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How appreciate the Evidence – Sections 498-A, 304-B, 201 and 176 of the Indian Penal Code (for short ‘IPC’) read with Sections 3, 4 and 6 (2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act. – Trial court acquitted the accused – High court convicted the accused – Apex court held that The High Court is correct in its observation that it was not appropriate for the trial court to expect documentary evidence regarding acceptance of dowry as generally such a record would not be kept since it was not a commercial transaction. The High Court also appears to be justified in its observation that non production of the villagers to prove the dowry demand would not be fatal. and further held that Strangely, the High Court has discarded Mahazar drawn by PW-8 by giving a spacious reason viz. it was not an exhibited document before the Court, little realising that this was the document produced by the prosecution itself and even without formal proof thereto by the prosecution, it was always open for the defence to seek reliance on such an evidence to falsify the prosecution version. and further held that it is well established that if two views are possible on the basis of evidence on record and one favourable to the accused has been taken by the trial court, it ought not to be disturbed by the appellate court. We thus, find that there were no solid and weighty reasons to reverse the verdict of acquittal and to convict the appellant under the given circumstances. Accordingly, we allow this appeal and set aside the judgment of the High Court, holding that the appellant is not guilty of the charges foisted against him. = CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1671 OF 2011 |RAMAIAH @ RAMA |…..APPELLANT(S) | | | | |VERSUS | | |STATE OF KARNATAKA |…..RESPONDENT(S) =2014 Aug. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41816

How appreciate the Evidence – Sections  498-A, 304-B, 201 and 176 of the Indian Penal Code  (for  short  ‘IPC’)  read  with Sections 3, 4 and 6 (2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act. – Trial court acquitted the accused – High court convicted the accused – Apex court held that The  High  Court  is  correct  in  its observation that it was not  appropriate  for  the  trial  court  to  expect documentary evidence regarding acceptance  of  dowry  as  generally  such  a record would not be kept since it was not  a  commercial  transaction. The High Court also  appears  to  be  justified  in  its  observation  that  non production of the villagers to prove the dowry demand would  not  be  fatal. and further held that Strangely,  the  High Court has discarded Mahazar drawn by PW-8 by giving a spacious  reason  viz. it was not an exhibited document before the  Court,  little  realising  that this was the document produced by the prosecution itself  and  even  without formal proof thereto by the prosecution, it was always open for the  defence to seek reliance on such an evidence to  falsify  the  prosecution  version. and further held that  it is well established that if two  views  are  possible  on  the  basis  of evidence on record and one favourable to the accused has been taken  by  the trial court, it ought not to be disturbed by the appellate court.  We thus, find that there were no solid and weighty reasons to  reverse the verdict of acquittal and  to  convict  the  appellant  under  the  given circumstances.   Accordingly,  we  allow  this  appeal  and  set  aside  the judgment of the High Court, holding that the appellant is not guilty of  the

charges foisted against him. =

No doubt, the  initial  complaint  by

Mariyappa (PW-1) was to the effect that the accused persons  murdered  Laxmi

and then threw her into the well and also led the evidence of such crime  to

disappear by burning the dead body much prior to the  approval  of  maternal

uncle and parents of  the  deceased.    

However,  after  investigation,  the

charge sheet was filed only for offences  punishable  under  Sections  498-A,

304-B, 201 and 176 of the Indian Penal Code  (for  short  ‘IPC’)  read  with

Sections 3, 4 and 6 (2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act. =

After re-appreciating the entire evidence on  record,

the  High

Court has come to the conclusion that the appellant was in  fact  guilty  of

offence punishable under Sections 3 & 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act as well  as

under Sections 498-A, 304-B, 201 and 176 IPC.

The  judgment  and  order  of

acquittal  of  trial  court  is,  thereby,  set  aside  by  the  High  Court =

The  trial  court

analysed the testimony of PW-4, PW-5 and PW-6 

“(27)  After the  marriage  during  the  period  of  6  months

it  was  not

mentioned in the  complaint  that  the  accused  have  assaulted  Lakshmamma

physically and thrown out of the  house  nor  stated  the  same  before  the

court.

Neither the villagers wherein the accused  are  residing  nor  their

neighbors have given any evidence before the  court  about  pinpricks  meted

out to her.

As against which

D.W.1  Ramakrishnappa,  aged  56  years,  said

that, from the beginning till the death of  Lakshamma  the  accused  persons

looked after here well and not given any pinpricks to her, he  further  told

that on that day she came to well for washing the cloth and due to  slip  of

her leg she fell in the well and he came to know about  the  same.

In  his cross-examination no other statement was given on behalf of prosecution.

(28)  It is an arranged marriage in the presence of elders, in the event  of

giving any pinpricks about dowry harassment, this  matter  would  have  been

brought to the notice of elders and convene  a  panchayath.

But  it  never

revealed anywhere about conveying the panchayath.

Hence it is  hereby  seen

that the accused or her husband  had  not  given  pinpricks  either  in  the

matter of dowry or in any other matter.

It cannot  be  said  that  she  has committed  for  the  said  reason.

Hence  I  answer  both  the   questions

Negatively.”

The  High  Court  has,  however,  given  a different glance to the entire  matter.   

According  to  it,  the  aforesaid

approach of the trial court was erroneous in law as well as in  appreciation

of the evidence on record.

After taking note of the fact  that

Laxmi  died

within six months of her marriage and it was an unnatural  death,  the  High

Court has lamented on the conduct of the appellant and has  arrived  at  the

conclusion that it was the appellant who was responsible for  the  death  of

Laxmi and found him guilty of offence under Section 304-B of IPC.

The  High

Court has also accepted the  version  of  the  prosecution  that  Laxmi  was

harassed and humiliated on account of  non  fulfillment  of  the  demand  of

dowry made by the appellant and, therefore, presumption under Section  113-B

of the Evidence Act was attracted.  

As per the  High  Court,  the  appellant

has not been able  to  lead  any  satisfactory  evidence  to  dislodge  this

presumption.  

The infirmities found in the depositions of PW-1  to  PW-5  by

the trial court have been brushed aside and discarded by the High  Court  as

irrelevant and perverse.

The High  Court held that it would  be  impossible

to expect any party to the marriage talks to keep a  record  of  demand  and

payment of dowry as if it was a commercial transaction and,  therefore,  the

absence of documentary evidence in this regard should not have weighed  with

the trial court.  

The High Court also observed that there was  no  admission

made by PW-1 that even without the alleged demand of dowry,  he  would  have

given customary articles like clothes and ornaments and  no  such  customary

practice was indicated.

The finding of the trial court  that  the  case  of

the prosecution regarding demand and payment of dowry was not proved in  the

absence of anyone from the village of the accused is also brushed  aside  by

observing that such a demand and payment would not be made  public  inasmuch

as such talks  would  be  within  closed  doors  and  would  be  within  the

knowledge of the parties to the marriage and kith and kin of the  bride  and

bridegroom.

Further, apart from PW-1 to PW-3, PW-4, who  is  the  neighbour

of PW-1 and PW-2, supported the version of  the  demand  of  dowry  and  the

harassment of Laxmi at the hands of the appellant and his family members.

Apex court held that
The  High  Court  is  correct  in  its

observation that it was not  appropriate  for  the  trial  court  to  expect

documentary evidence regarding acceptance  of  dowry  as  generally  such  a

record would not be kept since it was not  a  commercial  transaction. 

The

High Court also  appears  to  be  justified  in  its  observation  that  non

production of the villagers to prove the dowry demand would  not  be  fatal.

We have eschewed and discarded these reasons assigned by  the  trial  court.

whether the evidence  of

these witnesses (PW-1 to PW-3) is worthy of credence, on  this  aspect.   

According to them, deceased was cremated before they  reached

the village of the  appellant.   To  falsify  this  position  taken  by  the

prosecution through these witnesses, the learned counsel for  the  appellant

had taken us to the evidence of PW-8 who had drawn Mahazar  near  the  well.

This Mahazar coupled with the statement of PW-8 is a very significant  piece

of evidence which has considerable effect in  denting  the  creditworthiness

of the testimony of these witnesses.  As  per  PW-8  himself,  when  he  had

reached the spot, it was the mother of the  deceased  who  pointed  out  the

place where the dead body was  lying.   This  assertion  amply  demonstrates

that mother of the deceased had known where the body was kept and she  along

with PW-1 and PW-2 had reached the place of occurrence before the dead  body

was cremated.  Relying upon this evidence, the trial court  has  disbelieved

the story of the prosecution that  Laxmi  was  cremated  even  before  these

persons had reached the village  of  the  appellant.   Strangely,  the  High

Court has discarded Mahazar drawn by PW-8 by giving a spacious  reason  viz.

it was not an exhibited document before the  Court,  little  realising  that

this was the document produced by the prosecution itself  and  even  without

formal proof thereto by the prosecution, it was always open for the  defence

to seek reliance on such an evidence to  falsify  the  prosecution  version.

Moreover, PW-8 has specifically referred to this document in  his  evidence.

It is also a matter of record that a specific suggestion was  made  to  PW-3

(mother of the deceased) in the cross-examination to the effect that  it  is

she who had pointed out the place of the dead body lying near  the  well  to

the Police personnel.  The version of PW-1 to PW-3  that  they  reached  the

village of the appellant after Laxmi had already  been  cremated,  does  not

inspire confidence and appears to be mendacious.

If the body was cremated thereafter,  and  not

buried, it can clearly be inferred that same was done with consent,  express

or implied, of the complainant namely maternal uncle and the mother  of  the

deceased.  It can also be inferred that parties had  decided  at  that  time

that matter be not reported to the Police and body be cremated.  To  say  it

otherwise, by accepting the version of the prosecution, would lead  to  some

absurdities.  It would mean that when maternal uncle  or  aunt  as  well  as

mother of Laxmi were present and had seen the dead body lying at  the  spot,

they objected to the body being cremated.  They also  wanted  Police  to  be

informed.  If it was so, why they did not put up any resistance? We have  to

keep in mind that these family members of  Laxmi  have  come  out  with  the

allegation that Laxmi was  harassed  as  well  as  mentally  and  physically

tortured because of non fulfillment of dowry demand.  In  such  a  scenario,

they would not have remained silent and mute spectators to the  events  that

followed even when they were not to their liking.   Not  only  this  conduct

belies their  version,  another  weighty  factor  is  that  the  complainant

remained silent about these happenings for a period of  4  days  and  lodged

the report with the Police only on 26.05.1993 when they came  out  with  the

allegations of demand of dowry and harassment.

in Chandrappa and Ors. v. State of  Karnataka,  (2007)  4

SCC 415.”

31.   In Chandrappa (supra), which was followed in the aforesaid  case,  the

Court had observed:

“44.  In our view, if in the light of above circumstances, the  trial  court

felt that the accused could get benefit of doubt, the said  view  cannot  be

held to be illegal, improper or contrary to law.  Hence, even though we  are

of the opinion that in an appeal against acquittal, powers of the  appellate

court  are  as  wide  as  that  of  the  trial  court  and  it  can  review,

reappreciate and reconsider the entire evidence brought  on  record  by  the

parties and can come to its own conclusion on fact as well  as  on  law,  in

the present case, the view taken by  the  trial  court  for  acquitting  the

accused was possible and plausible.  On the basis  of  evidence,  therefore,

at the most, it can be said that the other view was equally  possible.   But

it is well established that if two  views  are  possible  on  the  basis  of

evidence on record and one favourable to the accused has been taken  by  the

trial court, it ought not to be disturbed by the appellate court.   In  this

case, a possible view on the evidence of prosecution had been taken  by  the

trial court which ought not to have been disturbed by the  appellate  court.

The decision of the appellate court (the High Court), therefore,  is  liable

to be set aside.”

32.   We thus, find that there were no solid and weighty reasons to  reverse

the verdict of acquittal and  to  convict  the  appellant  under  the  given

circumstances.   Accordingly,  we  allow  this  appeal  and  set  aside  the

judgment of the High Court, holding that the appellant is not guilty of  the

charges foisted against him.

33.   During the pendency of this appeal,  the  appellant  was  enlarged  on

bail vide order dated 31.03.2014.  The bail bonds and sureties given by  the

appellant are hereby discharged.

2014 Aug. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41816

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