IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction
Criminal Appeal No. 1850 Of 2010
State of Haryana
Date of Judgement
17 December, 2019
Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose
Facts of the case:
The appellant (Jatinder Kumar) has been declared guilty by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh. He was charged under Sections 304B and 498A of IPC. On 7th March 1991, marriage was solemnized between the appellant and Meenakshi. On 20th September 1991, the deceased victim had come to her parental home to attend the “pagree ceremony” of a relative and ultimately returned to her matrimonial home along with the appellant on that very evening. On the same night of 20th September 1991, the father of the deceased (PW-1) got to know from another relative, Praveen Kumar (PW-4) that his daughter has been taken to Civil Hospital, Ambala. It was found that she had committed suicide and was declared dead at the hospital. She had consumed aluminum phosphide. In the next early morning, the father of deceased (PW-1) lodged an FIR against Jatinder Kumar, his mother and his two brothers- Atul Mittal and Anil Kumar for demanding a dowry and subjecting cruelty on her for not bringing sufficient amount of dowry. The Father stated that before the marriage, Atul Kumar and the appellant made a demand of Rs.1,00,000 for purchasing a Maruti Vehicle. He had already spent Rs.2,50,000 on their marriage. Also,the deceased was not allowed to visit her parental home. The demand was made by the appellant for helping him in clinic and Rs.20,000 were paid by the father of deceased. After examining seven witnesses, charge-sheet was submitted by the police and charges were framed under sections 306, 304-B, and 498-A of IPC on all four witnesses. The Trial Court, relying on the depositions of PW-1, PW-2, PW-3 and PW-4, convicted all four accused and awarded sentence of rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years to each one of them under Section 304-B and four years rigorous imprisonment under Section 306 of the Code. Also, Fine of Rs.1,000/- was imposed on each one of them on both counts with the direction of six months additional rigorous imprisonment in the event of failure to pay the fine.
Later, the High Court set aside the judgment of conviction of the Mother and two brothers and acquitted them. Also, the conviction of appellant under section 306 was also set aside but sentence was sustained.
1. Whether Anil Kumar, BimlaWanti, and Atul Mittal also held to be liable under Sections 304-B and 498A of Indian Penal Code?
2. Whether there is a contradiction in the statement of Bharat Bhushan (PW2)?
3. Whether the decisions of Trial Court and High Court against the appellant rightly made?
It was contended by the counsel Mr. Harin Raval that there was no evidence against the appellant for performing torture for the demand of dowry by putting the attention on the deposition made by Bharat Bhushan (PW-2) that the deceased had been tortured by the family members and not the appellant and later in his disposition he said that appellant and his family members had demanded Rs.50,000 for extension of clinic. For well being of her daughter Mr. Som Prakash handed over her Rs. 20,000.
1. The opposition counsel also relied on the decision of Appasaheb & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra (2007) 9 SCC 72, which says that the giving or taking of property or a valuable security must have some connection with the marriage of the parties and a correlation between the giving or taking of property or valuable security with the marriage of the parties is essential. Also, in the case of Union of India v. Garware Nylons Ltd. (1996) 10 SCC 413 and Chemical and Fibres of India Ltd. v. Union of India(1997) 2 SCC 664.) ,it was said that any demand of money for meeting for some urgent domestic expenses does not amount to dowry. Evidences produced by the prosecution did not show that any demand for dowry under Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 had been done and essential ingredients of Section 304B had not been fulfilled. But in the case of Rajinder Singh v. State of Punjab (2015) 6 SCC 477 the judgment of Appasaheb & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra (2007)was reversed by a three judge bench and it was said that, any money or property or valuable security demanded by any of the persons mentioned in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, at or before or at any time after the marriage which is reasonably connected to the death of a married woman, would necessarily be in connection with or in relation to the marriage unless, the facts of a given case clearly and unequivocally point otherwise.
2. It was also submitted by the counsel before the Trial Court and High Court that the deceased was a modern urban lady and could not adjust to the life style of Mullana which is a small town.
3. It was also submitted that the under Section 313 of CrPC suicide of the victim is because of depression as several of her relatives had been died in a short span of time.
4. It was also contented by the counsel that on the basis of the same set of evidences, the co-accused 5 could not be subjected to a different standard or yardstick in the guilt finding process.
It was observed by the Supreme Court that PW1 and PW2 had narrated the facts which clearly implicate that demand of dowry and cruelty had been conducted by the appellant. There is no contradiction in the statements of PW1 and PW2 and link can be established. As these factors are proved, presumption rests on the accused under Section 113-B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The appellant’s statement made in response to his examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 had been proved and there is no attribute of depression because of dead of her relatives. Supreme Court also stood on the decisions of the Trial Court and High Court by rejecting the contention that victim is a modern urban lady and could not adjust to the lifestyle of a small town. Also, father of deceased had proved the demand of dowry.
It appears that, Anil Kumar, BimlaWanti, and Atul Mittal, were falsely implicated, in the instant case, with a view to exaggerate the number of the accused. Only Jatinder Kumar committed the offences, punishable under Sections 304-B and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. Out of abundant caution, Anil Kumar, BimlaWanti, and Atul Mittal are required to be given the benefit of doubt, and, thus, are entitled to acquittal. The findings of the Trial Court, only to the extent aforesaid are affirmed. As all of them were living separately from them and has different mess and business, they were not going to be benefitted on the demand made by the appellant.
At last, the Supreme Court stated that on referring the evidences, the order and conviction given by the High Court is rightly made and guilt of the appellant is established beyond reasonable doubt. The appeal of the appellant is dismissed and bail bond of appellant is canceled and order him to surrender before the Trial Court within 4 weeks from the date.
Section 304-B of Indian penal code, 1860– ‘Dowry Death’.
Section 306 of Indian Penal Code, 1860– ‘Abetment to suicide’.
Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, 1860- ‘Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty’.
Section 113-B of Indian Evidence Act, 1872–‘Presumption as to dowry death’.
Section 313 od the code of Criminal Procedure, 1973–‘Power to examine the accused’.
Edited by Sree Ramya
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Appasaheb & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra(2007) 9 SCC 72,
2. Union of India v. Garware Nylons Ltd. (1996) 10 SCC 413 and Chemical and Fibres of India Ltd. v. Union of India(1997) 2 SCC 664.)
3. Rajinder Singh v. State of Punjab(2015) 6 SCC 477