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Sec.306 of I.P.C. but not under sec.304 B I.P.C. – suicide of wife = STATE OF RAJASTHAN Vs. GIRIDHARI LAL Published in judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40859

When there is no evidence that the suicide was committed due to curelty and harassment by her husband for dowry soon before her death, Accused is liable to be punished only under sec.306 of I.P.C. but not under sec.304 B I.P.C. =

 

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

whether Babita’s death is  an  instance  of

 

dowry death or whether she was driven to commit suicide by her husband?

 

 

 

 under  Section  304B  which  is

 

required to be established by the State is 

 

whether “soon before  her  death”

 

Babita was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband,  “for  or  in connection with demand of dowry”, to allege “dowry death”.

 

It is  not  made  specific

 

as to whether Girdhari Lal demanded dowry.

 

 

 

1.   Section 113B. Presumption as to dowry death.-When the question is  whether

 

           a person has committed the dowry death of  a  woman  and  it  is

 

                   shown that soon before her death  such  woman  has  been

 

                   subjected by such person to cruelty or  harassment  for,

 

                   or in connection with, any demand for dowry,  the  Court

 

                   shall presume that such  person  had  caused  the  dowry

 

                   death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 Explanation.- For the  purposes  of  this  section,  “dowry

 

           death” shall have the same meaning as in  section  304B  of  the

 

           Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860).

 

 

 

113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married  women.-When  the

 

                   question is whether the commission of suicide by a woman

 

           had been abetted by her husband or any relative of  her  husband

 

                   and it is shown that she had committed suicide within  a

 

                   period of seven years from the date of her marriage  and

 

                   that her husband or such relative  of  her  husband  had

 

                   subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume,  having

 

                   regard to all the other circumstances of the case,  that

 

                   such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by  such

 

                   relative of her husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 Explanation – For the purposes of this  section,  “cruelty”

 

           shall have the same meaning as in section  498A  of  the  Indian

 

           Panel Code (45 of 1860).

 

 

 

         In the  instant  case,  it  is  established  from  the  ocular  and

 

documentary evidence that Babita was subjected to  cruelty  and  harassment.

 

As a result of such treatment of cruelty and harassment she  was  driven  to

 

meet the suicidal death. She had committed suicide  within  a  period  of  7

 

years from her marriage and that her husband had subjected her  to  cruelty.

 

Therefore, the Appellate Court rightly presumed, having regard to all  other

 

circumstances of the case, that  such  suicidal  had  been  abetted  by  her

 

husband Girdhari Lal and convicted him for the  offence  under  Section  306

 

IPC. Hence, no interference is called for.

 

14.      We find no merit in this appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

 

 

 

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1186 OF 2008

 

STATE OF RAJASTHAN … APPELLANT

 

Versus

 

GIRDHARI LAL …RESPONDENT

 
J U D G M E N T

 
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.

 
This appeal has been preferred by the State of Rajasthan against
the judgment and order dated 14th March, 2007 passed by the Division Bench
of the Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench. By the impugned judgment, the
Division Bench partly allowed the appeal filed by the respondent-Girdhari
Lal, modified the sentence and convicted him under Section 306 IPC instead
of 304B IPC. For the said offence, the Division Bench sentenced him to
undergo five years rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.1000/-, in default
he has to further suffer six months rigorous imprisonment. Since the
respondent-Girdhari Lal had already undergone imprisonment for a period of
more than six years, the High Court directed to release him forthwith, if
not required to be detained in any other case.
2. The case of the prosecution in nutshell is that:
The informant-Jugal Kishore(PW.1) – father of the deceased Babita
in his written complaint on 11th August, 1998 informed that his daughter-
Babita (since deceased) was married to respondent-Girdhari Lal four years
back. Her in-laws were harassing Babita in connection with demand for dowry
from the initial days of her marriage. Earlier also the in-laws of Babita
made attempt to set her ablaze and neighbourers rescued her. Later, the in-
laws assured her parents that they will not harass Babita, but she was
burnt to death on 10th August, 1998.
3. On the said complaint a case under Section 304B and 498A IPC was
registered and investigation was commenced. After the investigation
chargesheet was filed. In due course, the case came up for trial to the
Additional Sessions Judge, Jhunjhunu. The charge under Section 304B IPC
framed against the respondent was denied by him who claimed trial.
Altogether 9 witnesses were examined in support of the case of the
prosecution. In his explanation under Section 313 Cr. P.C., the respondent
claimed innocence. Two defence witnesses were also examined. The trial
court on appreciation of evidence and on hearing the parties convicted the
respondent under Section 304-B IPC and sentenced him to undergo life
imprisonment.
On appeal, as noticed above, the Division Bench of the High Court
partly allowed the appeal, convicted the respondent under Section 306 IPC
instead of 304B IPC and sentenced him to undergo five years rigorous
imprisonment with fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default he has to further suffer
six months rigorous imprisonment.
4. Learned counsel for the appellant-State submitted that the
deceased-Babita died within 7 years of her marriage under unnatural
circumstances and respondent did not inform the parents of the deceased
regarding the incident. The burden to prove innocence lies on the
respondent after the prosecution has proved that the deceased died under
the unnatural circumstances within seven years of marriage. Further,
according to the learned counsel for the State, the High Court has failed
to appreciate that Jugal Kishore (PW.1), Nand Lal (PW.4) and Smt. Bimla
(PW.7) have made statements regarding harassment and torture by the in-laws
of the deceased in relation to the demand for dowry which has been
corroborated by the statement of other witnesses and the documents on
record. The aforesaid facts were not properly appreciated by the High Court
while converting the conviction from Section 304B IPC to 306 IPC and
reducing the sentence from life imprisonment to five years imprisonment.
5. Learned counsel appearing for the respondent on the other hand
supported the decision rendered by the High Court.
6. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and gone through
the materials on record.
7. Coming to the evidence adduced at the trial, we notice that Babita
died of burn injuries within 5 to 6 years of her marriage with respondent-
Girdhari Lal, thereby the death occurred otherwise than under normal
circumstances. A bare look at the postmortem report (Ext.P-6) shows that
the deceased died because of the extensive burns. Therefore, the question
that arises for determination is whether Babita’s death is an instance of
dowry death or whether she was driven to commit suicide by her husband?
8. The main ingredient of the offence under Section 304B which is
required to be established by the State is whether “soon before her death”
Babita was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband, “for or in
connection with demand of dowry”, to allege “dowry death”.
Jugal Kishore (PW.1) is himself the complainant and is the father
of the deceased-Babita. He stated that his daughter was married to Girdhari
Lal about 6 or 7 years back. The said statement was recorded on 12th June,
2000 and the incident occurred on 10th August, 1998. Shyam Lal Mahajan,
another resident of the Village Chhavsari, where the marriage of Babita was
solemnised, by his statement stated that the marriage of Babita was
solemnised with accused Girdhari Lal in the year 1992-93. Similar was the
statement made on 12th June, 2000 by Jagdish Prasad (PW.3) and he stated
that the marriage of Babita was solemnised with the accused Girdhari Lal
about 6 or 7 years back. Therefore, it is clear that the death of Babita
happened within 7 years of her marriage.
9. The death of Babita was caused by the burn injuries and thereby
death occurred otherwise than under normal circumstances. The statement
made by Dr. J.P. Bugalia (PW.6) proved the fact that death was caused due
to the burns. He stated that on 10th August, 1998 he was working as Medical
Jurist in B.D.K. Hospital, Jhunjhunu. He along with Dr. P.S. Sahu conducted
the postmortem of Babita who was admitted in the Hospital on 10th August,
1998 at 1.50 p.m. and died during the treatment at 4.00 p.m. There were
burn injuries all over her body.
10. So far as the harassment and cruelty are concerned, Rajender
Prasad (PW.8) stated that Girdhari Lal used to beat her for dowry. Jugal
Kishore(PW.1) has also supported the fact that she was being subjected to
cruelty in connection with dowry demand by stating that Girdhari Lal used
to beat and harass Babita for dowry after her marriage. Once he was asked
not to do so but he did not mend his ways. He also stated that Girdhari Lal
earlier tried to burn her alive by pouring kerosene by confining her in a
room and when he came to know about this incident, he went to her in-laws
house alongwith Shyam Lal, Phool Chand, Rajender, Jagdish, Neki Ram and Man
Roop where Girdhari Lal and his father begged their pardon for their act of
burning her alive and assured that they will not repeat the incident. Bimla
Devi (PW.7), mother of the deceased stated in her statement that the
accused Girdhari Lal and Babita came to their village Chhavsari one month
prior to the incident and stayed there for one hour. Jugal Kishore was not
present at the house at that time and Babita told her mother to send her
father to her in-laws because Girdhari Lal used to harass her. This
statement clearly indicates that Babita was being subjected to cruelty and
harassment soon before the death.
11. Now, the question arises as to whether Babita was subjected to
such cruelty and harassment by her husband soon before her death for, or in
connection with the demand of dowry. The period which can come within the
term “soon before” cannot be put within the four corners of time frame. It
is left to the Court for its determination depending upon the facts and
circumstances of each case.
In the present case, Jugal Kishore (PW.1) and Bimla Devi (PW.7)
has made ominous statements regarding demand of dowry that after the
marriage demand of dowry was made by the in-laws. It is not made specific
as to whether Girdhari Lal demanded dowry.
12. Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which deals with the
presumption as to dowry death reads as follows:

 

1 Section 113B. Presumption as to dowry death.-When the question is whether
a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is
shown that soon before her death such woman has been
subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for,
or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the Court
shall presume that such person had caused the dowry
death.

 

 

 

Explanation.- For the purposes of this section, “dowry
death” shall have the same meaning as in section 304B of the
Indian Penal Code(45 of 1860).

 

In the present case there is no evidence on record to come to the
definite conclusion that soon before her death, Babita was subjected to
cruelty or harassment by her husband, Girdhari Lal for, or in connection
with any, demand of dowry. In absence of such ingredient the presumption
that Girdhari Lal had caused the dowry death cannot be drawn. The
prosecution thereby cannot take advantage of Section 113B of the Indian
Evidence Act, 1872.
13. Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 relates to
presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman which reads as
follows:

 

2 113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married women.-When the
question is whether the commission of suicide by a woman
had been abetted by her husband or any relative of her husband
and it is shown that she had committed suicide within a
period of seven years from the date of her marriage and
that her husband or such relative of her husband had
subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume, having
regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that
such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such
relative of her husband.

 

 

 

Explanation – For the purposes of this section, “cruelty”
shall have the same meaning as in section 498A of the Indian
Panel Code (45 of 1860).

 

In the instant case, it is established from the ocular and
documentary evidence that Babita was subjected to cruelty and harassment.
As a result of such treatment of cruelty and harassment she was driven to
meet the suicidal death. She had committed suicide within a period of 7
years from her marriage and that her husband had subjected her to cruelty.
Therefore, the Appellate Court rightly presumed, having regard to all other
circumstances of the case, that such suicidal had been abetted by her
husband Girdhari Lal and convicted him for the offence under Section 306
IPC. Hence, no interference is called for.
14. We find no merit in this appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

 
……………………………………………………………………………J.
(SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)

 

 

 
…………………………………………………………………………J.
(A.K. SIKRI)
NEW DELHI,
OCTOBER 7,2013.

 

 

 

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