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State Of Haryana vs Angoori Devi on 13 June, 2019





State of Haryana …Appellant


Angoori Devi Anr. … Respondents


Indira Banerjee, J.

This appeal filed by the State of Haryana is against a

judgment and order dated 3.5.2012 passed by a Division

Bench of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at

Chandigarh allowing the appeal filed by the respondents,

reversing the judgment of conviction passed by the learned
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Additional Sessions Judge, Jhajhar convicting the respondents
Date: 2019.08.02
14:48:10 IST

under Sections 498A read with Section 304B of the Indian

Penal code and acquitting the respondents.

2. The victim (Babli) and her sister (Neeru) were married

to two brothers, Kartar (Respondent No.3) and Pawan, sons of

Smt. Angoori Devi (Respondent No.1) and Akhey Ram

(Respondent No.2). After 3 ½ years of marriage the victim,

wife of Kartar Singh (Respondent No.3) died of burn injuries.

3. The victim’s father (hereinafter referred to as the

‘complainant’) lodged an FIR, pursuant to which Sessions

Crime No. 9 of 29.3.1996 was commenced. It was alleged

that about 1 ¼ years ago when his daughter Babli was

pregnant, her in-laws had asked her to leave the house and

return only if she brought Rs.60,000/-.

4. It is alleged that the victim informed her parents about

this demand and she started living with her parents. She

gave birth to a daughter, after which she stayed with her

parents for 5 to 6 months. Thereafter, the complainant

requested the accused to take the victim back. It is stated

that the victim has lived with her in-laws for about 20 days,

after which she was thrown out from her matrimonial home.

Her mother-in-law (Respondent No. 1) and father-in-law

(Respondent No. 2) demanded gold ring and a chain. It is

stated that a village Panchayat was convened after which

Babli was sent to her in-laws house on 29.10.1995. On

3.12.1995, the complainant came to know about the death of

the victim. He came to know that the victim had been burnt

to death. He went to the spot and saw the dead body.

5. According to the complaint, since the victim had died

due to torture and beating by her in-laws to press their

demand for dowry, the matter was reported to the Sadar

Police Station, Bahadurgarh. Investigation was commenced

and the body of the victim was sent for post mortem

examination. The post mortem report opined that the cause

of death was shock as a result of anti-mortem superficial

deep burns over entire body.

6. The prosecution examined nine witnesses. No

witnesses were examined on behalf of the defence. In the

examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal

Procedure, the respondent No. 3, Kartar Singh, husband of

the victim, deposed that the respondent Nos. 1 and 2, being

his parents, resided separately.

7. The complainant who deposed as the 4th prosecution

witness (PW4) stated that immediately after marriage the

respondent started harassing the victim for dowry and also

used to beat his daughter. The victim was thrown out of the

house when she was in the family way as they wanted her

to bring Rs.60,000/- in cash, gold articles and a Refrigerator.

8. According to the complainant, as he could not afford to

give cash and ornaments, the victim was thrown out. While

the victim was at his house, she gave birth to a girl child.

After about six months, through the intervention of a

Panchayat, he sent the victim back to her matrimonial home.

No member of the Panchayat was examined.

9. The victim stayed there for 15-20 days, after which she

was set on fire and killed by the accused. According to the

complainant, Rakesh, elder brother of Akhey Ram

(Respondent No. 3) came to his village and told him about

the death of the victim. Thereafter, the complainant along

with villagers went to the house of accused and saw the

victim lying dead.

10. The complainant has, in his evidence, claimed that his

younger daughter, Neetu told him that the victim had been

killed by the accused and later set on fire after pouring

kerosene oil on her body. The younger daughter Neetu was,

however, not examined by the prosecution.

11. The victim’s brother, Subhash who deposed as the 5 th

prosecution witness (PW-5) more or less reiterated what the

complainant, his father, had said.

12. Admittedly, there is no eye-witness to the incident. The

respondent No.3 has in his statement under Section 313

stated that his parents did not live with him and that he was

not at home when the incident took place.

13. The High Court found that the complainant did, in his

evidence, say that he had first hand knowledge of demand of

dowry. The High Court refused to uphold the conviction on

the basis of hearsay evidence, since the primary witness

Neetu was never produced in Court to give evidence.

Moreover, the High Court found discrepancies between his

evidence in Court and his statement to the Police, with which

he had been confronted.

14. The High Court found substance in the submission

made by the Counsel for the respondents that if the

respondents had really harassed or maltreated the victim,

her sister married to another son of the respondent Nos. 1

and 2, brother of the respondent No.3, would not have

abstained from giving evidence. The Court also opined that

counsel was justified in submitting that if there had been

harassment as a result of greed for dowry, the victim and her

sister who was married to the victim’s brother-in-law

(husband’s brother) would also have been harassed and

tortured. There is no allegation of harassment of the victim’s

sister Neetu.

15. Considering the evidence, the Court did not find the

evidence strong enough to hold the respondents guilty. We

agree with the High Court that the evidence is weak, and not

sufficient for conviction.

16. It is true, that the victim died of burns. The death was

otherwise than under normal circumstances and within 7

years of marriage. However, to attract Section 304B of the

Indian Penal Code, the prosecution has to establish that soon

before the death the deceased was subjected to cruelty and

harassment in connection with demand for dowry. The High

Court rightly found that the evidence did not show any

proximate connection between the demand of dowry and the

act of cruelty of harassment and or the death. The

prosecution has not been able to prove that the victim was

subjected to cruelty or harassment soon before her death in

connection with any demand for dowry.

17. Under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, the

prosecution cannot escape from discharging its burden of

proving that the harassment or cruelty was related to

demand for dowry soon before death. In this case, the High

Court has been swayed by the fact that the evidence of the

complainant, being the father of the victim, did not evince

direct knowledge of demand of dowry. The judgment and

order under appeal is not liable to be interfered with.

18. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

[ Indira Banerjee ]

[ Ajay Rastogi ]

JUNE 13, 2019

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