Madras High Court Veerasa-vs-Inspector Of Police on 16 December, 2009
DATED : 16.12.2009
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE M.CHOCKALINGAM
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE V. PERIYA KARUPPIAH
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.598 of 2009
3. Nagavalli @ Vallianayagam ..Appellants
Inspector of Police,
Gomangalam Police Station,
This criminal appeal is preferred under Section 374(2) Cr.P.C against the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge of Mahila Court at Coimbatore made in S.C.No.181 of 2007 dated 21.8.2009 For Appellant : Mr.C.M.Gunasekaran
For Respondent : Mr.Babu Muthu Meeran
J U D G M E N T
(The judgment of the Court was made by M.CHOCKALINGAM, J.)
Challenge is made to the judgment of the Court of Sessions, (Mahila Court), Coimbatore made in S.C.No.181/2007 whereby the appellants, three in number, stood charged, tried and found guilty under section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and under Sections 498-A, 306 and 304-B IPC and awarded two years rigorous imprisonment, three years rigorous imprisonment, 10 years rigorous imprisonment and life imprisonment each respectively along with fine and default sentences.
2. The short facts necessary for the disposal of this appeal can be stated as follows:
(a) P.W.1 and P.W.6 are the parents of the deceased. They had four daughters. Out of whom, the third daughter Baby was given in marriage with the first accused/ first appellant on 1.12.2006. After marriage, the first accused along with his wife started living jointly with A2 and A3, parents of A1. When they were living together, there was demand of 10 sovereign of gold jewels, cash and house hold articles. At the time of marriage, 5 sovereign gold jewels and house hold articles were given to the accused. Regarding the remainder, they demanded often and harassed the victim. Under such circumstances, she left the matrimonial home and was living with her parents. On 12.3.2007, A1 to A3 along with their relatives went to the house of P.W.1 and tendered apology for the acts done in the past and took her to their house on the assurance that they would give her peaceful life. Believing their words, P.W.1 sent his daughter/deceased along with them. (b) On 16.3.2007, since the deceased Baby could not bear the cruelty exhorted on her, she committed suicide. The matter was informed to P.W.1 at about 4.30 p.m. by his son-in-law/A1. Immediately, P.Ws. 1 and 6 went to Udumalpet Government Hospital and found the dead body of their daughter in the mortuary. They suspected her death. (c) P.W.1 went to the respondent Police Station and gave a complaint, Ex.P1 to P.W.11, Sub Inspector of Police Coimbatore who was on duty at that time. On the strength of Ex.P1, complaint a case came to be registered in Crime No.30 of 2007 under sections 498-A, 306 of IPC and Section 174 of Cr.P.C. The express F.I.R., Ex.P19 was sent to Court. (d) Since the death has taken place within a short span of time from the date of marriage of the first accused and the deceased, there arose a necessity to refer the matter to the Sub-Collector, Pollachi. Accordingly, on receipt of the copy of the F.I.R., P.W.5 Sub-Collector, Pollachi recorded the statement of the witnesses. He conducted inquest on the dead body of the deceased and prepared the inquest report, Ex.P.15. He also prepared the Inquiry report Ex.P.17. (e) P.W.12, the Deputy Superintendent of Police of that place, took up investigation. He went to the spot made an inspection and prepared the Observation Mahazar, Ex.P.20 and drew a rough sketch Ex.P22. He also recovered M.O.1 rope from the place of occurrence. Thereafter, the dead body was subjected to post mortem. (f) On the requisition made by the Investigating Officer, P.W.3, doctor conducted autopsy on the dead body of the deceased and issued the post mortem certificate, Ex.P.2 wherein he has opinion that the deceased Baby would appear to have died of asphyxia due to hanging. (g) On 20.3.2007, the investigating officer arrested the first accused. Thereafter, he was sent for judicial remand. The second and third accused were also arrested and they were sent for judicial remand. The material objects recovered from the place of occurrence and from the dead body of the deceased were sent for analysis and the chemical reports, Ex.P3 and Ex.P4, were received and placed before the Court. On completion of the investigation, the investigating officer filed a final report. (h) The case was committed to the Court of Sessions. Necessary charges were framed. In order to substantiate the charges levelled against the accused, the prosecution has examined 12 witnesses and relied on 22 exhibits and 1 material object. On completion of the evidence on the side of the prosecution, the accused were questioned under section 313 Cr.P.C. as to the incriminating circumstances found in the prosecution witnesses and they denied them as false. No defence witness was examined. One Court witness viz., C.W.1 was examined. On hearing the arguments advanced on either side, the trial Court took the view that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt and rendered the judgment of conviction and sentence as referred to above. Hence, this appeal at the instance of the appellants.
3. Advancing the arguments on behalf of the appellants, the learned counsel for the appellants would submit, in the instant case, the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any one of the ingredients necessary for the offence under sections 306 or 304-B or 498-A of I.P.C. or under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, but the trial Court has taken an erroneous view and has found the appellants guilty of the charges. Insofar as the dowry demand is concerned, it is true that number of witnesses were examined but at the earliest, the Sub-Collector P.W.5 has recorded the statement of the witnesses. P.W.6 who mother of the victim was also examined and she has categorically stated before P.W.5 that there was no demand of dowry, either for jewels or for anything else. Even though number of witnesses have spoken about dowry demand, once the mother has given evidence to that effect, the other evidence are rules out regarding the possibility of dowry demand. The evidence of P.W. 6 in that regard was also supported by other circumstances.
4. The learned counsel would further submit that in the instant case, the medical opinion canvassed and placed before the Court has proved the fact that it was commission of suicide. The prosecution came forward with a story that she committed suicide due to demand of dowry. Believing the prosecution story, the trial Court has found the appellants guilty of the offence under sections 304B, 306 and 498A IPC and under section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. In the instant case, there are evidence to prove that the deceased Baby committed suicide due to her mental illness. Even P.W.2, doctor who has been examined on the side of the prosecution has categorically stated that just 10 days prior to the occurrence, Baby was brought to his clinic and when he examined her, he found her mentally ill. She did not answer to any of his questions.
5. Added further learned counsel, the Sub-Collector has also recorded the statement to the effect that due to mental illness she was taken for medical treatment and it was also spoken to by the witnesses. At the earliest, when the accused was examined by P.W.5, Sub collector, the accused has categorically stated that after the marriage she did not speak to anybody properly and she was keeping calm due to mental illness. Therefore, he took her to the medical person and gave treatment. Even then, she did not recover from the said illness. Added further learned counsel, in the instant case, the Court has examined the neighbour, C.W.1 in that regard who has categorically stated to the effect that she had mental depression and due to mental illness, she did not talk with others. All would clearly indicate the fact that though the prosecution was able to prove tha the deceased Baby has committed suicide, that was due to mental depression and ill health, for which, the accused/appellants are not liable or answerable, but the trial Court has taken an erroneous view. The prosecution has not proved the case in any manner known to law. Hence, the appellants are entitled for acquittal.
6. The Court heard the learned Additional Public Prosecutor on the above contentions and paid its anxious consideration on the submissions made.
7. It is not in controversy that one Baby D/o P.W.1 and P.W.6 was actually found dead and the specific case of the prosecution was she died due to hanging. P.W.2 the doctor who conducted post mortem has been examined and he has given evidence before the Court and also through the contents of the post mortem certificate that the deceased would appear to have died out to asphyxia due to hanging. The prosecution was successful enough to ensure that she committed suicide by hanging. The trial Court has rightly recorded the same. There is no impediment felt by this Court in recorded so.
8. In the instant case, the appellants were found guilty under Section 306, 498A and 304B IPC and under section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act by the trial Court and was awarded punishments as referred to above. The specific case of the prosecution before the trial court was that the deceased has committed suicide because of the cruel treatment meted out on her by the appellants who demanded 10 sovereign of gold jewels and other articles. Since the occurrence has taken place, within a short time from the date of marriage between the first accused and the deceased, the copy of the F.I.R. was served upon the Sub-Collector of Pollachi. P.W.5, Sub-Collector, has examined the witnesses and recorded the statements. The earliest statement given by P.W.6, mother of the deceased which was marked as Ex.P5 would clearly indicate that even prior to the occurrence, there was no complaint by the victim regarding the dowry demand from any one of the appellants. Though the prosecution examined the father and sister of the deceased for dowry demand, the Court is not satisfied with their evidence since the competent person to speak about the fact and the best piece of evidence was that of the mother of the deceased who was examined as P.W.6. The statement given by P.W.6 was that there was no dowry demand or any demand for jewels. Hence, without any hesitation, it could be accepted and acted upon. From the evidence available and on considering the above circumstances, the Court is afraid to sustain the conviction passed by the trial Court.
9. In the instant case, even as per the statement recorded by the Sub-Collector and also by P.W.2, doctor the deceased Baby was taken to the doctor, P.W.2 just 10 days prior to the occurrence. She was found mentally depressed and did not answer to any one of the doctor’s question. Then, the doctor had advised the accused to take her to a psychiatrist. The Court has also examined one neighbour of the deceased, C.W.1. He has categorically stated that he knew the deceased and the accused family very well; that from the time of marriage, they were living together; that the deceased was found mentally depressed; that she used to go out of the house often due to mental illness and her husband/accused would go in search of her and bring her home. All the above circumstances would indicate that due to mental depressing and mental illness, the deceased has committed suicide and the appellants cannot be called upon to answer how she has committed suicide. Therefore, the cause for committing suicide need not be search for from any other sources. The stand taken by the prosecution before the trial Court that the deceased committed suicide due to cruel treatment meted out on her and due to abetment of the accused/appellants, were not proved by proper evidence. Under such circumstances, the Court is of the opinion that it would be unsafe to record the finding that the appellants are responsible for the death of the deceased. The prosecution has miserable failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, the judgment of the trial Court has got to be made undone by upsetting the same and the appellants are entitled for acquittal.
10. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed. The judgment of conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant/accused by the learned Sessions Judge of Mahila Court at Coimbatore made in S.C.No.181 of 2007 is set aside and they are acquitted of the charges levelled against them. The appellants/A1 to A3 are directed to be set at liberty forthwith, unless they are required in connection with any other case. Fine amount if any executed by the appellants is ordered to be refunded to them. (M.C.J.) (V.P.K.J.) 16.12.2009
Index : Yes/No
Internet : Yes/No
1. The Sessions Judge of Mahila Court,
2. The Inspector of Police,
Gomangalam Police Station,
3. The Public Prosecutor,
High Court, Chennai.
V. PERIYA KARUPPIAH.,J
CRL. APPEAL No.598 of 2009