IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
The Hon’ble Justice Joymalya Bagchi
The Hon’ble Justice Suvra Ghosh
C.R.A. 51 of 2012
Shanti Chandra Pal Anr.
The State of West Bengal
C.R.A. 53 of 2012
Nemai Chandra Pal
The State of West Bengal
For the Appellant : Mr. Asis Sanyal, Senior Advocate,
Mr. Somnath Banerjee,
Mr. Pronojit Roy
For the State : Mr. B. Panda,
Mr. S. Bhakat
Heard on : 7th January, 2020.
Judgment on : 7th January, 2020.
Joymalya Bagchi, J. :-
These appeals are directed against the judgment and order dated
and 20.12.2011 passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, 4th
Court, Suri, Birbhum in Sessions Trial No. 3(1) 2011 arising out of Sessions Case
No.172 of 2010 convicting the appellants for commission of offence punishable
under Sections 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3/4 of the
Dowry Prohibition Act and sentencing them (appellants in C.R.A. 51 of 2012 i.e.
Shanti Chandra Pal and Jyostna Pal) to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period
of ten years for the offence punishable under Section 304B of the Indian Penal
Code, to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of three years and to a pay a
fine of Rs.5,000/- each in default to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for six
months more for the offence punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal
Code, to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of five years and to pay a fine of
Rs.15,000/- each in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for six months more
for the offence punishable under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and to
suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years and to pay a fine of
Rs.10,000/- each in default to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for one month
more for the offence punishable under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and
convicting the appellant Nemai Chandra Pal (appellant in C.R.A. 53 of 2012) to
suffer simple imprisonment for a period of seven years for the offence punishable
under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, to suffer simple imprisonment for a
period of two years and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- in default to suffer simple
imprisonment for six months more for the offence punishable under section 498A
IPC and to suffer simple imprisonment for a period of five years and to pay a fine
of Rs.15,000/- in default to suffer simple imprisonment for six months more for
the offence punishable under section 3 of Dowry Prohibition Act. All the sentences
to run concurrently.
The crux of the prosecution case is the unfortunate demise of a young bride
within one year of her marriage. Rama was married to Shanti Pal, appellant No.1
in C.R.A. 51 of 2012, on 20.06.2007 according to Hindu rites and customs. At the
time of marriage upon the demands of the appellants and co-accused Chandana
Pal (sister-in-law of the victim) Rs.1,30,000/- in cash, 10 bhories of gold, one Hero
Honda Splender motor cycle and furniture were given as dowry. This did not
satiate the greed of the husband and in-laws. They subjected the housewife to
torture on further demands of dowry. Additional amount of Rs.10,000/- was paid
by Bama Charan Pal (PW 6), father of the victim. Torture, however, continued
unabated and finally on the fateful day i.e. 04.03.2008 the victim was found
hanging from the end of her sari at her matrimonial home. Husband and in-laws
were missing. On the written complain of Bama Charan Pal (PW 6), Khoirasole
Police Station Case No. 11 of 2008 dated 05.03.2008 under Section 498A/304B of
the Indian Penal Code was registered for investigation.
In conclusion of investigation charge sheet was filed against the appellants
and co-accuseds Soma Pal and Chandana Pal. Charges were framed under
Sections 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code and under Sections 3/4 of the
Dowry Prohibition Act. Accused persons pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
In the course of trial prosecution examined 16 witnesses and exhibited a number
of documents. Defence of the appellants was one of innocence and false
implication. Co-accused Soma Pal examined herself as D.W. 1. In conclusion of
trial, the learned trial Judge by the impugned judgment and order dated
19.12.2011 and 20.12.2011 convicted and sentenced the appellants, as aforesaid.
However, by the selfsame judgement and order, Soma Pal and Chandana Pal were
acquitted of the charges levelled against them.
Mr. Banerjee, learned advocate appearing for the appellants submitted that
the appellant Nemai Chandra Pal has already expired in the correctional home.
Under such circumstances, the appeal being C.R.A. 53 of 2012 (Nemai
Chandra Pal Vs. State of West Bengal) abates and is disposed of accordingly.
Mr. Banerjee further argued that the independent witnesses have not
supported the prosecution case. Evidence with regard to torture upon the
housewife are general and omnibus. D.W. 1 deposed relation between the in-laws
and the victim was cordial. He prayed for acquittal of the appellants.
Learned counsel appearing for the State argued that the evidence of the
relations of the victim housewife with regard to torture on her over demands of
dowry is corroborated by PWs 9 and 13. Victim subjected unnatural death within
one year of marriage. Hence, the prosecution case has been proved beyond doubt.
I have examined the rival submissions of the parties in the light of the
evidence on record.
No doubt, independent witnesses P.W.1 to 5 have been declared hostile,
however, they have been extensively cross-examined with regard to their
incriminating statements made to police officer. In view of their prevaricating
stance, I do not give much credence to their versions. On the other hand, evidence
of torture upon the housewife is fully established through the deposition of her
parents viz., P.W.6 and P.W.7 and P.W.8, sister-in-law and P.W. 10, cousin of the
victim housewife. All these witnesses deposed that the victim was married to
Shanti on 20.6.2007. At the time of marriage upon demand from the appellants,
Rs.1,30,000/- in cash, 10 bhories of gold ornaments, furniture and one hero
honda motor cycle was given as dowry. However, the appellants demanded further
dowry and subjected the victim housewife to torture. Whenever she came to her
parental home, victim narrated such incidents of torture to her parents, P.W.6
and P.W.7 as well as her sister-in-law, P.W.8 and P.W. 10, cousin of the victim
housewife. Unable to bear such torture, she ultimately committed suicide at her
matrimonial home on 4.3.2008. Hearing such news, P.W.6, P.W.7 and others
rushed to her matrimonial home. They found the victim hanging from the end of
her saree. Police personnel, P.W.11 and P.W.12, came to the spot and brought
down the victim. Inquest was held over her body and post-mortem examination
was conducted by P.W.15 who opined that the victim had died due to effects of
hanging, ante-mortem in nature. Evidence of the relatives of the victim are
corroborated by P.W.9 and P.W.13, a barber and priest respectively. P.W.13 stated
that he came to know from P.W.1 that the victim was tortured by her in-laws at
the matrimonial home.
It is common experience that torture on a housewife is ordinarily
perpetrated within the four corners of her matrimonial home. Furthermore,
narration of torture by the victim would ordinarily be to her relations and near
and dear ones. Hence, it is difficult to find independent evidence of such torture.
Under such circumstances, I am inclined to rely on the evidence of the
relations of the victim housewife which is corroborated by P.W.9 and P.W.13 with
regard to torture meted out upon her soon before her death for non-fulfillment of
demands of dowry. All the appellants had subjected the victim to torture as dowry
demands were not met and it is beyond any pale of controversy that she suffered
unnatural death within one year of her marriage.
In the light of the aforesaid evidence on record, I am of the opinion that the
conviction and sentence of the appellants do not call for any interference.
The appeal being CRA 51 of 2012 is dismissed.
The period of detention, if any, undergone by the appellants during the
period of investigation, enquiry and trial shall be set off against the substantive
sentence, as aforesaid, in terms of Section 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Copy of the judgment along with lower court records be sent down to the
trial court at once for necessary compliance.
Urgent photostat certified copy of this order, if applied for, shall be given to
the parties, as expeditiously as possible on compliance of all necessary formalities.
(Suvra Ghosh, J.) (Joymalya Bagchi, J.)