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Sec. 302,498 A etc., – Husband died pending trial – No prima faice proof of conspiracy- The Accused are entitled for discharge = L. Krishna Reddy …..Appellant Versus State by Station House Officer & Ors. …..Respondents – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40898

Sec. 302,498 A etc., – Husband died pending trial – No prima faice

 

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)

 

proof of conspiracy- The Accused are entitled for discharge = 

 

whether  the  criminal proceedings could or should have been continued against  his  parents,  namely  Vidyasagar  and  Narasamma,  who  had  preferred  a  Discharge Petition under Section 227 of the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1973

 

 (‘Cr.PC’ henceforward) in which they eventually succeeded. after the death of their son – Accused No.1. =

 

 

 

Conspiracy

 

in order to make good the commission of an offence of criminal conspiracy, it should be evident that an agreement between the conspirators should have been in existence at the material time.

 

pertaining to the possible

 

conspiracy of the husband’s parents who, it must  be  kept  in  focus, were not in Pondicherry at the time when Sujatha was done to death  by her husband. 

 

 In our opinion, it is not sufficient to  merely  make  a bald statement but further catenation should  exist  linking  all  the

 

conspirators  together.  

 

 Sifting  through  the  evidence,  i.e.,  the

 

      Statement made by several witnesses, there  is  no  direct  imputation

 

      that either of the  Respondent  nos.2  and  3  before  us  had  either

 

      independently or along with their deceased  son,  made  a  demand  for

 

      dowry.  

 

We should not lose sight of the fact that the deceased  couple

 

 had earlier been  living  with  the  unfortunate  wife’s  family,  and thereafter independently of either of the parents-in-law.  

 

 

 

whether the evidentiary material on record if generally

 

accepted, would reasonably connect the accused  with  the  crime.   No more need be enquired into.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Court is neither a substitute nor an adjunct  of  the  prosecution.  

 

 On

 

the contrary, once a case  is  presented  to  it  by  the  prosecution,  its

 

bounden duty is to sift through the material to ascertain  whether  a  prima

 

facie  case  has  been  established  which  would  justify  and  merit   the

 

prosecution of a person.  

 

The interest of a person arraigned as  an  accused

 

must also be kept in perspective lest, on the basis of flippant or vague  or

 

vindicative accusations, bereft of probative  evidence,  the  ordeals  of  a

 

trial have to be needlessly suffered and  endured.   

 

We  hasten  to  clarify

 

that we think the statements of the complainant are those  of  an  anguished

 

father who has lost his daughter due to the greed and cruelty of his son-in-

 

law.  

 

As we have already noted, the husband has taken his own life  possibly

 

in remorse and repentance.  

 

The death of a child even to avaricious  parents

 

is the worst conceivable punishment.

 

   8. Since the prosecution would be an exercise in futility  it  should  be

 

      brought to a quick end; and this is  possible  only  if  an  order  of

 

      discharge vis-à-vis the parents  who  are  the  remaining  accused  is

 

      passed.  This is exactly what has transpired in the wisdom of the High

 

      Court by means of the impugned  Order.   We  find  no  error  therein.

 

      Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.

 

 

 

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1833 OF 2013
[Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.4221 of 2012]

 

L. Krishna Reddy …..Appellant

 

Versus

 

State by Station House Officer & Ors. …..Respondents

 
J U D G M E N T

 

VIKRAMAJIT SEN, J.

 

1. Leave granted. This Appeal assails the Order of the High Court of
Judicature at Madras while exercising its Criminal Revisional
Jurisdiction. The facts disclose a human tragedy. Ramachandra Reddy
was married to Sujatha on 2.5.1999. At the initial stages of their
marriage the deceased couple was staying with the bride’s relatives,
significantly, not with her parents-in-law who are the remaining
accused. They had set up their own separate residence about six
months prior to the unfortunate incidents. On 26.3.2006 Sujatha was
found murdered in the hotel room in Pondicherry [now Puducherry]
rented by her soon to be deceased husband. Her body bore several stab
wounds. Thereupon, Crime No.86/2006 under Section 302 IPC dated
26.3.2006, leading to Charge Sheet No.59/2007 dated 31.5.2007 under
Sections 302, 498-A read with 34, IPC was registered. It then
transpires that the husband of the deceased, namely, Ramachandra
Reddy, possibly suffering from guilt and remorse, committed suicide
shortly thereafter. The question before us is whether the criminal
proceedings could or should have been continued against his parents,
namely Vidyasagar and Narasamma, who had preferred a Discharge
Petition under Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
(‘Cr.PC’ henceforward) in which they eventually succeeded.
2. The Final Report dated 31.5.2007 reads so –
“Since the date of marriage at the residence at No.2-7/10, Lakma
Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad, the accused No.1 Ramachandra
Reddy, S/o Vidyasagar Reddy, No.-7/10, Lakma Reddy Colony,
Uppal, Hyderabad (husband of the deceased) who is no more now,
the accused No.2. Vidyasagar Reddy, S/o Ramachandra Reddy, No.2-
7/10, Lakma Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad (Father-in-law of the
deceased) and the accused No.3 Narasamma Reddy, w/o Vidyasagar
Reddy, No.2-7/10, Lakma Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad (Mother-
in-law) of the deceased, in furtherance of their common
intention, subjected the deceased Sujatha to cruelty and
harassment relating to dowry demand and rendered themselves
liable to be punished u/sec.498-A IPC r/w 34 IPC.
That on 25.3.2006 at about 19.00 hrs. at Room No.306, Hotel
Aruna, Second Floor, No.3, Zamindar Garden, near Ajantha
Theatre, S.V.P. Salai, Muthialpe, Puducherry-3, about 800 meters
South-East to PS, accused No.1 noted above in furtherance of
common intention with his father, the second accused and his
mother, the third accused, caused death of his wife Sujatha, as
she was unable to meet out their unlawful demand of dowry by
inflicting 11 multiple injuries by means of knife with the
knowledge that such injuries would be likely to cause death or
would be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause
death and rendered themselves liable to be punished u/sec.302
IPC r/w 34 IPC.
Hence, the charges.
CHARGE ABATED.
The accused above said A1 Ramachandra Reddy, S/o Vidyasagar
Reddy, No.2-7/10, Lakma Reddy Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad had
committed suicide by hanging and he is no more now. In this
connection a separate case in Cr.No.244/2006 u/sec.174 Cr.P.C.
was registered at PS D’ Nagar, dt.24.9.2006 and investigation
was taken-up.
Therefore, the charge against him is abated”.
3. The IIIrd Additional Sessions Judge, Pondicherry favoured the position
that the proceedings could continue against the Respondent-parents
(Accused Nos.2 and 3) notwithstanding the devastating death of their
son (Accused No.1) despite prosecution against him having abated.
The Learned Additional Sessions Judge specifically recorded the fact
that the Public Prosecutor had conceded that there appeared to be no
direct involvement of the father-in-law and mother-in-law in the
murder, but that since it was a murder case the discharge may not be
considered before the Trial. The Learned Additional Sessions Judge
noted that the parents were implicated only on the basis of the
Statements recorded under Section 161 of the Cr.P.C.; it was of the
prima facie view that the motive behind the murder of Sujatha was
dowry. These aspects would be established by the prosecution, beyond
all reasonable doubts, only in an exhaustive Trial “where the entire
truth could be unearthed”. It is also evident that the Learned
Additional Sessions Judge was influenced by the direction of the High
Court, on the petition of the present Appellant, ordering that the
case be disposed of within two months.
4. However, the High Court has come to the contrary conclusion, after
having reviewed the Statements and evidence available on the record.
There is no dispute as regards the factum of the deceased married
couple having set up their separate and independent residence.
According to the Complainant/Appellant who is the father of the
unfortunate lady the deceased Sujatha, he had telephonically been
informed by her that the married couple had left Hyderabad on
23.3.2006 and were proceeding to Vijayawada. The impugned Judgment
records that none of the Statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C.
incriminate the parents of the deceased husband of any connection with
the offence under Section 302 IPC, and no common intention can be
inferred. So far as the dowry demands and offence under Section 498A
goes, the High Court opined that even the father of the deceased wife
namely the Appellant/Complainant in his Statement confined the demand
only to his deceased son-in-law. Holding this to be insufficient the
Respondents Nos.2 and 3 have been discharged.
5. There can be no cavil that if a fine is imposed on an accused/convict
even upon the death of an accused his estate will continue to be
liable for its discharge. This is not the case before us inasmuch as
that stage in the prosecution has not been arrived at. In any event
the pecuniary liability of the deceased/ convict can be fastened only
on the beneficiaries of his legal estate. There is no evidence
whatsoever that this is the position that obtains in the present case.

 
6. The Charge Sheet does not indicate any complicity so far as the
parents of the deceased are concerned. Obviously, if the murder has
been committed in Pondicherry a direct role in that unfortunate event
cannot be ascribed to them. Of course, it is theoretically possible
that they may have abetted or conspired in the crime or persuaded
their son to have perpetrated the crime. However this version is not
forthcoming from the Charge Sheet. The Appellant, in his Further
Statement, has alleged that – “on the last 25.03.06 night as per the
plans of Ramachandra Reddy, his father Vidyasagar Reddy and mother
Naarasamma, Ramachandra Reddy had killed my daughter Sujatha brutally
at a Hotel at Pondicherry due to dowry harassment. ….” This is the
only statement which contains an allegation pertaining to the possible
conspiracy of the husband’s parents who, it must be kept in focus,
were not in Pondicherry at the time when Sujatha was done to death by
her husband. In our opinion, it is not sufficient to merely make a
bald statement but further catenation should exist linking all the
conspirators together. Sifting through the evidence, i.e., the
Statement made by several witnesses, there is no direct imputation
that either of the Respondent nos.2 and 3 before us had either
independently or along with their deceased son, made a demand for
dowry. We should not lose sight of the fact that the deceased couple
had earlier been living with the unfortunate wife’s family, and
thereafter independently of either of the parents-in-law. In fact,
as has been noted by the High Court in the impugned order the
statement of the complainant father of the deceased, some demands have
been made by his son-in-law. Out attention has been drawn to a
recent Judgment titled Central Bureau of Investigation v. K. Narayana
Rao (2012) 9 SCC 512, wherein after discussing the previous opinions
of this Court in a number of cases including State of Haryana v.
Bhajan Lal 1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335, it was opined that in order to make
good the commission of an offence of criminal conspiracy, it should be
evident that an agreement between the conspirators should have been in
existence at the material time.
7. Our attention has been drawn to Stree Atyachar Virodhi Parishad v.
Dilip Nathumal Chordia and Anr. (1989) 1 SCC 715 as well as K.
Narayana Rao but we are unable to appreciate any manner in which they
would persuade a Court to continue the prosecution of the parents of
the deceased. After considering Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar
Samal (1979) 3 SCC 4, this Court has expounded the law in these words
:

 
“14. …… In fact, Section 227, itself contains enough guidelines as to
the scope of enquiry for the purpose of discharging an accused. It
provides that ‘the judge shall discharge when he considers that there
is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused’. The
‘ground’ in the context is not a ground for conviction, but a ground
for putting the accused on trial. It is in the trial, the guilt or
the innocence of the accused will be determined and not at the time of
framing of charge. The court, therefore, need not undertake an
elaborate enquiry in sifting and weighing the material. Nor is it
necessary to delve deep into various aspects. All that the court has
to consider is whether the evidentiary material on record if generally
accepted, would reasonably connect the accused with the crime. No
more need be enquired into.”

 
The Court is neither a substitute nor an adjunct of the prosecution. On
the contrary, once a case is presented to it by the prosecution, its
bounden duty is to sift through the material to ascertain whether a prima
facie case has been established which would justify and merit the
prosecution of a person. The interest of a person arraigned as an accused
must also be kept in perspective lest, on the basis of flippant or vague or
vindicative accusations, bereft of probative evidence, the ordeals of a
trial have to be needlessly suffered and endured. We hasten to clarify
that we think the statements of the complainant are those of an anguished
father who has lost his daughter due to the greed and cruelty of his son-in-
law. As we have already noted, the husband has taken his own life possibly
in remorse and repentance. The death of a child even to avaricious parents
is the worst conceivable punishment.
8. Since the prosecution would be an exercise in futility it should be
brought to a quick end; and this is possible only if an order of
discharge vis-à-vis the parents who are the remaining accused is
passed. This is exactly what has transpired in the wisdom of the High
Court by means of the impugned Order. We find no error therein.
Accordingly the appeal is dismissed.

 

…………………………………J.
[T.S. THAKUR]

 

 

 

 

 

…………………………………J.
[VIKRAMAJIT
SEN]
New Delhi
October 24, 2013
———————–
9

 

 

 

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