224 (2015) DLT 47, it is
contended that the allegation of expenditure incurred on the couple for
setting up their house in Rohini and bearing of some expenditure of the
husband cannot be said to be instances of demand for dowry on the part of
the petitioners, who admittedly did not reside with them and were living
separately.

9. It is further contended that the ingredients of offence under Section
498A IPC are not made out. It is contended that the requirement of Section
498A is that there should be a series of systematic and willful action of
such a nature which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause
grievous injury or danger to her life. It is contended that apart from making
general and vague allegations against the petitioners, there is no specific
instance of any harassment on the part of the petitioners which could
qualify as an offence under Section 498A IPC.

10. Further it is contended that in so far as petitioners are concerned,
charge sheet was filed without arrest as investigation did not reveal any
offence against the petitioners regarding cruelty or harassment.

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 3 of 8

11. Charge sheet as also the status report filed by the prosecution
contends that after investigation it was revealed that petitioners were living
separately from the deceased and her husband for about 9-10 months prior
to the date of the incident and investigation did not reveal any proof of
dowry demand, harassment or any fight against the petitioners and as such
charge sheet was filed against them without arrest.

12. The Trial Court by the impugned order has prima facie found that
the father of the deceased had categorically alleged not only against the
husband but also against the in-laws i.e. the petitioners. It is held that not
only there were demands raised by the accused but the father of the
deceased was even forced to meet the demands for happiness of his
daughter. The Trial Court has noticed that the parents of the deceased had
categorically alleged that a day prior to the incident the deceased had gone
to the village at the house of the in-laws and they apprehended that the
accused persons had killed their daughter and then bought her to Rohini.

13. The Trial Court has further held that since it was a case of unnatural
death within seven years of marriage in view of provisions of Section 304B
IPC read with Section 113B of Indian Evidence Act, prima facie case was
made out against all the accused and accordingly charge was framed under
Section 498A/304B read with Section 34 IPC.

14. Section 304B IPC reads as under:-

304B. Dowry death.–

(1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or
bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal
circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is
shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty
or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 4 of 8
for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death
shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative
shall be deemed to have caused her death.

Explanation.–For the purpose of this sub-section, “dowry”
shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with
imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven
years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.”

15. Reading of Section 304B shows that the conditions precedent for
establishing an offence under Section 304B are (i) that a woman has died
otherwise than under natural circumstances, (ii) death was within seven
years of marriage and the prosecution has established that there was cruelty
and harassment in connection with demand for dowry soon before her
death.1

16. Section 498A reads as under:-

“498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman
subjecting her to cruelty.–Whoever, being the husband or the
relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to
cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which
may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation.–For the purpose of this section, “cruelty”
means–

(a) any willful 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

1
Baljeet Singh Anr vs State Of Haryana, 2004 (3) SCC 122

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 5 of 8
security or is on account of failure by her or any person
related to her to meet such demand.”

17. Section 498A defines cruelty to mean any conduct which is of such a
nature as is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury
or death to life or harassment with a view to coerce her or any person
related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or valuable
security.

18. In the present case, the statement given by the father of the deceased
is that the husband of the deceased initially was a farmer and after about 1½
years of marriage he got employed in Delhi Police as a driver. It is
contended that upto about 5 – 6 months of marriage everything was normal
but thereafter the in-laws used to harass the deceased on daily basis. It is
alleged that not only the in-laws but the husband of the deceased also
started harassing her and he used to make demands for money and that he
used to satisfy the demands of his son-in-law. It is alleged that he had given
a Santro car, however, his son-in-law wanted a bigger car. It is alleged that
because of the daily bickering at home his daughter and son-in-law shifted
to Rohini. After shifting to Rohini he used to meet all the household
expenditure including getting the mobile phone recharged for the son-in-
law. It is alleged that the son-in-law used to gamble and that is the reason
he used to make a demand from his daughter for money and that the
complainant used to pay money to his son-in-law.

19. It is a settled position of law that for framing a charge not only
suspicion but grave suspicion is required. Perusal of the statements
recorded by the father, mother and brother of the deceased show that the
statements are identical. All of them have stated that the deceased along

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 6 of 8
with her husband had shifted out of the matrimonial home in village and
they started living in Rohini. The allegation is that the husband of the
deceased used to make a demand from the deceased for money for meeting
his household expenses. The father of the deceased has categorically stated
that he used to meet the expenses of the household of the deceased at
Rohini and even bore the expenditure of the husband of the deceased like
mobile phone recharge etc.

20. Perusal of the statements show that all the allegations are against the
husband of the deceased. In so far as the petitioners are concerned, there is
no material on record to show that they ever made a demand or any amount
was paid to them for any purpose. Apart from making a bald allegation that
there was bickering at the matrimonial home on account of which the
deceased and her husband shifted out to Rohini, there is no evidence or
material to substantiate the allegation that there was ever any demand for
dowry made by the petitioners or any such demand was fulfilled or any
harassment of the deceased by the petitioners for dowry.

21. To constitute an offence under Section 304B and Section 498A IPC,
it not mere bickering which would amount to an offence but it should be
harassment of such a nature that would drive a woman to commit suicide.

22. No allegation or incidence has been cited by any of the family
members of the deceased of harassment or cruelty of a nature that would
drive a woman to commit suicide or cause bodily harm.

23. It is not only a unnatural death within seven years of marriage that is
required to be established, what is additionally required to be established
and which was been lost sight of by the Trial Court, is that soon before the

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 7 of 8
death the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment and cruelty as
defined under Section 498A should be of such a nature as is likely to drive
a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury.

24. The allegations made by the family of the deceased against the
petitioners do not show that the deceased was subjected to cruelty of such a
nature so as to qualify as an offence under Section 304B/498A IPC. Even
the prosecution at the stage of investigation did not find any material
against the petitioners.

25. Perusal of the record does not show grave suspicion, as is required
for framing of a charge, arises against the petitioners.

26. In view of the above, the impugned order on charge dated
08.09.2015 and the consequent charge framed against the petitioners cannot
be sustained and accordingly the same is quashed. The consequence to the
same is that the petitioners are discharged of the offence under Sections
304B/498A/34 IPC.

27. It is clarified that this order shall have no bearing on the charge
framed against the husband of the deceased and the consequent trial.

28. The petition is allowed in the above terms.

29. Order dasti under signatures of the Court Master.

SANJEEV SACHDEVA, J
February 14th , 2019
rk

CRL.REV.P. 678/2015 Page 8 of 8

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