Author: Lakshya Raj Singh Rathore, 1st year Student at Institute Of Law, Nirma University.
Citation: (2020) 14 SCC 264: (2020) 4 SCC (Cri) 758
Bench: B.R. Gavai, Navin Sinha
Date of Decision: November 26, 2019
Original Copy: View
- Indian Penal Code 1860
- Indian Evidence Act 1872
- Conviction under section 498A of IPC by High Court is sustainable or not?
- Whether section 306 of the IPC will be applicable to the present case?
Background of the case:
- This SLP has been filed by the 3rd accused who is the husband of the deceased to challenge a P&H HC judgment regarding the criminal case under sections 304-B, 306 and 498A of IPC against him and his parents.
- The appellant aggrieved by the decision of the HC to upheld the decision of the trial court which found him guilty along with his parents guilty of crimes under sections 304-B and 498A of IPC.
- Mr Thakur appearing for the appellant said that the decision of the HC is not tenable as it is solely based on the evidence given by father of the deceased without any corroboration.
- So he added that the case does not arise under any punishment under section 306 and the ingredients under 304-B are also missing.
- To which Jaspreet Gogia, appearing for the state contradicted that the ingredients with the aid of section 113A of Indian Evidence Act was duly provided and the section 306 conviction is valid along with 498A.
- The trial judge acquitted the accused and his parents as the death of the deceased was caused by in-taking poison within 7 years of marriage and this unnatural death was not proved by the prosecution to have happened because of dowry so 304B cannot be invoked and only 498A was applicable.
- While the HC held the accused guilty of both the crimes.
- The main evidence of the case was given by the father of the deceased who told the court that he had already given the accused one almirah along with dowry during the marriage and later a fridge of Rs6600 but the accused dowry needs were insatiable and they wanted 50000 Rs more so to buy a plot and have been forcing the deceased to get it from her father.
- Later on when he found out that her daughter is dead he suspected that because of dowry her in-laws have given or she consumed poison because of the pressure, and this statement was supported by another witness Iqbal Singh.
- The court taking in reference the facts of the case Ramesh Kumar v State of Chhattisgarh stated that if a woman commits suicide within 7 years of marriage then the husband or his relatives can be charged for cruelty against her and liability under section 113A can be invoked also if the suicide was a result of intentional instigating should be kept in mind by the judges while hearing such cases.
- In the presence of the above circumstances the fault of the husband or relatives is presumed but not solely these circumstances will form the guilt but the court must take in regards to the other circumstances also.
- Furthermore if the case does not fall under clause first and second of section 107 IPC then clause third should be used to decide the case along with being very careful regarding the assessment of the other facts to find out the fault and the cruelty, if any through which the victim has suffered, as observed by the court in State of W.B. v. Orilal Jaiswal.
- The instigation may not be directly through the acts but anything which is consequential in making the victim feel to take such a step can be called as instigating and such instigating should be proved beyond reasonable doubt as held in Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal v State of Gujarat. The liability under section 498A of IPC does not necessarily invoke the punishment for abetting suicide.
- If the circumstances of the case shows conviction under section 306 then it must be upheld even the charges are not framed under this section because an intentional instigation by the family of the husband can be proved by the facts of the case then it is sure that the suicide is the result of such instigation.
- Also looking at the dying declaration of the deceased along with the testimony of her father the ill treatment caused to the deceased can be clearly observed, said the court. And since the cruelty was proved to be of a grave nature and also the facts and circumstances prove the relationship between cruelty and suicide and it has a cause-effect relationship as per the facts presented in front of the court to invoke section 498A of IPC.
- Adding further the court said as per the records presented before there can be observed two months gap between the commission of suicide and the demand for money by the accused and as per the decision in Sanju Alias Sanjay Singh Sengar vs. State of M.P (where the gap was 48 hours) if there is such a gap then the abetment cannot be established to be caused by the accused.
- Thus the bench finds the accused guilty of crimes under section 498A and not under section 306 of IPC and thus the accused must surrender within four weeks as his bail stands discharged.
- The bench in the present case gave a very clear justification to the facts and how those facts are to be read as per the correct sections of the respective criminal laws.
- Here the bench through the facts gave a very discreet view regarding section 107, 498A, 304 and 306 of the IPC along with section 113A of the Indian Evidence Act.
- Also hearing such an issue which involves dowry death should be dealt with utmost care which the bench in the present case did, but still in 2021 we are having such cases then the policies regarding stopping such crimes should be made more stringent by the government by looking upon such judgments given by the courts.