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State Of Tamil Nadu vs Mariappan And Ors. on 24 October, 2002

State Of Tamil Nadu vs Mariappan And Ors. on 24 October, 2002Equivalent citations: JT 2002 (9) SC 381 Bench: U Banerjee, S V Patil

ORDER

1. The state of Tamil Nadu is in appeal against the judgment and order of the Madras High Court wherein the respondents herein were acquitted of the charge under Section 302/34 IPC as also of the charge under Section 304B IPC and Section 498A IPC. The conviction and sentence of rigorous imprisonment of two years as passed by the learned sessions judge under the Dowry Prohibition Act, however, was confirmed.

2. Significantly, on trial before the learned sessions judge, the respondents herein were found guilty both under Sections 302 and 498A IPC, besides Section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and were convicted thereunder and sentenced to death under Section 302 IPC subject to the confirmation by the High Court and under Section 498A IPC punishment of three years together with punishment of a further period of two years, as noticed under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The matter was placed before the High Court as a death reference and the High court in its elaborate judgment dealt with the issue rather extensively.

3. Be it noted, however, that there is no appeal against the confirmation of sentence under the Dowry Prohibition Act and there being no appeal against the sentence, it has attained finality between the parties.

4. In the normal course there being an order of acquittal by the High Court the apex court would be slow to interfere therewith. Even if the matter were to be dealt with differently by the apex court provided, however, the reasonings available on record can be attributed to be one of the acceptable method of appreciation. If one of the dual method is accepted by the High Court, further interference would not arise. The law seems to be well settled and we need not date thereon any further. This conclusion of us would have been sufficient to dispose of this appeal before this Court but judicial ethics prompt us to deal with the matter in a slightly more greater detail since Mr. T.L. Vishwanatha lyer, learned senior counsel appearing in support of the appeal, was emphatic about the evidence available on record and the mis-appreciation thereof resulting in manifest error on the part of the High Court. Emphasis has been laid not only on the oral evidence but on the documentary evidence as well. In this context, two of the letters sent by the unfortunate girl herein have been taken recourse to, one being dated 11.11.1994 and the second being 25.11.1994. It is on these two letters that Mr. Iyer contended that the torture being a proximate cause of death stand evidenced. Thus, it would be convenient to note the two letters hereinafter in extenso so as to record our appreciation in regard thereto. The letter dated 1st November, 1994, reads as below;

“To dear father and mother, daughter Geetha is writing here all are well. Write about the welfare of you Sudha, Satheesh and Kalpana. Mother has to take care of her health. Mother, I am well here. Consulted the doctor. He said that my health is well. Father, thinking that if you are here, they will demand, you should not abstain from coming here. I am fond of seeing you all. Mother must come. Sudha, I am expecting your letters. Not received. Write papal. Ask Satheesh and Kalpana to read well. Rest in person.

Subam

(Sd. in English) A. Geetha

Don’t tell about this letter. Father, he has taken vow to go to Sabarimalai. He started on Sunday. Don’t get sorrow for not informing this.”

5. The letter dated 25th November, 1994 reads as below:

“To dear father and mother by Geetha. Here are all well. Like wise, write about the welfare for Satheesh, Sudha and yourself. Sudha has to look after her health. Sudha I expected your letter. Why have you not written a letter. My words may hurt both mother and father. Mother, what I told you. He will come for Deepavali. Give him a sovereign. You also accepted it. After giving birth to a child, you agreed to give. For that what I told. If sovereign is not given, they will talk I told, why you have you not given if you had told in final I would not send him. We will come and get next year. It is very difficult to send me. Why has father not come? Father take a good decision of this. You should not have told him like this Raja uncle knows all things. Don’t reveal the receipt of this letter. Father do not tell in course of talk about the receipt of tapal. Take a good decision for me. Don’t inform Ayyappan Chithappa (maternal uncle). Bring some money when mother comes here. Forgive me if what I have asked is wrong. Otherwise if you think. Sudha you too are forgotten to write letters. For Kavitha, they gave sovereign and silk saree. If speaking about the same, how it will hurt what can be done. Can my alibi (fate) be changed. Tear this.”

6. Relying upon the two letters noticed above, Mr. Iyer contended that the demand of dowry stands proved and in addition thereto these two letters suggested that in the absence of payment of dowry the unfortunate girl will have to meet unfortunate consequences. We are, however, unable to read the letters in the manner presented by Mr. Iyer. The second part of the letter, as stated by Mr. Iyer, does not appear to be explicit at all and inference thereunder does not, in our view, lead to such a conclusion. Mr. Iyer thereafter has taken recourse to the oral evidence of the prosecution witnesses and in particular reference has been made to PWs. 4 and 11. On a perusal of the evidence on record, we, however, do not feel it expedient to record our concurrence with Mr. Iyer’s submission. The text of the evidence stands corroborated by each other to the effect only that there was a demand of dowry and that fifteen sovereigns were paid in terms therewith. The other incidentals stand contradicted at every step in course of the evidence by each other and, thus, cannot be termed to be acceptable or creditworthy piece of evidence. As a matter of fact, there is no definite allocation of any terror so as to bring the matter within the ambit of Section 304B much less Section 302. The requirements of the statute are namely, death not under normal circumstances; death within seven years of her marriage; before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by the husband or any relative of her husband in connection of any demand for dowry. Whereas the first three elements stand satisfied in the present case, the last two elements stand missing and it is on th’s score Mr. Iyer submitted that the letters would supplement peremptorily to any of them. We are unable to record our concurrence.

7. On the wake of the aforesaid, we do not feel it inclined to interfere with the order as passed by the High Court. As such, this appeal fails and is dismissed. Bail bonds shall stand discharged.

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