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Sec. 304 B of I.P.C. and sec.113 B of Evidence Act = Suicide was committed soon after 5 days of demand of dowry, with in 7 years of marriage, burden lies on the accused to disprove the case – he can not depend on minor latches of prosecution with out proper foundations – High court rightly convicted the husband and confirmed the acquittal of lower court in respect of other accused = SUKHWINDER SINGH …APPELLANT Versus STATE OF PUNJAB …RESPONDENT = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40964

Minor discrepancies like she said at room , at varanda does not change substance of

 

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)

 

the case=

 

It is true that there can be no compromise  on  basic

 

legal principles, but, unnecessary weightage should not be  given  to  minor

 

errors or lapses.  If courts get carried away by every mistake or  lapse  of

 

the  investigating  agency,  the  guilty  will  have  a  field   day.    The

 

submissions relating to alleged overwriting  and  discrepancies  in  timings

 

and dates, therefore, are rejected

 

Thereafter, he has  described  his  visit  to

 

the appellant’s house along with PW-3 Surjit Singh on  25/06/1991  when  the

 

deceased, who was in tears, told him about the dowry demand of the  accused.

 

 The appellant was present there.  PW-3 Surjit Singh,  who  had  accompanied

 

PW-2 Labh Singh, corroborates PW-2 Labh Singh  on  this  aspect.   

 

They  are rustic  witnesses.   

 

Their  evidence  must  be  read  bearing  their  simple

 

background in mind.  PW-2 Labh Singh had lost his daughter.   Besides,  they

 

were deposing in 1994,  almost  three  years  after  the  incident.  

 

 Hence,

 

allowance must be made for minor discrepancies, if any, in  their  evidence.

 

In any case, by and large, their evidence is consistent.   

 

Only  discrepancy

 

which is pointed out by the appellant’s counsel  is  that  while  PW-2  Labh

 

Singh stated that the deceased told them about the demand in the room,  PW-3

 

Surjit Singh stated that she talked to them in the  verandah.  

 

 Evidence  of

 

witnesses cannot be rejected on such minor inconsistencies.

 

 

 

after the marriage there is a hostile attitude is enough to cover single incident as burden lies on Accused =

 

One wonders  whether  she  would  have

 

been allowed to share some  moments  with  the  father  alone.  Pertinently,

 

shortly thereafter, she took poison.  It is not correct  to  say  that  from

 

the date of marriage till the date of incident there was  no  harassment  to

 

the deceased.  PW-2 Labh Singh stated that after the marriage  the  attitude

 

of the accused towards the deceased was hostile.  

 

Besides,  the  demand  was

 

made  on  25/06/1991  and  the  deceased  died  on  01/07/1991.   Thus,  the

 

harassment for dowry was soon before the death of Karnail Kaur, as  required

 

by Section 304B of the IPC and Section 113B of the Evidence Act, 1872.

 

 In the absence of suggestions, no court hold that the records are tampered with out any basis =

 

  It  is  contended  that

 

since PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh stated that case property was handed over to PW-

 

7 Angrej Singh on 01/07/1991, then, it remained in the personal  custody  of

 

PW-7 Angrej Singh for a day.  Therefore, the case property might  have  been

 

tampered with.  No suggestion was put to PW-1 Dr. Gurmit  Singh  that  post-

 

mortem was not conducted on 01/07/1991.  PW-1 Dr. Gurmit  Singh  has  stated

 

that all the parcels were sealed and handed over to PW-7 Angrej Singh.   PW-

 

7 Angrej Singh has confirmed that all the parcels  were  sealed,  they  were

 

deposited  in  Malkhana  and  then  taken  to  the  laboratory.   There  is,

 

therefore, no question of any tampering with the case property.  We  do  not

 

see any foul play in this.  There  appears  to  be  mistake  in  giving  the

 

dates.  It is too much to presume that the doctor and the Chemical  Analyser

 

would conspire and fabricate a false report.  Similarly, the overwriting  in

 

the inquest report is inconsequential.   It  could  be  a  mere  inadvertent

 

lapse.  It could also be purposeful lapse.  But, if such mistakes or  lapses

 

are given undue importance  every  criminal  case  will  end  in  acquittal.

 

 

 

NO DELAY IN SENDING F.I.R.

 

The  FIR  was

 

lodged promptly on 01/07/1991 at 2.10 p.m. after  PW-2  Labh  Singh  got  to

 

know about his daughter’s death.  It reached the Magistrate at 7.00 p.m.  on

 

02/07/1991.  We do not think that in the facts of this case  this  time  lag

 

could be termed as delay.  

 

In  any  case,  requirement  of  sending  special

 

report to the Magistrate is an external  check  on  the  working  of  police

 

agency but not in all cases  that  delay  will  make  the  prosecution  case

 

doubtful.  We do not find any indication in this case from any  evidence  on

 

record that the prosecution case is untrue or fabricated.   We  reject  this

 

submission.

 

 

 

 The mother and brother of the appellant have been acquitted by  giving

 

them  benefit  of  doubt.   So  far  as  the  appellant  is  concerned,  the

 

prosecution has established it’s case beyond reasonable  doubt.   The  trial

 

court fell into a grave error in acquitting him.  The  trial  court’s  order

 

is indeed perverse.  The High Court rightly interfered with  it.   The  view

 

taken by the High Court, which is confirmed by us, is the only possible  and

 

correct view  in  the  facts  of  this  case.   The  appeal  is,  therefore,

 

dismissed.  The appellant is on bail.  His bail bonds stand  cancelled.   He

 

shall surrender before the concerned court.

 

REPORTABLE

 
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1023 OF 2008

 

 

 

SUKHWINDER SINGH …APPELLANT

 

Versus

 

STATE OF PUNJAB …RESPONDENT

 

 

 

J U D G M E N T

 
(SMT.) RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, J.

 
1. In this appeal judgment and order dated 16/17-05-2007 passed by the
Punjab and Haryana High Court is under challenge.

 

2. The appellant is original accused no. 4. He was tried along with
Gurdev Singh, Surjit Kaur and Jaswinder Singh, original accused nos. 1, 2
and 3 respectively, by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ludhiana in Sessions
Trial No. 16 of 1994 for offence punishable under Section 304B of the IPC.
Learned Sessions Judge by judgment dated 31/08/1995 acquitted all the
accused. The State of Punjab carried an appeal from the said order to the
High Court of Punjab and Haryana. By the impugned judgment and order dated
16/17-05-2007 the High Court set aside the order of acquittal so far as the
appellant is concerned. He was convicted under Section 304B of the IPC and
sentenced to undergo RI for seven years. He was directed to pay
compensation of Rs.20,000/- to the father of the deceased. In default he
was directed to suffer RI for one year. The High Court noted that accused
no. 1 Gurdev Singh was dead. So far as accused no. 2 Surjit Kaur and
accused no. 3 Jaswinder Singh are concerned, the High Court gave them
benefit of doubt and confirmed their acquittal. Being aggrieved by his
conviction and sentence the appellant has approached this Court.

 

Case of the Prosecution

 

3. The appellant was married to deceased Karnail Kaur (“the deceased” or
“Karnail Kaur”) in May, 1989. Accused no. 1 Gurdev Singh was his father.
Accused no. 2 Surjit Kaur is his mother and accused no. 3 Jaswinder Singh
is his brother. The prosecution story is unfolded by PW-2 Labh Singh,
father of the deceased. He stated that on 25/06/1991 he went to meet the
deceased to the house of the appellant along with PW-3 Surjit Singh. The
appellant who was employed in the Army had come home on leave. The
deceased was in tears. She told PW-2 Labh Singh that the appellant and the
other accused were demanding a scooter and a refrigerator and that her life
was in danger. PW-2 Labh Singh told her that he would meet the demand
after the Sauni Crop. On 01/07/1991 he was told by Pritam Singh, a
resident of Dehlon, that Karnail Kaur had died on 30/06/1991. On
01/07/1991 when he was proceeding to the police station to lodge FIR, he
met PW-4 ASI Mohinder Singh, who recorded his statement. PW-4 ASI Mohinder
Singh forwarded it to the police station and a formal FIR was registered at
P.S. Samrala under Section 304B of the IPC against the accused. The
accused were arrested. After completion of investigation they were sent up
for trial.

 

The trial

 

4. The prosecution examined PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh, who had conducted the
post-mortem, PW-2 Labh Singh, PW-3 Surjit Singh and police witnesses PW-4
ASI Mohinder Singh, PW-5 HC Kalmit Singh, PW-6 SI Manminder Singh and PW-7
Constable Angrej Singh. The appellant and the other accused denied the
prosecution case.

 

The view taken by the trial court

 

5. The trial court acquitted all the accused on the ground that evidence
of PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh, PW-4 ASI Mohinder Singh and affidavit filed by PW-
7 Constable Angrej Singh indicate that the case property, that is the
contents of stomach of the deceased and other material, handed over by PW-1
Dr. Gurmit Singh to him remained in his personal custody for one day and,
therefore, the possibility of its tampering cannot be ruled out.
Therefore, the Chemical Analyser’s report stating that poison was detected
therein cannot be relied on. The trial court also held that there was
delay in sending special report to the Magistrate from which it could be
inferred that the FIR was ante timed. The trial court further held that
while PW-2 Labh Singh stated that the deceased told him about the dowry
demand in the room, PW-3 Surjit Singh stated that the deceased talked to
them in the verandah. Thus, there is variance in their statements.
Moreover, the deceased could not have told them about the dowry demand in
the presence of the accused. The trial court, thus, concluded that the
prosecution had not proved it’s case beyond reasonable doubt and acquitted
the accused.

 

The High Court’s view

 

6. The High Court held that the inference drawn by the trial court that
the case property might have been tampered with is without any basis. The
High Court held that the evidence of PW-2 Labh Singh and PW-3 Surjit Singh
established that the deceased was subjected to harassment for dowry and
that the time taken to forward the special report to the Magistrate did not
make the prosecution case suspect. Taking note of the fact that Karnail
Kaur had died within seven years of marriage, the High Court convicted the
appellant as aforesaid. The High Court confirmed the acquittal of mother
and brother of the appellant by giving them benefit of doubt.

 

Submissions of the counsel

 

7. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at some length. Mr.
Vishal Yadav, learned counsel for the appellant reiterated all the points
which the trial court had taken into consideration while acquitting the
accused which we have quoted hereinabove and stated that the High Court
erred in disturbing the trial court’s well reasoned judgment. He submitted
that the trial court’s view was a reasonably possible view which the High
Court should not have disturbed even if it felt that another view of the
matter was possible. Counsel submitted that the deceased was married to
the appellant in May, 1989. PW-2 Labh Singh stated that on 25/06/1991 the
deceased told him about the harassment and demand for dowry. There is no
evidence to show that from May, 1989 to 25/06/1991 there was harassment for
dowry. Counsel submitted that in the FIR PW-2 Labh Singh stated that
Pritam Singh told him that Karnail Kaur had died. But, he improved his
story in the court and stated that Pritam Singh told him on 01/07/1991 that
Karnail Kaur had been killed a day earlier. Thus, he is not a reliable
witness. Counsel pointed out that there is overwriting in the inquest
report Exhibit-PC with the intention to match it with time given in the
FIR. Counsel submitted that post-mortem notes do not show presence of
cyanosis. Therefore, the prosecution case that Karnail Kaur died of
poisoning is doubtful. In the circumstances, impugned judgment deserves to
be set aside. Ms. Anvita Cowshish, learned counsel for the State of Punjab
submitted that the evidence of PW-2 Labh Singh and PW-3 Surjit Singh and
the Chemical Analyser’s report bear out the prosecution story and hence
the appeal be dismissed.

 

Our view and conclusion

 

8. Admittedly, Karnail Kaur died within seven years of marriage,
therefore, presumptions under Section 304B of the IPC and Section 113B of
the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 are attracted to this case. It is for the
appellant to rebut it, which, in our opinion the appellant has failed to
do.
9. We have already noted the gist of PW-2 Labh Singh’s evidence. He has
given the details of articles given to the appellant and his family as
dowry and stated that after marriage the attitude of the accused was
hostile towards the deceased. Thereafter, he has described his visit to
the appellant’s house along with PW-3 Surjit Singh on 25/06/1991 when the
deceased, who was in tears, told him about the dowry demand of the accused.
The appellant was present there. PW-3 Surjit Singh, who had accompanied
PW-2 Labh Singh, corroborates PW-2 Labh Singh on this aspect. They are
rustic witnesses. Their evidence must be read bearing their simple
background in mind. PW-2 Labh Singh had lost his daughter. Besides, they
were deposing in 1994, almost three years after the incident. Hence,
allowance must be made for minor discrepancies, if any, in their evidence.
In any case, by and large, their evidence is consistent. Only discrepancy
which is pointed out by the appellant’s counsel is that while PW-2 Labh
Singh stated that the deceased told them about the demand in the room, PW-3
Surjit Singh stated that she talked to them in the verandah. Evidence of
witnesses cannot be rejected on such minor inconsistencies. We also do not
find any substance in the contention that the deceased could not have
talked about the dowry demand in the presence of the accused. The deceased
appears to have reached a point of desperation. She stated that her life
was in danger. It appears that she had no option but to tell PW-2 Labh
Singh about her miserable existence. One wonders whether she would have
been allowed to share some moments with the father alone. Pertinently,
shortly thereafter, she took poison. It is not correct to say that from
the date of marriage till the date of incident there was no harassment to
the deceased. PW-2 Labh Singh stated that after the marriage the attitude
of the accused towards the deceased was hostile. Besides, the demand was
made on 25/06/1991 and the deceased died on 01/07/1991. Thus, the
harassment for dowry was soon before the death of Karnail Kaur, as required
by Section 304B of the IPC and Section 113B of the Evidence Act, 1872.
10. PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh did the post-mortem of the deceased. The
stomach contents were sent to the Chemical Analyser. The finding of the
Chemical Analyser reads thus:

 

“Aluminium phosphate a pesticide was detected in the contents of
exhibit NO. 1. Phosphine a constituent of aluminium phosphide was
detected in the contents of exhibits No. II and No. III poison was
detected in the contents of exhibit NO. IV”

 

Thus, the deceased died of poisoning. She had consumed Aluminium
Phosphate, a pesticide.

 
11. PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh is an independent witness. He stated that post-
mortem was conducted on 01/07/1991. There is no reason to disbelieve him.
He stated that he handed over the case property to PW-7 Angrej Singh on
01/07/1991. PW-7 Angrej Singh in his affidavit appears to have stated that
post-mortem was conducted on 02/07/1991 and he handed over the case
property to PW-4 ASI Mohinder Singh on 02/07/1991. It is contended that
since PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh stated that case property was handed over to PW-
7 Angrej Singh on 01/07/1991, then, it remained in the personal custody of
PW-7 Angrej Singh for a day. Therefore, the case property might have been
tampered with. No suggestion was put to PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh that post-
mortem was not conducted on 01/07/1991. PW-1 Dr. Gurmit Singh has stated
that all the parcels were sealed and handed over to PW-7 Angrej Singh. PW-
7 Angrej Singh has confirmed that all the parcels were sealed, they were
deposited in Malkhana and then taken to the laboratory. There is,
therefore, no question of any tampering with the case property. We do not
see any foul play in this. There appears to be mistake in giving the
dates. It is too much to presume that the doctor and the Chemical Analyser
would conspire and fabricate a false report. Similarly, the overwriting in
the inquest report is inconsequential. It could be a mere inadvertent
lapse. It could also be purposeful lapse. But, if such mistakes or lapses
are given undue importance every criminal case will end in acquittal.
While it is true that the police should not involve innocent persons,
fabricate evidence and obtain convictions, it is equally true that cases in
which substratum of the prosecution case is strong and substantiated by
reliable evidence, lapses in investigation should not persuade the court to
reject the prosecution case. The court with its vast experience should be
quick to notice mischief if there is any. Incompetent prosecuting agencies
or prosecuting agencies which are driven by extraneous considerations
should not be allowed to take the court for a ride. Particularly in
offences relating to women and children, which are on rise, the courts will
have to adopt a pragmatic approach. No scope must be given to absurd and
fanciful submissions. It is true that there can be no compromise on basic
legal principles, but, unnecessary weightage should not be given to minor
errors or lapses. If courts get carried away by every mistake or lapse of
the investigating agency, the guilty will have a field day. The
submissions relating to alleged overwriting and discrepancies in timings
and dates, therefore, are rejected.

 
12. We also do not find that time taken to send special report to the
Magistrate has any adverse impact on the prosecution case. The FIR was
lodged promptly on 01/07/1991 at 2.10 p.m. after PW-2 Labh Singh got to
know about his daughter’s death. It reached the Magistrate at 7.00 p.m. on
02/07/1991. We do not think that in the facts of this case this time lag
could be termed as delay. In any case, requirement of sending special
report to the Magistrate is an external check on the working of police
agency but not in all cases that delay will make the prosecution case
doubtful. We do not find any indication in this case from any evidence on
record that the prosecution case is untrue or fabricated. We reject this
submission.

 
13. The mother and brother of the appellant have been acquitted by giving
them benefit of doubt. So far as the appellant is concerned, the
prosecution has established it’s case beyond reasonable doubt. The trial
court fell into a grave error in acquitting him. The trial court’s order
is indeed perverse. The High Court rightly interfered with it. The view
taken by the High Court, which is confirmed by us, is the only possible and
correct view in the facts of this case. The appeal is, therefore,
dismissed. The appellant is on bail. His bail bonds stand cancelled. He
shall surrender before the concerned court.

 

 

 

.…………………………..J.
(Ranjana Prakash Desai)

 

 

 

 

 
.…………………………..J.
(Madan B. Lokur)

 

New Delhi;
November 12, 2013.
———————–
13

 

 

 

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