Case Briefs
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Gurbachan Singh vs Satpal Singh & Ors.


Author: Bharat Sharma, 3rd Year student at RNB Global University.


 Citation: 1990 AIR 209, 1989 SCR Supl. (1) 292

Date of Decision: September 26, 1989

Bench: Sabyasachi Mukharji, B. C. Ray

Original Copy: View

Statutes involved: Indian Penal Code , 1860, Indian Evidence Act,1872

 

Issue in question

  • Whether the accused were liable under Section 306  of IPC or not?

Background of the case

  • In November, 1962, Ravinder Kaur, married Satpal Singh. Ravinder Kaur was the daughter of Gurbachan Singh. On 25 June 1983, Ravinder Kaur committed Suicide. It was alleged that the in-law’s family of Ravinder Kaur, had a cruel behaviour towards Ravinder Kaur. Along with that the demand dowry from her, and insinuation that Ravinder Kaur was carrying an illegitimate child. It was further alleged that because of the harassment and constant taunts from her in-law’s family she committed suicide. And the in-law’s family (Father-in-law, Mother-in-law and husband) of Ravinder Kaur have been abetted her for the commission of suicide. 
  • Her parents’ house is at Amritsar. She occasionally visited her parents’ house and during this she used to tell her parents about the cruel behaviour of her in-laws and their demand for dowry. She also told them about her in-laws’ insinuation that she was carrying an illegitimate child. After observing the fact and circumstances of case Additional Sessions Judge held that all the accused were guilty under Section 306  of IPC that is abetment to suicide and passed five years rigorous imprisonment along with fine of Rs. 2000/-, on the ground that there is no burn injuries found on the fingerprint of the accused.  
  • Aggrieved by the order passed by the Sessions Court, the accused appealed to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Court on observation found that the prosecution was unable to produce sufficient evidence against the accused, the High Court set aside the order passed by the Sessions Court and passed an order acquittal of the accused. 

Judgment: 

  • Aggrieved by the order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, complainant Gurbachan Singh father of the deceased girl preferred appeal to the Supreme Court by way of Special leave to appeal. The Court said that in Criminal case’s prosecution has to prove that the allegations arise beyond all reasonable doubt. Further, the court said that according to Section 113A  of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, if the suicide has been committed within the seven years of marriage court may assumed that the husband and his relatives was the abettor of the suicide. 
  • The Court said that when the deceased girl was burning, the people around her, her mother-in-Law, there was no attempt from their side to save her from her burn injuries. And after the incident, when she got burned, no proper medical assistant was given to her and the in-laws family had not even informed her parents. The evidence of attitude and conduct of in-law’s family showed that they abetted her for suicide beyond any reasonable doubt.
  • After going through with the Judgment passed by the session court, the Supreme Court was of the view that as in the instant case there was no direct evidence regarding the death of the girl, but conduct and attitude of the accused, and the nature of the crime, not left any doubt in charging the accused under Section 306 of IPC and the Sessions Judge had rightly convicted the accused. Along with this observation, the Court also said that there is a possibility that those two different views can come from the same fact. 
  • The Court noted the statement of Appellant Gurbachan Singh, that in November, 1982 when he visited the in-laws house of her daughter, her daughter complained about the ill-treatment of her in-laws and cruel behaviour towards her. After hearing the complain of her daughter he brought her back with him at Amritsar. One day prior to Baisakhi in 1983, Ravinder Kaur ‘s husband, her mother-in-law, her father-in- law along with his uncle came at Amritsar to bring back Ravinder with themselves. Gurbachan Singh called, President of Mohalla Committee, Ved Prakash. All these complaints were placed before him, all the accused were giving assurance before him and the Gurbachan Singh that in future they would not do any such act with her daughter. 
  • When Gurbachan Singh did not get any information about his daughter’s health and welfare for almost two months, he started worrying about his daughter.  And to inquire about Ravinder’s welfare, he sent his two daughters to Ravinder’s in-laws’ house. Ravinder informed her sister that she was not happy there because of the torture as well as the cruel behaviour of her in-laws. In 1983, the maternal uncle of Satpal Singh, Mohinder Singh, had come to the shop of Gurbachan Singh to inform him about the death of Gurbachan Singh’s daughter. Mohinder Singh told Gurbachan Singh that her daughter committed suicide by setting herself on fire and now she was laying in at hospital of Amritsar. 
  • At the end, after taking into the evidence on record and circumstances of the case, the Court observed that the deceased committed suicide because of the ill-treatment and cruel behaviour of her in-laws towards her.  The Court set aside the Judgment passed by the high court and upheld the Judgment passed by the session court. And held guilty respondent under Section 306 of IPC. 

Critical Analysis

  • So, in this case Section 306 of IPC were discussed which is related to the abetment for commission of suicide. Section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act, were also discussed in this case which is talk about that husband and his relatives will be held guilty if his wife committed suicide in between seven years of marriage.  
  • Taking both the sections into consideration, the Court passed conviction against the accused in this case and allowed the appeal of Appellant, father of the deceased girl.

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