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Sec.304 B – vs- 306 I.P.C. – when there was no demand for dowry sec.304 B not applies – Even though there is no direct provocation to go and died , Sec.306 covers widest meaning as she committed suicide due to constant harassment of the accused – Apex court held that Under these circumstances, we modify the judgment and order passed by the High Court and convict Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for an offence punishable under Section 306 of the IPC. The sentence awarded to them by the High Court would necessarily have to be modified. In our opinion, keeping in view the fact that both Karan Singh and Mukhtiari are in their mid-sixties and we are told by their learned counsel that Satbir and Sukhbir are living separately from them due to their differences and taking into consideration the fact that Manju’s son is being looked after by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for the last almost twenty years, we are of the opinion that the ends of justice would be met if they are sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years. We are also of the opinion that each one of them should be subjected to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each and in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of six months. With this modification in the conviction and sentence, the appeal is disposed of.= Karan Singh & Anr. …..Appellants Versus State of Haryana …Respondent= 2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41414

Sec.304 B – vs- 306 I.P.C. – when there was no demand for dowry sec.304 B not applies – Even though there is no direct provocation to go and died , Sec.306 covers widest meaning as she committed suicide due to constant harassment of the accused – Apex court held that Under these circumstances, we modify the judgment and  order  passed by the High Court and convict Karan  Singh  and  Mukhtiari  for  an  offence punishable under Section 306 of the IPC.  The sentence awarded  to  them  by the High Court would necessarily have  to  be  modified.   In  our  opinion,

keeping in view the fact that both Karan Singh and Mukhtiari  are  in  their mid-sixties and we are  told  by  their  learned  counsel  that  Satbir  and Sukhbir are living separately from them due to their differences and  taking into consideration the fact that Manju’s son is being looked after by  Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for the last almost twenty years, we are of the  opinion

that the ends of justice would be met if  they  are  sentenced  to  rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years.  We are also  of  the  opinion  that each one of them should be subjected to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each  and in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for  a  further period of six months. With this modification in the conviction and  sentence,  the  appeal is disposed of.=

 

 

whether the appellants are  guilty  of  an

offence punishable under Section 304-B or under Section 306  of  the  Indian

Penal Code (IPC). In our opinion, they are guilty of an  offence  punishable

under Section 306 of the IPC. =

 

  Neither  Ram  Kishan  nor  Vidya  Devi  nor  Sunita  has  given  any

indication of any specific demand for dowry. Under these  circumstances,  it

is difficult for us to conclude that the provisions of Section 304-B of  the

IPC would be attracted.  It has been held times without number that,

           “To establish the offence of dowry death under Section 304-B IPC

           the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable  doubt  that  the

           husband or his relative has subjected the deceased to cruelty or

           harassment in connection with demand of dowry  soon  before  her

           death.”[1]

 

As such the ill-treatment and subsequent  death  of  Manju  would  not  fall

within the meaning of a dowry death under Section 304-B of the IPC.    

 

 From the facts  of  the  case  it  is  quite

clear to us that although there may be no  evidence  of  Manju  having  been

compelled by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari to consume poison, they  had  created

a situation over a sufficiently long period of time  whereby  she  was  left

with no option but to take her life. It  is  quite  unlikely  that  a  young

lady, particularly one having a year old child, would take her  life  unless

she had some mental health issues (which is not the case) or  was  compelled

by circumstances to do so. An offence  of  abetment  of  suicide  punishable

under Section 306 of the IPC is  much  broader  in  scope  than  an  offence

punishable under Section 304-B of  the  IPC.[2]  In  this  case  an  offence

punishable under Section 306 of the IPC is clearly made  out  against  Karan

Singh and Mukhtiari.          

 2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41414

RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI, MADAN B. LOKUR

NON-REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 666 OF 2009

Karan Singh & Anr.
…..Appellants

Versus

State of Haryana
…Respondent

 

J U D G M E N T
Madan B. Lokur, J.

1. The question before us is whether the appellants are guilty of an
offence punishable under Section 304-B or under Section 306 of the Indian
Penal Code (IPC). In our opinion, they are guilty of an offence punishable
under Section 306 of the IPC.
The facts
2. Manju and her sister PW-5 Sunita, were married on 17th May, 1993 to
Satbir and his brother Sukhbir respectively. PW-4 Ram Kishan, the father
of the two brides spent a considerable amount on the wedding, beyond his
means, and also gave several articles in dowry. However, the parents of
Satbir and Sukhbir that is Karan Singh (father) and Mukhtiari (mother) were
apparently not satisfied with the dowry.
3. According to the prosecution Karan Singh and Mukhtiari would often
harass and beat Manju and Sunita and demand some more dowry. It was
alleged that Manju and Sunita were also turned out from their matrimonial
home on some occasions.
4. Sometime in August, 1994 Manju gave birth to a baby boy and her
father Ram Kishan again spent some money on the occasion and gave gifts.
Unfortunately, however, within ten days thereafter Manju and Sunita were
turned out from their matrimonial home. They informed Ram Kishan that they
were being harassed and demands were being made for dowry. On this, Ram
Kishan called and spoke to Satbir and Sukhbir and persuaded them to take
Manju and Sunita back in their matrimonial home, which they did. However,
according to the prosecution there was no change in the behaviour of Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.
5. At this stage, it may be noted that Manju and Sunita made no
allegations regarding dowry demands by their respective husband. The
demand for dowry and allegations of harassment were made only against Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.
6. On or about 10th December, 1995 Sunita was given a beating and
turned out of the matrimonial home. However, Manju stayed back in the
matrimonial home in village Raiya.
7. On 13th December, 1995 at about 4.00 p.m. Manju consumed or was
made to consume some poison. She was then taken to the Community Health
Centre in Jhajjar and thereafter referred to the Medical College and
Hospital (MCH) at Rohtak.
8. At about 6.30 p.m. on 13th December, 1995 a rukka (Exh. PL) was
sent by the Community Health Centre at Jhajjar to the Station House
Officer, Police Station, Jhajjar.
9. Manju was taken to the MCH at Rohtak by her husband Satbir and was
examined at about 8.15 p.m. The doctor in Rohtak then sent another rukka
(Exh. PH) to the Police Post, MCH at Rohtak at about 9.30 p.m. along with a
medico-legal report.
10. PW-9 ASI Raj Kumar, the Investigating Officer had, in the
meanwhile, received the first rukka (Exh. PL) but since he was busy in
connection with another case, he went the next day on 14th December, 1995
at about 8.00 a.m. to Rohtak where he picked up the rukka (Exh. PH) and the
medico-legal report from the concerned Police Post in Rohtak. He then went
to the emergency ward in the MCH and learnt that at about 2.00 a.m. (early
morning of 14th December, 1995) Manju had expired. According to Raj Kumar
no one from her family was present at the spot and therefore the dead body
was placed in the dead house. Raj Kumar conducted inquest proceedings on
14th and 15th December, 1995. During the inquest proceedings on 15th
December, 1995 Ram Kishan met Raj Kumar at Rohtak and his formal statement
was recorded only at about 5.30 p.m. and a First Information Report (FIR)
was registered under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code.
11. After carrying out investigations Raj Kumar arrested Karan Singh
and Mukhtiari on 26th December, 1995 and subsequently a charge sheet was
filed against them alleging offences punishable under Sections 304-B and
498-A of the IPC.
Decision of the Trial Court
12. The Trial Judge hearing the case delivered his judgment and order
on 12th February, 1997 and acquitted Karan Singh and Mukhtiari. The two
principal grounds on which they were acquitted were that there was an
unexplained delay in lodging the FIR. It was held that Manju’s mother PW-6
Vidya Devi and her sister Sunita had come to know on 14th December, 1995
that Manju had died but the FIR was registered by Ram Kishan only on 15th
December, 1995. In view of the unexplained delay, the case of the
prosecution was liable to fail.
13. It was held that the inquest report showed that Ram Kishan had met
Raj Kumar on 14th December, 1995. However, we have seen the inquest report
and find this is factually incorrect.
14. The second ground on which the Trial Judge acquitted Karan Singh
and Mukhtiari was that there was nothing to show that soon before her
death, Manju was subjected to cruelty and harassment for or in connection
with a demand of dowry. It was held that Manju had died under
circumstances that were not normal and her death had occurred within seven
years of her marriage but there was no evidence of her being harassed for
dowry. She had not sent any letter to her parents complaining of dowry
harassment.
15. The Trial Judge also relied on the statement of DW-2 Badlu aged
about 75 years and a respectable person of village Raiya that both Manju
and Sunita were treated with love and affection and there was no demand for
dowry from Karan Singh or Mukhtiari. Badlu further stated that Ram Kishan
used to come to village Raiya to enquire about the welfare of his daughters
but he was frequently drunk. This was objected to by Mukhtiari which
annoyed Ram Kishan. It was also stated by Badlu that Ram Kishan wanted his
daughters and their respective husband to stay separately from Karan Singh
and Mukhtiari and he had also tried to persuade Karan Singh to give his
lands to Satbir and Sukhbir and live on his pension. This was not
acceptable to Karan Singh. The Trial Judge was of the opinion that in view
of all these facts, Ram Kishan blamed Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for Manju’s
death.
Decision of the High Court
16. Feeling aggrieved by the judgment and order passed by the Trial
Court, the State preferred an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court
being Criminal Appeal No. 575-DBA of 1997. By its Judgment and Order dated
12th May, 2008 the High Court set aside the decision of the Trial Judge and
convicted Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for an offence punishable under Section
304-B of the IPC and punished them to imprisonment for the minimum period
of seven years.
17. The High Court was of the opinion that the delay in lodging the FIR
was satisfactorily explained inasmuch as Vidya Devi and Sunita could not be
expected to lodge the FIR and would have waited for Ram Kishan to arrive
and take necessary steps. There was no undue delay in Ram Kishan’s arrival
in Rohtak and the FIR was lodged thereafter within a reasonable time. We
agree with this finding since the record shows that Ram Kishan was informed
of some untoward happening by his son Surinder Singh only on 14th December,
1995 and thereafter he reached Rohtak at about 10.00 p.m. the same day.
Not finding anybody there, he went to his village Dhani Phogat and came
back to Rohtak on the morning of 15th December, 1995. The FIR was lodged in
the afternoon on completion of the inquest proceedings.
18. The High Court also held that it was significant that Satbir and
Sukhbir were not examined by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari as defence
witnesses. If there was no substance in the allegations made against them,
surely Satbir and Subkhbir would have come to their defence. It was also
held that merely because there was some disagreement between Ram Kishan on
the one hand and Karan Singh and Mukhtiari on the other, that was no reason
for Manju to have committed suicide or be killed. The evidence of Sunita
as well as that of Ram Kishan clearly pointed to the fact that both Manju
and Sunita were being harassed for dowry and were turned out from their
matrimonial home on more than one occasion. It was held that just a few
days before Manju’s death, Sunita was given a beating and turned out of her
matrimonial home. Therefore, soon before her death, Manju was subjected to
harassment and she died under unnatural circumstances.
19. Accordingly, the High Court convicted Karan Singh and Mukhtiari of
an offence punishable under Section 304-B of the IPC and reversed the order
of acquittal passed by the Trial Court.
20. Karan Singh and Mukhtiari are in appeal against the judgment and
order of the High Court and the sentence awarded to them.
Discussion
21. We have been taken through the evidence of Ram Kishan, Sunita and
Vidya Devi. On an analysis of the oral testimony given by them, it is
quite clear that the marriage of Manju and Sunita was performed in a
comparatively simple manner although a considerable amount seems to have
been spent. Ram Kishan categorically stated in his testimony that before
the marriage there was no demand for any dowry. Subsequent to the marriage
of Manju and Sunita, there also does not seem to be any specific demand for
dowry as per the statement of Ram Kishan. All that he testified is that
Karan Singh and Mukhtiari would say that his daughters should bring money
for raising the construction of a house where they could reside separately.
Other than this, there is no mention of any demand having been made by
Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for any dowry.
22. Even the statement given by Sunita does not disclose any specific
demand for dowry except that there is bald statement that she and Manju
were taunted for bringing insufficient dowry. The tenor of her testimony
suggests that she and Manju were being generally harassed and ill-treated
by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari. The ill-treatment and harassment does not
appear to be related to any specific demand for dowry.
23. Even Vidya Devi in her statement makes a general allegation of
demand for dowry and the consequent harassment of Manju and Sunita but
again the statement is only of a very general nature.
24. Neither Ram Kishan nor Vidya Devi nor Sunita has given any
indication of any specific demand for dowry. Under these circumstances, it
is difficult for us to conclude that the provisions of Section 304-B of the
IPC would be attracted. It has been held times without number that,
“To establish the offence of dowry death under Section 304-B IPC
the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the
husband or his relative has subjected the deceased to cruelty or
harassment in connection with demand of dowry soon before her
death.”[1]

As such the ill-treatment and subsequent death of Manju would not fall
within the meaning of a dowry death under Section 304-B of the IPC.
25. But, there is no doubt that Manju and Sunita were subjected to ill-
treatment and harassment from time to time by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari
though it was not relatable to any demand for dowry. The evidence on record
shows that they were turned out from the matrimonial home on more than one
occasion. They were even turned out from the matrimonial home within about
ten days after Manju gave birth to a baby boy. Ram Kishan had spoken about
this to Satbir and Sukhbir but in spite of this, the attitude of Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari did not change. As mentioned above, no allegation has
been made against Satbir and Sukhbir. Again, a few days before Manju’s
death, Sunita was subjected to beating and turned out of the matrimonial
home. Although, Manju did not accompany her sister, she paid the price for
staying back in village Raiya. From the facts of the case it is quite
clear to us that although there may be no evidence of Manju having been
compelled by Karan Singh and Mukhtiari to consume poison, they had created
a situation over a sufficiently long period of time whereby she was left
with no option but to take her life. It is quite unlikely that a young
lady, particularly one having a year old child, would take her life unless
she had some mental health issues (which is not the case) or was compelled
by circumstances to do so. An offence of abetment of suicide punishable
under Section 306 of the IPC is much broader in scope than an offence
punishable under Section 304-B of the IPC.[2] In this case an offence
punishable under Section 306 of the IPC is clearly made out against Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari.

26. It is significant that when Manju was admitted in the MCH at
Rohtak, and even when the inquest proceedings were being conducted on 14th
and 15th December, 1995 neither Karan Singh nor Mukhtiari was present at
any time. They seem to have had some antipathy towards Manju and Sunita
and this resulted in their harassing and treating Manju with cruelty such
that she could not bear it any further and therefore decided to take her
life.
27. The testimony of Badlu does not assist Karan Singh and Mukhtiari.
His testimony in their favour was in the context of dowry demands but, as
we have held, that is not the question agitating us. His testimony also
showed that there was some friction between Ram Kishan on the one hand and
Karan Singh and Mukhtiari on the other. This part of Badlu’s testimony does
not assist Karan Singh and Mukhtiari. On the contrary, the friction may
have been an aggravating factor in the relationship between Manju and
Sunita and their parents in law. In any event, it is not necessary for us
to read too much, either way, in the statement of Badlu and we leave it at
that.
Conclusion
28. Under these circumstances, we modify the judgment and order passed
by the High Court and convict Karan Singh and Mukhtiari for an offence
punishable under Section 306 of the IPC. The sentence awarded to them by
the High Court would necessarily have to be modified. In our opinion,
keeping in view the fact that both Karan Singh and Mukhtiari are in their
mid-sixties and we are told by their learned counsel that Satbir and
Sukhbir are living separately from them due to their differences and taking
into consideration the fact that Manju’s son is being looked after by Karan
Singh and Mukhtiari for the last almost twenty years, we are of the opinion
that the ends of justice would be met if they are sentenced to rigorous
imprisonment for a period of two years. We are also of the opinion that
each one of them should be subjected to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each and
in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for a further
period of six months.
29. With this modification in the conviction and sentence, the appeal
is disposed of.
……………………………………J
(Ranjana Prakash
Desai)
……………………………………J
(Madan B. Lokur)
New Delhi;
April 15, 2014
———————–
[1] More recently in Indrajit Sureshprasad Bind v. State of Gujarat,
(2013) 14 SCC 678
[2] Bhupendra v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 106

 

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