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Satish Kumar Bhatia vs State on 30 March, 2017

*       IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
    +    Crl.Appeal No.574/2000

                                    Date of Decision: 30th March, 2017

         SATISH KUMAR BHATIA                                  ..... Petitioner

                         Through           Mr.Bhopal Singh, Adv.

                                  versus

         STATE                                              .....    Respondent
                         Through           Mr.Panna Lal Sharma, APP.

         CORAM:
         HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE P.S.TEJI

         P.S.TEJI, J.

1. The present appeal has been filed under Section 374

Cr.P.C. against judgment dated 06.09.2000 whereby the

appellant has been found guilty and convicted for an offence

punishable under Section 498A IPC and order on sentence

dated 08.09.2000 whereby the appellant has been sentenced to

undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a

fine of Rs.5,000/- and in default to payment of fine, to further

undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year.

2. The facts of the case, as per the case of the prosecution,
Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 1 of 13
in a nutshell are that on 08.09.1984 at about 4.55 A.M., an

information was received at police station Subzi Mandi from

one Sh.Vinod Kumar r/o House No.7870, Roshan Ara Road to

the effect that one lady had burnt herself in House no.7872.

The information was recorded at Serial No.22A in DD Register

and copy of the same was handed over to SI Ram Swaroop for

investigation.

3. SI Ram Swaroop reached the spot where Ashok Kumar,

brother of the deceased Anju @ Chanchal Bhatia met him. He alleged

that the deceased was his elder sister who had been married to the

appellant/accused Satish Kumar on 02.10.1976. After marriage,

Satish Kumar used to give beatings to her occasionally. Whenever

she visited his house, she used to complain against her husband,

father-in-law and dewar that they had been harassing her. On the day

of occurrence, he received information on telephone from Krishan

Lal that Anju @ Chanchal had died due to burns injury. He came to

Delhi with his family and went to Anju’s house. He saw dead body

of Anju @Chanchal lying on a cot in a burnt condition.

4. On the statement of Ashok Kumar, SI Ram Swaroop made an

endorsement and got a case under Section 498A IPC registered.

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 2 of 13
Statements of witnesses were recorded and the post mortem on the

dead body was conducted. During investigation, site plan was

prepared and Section 306/34 IPC also added. On 12.09.1984, the

appellant/accused Satish Kumar, husband and Sh. Baldev Raj, father-

in-law, were arrested.

5. After completion of investigation, challan was filed and later

the M.M. committed the case to the court of sessions.

6. Vide order 13.07.1987, charge under Sections 498A IPC and

Section 306 IPC was framed against Mr.Satish Kumar,

appellant/accused and his father Sh.Baldev Raj. Both the accused

pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. During pendency of trial,

Mr.Baldev Raj, father-in-law died and proceedings against him were

dropped vide order dated 16.12.1994 and only the appellant/accused,

stood trial.

7. In support of its case, the prosecution examined 24 witnesses

in all. PW-1 SI Manohar Lal, PW-2 HC Satvir Singh, PW-3

Dr.L.T.Ramani, PW-4 Sham Lal, PW-5 Sh.Ashok Kumar, PW-6

Subhash Chand, PW-7 Satish Chand, PW-8 Gulshan Lal, PW-9

Vinod Kumar, PW-10 HC Baljeet Singh, PW-11 SI A.Q.Khan, PW-

12 SI Ram Narain, PW-13, Gopal Nath, PW-14 Durga Prashad, PW-

15 Dr.D.D.Khetrapal, PW-16 Man Mohan, PW-17 ASI Ganga Dhar
Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 3 of 13
Meena, PW-18 Const. Subhash Chand, PW-19 Retd.Constable Magu

Ram, PW-20 Inspector C. Singh, PW-21 SI Ram Niwas, PW-22

Smt.Asha Mishra, PW-23 Smt.Saroj Bala and PW-24 Retired SI Ram

Sawroop.

8. In support of his appeal, the appellant has taken the ground

that he should have been acquitted under Section 498A IPC as the

prosecution witnesses have improved upon their statements made

before the police under Section 154 Cr.P.C. and under Section 161

Cr.P.C. where there were no specific allegations against the appellant

showing that he used to cause cruelties upon the deceased which are

covered under Section 498A IPC; that there was inconsistency in the

testimony of PW-4 which was also recorded in the order dated

06.09.2000 stating that “PW-4 undoubtedly has made a material

improvement upon his statement and deposed about the complaint of

insufficient dowry and demand of money and taking the money

which was not found recorded in his previous statement”; and also

there was mention in the testimony of PW-4 about holding of

Biradari meeting, but not even a single person from the same had

been produced to corroborate the statement; that there was also

inconsistency in the statements made by PW-5 before the court and

the ones made before the police, which is also acknowledged by the
Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 4 of 13
learned Trial Court, but still has been made the basis for convicting

the appellant; that repeatedly the Trial Court observed that the

prosecution witnesses are guilty of material improvements, yet,

instead of giving the benefit of doubt to the appellant, the appellant

has been held guilty for the offence punishable under Section 498A

IPC; that the Trial Court erred in not giving the benefit of Section 4

of the Probation of Offenders Act to the appellant as even in an

offence under Section 304 IPC, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in 2000 I

AD (Criminal) SC 631 was pleased to give the benefit of probation

while in the present offence attracts maximum punishament of three

years.

9. On the contrary contra, learned Additional Public Prosecutor

for the State has vehemently opposed the aforesaid contentions

raised on behalf of the appellant and submitted that the judgment of

conviction and order on sentence as passed by learned Additional

Sessions Judge do not suffer from any irregularity or illegalities and

is passed with a reasoned order, therefore, the same is not liable to be

interfered with.

10. Arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the appellant

as well as learned APP for the State were heard.

11. PW-3 Dr.L.T.Ramani is the Civil Surgeon who had conducted
Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 5 of 13
the post mortem on the dead body of the deceased. He deposed that

the burns sustained by the deceased were ante mortem in nature and

had been caused by fire. The cause of death was shock resulting from

burns and time of death was about 12 hours. He proved the post

mortem report as Ex.PW3/A.

12. PW-4 Sham Lal is the brother of the deceased. He deposed

that two months after marriage, the accused persons including

appellant started harassing his sister for not bringing sufficient dowry

and kept on demanding money, some times scooter and some times

money for purchasing a truck. He further stated that they as per their

potential gave Rs.2,000, Rs.5,000 and Rs.10,000 on different

occasions, but the accused still beat his sister. On 08.09.1984, at 6.45

AM, a call was received that his sister had expired. In cross

examination, he volunteered that he had not stated about the demands

made by the accused to the police as he was not in a fit state of mind.

He also stated that he had not told the police about the money given

by them to the accused nor about harassment being meted out to his

sister despite money being given to the accused.

13. PW-5 Ashok Kumar is brother of the deceased. He deposed

that his sister had been married to the appellant and after marriage,

whenever she met them, she used to say that her husband and in-laws
Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 6 of 13
had been harassing her. He deposed that the cause of harassment as

deposed by his sister to him was that her husband/appellant used to

attribute unchastity to her. He deposed that his sister visited him

regularyly post marriage and would always mention that her husband

and other in-laws used to harass her.

14. PW-6 Subhash Chand is brother of the deceased. He deposed

that his sister had been married to the appellant and out of the

wedlock she had two children. She used to visit them but never

complained to him about anything, but told him that her husband and

father-in-law used to beat her many a time. She also told him that she

was being harassed. On 08.09.1984, he received a phone call that his

sister had died. During cross examination, he deposed that his sister

and brother-in-law used to meet him and inform that the accused and

the deceased had been living well but there used to be some

altercations between them sometimes.

15. PW-7 Satish Chand is the brother of the deceased. He

deposed that his sister was married to the appellat/accused. He also

deposed after 2/4 months of marriage when his sister visited them she

had complained of harassment and demand of dowry by the appellant

and his father. She had also complained that they had also beaten her.

In cross-examination, this witness was confronted with many
Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 7 of 13
improvements made by him in the statement made to the police.

16. PW-8 Gulshan Lal is the brother of the deceased. He also

deposed that his sister had been married to the appellant. At the time

of marriage, dowry articles had been given as per our capacity and

good marriage had been performed. He deposed that whenever his

sister visited them, she complained of the harassment and beatings

received by her at the hands of her husband and in laws. When she

visited them last time in February, 1984, she told them that she did

not want to go her matrimonial home in view of the harassment,

beatings and dowry demands made by her husband and in-laws.

17. In cross-examination, this witness was confronted with many

improvements made by him in the statement made to the police.

18. PW-24 SI Ram Sawroop is the IO of the case. He

deposed that on 08.09.1984 when he was posted at Police

Station: Subzi Mandi he had received DD No.22A for

investigation. On reaching the spot, he found the appellant and

his father present at the spot, the dead body was lying outside

the bath room. He recorded statement of Ashok Kumar, brother

of the deceased and sent the tehrir for registration of case. On

12.09.1984, he had effected arrest of father of the appellant

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 8 of 13
(since deceased).

19. From the testimony of PW-5 and PW-6, there is nothing

to say that the deceased was harassed or meted with cruelty for

or in connection with demand of dowry. They have stated that

their deceased sister was harassed by the appellant, but they

have not given any reason for any such harassment which does

not connect the appellant with the demand of dowry.

20. So far as the testimony of PW-4, PW-7 and PW-8 is

concerned, they have stated that their deceased sister was

harassed by the appellant for bringing insufficient dowry. PW-4

had deposed that the appellant and his family membes taunted

his sister for bringing insufficient dowry and kept on demanding

money for scooter and truck. He further deposed that

sometimes they gave Rs.2,000/-, Rs.5,000/- and Rs.10,000/-.

21. Testimony of PW-4 does not inspire confidence and there

are material improvements and inconsistencies in his statement

for the reasons that in his statement recorded under Section 161

Cr.P.C. he had not stated to the police about any harassment

meted out to his deceased sister by the appellant. He had even

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 9 of 13
admitted during his cross examination that he had not stated

about demands of dowry to the police. He had also not stated to

the police about the demand for scooter and money for

purchasing truck. He had also admitted to not having stated to

the police about paying any money to the appellant. The

statement of PW-4 shows that he made material improvements

during his depositions in the court regarding harassment to the

deceased on account of demand of dowry. In his statement

made to the police he had not stated anything about the demand

of any dowry or money by the appellant, but during his

deposition in the court, he changed his version and stated that

his sister was harassed by the appellant on account of demand

of dowry, which creates a doubt about the case of prosecution

and makes his testimony unreliable.

22. Similar is the position with regard to testimony of PW-7

and PW-8. They have also made material improvements and

there are inconsistencies in their statements. In their statement

made to the police under Section 161 Cr.P.C., they have not

stated anything against the appellant that he had ever harassed

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 10 of 13
or tortured the deceased on account of demand of dowry. But,

during their deposition before the court, they have stated that

deceased was harassed by the appellant on account of demand

of dowry. These material improvements and inconsistencies

made their testimony unreliable and does not inspire confidence

of the court.

23. It is worthwhile to mention that PW-5 Ashok Kumar is

the complainant of the case on whose statement (Ex.PW5/A),

the FIR of the instant case was registered. Neither in his

statement Ex.PW5/A nor during his deposition in the court, he

has stated anything to the effect that the deceased was ever

harassed by the appellant or any of the family members for the

demand of dowry. Even, PW-6 has stated that the deceased

informed him that she was living well with the

appellant/husband.

24. There is no other public witness on the record which

could connect the appellant with the offence of the present case.

The testimony of the brothers of the deceased (PW-4 to PW-8)

is not reliable and trustworthy to connect the appellant with the

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 11 of 13
demand of dowry. There are several material improvements in

the testimony of PW-5, PW-7 and PW-8 which make the case

of the prosecution doubtful.

25. Reliance in this regard is placed on the case of Mritunjoy

Biswas Vs. Pranab @ Kuti Biswas and Anr (2013) 12 SCC 796,

where the Apex Court held as under:

“As is evincible, the High Court has also taken
note of certain omissions and discrepancies
treating them to be material omissions and
irreconcilable discrepancies. It is well settled in
law that the minor discrepancies are not to be
given undue emphasis and the evidence is to be
considered from the point of view of
trustworthiness. The test is whether the same
inspires confidence in the mind of the court. If the
evidence is incredible and cannot be accepted by
the test of prudence, then it may create a dent in
the prosecution version. If an omission or
discrepancy goes to the root of the matter and
ushers in incongruities, the defence can take
advantage of such inconsistencies. The omission
should create a serious doubt about the
truthfulness or creditworthiness of a witness. It is
only the serious contradictions and omissions
which materially affect the case of the prosecution
but not every contradiction or omission (See Leela
Ram vs. State of Haryana
and another, Rammi
alias Rameshwar v. State of M.P. and Shyamal
Ghosh v. State of West Bengal
).”

26. On similar point, it was also observed in another case of

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 12 of 13
State of Gujarat vs. Kishanbhai etc (2014) 5 SCC 108 that

glaring inconsistencies and infirmities in statement of witnesses

render their statements unreliable. Hence benefit of doubt must

be given to the accused.

27. In view of above discussion, this court is of the

considered opinion that no case under Section 498A IPC is

made out against the appellant and while extending him benefit

of doubt, he is acquitted of the said offence.

28. As discussed above, the judgment of conviction and order

on sentence are set aside. The appellant is on bail. His bail bond

and surety bond stand discharged.

29. The appeal stands disposed of accordingly.

(P.S.TEJI)
JUDGE
MARCH 30, 2017

Crl.Appeal No.574/2000 Page 13 of 13

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