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Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

==================================== vs Chandrashekhar Ratankumar on 6 August, 2014

Gujarat High Court ==================================== vs Chandrashekhar Ratankumar on 6 August, 2014

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

CRIMINAL APPEAL  NO. 776 of 1999

  FOR APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE: 

  HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE G.B.SHAH

  ====================================

1 Whether Reporters of Local Papers may be allowed to see  NO the judgment?

2 To be referred to the Reporter or not? NO 3 Whether their Lordships wish to see the fair copy of the  NO judgment?

4 Whether this case involves a substantial question of law as  NO to the interpretation of the constitution of India, 1950 or  any order made thereunder?

5 Whether it is to be circulated to the civil judge? NO ====================================

STATE OF GUJARAT….Appellant(s)

Versus

CHANDRASHEKHAR RATANKUMAR 

SINGAL….Opponent(s)/Respondent(s)

====================================

Appearance:

MR KL PANDYA, APP for the Appellant(s) No. 1

MR RAJESH M AGRAWAL, ADVOCATE for the 

Opponent(s)/Respondent(s) No. 1

MR SUNIL M AGRAWAL, ADVOCATE for the 

Opponent(s)/Respondent(s) No. 1

====================================

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R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT CORAM: HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE G.B.SHAH

  Date : 06/08/2014

  ORAL JUDGMENT

1. Present   appeal   under   Section   378(1)(3)   of   the   Criminal  Procedure Code, 1973 (‘the Code’ for brevity) has been directed  against   judgment   and   order   dated   04/06/1999   passed   by   the  learned   Additional   Sessions   Judge,   Ahmedabad   (Rural)   in  Sessions Case No. 157 of 1997  whereby, the learned trial Judge  was pleased to acquit the respondent herein – original accused  from the offences punishable under Sections 498A and 306 of the  Indian Penal Code.

2. Heard Mr. K. L. Pandya, learned Additional Public Prosecutor  for the appellant – State of Gujarat and Mr. Rajesh M. Agrawal,  learned advocate for the respondent – original accused.

3. Brief   facts   of   the   prosecution   case   are   that   on   14/06/1994  deceased Vanita, who was the daughter of  complainant    Shri  Mangilal Lalluramji Gupta, resident of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh,  got married to the respondent herein – original accused.  Out of  the said wedlock, they had a boy child.  Initially their married  Page 2 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT life was smooth.   The respondent – husband was serving in a  firm situated at: Dhar, Dist.: Pithampur, Nr. Indore, who later  shifted to Ahmedabad and got job in Arvind Mill.  At the time of  marriage, the  complainant  had given the respondent dowry in  cash and kind.  However, after they shifted to Ahmedabad, the  respondent – accused had started giving physical and mental  torture   repeatedly   demanding   dowry.     When   it   became  unbearable   to   the   deceased,   she   committed   suicide   on  17/05/1997 by setting her ablaze at her matrimonial house and  accordingly,   a   complaint   for   the   alleged   offences  had   been  lodged against the respondent – original accused.

4. In support of the case, the prosecution recorded statements of  witnesses and collected several documentary evidence and after  having   found   sufficient   evidence   and   material   against   the  accused, he came to be charge­sheeted for the alleged offence.

5. As the case was exclusively triable by the sessions Court, on the  case   being   committed,   the   learned   Sessions   Judge   framed  Charge against the accused for the alleged offences.  The Charge  was read over to the respondent – original accused to which, he  pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.

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R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT

6. In   order   to   bring   home   the   charge   against   the   respondent   –  original accused, the prosecution has  examined as many as 14  witnesses and also produced several documentary evidence.

7. On submission of closing pursis, the statement of the accused  under   Section   313   of   the   Code   was   recorded.     The   accused  denied involvement in the crime. After hearing both the sides  and on appreciation of the evidence adduced before the trial  Court, the accused came to be acquitted.

8. Mr.   K.   L.   Pandya,   learned  Additional   Public   Prosecutor,  submitted   that   the   learned   trial   Judge   has   not   properly  appreciated oral as well as documentary evidence produced on  record and has erred in holding that the prosecution has failed  to   prove   the   charge   against   the   accused   beyond   reasonable  doubt.   He submitted that the prosecution has examined in all  14 witnesses who have supported the case of the prosecution,  however, the learned trial Judge has not properly appreciated  the   evidence   of   the   said   witnesses   and   thereby,   the   finding  recorded   by  the   learned   trial  Judge   that   the  prosecution   has  Page 4 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT failed to prove the charge against the accused by leading legal,  reliable and impeachable evidence, is contrary to the evidence  available on record.  He further submitted that the learned trial  Judge ought to have considered the fact that when the incident  took place, as per the Dying Declaration of the deceased, her  husband i.e. the respondent herein was present, however, he  did not try to extinguish the fire and this speaks volume about  the conduct of the respondent – accused.   Moreover, after the  incident,   the   respondent   did   not   inform   the   parents   of   the  deceased   about   the   incident.     He   further   submitted   that   the  learned   trial   Judge   ought   to   have   appreciated   the   fact   that  though there was a gas connection, why the deceased preferred  to prepare tea by stove.  Further, for the sake of argument, if it  is believed that due to spillage of kerosene from the stove, she  caught   fire   and   got   severe   burn   injuries   and   ultimately  succumbed to the injuries.  However, the fact remains that there  was a standing kitchen and if at all the deceased caught fire  while preparing tea due to spillage of kerosene, the kerosene  would have spilled down i.e. nearby her legs and thereby, her  legs   and   lower   portion   of   the body would have wet with kerosene and not the upper part, as  is reflected from the documents on record and this also creates  Page 5 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT doubts against the respondent – accused.  He further submitted  that  the parents and sister of the deceased have supported the  case of the prosecution in clear terms however, the learned trial  Judge has materially erred in not believing their evidence.  He  further submitted that the learned trial Judge has committed a  grave   error   in   not   properly   appreciating   the   fact   that   as   the  complainant was under impression that it being a police case,  police would definitely take some actions in the matter and that  is why only, he had not filed the complaint immediately after  occurrence of  incident and since the police did not do further in  the matter, the delay was occurred in filing the complaint.  The  learned   Additional   Public   Prosecutor   further   submitted   that  almost   all   the   witnesses   have   supported   the   case   of   the  prosecution but the learned trial Judge has not believed their  evidence   and   has   eventually,   acquitted   the   respondent   –  accused.   Last but not the least, he submitted that the present  appeal may be allowed in the interest of justice. 

9. Per   contra,   Mr.   Rajesh   M.   Agrawal,   learned   advocate   for   the  respondent – original accused, submitted that the trial court has  rightly   appreciated   the   evidence   which   is   forthcoming   on   the  record   and   the   reasons   recorded   for   recording   a   finding   of  Page 6 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT acquittal  are  reasonable  and  justifiable.    He  further  submitted  that   there   are   glaring   and   major   contradictions   and   material  improvements without any explanation in the deposition of the  prosecution witnesses and therefore, the respondent has rightly  been acquitted by the trial court.  He further submitted that this  being an appeal against the order of acquittal, the judgment and  order   delivered   by   the   trial   Court   deserves   to   be   upheld   as  proper,   as   plausible   reasons   for   acquittal   have   been  recorded.  Eventually,   he   submitted   that   the   present   appeal   may   be  dismissed.

10. I   have   considered   the   above­referred   rival   submissions   of   the  learned   advocates   for   the   parties   and   also   gone   through   the  record and proceedings of the case on hand.  As referred above,  as   per   prosecution   case,   the   deceased,   who   was   daughter   of  complainant ­ Mangilal L. Gupta, resident of Ujjain (M.P.), was  married   to   respondent   No.   1   –   original   accused   No.   1   on  14/06/1994 and their initial marriage life was smooth, but later,  she became victim of mental and physical torture for dowry by  her husband, which led her to commit suicide on 17/05/1997 at  her matrimonial house.  It is not in dispute that during the said  period, the deceased was pregnant of 08 months and later on,  Page 7 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT after the above incident she gave birth to a child on 26/05/1997,  who died immediately after birth.  The deceased also succumbed  to   the   burn   injuries   on   28/05/1997.     After   the   said   incident,  Yadi, addressed to the Executive  Magistrate, for recording the  Dying   Declaration   of   the   deceased   was   sent   which   has   been  produced  vide  exh. 23, and the Dying Declaration recorded by  the Executive Magistrate is at exh. 24.   Referring to the Dying  Declaration, it appears that when the deceased was preparing tea  on stove, kerosene was spilled over her and she caught in fire.  Accordingly,   an   entry   related   to   accidental   death   came   to   be  registered by the police.  Thereafter, the complaint was filed on  04/07/1997   i.e.  approximately,  after   a  period  of   two  months.  The ground shown for the delay in lodging the complaint is that  the complainant was under the impression that it being a police  case, police definitely would take appropriate action against the  accused and hence, the complainant did not lodge the complaint,  however,  since  the  police  did  not   take   any  action  against   the  accused,   the   complainant   lodged   the   complaint.     It   has   been  argued   by   the   learned  Additional   Public   Prosecutor  that   the  Dying Declaration is not trustworthy to be relied upon because,  when the deceased was taken to the hospital by the respondent –  accused, except the respondent ­ accused, no person from the  Page 8 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT parental side of the deceased was present.  Moreover, on arrival  of   the  parents   of  the   deceased,   she   had  stated   them  that   her  husband had burnt her.  She had also stated the said fact to her  sister Sangeeta, who was examined as P. W. No. 15.  In the said  circumstances,   if   the   complaint   dated   04/07/1997   is   referred,  the complainant himself has mentioned that on 17/05/1997, he  was of the opinion that because of the cruel treatment of the  respondent,   she   had   committed   suicide   but   initially   when   his  statement was recorded by the police after the incident, as her  daughter   was   under   treatment,   he   had   not   disclosed   the   said  aspect   of   mental   torture   being   given   to   her   daughter   by   the  respondents.     It   is   the   fact   that   if   at   the   initial   stage   the  complainant had not thought it fit to disclose before the police  regarding   cruel   treatment   alleged   to   have   been   given   by   the  respondent   –   accused   to  his   daughter   and   it   is  only  after  the  death of the deceased on 28/05/1997, he filed the complaint on  04/07/1997   i.e.   after   about   35   days   from   the   date   of   the  incident, for which, as observed by the learned trial Judge, no  convincing   and   satisfactory   explanation   has   been   forthcoming  and   this   Court   also   finds   force   and   substance   in   the   said  observation.   It has also come on record that the complainant  had changed his statement thrice, as narrated at length by the  Page 9 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT learned trial Judge.   The complainant has also deposed to the  effect  that the respondent No.  1 – accused No. 1 had poured  kerosene   on   the   deceased   and   for   the   death   of   deceased,   the  respondent No. 1 – accused No. 1 was solely responsible.  Thus,  there appears clear and vital contradictions in the depositions of  the   complainant   himself   and   the   investigating   officer.  Accordingly,   the   evidence   that   has   been   adduced   by   the  prosecution, found to be not worthy enough to record conviction.  The criminal jurisprudence mandates to prove the case against  the accused beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution.  So far  as the case on hand is concerned, considering the facts of the  case, evidence led and the documents produced, this Court is of  the   opinion   that   the   prosecution   has   failed   to   prove   the   case  against the respondents beyond reasonable doubt and no case is  made out to take a different view than the view taken by the  learned trial Judge.

 

11. It   is   a   cardinal   principle   of   criminal   jurisprudence   that   in   an  acquittal   appeal   if   other   view   is   possible   then   also   appellate  Court cannot substitute its own view by reversing the acquittal  into   conviction,   unless   the   findings   of   the   trial   Court   are  perverse,   contrary   to   the   material   on   record,   palpably   wrong,  Page 10 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT manifestly   erroneous   or   demonstrably   unsustainable.   (See  Ramesh Babulal Doshi V. State of Gujarat (1996) 9 SCC 225). In  the instant case, the learned Additional Public Prosecutor has not  been able to point out as to how the findings recorded by the  learned trial Court are perverse, contrary to material on record,  palpably   wrong,   manifestly   erroneous   or   demonstrably  unsustainable.

11.1 In the case of  Ram Kumar Vs. State of Haryana, reported in  AIR 1995 SC 280, Supreme Court has held as under:  “The   powers   of   the   High   Court   in   an   appeal   from   order of acquittal to reassess the evidence and reach its   own conclusions under Sections 378 and 379, Cr.P.C.  Are as extensive as in any appeal against the order of   conviction. But as a rule of prudence, it is desirable  that  the  High  Court  should  give   proper  weight  and   consideration   to   the   view   of   the   Trial   Court   with   regard   to   the   credibility   of   the   witness,   the   presumption of innocence in favour of the accused, the   right of the accused to the benefit of any doubt and the  slowness of appellate Court in justifying a  finding of  fact arrived at by a Judge who had the advantage of   seeing the witness. It is settled law that if the main   grounds on which the lower Court has based its order  Page 11 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT acquitting the accused are  reasonable and plausible,  and   the   same   cannot   entirely   and   effectively   be   dislodged  or demolished,  the High Court  should not  disturb the order of acquittal.”

11.2 As observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Rajesh   Singh & Others Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh reported in (2011)  11   SCC   444  and   in   the   case   of  Bhaiyamiyan   alias   Jardar  Khan and Another Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh  reported in  (2011)   6   SCC   394,   while   dealing   with   the   judgment   of  acquittal, unless reasoning by the learned trial Court is found to  be perverse, the acquittal cannot be upset. It is further observed  that   High   Court’s   interference   in   such   appeal   is   somewhat  circumscribed and if the view taken by the learned trial Court is  possible on the evidence, the High Court should stay its hands  and not interfere in the matter in the belief that if it had been  the trial Court, it might have taken a different view. 11.3 Thus, considering the above evidence forthcoming on record and  considering the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case and  law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court while considering  the scope of appeal under Section 378 of the Code of Criminal  Procedure, no case is made out to interfere with the  impugned  Page 12 of 13

R/CR.A/776/1999 JUDGMENT judgment and order of acquittal.

12. In   view   of   the   aforesaid   discussion,   the   appeal   having   found  without any substance, fails and is dismissed accordingly.   The  impugned judgment and order dated 04/06/1999 passed by the  learned   Additional   Sessions   Judge,   Ahmedabad   (Rural)   in  Sessions Case No. 157 of 1997 is confirmed.   Bail bonds shall  stand   cancelled.     Registry   to   send   back   the   record   and  proceedings,   if   called   for,   to   the   trial   Court   forthwith   after  following due procedure for the same.

[ G. B. Shah, J. ]

hiren

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