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The State Of Karnataka vs Dr. Praveen @ Praveen Kumar on 9 July, 2019

1

IN THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA AT BENGALURU

ON THE 9TH DAY OF JULY, 2019

BEFORE

THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE RAVI MALIMATH

AND

THE HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE H.P.SANDESH

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.720 OF 2013

BETWEEN:

THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
BY YELAHANKA UPA NAGAR POLICE
BENGALURU. … APPELLANT

(BY SRI. I.S. PRAMOD CHANDRA, STATE PUBLIC
PROSECUTOR – 2)

AND:

DR. PRAVEEN @ PRAVEEN KUMAR
SON OF KRISHTIAH
AGED ABOUT 38 YEARS
RESIDING AT NO.1226, 8TH ‘B’ CROSS
2ND STAGE, YELAHANKA UPA NAGARA
BENGALURU-560 064. … RESPONDENT

(BY SRI. TOMY SEBASTIAN, SENIOR COUNSEL FOR
SMT. RENY SEBASTIAN, ADVOCATE)

THIS CRIMINAL APPEAL IS FILED UNDER SECTION
378(1) AND (3) CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE PRAYING TO
GRANT LEAVE TO APPEAL AGAINST THE JUDGMENT AND
ORDER OF ACQUITTAL DATED 10.01.2013 PASSED BY
THE ADDITIONAL SESSIONS JUDGE, FAST TRACK COURT-
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XIV, BENGALURU IN SESSIONS CASE NO.1156 OF 2010 –
ACQUITTING THE RESPONDENT-ACCUSED FOR THE
OFFENCES PUNISHABLE UNDER SECTIONS 498A AND
304B OF INDIAN PENAL CODE.

THIS APPEAL HAVING BEEN HEARD AND RESERVED
FOR JUDGMENT ON 25.06.2019 COMING ON THIS DAY,
H.P. SANDESH J., PRONOUNCED THE FOLLOWING:-

JUDGMENT

This appeal is filed against the judgment of acquittal

dated 10.01.2013 passed in S.C. No.1156/2010 on the file

of Additional Sessions Judge, Fast Track Court-XIV,

Bengaluru City.

2. The factual matrix of the case is that; the

marriage of the deceased – Dr.Padmaja – daughter of

P.W.1 was solemnized with the accused on 14.02.2004.

At the time of marriage, gold ornaments weighing

39 grams were given to the accused and the gold

ornaments weighing about 300 grams were given to the

deceased – Dr.Padmaja as a dowry. After the marriage,

the deceased – Dr.Padmaja and accused started to lead

married life in Bengaluru City. During the said stay, the
3

accused started demanding additional dowry and on that

ground, he was giving physical and mental torture to the

deceased continuously. Being fed-up with the same, the

deceased on 25.06.2010 between 09.00 a.m. to 12.00

noon committed suicide by hanging to ceiling fan. Hence,

police have filed the charge sheet against the accused for

the offence punishable under Section 304-B of Indian

Penal Code. During the course of trial, an application

under Section 216 of Cr.P.C was filed by the Public

Prosecutor to invoke under Section 498-A of Indian Penal

Code and additional charge was framed for the offence

punishable under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code.

3. The prosecution, in order to prove guilt of the

accused, examined P.Ws.1 to 22 and got marked Exs.P.1

to 41 and material objects M.O.Nos.1 to 4. Thereafter, the

accused was examined under Section 313 of Cr.P.C and

accused did not choose to lead evidence. The learned trial

Judge after hearing the arguments of Public Prosecutor and
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learned counsel for the accused, acquitted the accused of

the charges leveled against him.

4. Being aggrieved by judgment of acquittal, the

present appeal is filed and in the appeal memorandum, it

is contended that judgment of acquittal is not sustainable

in the eye of law. P.W.1 is the father of the victim and

P.Ws.2 and 3 are the brothers of the victim and in their

evidence, they have specifically stated about the demands

made by the accused and also subjected her for physical

and mental cruelty. The Court failed to visualize the entire

evidence. P.W.4 is the spot mahazar witness. P.W.5 is

the inquest mahazar witness. P.Ws.7 to 10, 12 and 13

concur with the evidence of prosecution corroborating the

ingredients of the charges. P.W.11 is the goldsmith, who

supplied the jewelry at the instance of P.W.1 for the

purpose of marriage of the victim with the accused.

P.W.14 being the Taluka Executive Magistrate, conducted

the inquest. P.W.15 is the Medical Officer, who issued the

Postmortem Report as per Ex.P.33. P.Ws.16 to 22 are the
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Police Officials, who have investigated the matter and filed

the charge sheet. The Court below failed to consider these

materials and P.W.6, though turned hostile, her evidence

establishes physical and mental cruelty as against the

victim at her matrimonial home. The factum of cruelty and

demand are not disputed by the relatives of the victim. In

spite of the same, the Court below passed the order

acquitting the accused. Hence, it requires interference of

this Court.

5. Sri.I.S.Pramod Chandra, learned Additional State

Public Prosecutor in his arguments, vehemently contended

that suicide has taken place in the house of the accused.

P.Ws.1 to 3 and 10 supports the case of prosecution with

regard to cruelty. P.Ws.7 and 9 have spoken that they

have advised the accused not to harass the deceased. In

spite of these materials available on record, the Court

below has committed an error in appreciating both oral

and documentary evidence and prayed this Court to
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reverse the finding of the trial Court and convict the

accused for the charges leveled against him.

6. Per contra, learned counsel appearing for the

respondent/accused would contend that there is no

proximity in the evidence that the deceased was driven to

take a decision of committing suicide and nothing on

record shows that she was subjected to harassment.

Ex.P.29 is the note maintained by the deceased herself,

which refers that she was suspecting that her husband was

having illicit relationship with staff nurse. On the date of

incident, no quarrel had taken place between the deceased

and the accused and no injuries are found on the body of

the deceased. The learned trial Judge at para 26 of the

judgment elaborately discussed the evidence of the

prosecution witnesses and has rightly come to the

conclusion that there was no material to bring the accused

within the charges framed against him. Hence, there are

no grounds to interfere with the judgment of acquittal.

Accordingly, he prayed this Court to dismiss the appeal.
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7. Having heard the arguments of learned Additional

State Public Prosecutor appearing for appellant-State,

learned counsel appearing for the respondent-accused and

having considered the material on record, the points that

would arise for our consideration are:

1. Whether the Court below has
committed an error in acquitting the accused
for the offence punishable under Section 498-A
of Indian Penal Code?

2. Whether the Court below has
committed an error in acquitting the accused
for the offence alleged against him under
Section 304-B of Indian Penal Code?

Point No.1:-

8. The prosecution mainly relies upon the evidence

of P.Ws.1 to 3, who are the father and brothers of the

deceased and also the evidence of P.Ws.7 to 10 who

participated in the reception on the next day of marriage.

P.W.10 is the servant who worked for 10 days in the house

of the accused and the deceased. The other witnesses are
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formal witnesses i.e., Executive Magistrate who conducted

the inquest and P.Ws.16 to 22 are the Police Officials who

conducted the investigation and other mahazar witnesses.

The charges leveled against the accused is for the offences

punishable under Sections 498-A and Section304-B of Indian

Penal Code.

9. In order to prove the charges, we have already

pointed out that P.Ws.1 to 3 and 7 to 10 are the material

witnesses. Before going to the evidence, we would like to

make a reference in respect of the contents of complaint,

which is marked as Ex.P.1 given by the father of the

deceased, who has been examined as P.W.1. In the

complaint, it is stated that marriage was performed at

Anantapur in February, 2004 and thereafter, they came to

Bengaluru for reception. The family members of the

accused ignored to guide the family members of the

deceased to reach the reception place. In this regard, the

father of the deceased quarrelled with the parents of the

accused. It is also alleged that thereafter the accused and
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his parents started harassing her daughter demanding

huge money from P.W.1. His daughter herself used to

advise him not to part with money since she was well

qualified. In the meanwhile, both of them have joined PG

Course at Kolar. They were not happy together since he

was subjecting the daughter to both physical and mental

torture. One day, when she was severely beaten, she

called him and her brother – Mr.Suresh, who stay at

Bengaluru. Immediately he rushed to Kolar to bring back

the deceased. There, his brother was subjected to assault

by accused and his gang in the presence of his father –

Krishthia. It is his further allegation that his daughter

reached his house and refused to return to Kolar. He

further says that accused was doing Post Graduation

course of three years duration. He planned to send his

daughter for two years fellowship and she joined at

Araivind Eye Hospital at Madurai and accused never visited

to see his daughter. The relationship was strained. After

completion of her fellowship education, she joined her

husband in December 2009 and both started to live
10

together at Yelahanka and there also she was subjected to

harassment. In the meanwhile, parents of the accused

went to USA without informing the same. They planned to

commit the murder. The daughter also told that accused

is having illicit relationship with staff nurse and used to

come late. Once when he visited daughter’s house, she has

shown the marks of physical torture and she was waiting

for the arrival of parents of accused. In the meanwhile,

she was fed up with harassment. On seeing the body

hanging from the ceiling fan, he suspected the fowl play of

the accused and lodged a complaint that he has committed

the murder.

10. Based on the complaint, police have registered

the case for the offences punishable under Sections 302

and Section304-B of Indian Penal Code. The Police after

investigation and obtaining the report particularly based on

the Postmortem Report, which is marked as Ex.P.33, filed

the charge sheet for the offence punishable under Section

304-B Indian Penal Code . During the course of trial, when
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the application is filed for altering the charge for the

offence punishable under Section 498-A and the same was

invoked.

11. Firstly, before appreciating the evidence, we

would like to mention here that in terms of Ex.P.33 –

Postmortem Report, the Doctor has opined that the cause

of death was due to Asphyxia consequent to hanging and

the same has not been disputed. During cross-

examination of doctor, who has been examined as P.W.15

has also not disputed the cause of death. Hence, it is clear

that death was due to asphyxia consequent to hanging.

12. Now, we would like to re-appreciate the

evidence with regard to, whether the deceased was

subjected to harassment and whether it attracts Section

304-B of Indian Penal Code. No doubt, death has occurred

within seven years of the marriage. Under Section 113-B

of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, there is a presumption
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that when the death is taken place within 7 years, dowry

death must be presumed.

13. Now, let us appreciate the evidence regarding

harassment. P.W.1 who is the father, in his evidence, he

says on the very next day of the marriage, trouble has

started. The family members of the accused did not

communicate the place of reception and also he claims

that he gave gold ornaments worth Rs.2,00,000/- to his

daughter and also gave a ring and chain to the accused.

He also says that on the very next day of reception, ill-will

had developed. He has given the details with regard to

both of them pursuing their education after marriage.

Further, she was sent for delivery in a bus alone without

informing. Thereafter, they did not come to see the child

when she gave birth to a child on 28.03.2006. After some

days, they came to see the child and stayed in a hotel for

two days. It is also his evidence that one day when they

were staying in Kolar pursuing their education, the accused

had stamped with boot leg to his daughter. At that time,
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she had called her brother P.W.2 who was staying in

Bengaluru. When P.W.2 came, accused and his gang

members assaulted him. She also joined for fellowship at

Madurai and after completion of their education, they came

and stayed at Yelahanka house. There also she was

subjected to harassment. The daughter was telling that he

had developed illicit relationship with staff nurse and came

late to the house. He had given assurance that he will

come and talk to them. In the meanwhile, he came to

know that she committed suicide on 25.06.2010. Then he

gave the complaint and police have investigated the case.

In his cross-examination, he admits that Exs.P.23 and 29

were in the brief case of his daughter and the same was

found when they searched for any death note. He also

says that he gave Exs.P.23 and 29 and take back the same

from the Inspector. He admits that only after going

through Exs.P.23 and 29 only he came to know about the

accused having illicit relationship with other lady. He

admits that before giving the complaint, he had read

Exs.P.23 and 29 but, he did not mention the same in the
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complaint in order to produce the same before the Court.

Again, he says that his daughter called in the month of

March and informed that her husband is having

relationship with other women. One month prior to taking

the esteem step of committing the suicide, he admits that

both of them were there in Kurnool in a rented house. Both

of them were cordial when they were at Kurnool and

thereafter, they came back to Yelahanka. He admits that

when his daughter was in Yelahanka, he was depositing

money in terms of Exs.P.25 to 28 and the said amount was

deposited in June and February and also he deposited the

amount to the account of his daughter at Anantapur Bank.

Further, he admits that amount was given to his daughter

just five days prior to committing the suicide. He further

admits that his daughter used to come to house at around

6.00 p.m. and does not know the timings of her husband.

He claims that his daughter was telling not to pay any

amount to accused. Further, he admits that his daughter

did not ask any amount to the accused. In the cross-

examination, suggestions are made that he did not make
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particular statement before Police regarding harassment

and the same is denied. He further admits that in the

complaint and in the statement, he did not mention

anything about Exs.P.23 and 29.

14. P.W.2, in his evidence, says that they gave

golden ornaments at the time of marriage and his sister

was telling that accused was making galata with her and

his evidence is also in the line of the evidence of P.W.1.

During the cross-examination, it is elicited that he did not

go to Kolar when his sister and accused were there in

Kolar. He also admits that for a period of two years both

of them were there in Kurnool and during the said time

also, he did not visit Kurnool. He admits that when the

accused was coming late to house, his sister was

suspecting that he was having relationship with some

other lady. He further admits that when he went to the

house of his sister they found Exhs.P23 and P29 within 10

minutes which was given to Police. The Police have

examined and returned the same to them. He admits in
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the cross-examination that while making statement before

the Police he did not make any statement that the accused

and their family members did not demand any dowry. He

claims that they have given ring, chain and agreed to

perform the marriage with their expenses. Throughout the

cross-examination suggestions are made that the

evidence which he has given before the Court was not

stated either before the Tahsildar or with the Police and

those suggestions are denied. He further admits that

Exhs.P23 and 29 were found prior to giving complaint.

Himself, his brother and father read the contents of the

said document and then only they came to know about the

accused having relationship with some other lady and his

sister was suspecting the same.

15. P.W.3 is also another brother of P.W.2. In his

evidence also he reiterates the evidence of P.Ws.1 and 2.

He was subjected to cross-examination. In the cross-

examination, he says about the Reception which was

conducted on the next day. After the said incident, there
17

was ill-will between his father and father of the accused.

He does not know about the marriage talks. He also

visited when his sister was in Kolar. After she came from

Madurai, he did not visit the house of his sister. He

admits that the deceased was quarreling with the accused

suspecting that he had illicit relationship with other lady

and the same was informed five months prior to her death.

In the cross-examination of P.W.3, it is suggested that he

did not make any statement before the Police or the

Tahsildar in the line of evidence which he has given in his

chief evidence and the said suggestion was denied. He

admits that Exhs.P23 and P29 were seen in the house of

his sister. It is suggested that his sister did not complain

anything about the harassment and demanding of

additional dowry.

16. P.W.4 is the mahazar witness in respect of

Ex.P2 and P.W.5 is inquest mahazar witness. Their

evidence is not material since there is no dispute with

regard to cause of death of the deceased. P.W.6 is the
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servant who was working in the house of the deceased and

the accused and she did not support the case of the

prosecution and she claims that both were cordial. She

was getting the salary from the accused. She only

noticed the body in the hanging position. She informed the

same to the neighbours and also to the husband. In the

cross-examination, a suggestion was made that both the

husband and wife were quarreling for trivial issues and the

same has been denied. It is further suggested that on the

previous day also, both of them quarelled and she denied

the same.

17. P.W.7 is the Lab Technician working with

P.W.1. He says he has attended the Reception after the

marriage. He says that there was galata between P.W.2

and the accused at Kolar and they pacified. They have

not given any complaint. In the cross-examination, he

admits that he does not know whether they were residing

in Bengaluru. He did not visit the house of Suresha-P.W.2.

He claims that P.W.1 was invited to go to Kolar.
19

18. The other witness is P.W.8 who is the friend of

P.W.1. He also says that he attended the Reception and

there was a galata in the Reception. In the cross-

examination, a suggestion was made that no such incident

had taken place in the Reception, the same was denied.

19. P.W.9 is also having acquaintance with P.W.1.

He says that when the daughter of P.W.1 informed about

ill-treatment, he called to go to Kolar. He says accused

went to assault P.W.2 and pacified both of them. In the

cross-examination he says that he cannot tell how long

they were in Kurnool. Thereafter at Kolar and also at

Madurai. He says that he witnessed the incident of

assault made to P.W.2 by the accused.

20. P.W.10 claims that he went to Madurai along

with the deceased. She was there for about 12 days and

during that time, there was a quarrel between the accused

and the deceased. She claims that deceased was

subjected to harassment. She further claims that only

herself, her husband and child were there in the house
20

and none visited the house from the family of the

deceased. In the cross-examination, when they came to

Bengaluru, the galata has taken place. She further admits

that the deceased was not going to any work when she

came back to Bengaluru. Only accused was returning to

house at 4 p.m. and he used to leave the house at 8 a.m.

in the morning. The other witnesses are formal

witnesses.

21. Now let us consider the evidence of P.Ws.1 to

10. The main witnesses are P.Ws. 6 and 10. P.W.6 claims

that they were cordial and there was no quarrel between

them as against that P.W.10 says that they used to quarrel

with each other at Madurai. When they came back to

Bengaluru, galata started and P.W.10 also says that only

the accused was attending duty and the deceased was not

working. This evidence is against the evidence of all other

witnesses and no incriminating evidence from the mouth of

P.W.6. The evidence of P.W.10 cannot be believed, since

she stayed only for a period of 12 days in the house of the
21

accused and the deceased as claimed by her. P.W.10

says that the deceased was not working. But the evidence

of other witnesses show that she was also working. Hence

the evidence of P.W.10 cannot be accepted regarding

harassment. The other witnesses are P.Ws. 7 to 9 who are

working with P.W.1 and also having acquaintance with

P.W.1 and their evidence is also that the accused

subjected the deceased for harassment. They went to

Kolar and also participated in the panchayath and advised

the accused. It is further important to note that they say

an incident that has taken place when they visited Kolar

viz., the accused assaulted P.W.2. It is pertinent to note

that P.W.2 has not spoken anything about the incident of

assault made to him when he went to Kolar. It is further

important to note that P.W.2 in the cross-examination

categorically admits that when his sister was in Kolar, he

did not visit Kolar. Hence the evidence of P.Ws. 7 to 9 is

not credible with regard both mental and physical

harassment. The evidence appears to be an improvement.
22

22. Now the question before the Court is with

regard to the evidence of P.Ws.1 to 3. P.W.1 is the father,

P.Ws. 2 and 3 are brothers of the deceased. It is

emerged in the evidence that no demand was made at the

time of the marriage for dowry and also for giving jewels.

However, P.Ws.1 to 3 say that they gave chain and ring

and the evidence disclose that they did not demand the

jewels and the dowry, it is only a customary practice that

they have given the same. P.Ws. 1 to 3 claim that the

accused was having illicit relationship with the Staff Nurse

which was suspected by the deceased. The deceased used

to tell the same and the same was informed five months

prior to her death. P.Ws.1, 2 and 3 have categorically

admitted in the cross-examination that when they have

seen Exhs.P23 and 29 then only they came to know about

the illicit relationship and hence the very evidence of

P.Ws.1 to 3 that the deceased informed about the illicit

relationship with the Staff Nurse prior to her death is

doubtful.

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23. On perusal of Exhs.P.23 and 29 no doubt the

recitals disclose about suspecting the accused by the

deceased about the illicit relationship. Regarding the

harassment is concerned, no material is placed before the

Court to come to the conclusion that there was

harassment. Records disclose that after the marriage, she

went to Kurnool for her further education and accused also

joined her. He was studying to join the P.G.course at

Kurnool. P.Ws.2 and 3 have categorically stated that they

did not visit Kurnool and they cannot say any harassment

between them. P.W.1 also claims that he gave money to

his daughter and no material is placed regarding the

payment made to the accused by P.W.1. The fact that the

deceased also pursued her education after the marriage is

not in dispute. P.W.1 made the payment. No one says

that the accused demanded money from P.Ws. 1 to 3.

P.W.3 categorically admits that whatever payment he

made that was in 2010 and also payment was made when

she was in Ananthpur. P.W.1 also admits that when they

were in Kurnool both of them were cordial. P.Ws.1 to 3
24

say that the deceased was suspecting that her husband

was having illicit relationship with another woman. P.W.6

was working with the accused and deceased is not in

dispute. P.W.1 also admits the same. P.W.1 claims that

she is the relative of the accused, but nothing is suggested

in the cross-examination of P.W.6 that she is the relative.

She is the witness who was staying along with the

accused and deceased at the time of death of the

deceased. She has not spoken anything about the

harassment, she claims that all were cordial. It is

pertinent to note that Exhs.P23 and 29 though found

before giving the complaint, the same was not given to the

Police. They claim that the Police after seeing, returned the

same. I have already pointed out that P.W.2 did not say

anything about the assault made by the accused when he

visited and instead he admits that he did not visit Kolar. A

person who was subjected to assault should say that he

was assaulted and the same is not been forthcoming in his

evidence. It is also pertinent to note that it is not the

case of the prosecution that galata had taken place
25

between the accused and the deceased either on previous

day or on the date of the incident. There is no material

before the Court and no proximity which has driven the

deceased to commit suicide. The evidence which has

been emerged clearly shows that she was having doubt

against her husband that he is having illicit relationship

with the Staff Nurse. None of the witnesses have been

examined with regard to this aspect. With regard to the

suspicion which was in the mind of deceased appears to

have lead her to take the extreme step of committing

suicide. In order to drag the accused for the charges

under Section 304-B and also for 498-A there must be

sufficient evidence. P.Ws.1 to 3 are the relative witnesses.

No doubt relative witnesses evidence cannot be discarded,

if it inspires confidence in the Court. P.Ws. 7 to 9 who

have been examined though supports the case of the

prosecution, their evidence does not inspire the confidence

of the Court. They are the employees of P.W.1 and they

are having acquaintance with P.W.1.

26

24. Based on these evidences, this Court cannot

come to the conclusion that there was harassment and the

deceased was driven out to take a extreme step of

committing suicide. The Court below while appreciating

the evidence available on record meticulously considered

the evidence of both the oral and documentary evidence

and has come to the right conclusion that there is no

material to convict the accused for the charges levelled

against him. At the first instance there was no allegation of

harassment and it discloses that at the time of evidence

the harassment was introduced as an after thought. Only

after recording the evidence that too on the application of

the Prosecutor, charges have been framed for the offence

under Section 498-A. It is further pertinent to note that

P.W.1 while lodging the complaint alleged that the

accused committed the murder. Based on the PM report

Ex.P33, charge sheet has been filed only for the offence

under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code. It appears P.W.1

made all his effort to bring home the guilt of the accused.

In order to invoke Section 304B, there is no material. The
27

evidence clearly discloses that after the marriage both

husband and deceased have pursued their further

education and they were staying in different places like

Kurnool, Kolar, Madurai and thereafter have stayed in

Bengaluru. None of the neighbouring witnesses have been

examined in order to prove the harassment.

25. Hence, we are of the opinion that we do not

find any reasons to reverse the finding of the trial Court to

come to the conclusion that the learned trial Judge has

committed an error in appreciating the evidence.

26. In view of the discussions made above, the

Criminal Appeal stands dismissed.

Sd/- Sd/-
JUDGE JUDGE

akc/st/nbm

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