High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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SIRI RAM & Anr v. STATE OF HARYANA - CRA-812-SB-1986  RD-P&H 4 (8 March 2005)
Siri Ram and another Versus State of Haryana Present: Shri R.S.Ghai, Senior Advocate with Shri Bipan Ghai, Advocate
for the appellants.
Mr. P.S.Sullar, D.A.G.Haryana.
Siri Ram and his son Subhash faced trial before learned Additional Sessions Judge, Narnaul for having abetted suicide of Subhash's wife Anuradha. Both Siri Ram and Subhash were found guilty under Section 306 and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for five years under Section 306 I.P.C. and to pay a fine of Rs.4000/-. In default of payment of fine they were to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months. They were also sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code and to pay a fine of Rs.1000/-. In default of payment of fine they were to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months. Both the sentences were directed to run concurrently.
Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 2
Judgment of conviction pronounced on November 28, 1986 and order of sentence dated November 29, 1986, have been challenged in the present appeal.
Anuradha and Subhash had got married on February 18, 1984 at Ganga Nagar. They had a daughter who was only three months' old when Anuradha suffered deep burns on the night of October 26, 1985 in her matrimonial home at Mahendergarh. Anuradha died in Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi on October 30, 1985.
According to the prosecution Anuradha's father Kishori Lal was a retired Sub Inspector of Rajasthan police who had spent about Rs.90,000/- for the dowry given to her at the time of marriage. The appellants as well as acquitted co-accused had been dis-satisfied at the dowry given. They demanded a scooter for the bride-groom and some ornaments for his unmarried sister Kusum. They also forced Anuradha's father to pay Rs.6000/- for bus fare and Rs.1100/- as stitching charges for the clothes. When Anuradha entered her matrimonial home they humiliated her for having brought insufficient dowry.
She told this her father when she visited him on the third day of marriage. Subhash had also demanded a scooter on that occasion. When Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 3
Anuradha returned to her matrimonial home her brother Rajinder Gaur (PW-10) followed her after 5/7 days. Accused again demanded more dowry in the shape of a refrigerator and a colour television. A month later when Kishori Lal visited his daughter the said demand was reiterated. She returned to Ganga Nagar with her father. After a month Subhash went to bring her back and again asked for Rs.50,000/- from his father-in-law to invest in business.
In November 1984 Kishori Lal(PW-2) and his wife Saraswati Devi(PW-9) visited Anuradha at Mahendergarh and demand of Rs.50,000/- was again repeated. Anuradha gave birth to a daughter at Mahendergarh. Siri Ram appellant then wrote to Kishori Lal demanding sarees and jewellery as presents. When Kishori Lal and his wife went to visit their daughter they presented sarees and ornaments valuing Rs.10,000/- but accused expressed dissatisfaction and humiliated them.
Siri Ram again wrote to Kishori Lal letter dated August 26, 1985 and insulted Kishori Lal for chhuchhak which was not in accordance with status of his family. Anuradha received burns injuries on the night of October 26, 1985. She was removed to Civil Hospital, Mahendergarh at 2- 10 A.M. She was medico legally examined by Dr. Janak Raj Singhal (PW- Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 4
1), Medical Officer Incharge Civil Hospital, Mahendergarh who found that she was possessed 70% burns on her face, arms, neck, chest, abdomen and thighs. Police was informed and ASI Amir Singh (PW-16) of Police Station Mahendergarh reached the hospital to record statement of Anuradha but she was found unfit. Ultimately Anuradha was shifted to Safdarjang Hospital. When Anuradha's brother Rajinder Gaur (PW-10) came to know about this at 10-30 A.M. on October 27, 1985 he rushed to the hospital and met two appellants who failed to give a satisfactory answer. Rajinder Gaur met his sister who told him that she had been treated with cruelty by the accused and had been starved for full seven days. Rajinder Gaur asked the Doctor for taking steps for recording statement of Anuradha by Magistrate. Thereafter the Magistrate came to the hospital at 4.00 P.M. but could not record Anuradha's statement as she became unconscious.
Finally after completing the necessary formalities Anuradha's statement was recorded by Shri Ravi Malik, S.D.M. (PW-13) on October 28, 1985 at 9 A.M. and she was certified to be fit to make the statement.
In the statement before the Magistrate she blamed the accused for having harassed and forced her to commit suicide.
Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 5
On the basis of the written complaint made by Rajinder Gaur Investigating Officer, S.H.O. Raj Singh (PW-17) went to the spot and picked up half burnt garments which consisted of peti-coat, saree and blouse of the victim. The garments were half burnt and soaked in water and were smelling of kerosene. The Investigating Officer searched the kitchen of the house but did not find any stove.
Anuradha died on October 30, 1985. Post mortem was conducted by Dr. Chander Kant (PW-14) on November 1, 1985 at 9-30 A.M. The following injures were recorded in the post mortem report:-
1. There were burn injuries covering the left ear, left side of face, front of neck, left side of neck including left face and part of left ear, front and back of thorax, lower part of abdomen, both upper limbs, both things, excluding perineum.
2. The skin was peeled off in both upper limbs (both fore-arms and upper arms), area at places covered with healthy granulation, tissues and some of the area was covered with unhealthy granulation tissues. Burns were superficial and deep covering an area of about 80 per cent.
3. There was no smell of kerosene oil. Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 6
4. There were antemortem blisters on the inner aspect of right thigh.
According to the Medical Officer the deceased had died on account of shock and septicemia as a result of 80 per cent superficial and deep first, second and third degrees.
During investigation it was discovered that Subhash's first wife Saroj to whom he had married on November 18, 1981 had also committed suicide by self immolation on March 22, 1983.
Accused were arrested and sent up for trial.
At the trial charge was framed against the accused under Sections 306 and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code was framed to which they pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The main witnesses examined by the prosecution were Kishori Lal (PW-2), Ram Gopal (PW-7) (father of Subhash's first wife), Saraswati Devi (PW-9), Rajinder Gaur (PW-10), Ravi Malik S.D.M. (PW-13), S.I. Raj Singh (PW-17) and Dr. Indu Lalit (PW-20) (in respect of post mortem of Subhash's first wife).
In their statement under Sections 313 Cr.P.C. accused had denied the allegations and pleaded innocence stating that Anuradha caught accidental fire when she was heating milk for the child. The Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 7
accused were called upon to enter defence. They examined two witnesses as well as produced four letters written by Anuradha to show that relations between the two families were cordial and Anuradha was leading a happy life. The learned Trial Judge accepted the prosecution case as far as Siri Ram and Subhash is concerned and convicted them accordingly but acquitted Sukesh, Sudesh and Kusum.
In the circumstances of the present case the dying declaration is very important evidence. This statement was recorded by Sub Divisional Magistrate, South Delhi namely Shri Ravi Malik (PW-13) who testified how he had gone to Safdarjang Hospital, met the Medical Officer and sought his permission for recording Anuradha's statement. Medical Officer had also declared Anuradha fit to make a statement and accordingly her statement was recorded.
Kishori Lal (PW-2), his wife Saraswati Devi (PW-9) and his son Rajinder Gaur (PW-10) had testified in great details the circumstances in which the marriage between Anuradha and Subhash had taken place on February 18, 1984. Kishori Lal had also stated that Rs.90,000/- were spent on the marriage. He had presented jewellery, furniture, a ward-robe and garments but Anuradha's in-laws were not satisfied. They had Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 8
expressed dissatisfaction at the dowry. Subhash had also demanded scooter. Kishori Lal had been forced to pay Rs.6,000/- for the bus fare and Rs.1100/- as stitching charges of the clothes.
In dying declaration Ex.PCC the deceased stated that she had been harassed by the accused and forced to commit suicide. The deceased had infact died of burns. Post Mortem examination revealed that she had died of septicemia as a result of 80 per cent superficial and deep burns caused by flames. The deceased had been continuously harassed on account of various demands by the appellants which would fall under the definition of cruelty as defined in Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. Therefore, the deceased had been treated with cruelty by willful conduct of such a nature as was likely to derive her to commit suicide.
She had indeed committed suicide.
The deceased had died within seven years of her marriage.
Ordinarily her case would have been covered by Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code because she had been subjected to cruelty and harassment in connection with demand for dowry. The Court was required to presume that her's was a case of dowry death. Presumption is available to the prosecution under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act. However, Criminal Appeal No.812 SB of 1986 9
learned Trial Judge had elected to charge the appellants under Section 306 and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. They were found guilty of these sections. The presumption provided under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act as to abetment of suicide by married woman would be available to the prosecution.
Appellant No.1 was 58 years of age 19 years ago and is now an old man. Subhash appellant No.2 was the husband and he must bear the warrant of charge. This was in fact death by self immolation by second wife. His first wife had also died in similar circumstances by self immolation. Therefore, Subhash's appeal against conviction and sentence is hereby dismissed. He shall be taken into custody forthwith to undergo remaining portion of the sentence.
Conviction of Siri Ram appeallant is also upheld but on account his advanced years his sentence is reduced to the period already undergone
August 2, 2005.
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