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SUMIT KUMAR ALIAS RIMPY VERMA & ORS versus THE STATE OF PUNJAB

High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh

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Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma & Ors v. The State of Punjab - CRA-D-111-DB-2005 [2007] RD-P&H 25 (8 January 2007)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB & HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.

Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma & others APPELLANT VERSUS

The State of Punjab RESPONDENT

CORAM : HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE MEHTAB S.GILL
HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE BALDEV SINGH

Present:- Mr.T.S.Sangha, Advocate for the appellants.

Mr.S.S.Randhawa, Senior D.A.G. Punjab.

MEHTAB S.GILL, J.

This is an appeal against the judgment/order dated 19.1.2005/ 21.1.2005 of the Sessions Judge, Jalandhar whereby he convicted Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma son of Roshan Lal, Roshan Lal son of Harbans Lal, Kanta Rani wife of Roshan Lal, Vijay Kumar alias Bobby son of Roshan Lal and Pooja Rani daughter of Roshan Lal under Sections 302/498-A/34 I.P.C. and sentenced them to undergo various terms of sentences.

The case of the prosecution is unfolded by the statement Ex.PB of Rajni given to ASI Sewak Ram on 16.1.2002 at Pasricha Hospital, Jalandhar. Rajni stated that she was married to Rimpy Verma according to religious rites. In her marriage her parents gave dowry beyond their reach, including a scooter, TV, Fridge, cooler, almirah, furniture, washing machine, gold ornaments weighing about 30 Tolas and clothes etc. Her in-laws were not satisfied and started demanding a Maruti car. Her father-in-law Roshan Lal, mother-in-law Bholan, husband Rimpy Verma, sister-in-law Pooja Rani, Jeth (elder brother of her husband) Bobby Verma started taunting her and told her that the dowry articles given are of inferior quality. A demand of Rs.2 lacs was also raised by them to enlarge their jewellery shop. Her parents were unable to fulfil the demand, but they paid amounts of Rs.10,000/- and Rs.5,000/- from time to time. Her in-laws' family was not satisfied. She was maltreated several times. She informed her father Ashwani Kumar, mother Neelam Rani, uncle Kewal Krishan, her parents, uncle and other respectables about the demand. Her parents came and talked to her husband's family, but they did not repent. On 13.1.2002, her husband Rimpy Verma sprinkled kerosene on her and lit her on fire, her sister-in-law Pooja Rani, her brother-in-law Bobby Verma had caught hold of her. The incident had taken place at about 11 p.m. on Lohri night. She raised an alarm. People of the locality collected and put out the fire. She was taken to a hospital. On 15.1.2002 her parents who resided in Amritsar were informed by someone through telephone, but her in-laws' family did not give them any information. She further stated that on 15.1.2002, she had made a statement before a Judge but at that time she was perplexed and did not disclose the entire incident. On the basis of this statement F.I.R. Ex.PB/3 was recorded.

Earlier to this statement Ex.PB, Rajni recorded her statement Ex.PL before Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C.(D), in Question-Answer form. Rajni stated that she is present in the hospital. She caught fire and it was her husband who had put her on fire. He used to taunt her. To the last question as to whether she wanted to say anything else, she stated "No".

The prosecution to prove its case, brought into the witness-box Rajni PW-1 (before summoning of some of the accused under Section 319 Cr.P.C.), Dr.Punit Pasricha PW-1, Dalip Singh Draftsman PW-2, Constable Arjan Singh PW-3, HC Sukhdev Singh PW-4, ASI Sewak Singh PW-5, Ms.Harpreet Kaur PW-6, Neelam Rani PW-7, Dr.Gurmannjit Rai PW-8 and Jasbir Singh D.S.P.

PW-9.

Learned counsel for the appellants has argued, that the admitted fact is that appellant Rimpy started constructing a new house in May 1997, in New Dashmesh Nagar Colony. It was about 3 kms. away from the house where the other appellants stayed. This fact has been admitted by deceased Rajni herself, when she gave her statement in Court before the summoning of appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar and Pooja Rani. This clearly shows that appellant Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma was staying in his own residence, 3 kms. away from the other appellants for the last 3/4 years. Dr.Punit Pasricha PW-1 has stated that it was Rimpy who brought Rajni to the hospital and admitted her on 13.1.2002.

No intimation was sent by the hospital authorities or to the police on 13.1.2002 or 14.1.2002 that Rajni had suffered burn injury. It was on 15.1.2002 at 5.30 p.m. on the asking of the Investigating Officer that Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6, recorded statement Ex.PL of Rajni. This statement concluded at 5.47 p.m. It has come in the statement of the Investigating Officer and in the police Karvai in Ex.PB/3 that Rajni refused to give her statement to the police, though she was fit to make a statement. The father, mother and brother of Rajni were present at that time. They also did not give any statement to the Investigating Officer. It was on 16.1.2002 that the mother of Rajni namely Neelam Rani PW-7 gave her statement.

Rajni also gave her statement Ex.PB to ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 on the basis of which F.I.R. Ex.PB/3 came recorded on 16.1.2002 at 7.45 p.m. No explanation has come from the side of the prosecution as to why Rajni, her father, mother and brother refused to give their statement on 15.1.2002 to the Investigating Officer.

Consultations and confabulations were taking place between Rajni and her parents to falsely implicate the appellants. The Investigating Officer after enquiring into the matter found appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar and Pooja Rani innocent and they were placed in Column No.2. They were summoned by the learned trial Court on 10.5.2002 under Section 319 Cr.P.C. after the statement of Rajni PW-1 was recorded. In dying declaration Ex.PL, Rajni has only accused her husband, Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma of burning her. She should have named appellants Pooja Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Bobby, also of catching hold of her before her husband alleged lit the fire had they been present. Nobody stopped her from doing so. She refused to give her statement on 15.1.2002 to the Investigating Officer, but gave her statement Ex.PB on 16.1.2002 on the basis of which F.I.R. Ex.PB/3 was recorded.

The next contention put forward by the learned counsel for the appellants is that appellants Pooja Rani and Vijay Kumar allegedly caught hold of Rajni by the arms. Though as stated in Ex.PB that Rajni was caught by them, but strangely they did not suffer any burn injuries. Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma suffered burn injuries and was examined by Dr.Harjit Singh DW-3. It is clear that both Neelam Rani PW-7 and Rajni were not telling the truth. They cannot be relied upon. The F.I.R. should have been recorded on the basis of statement Ex.PL as this statement of Rajni was first in time.

Dr.Punit Pasricha PW-1 has stated that no smell of kerosene oil was coming from the body of Rajni. There were 67% burn injuries. Injuries were on the front and back side of the body. The articles recovered as per Ex.PE also do not mention anything of kerosene oil smell. Deceased Rajni has not stated as to who brought her to the hospital. In fact it was appellant Rimpy who got her admitted in the hospital. Dr.Punit Pasricha PW-1 did not send a Ruqa to the police on 13.1.2002 or 14.1.2002 for the reason that Rajni did not state anything to Dr.Punit Pasricha PW-1 of she having been burnt by the appellants. It was on 15.1.2002 when her parents came, that Ruqa was sent to the police station. The police thereafter came to the hospital, but still Rajni was not ready to give her statement to the Investigating Officer.

No dispute had arisen between the parties from the time of the marriage till the occurrence, regarding the demand of dowry. As per the statement of Neelam Rani PW-7, the marriage had taken place within 1 or 2 days of the parents' talking to each other. This clearly shows that no dowry could have been given. No marriage palace was booked. During the intervening period of the marriage which lasted for about 5 years no Panchayat met, nor was Rajni turned out of the matrimonial house, showing that both Rajni and Rimpy lived happily.

They also had a child out of the wedlock.

Learned counsel for the State has argued, that Rajni died in the house of appellant Rimpy. She was his legally wedded wife. There are three statements of Rajni on the basis of which appellants Rimpy and other appellants should be convicted. In statement Ex.PL given to Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C.PW-6, she has indicted only her husband. In statement Ex.PB given to ASI Sewak Singh PW-5, she has indicted all the appellants and in her statement before the Court on oath given before the summoning of appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani she again indicted all the appellants. The circumstances show that the appellants wanted to hide something. It was the duty of appellant Sumit Kumar to give information to the police.

Dr.Punit Pasricha PW-1 sent Ruqa Ex.PA on 15.1.2002 in which he stated that Rajni had been admitted in the hospital on 13.1.2002 with burn injuries.

It is thereafter that the police came and Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6 recorded her statement Ex.PL. Thereafter her statement Ex.PB was recorded on 15.1.2002 by ASI Sewak Singh PW-5. The statement Ex.PB inspires confidence and is a truthful version of the occurrence. The statement Ex.PB and the statement of both Rajni deceased and her mother Neelam Rani PW-7 corroborate each other. Even in statement Ex.PL given to Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6, she has clearly indicted her husband Sumit Kumar. The learned J.M.I.C. was duty bound to put more questions to Rajni. Dying declaration Ex.PB is sufficient to convict the appellants.

We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and perused the record with their assistance.

We have before us two dying declarations made by Rajni. The dying declaration Ex.PL made on 15.1.2002 before Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6 reads as under :-

"Where are you now ?

At present I am in the hospital.

How have you come here ?

I got fire.

How did you catch fire ?

My husband put me on fire. He has taunted me.

Have you anything else to say ?

No."

The second dying declaration Ex.PB was made by the deceased on 16.1.2002 before ASI Sewak Singh PW-5, on the basis of which F.I.R. Ex.PB/3 was recorded.

There are material contradictions in both the dying declarations Ex.PL and PB. Coming to the dying declaration Ex.PB on the basis of which F.I.R.

Ex.PB/3 was recorded, is the one, which the learned counsel for the State has forcefully argued, is the truthful document. It gets corroboration by the statement of Rajni PW-1 given to the Court before the summoning of Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani under Section 319 Cr.P.C.

It is an admitted fact that both deceased Rajni and appellant Sumit Kumar lived in the same house in New Dashmesh Nagar Colony. This has been admitted by Rajni in her statement before the learned trial Court. The house of appellant Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy in New Dashmesh Nagar Colony was 3 kms.

away from the house of his parents. Appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar and Pooja Rani lived separately in their own residence in Avtar Nagar.

During this period of stay for about 5 years, firstly in the parents' house and then in New Dashmesh Nagar, there was no complaint from the side of Rajni for demand of money or any other harassment or any type of coercion she being put to. In her statement Ex.PB on the basis of which F.I.R. Ex.PB/3 was recorded, Rajni has stated that there was a demand of dowry articles, money and the most important aspect was that her husband Rimpy sprinkled kerosene oil on her and set her on fire. At that time, her sister-in-law Pooja Rani, elder brother-in-law Bobby Verma caught hold of her.

As per Dr.Puneet Pasricha PW-1, Rajni had suffered 67% burn injuries and she had been admitted in the hospital on 13.1.2002 by her husband in the hospital. Ruqa Ex.PA was sent by Dr.Puneet Pasricha on 15.1.2002 stating that Rajni wife of Rimpy resident of New Dashmesh Nagar, Jallandar was admitted in Pasricha Hospital due to I and II degree burns which she got in the mid-night on 13.1.2002. On the Ruqa reaching the police station, ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 stated that he left for Pasricha Hospital after contacting the J.M.I.C. on duty where he moved an application Ex.PH on which an order Ex.PH/1 was passed by Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6 who then went to the hospital and recorded the statement of Rajni. He has further stated that Rajni did not make any statement before him (i.e. ASI Sewak Singh) on 15.1.2002, but on 16.1.2002 after obtaining a fitness certificate, Rajni recorded her statement Ex.PB. Before recording of her statement Ex.PB, he took a fitness certificate declaring her fit to make a statement vide endorsement Ex.PK/1. On the basis of this statement, F.I.R. Ex.PB/3 was recorded. After recording of F.I.R. Ex.PB/3, ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 in his police proceedings has stated that on 15.1.2002 after Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6, had recorded the statement of Rajni Ex.PL, the injured or her relatives from the parents side did not record any statement to him (i.e. ASI Sewak Singh PW-5).

D.D.R. No.36 dated 15.1.2002 was recorded at 11 p.m. in this respect. On 16.1.2002 ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 accompanied by Balwinder Iqbal Singh, SI/SHO went to the hospital to get the statement of injured recorded, but Rajni and her parents refused to record their statements. Again, D.D.R. No.17 at 1.15 p.m.

was recorded in the Roznamcha. Thereafter Neelam Rani PW-7 mother of Rajni gave a telephone call in the evening to the police station that the statement of Rajni be recorded. On the telephone call ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 along with some police officials reached Pasricha Hospital and after taking the opinion of the doctor, statement Ex.PB of Rajni was recorded.

It is clear from the sequence of events that on 15.1.2002 Rajni refused to give her statement to ASI Sewak Singh PW-5, nor were her relatives and parents ready to give any statement. Again on 16.1.2002 ASI Sewak Singh along with the S.H.O. went to Pasircha Hospital, but both Rajni and her parents refused to give any statement. It is in the evening that the mother of Rajni namely Neelam Rani PW-7 rang up the police station and thereafter statement Ex.PB was recorded.

We are of the considered opinion that statement of Rajni Ex.PB was recorded after consultations and confabulations. Appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani have been falsely roped in. ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 has in his deposition before the Court stated, that it is correct that appellant Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma built a house in New Dashmesh Nagar Colony. His parents lived in Avtar Nagar. The distance between New Dashmesh Nagar Colony and Avtar Nagar is 3 kms. He has further stated that appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani were found innocent and were placed in column No.2 when the challan was presented.

He has stated that when he went to the hospital on 15.1.2002 he found the mother of Rajni, her brother and father present in the hospital. All the three refused to give any statement to him. Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6 recorded the statement of Rajni on 15.1.2002 at 5.45 p.m.. The statement Ex.PB of Rajni was recorded on 16.1.2002 at 7.45 p.m. Dying declaration Ex.PB does not inspire confidence and has come into existence after Rajni was tutored by her parents and brother to falsely implicate appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani.

Neelam Rani PW-7 mother of deceased Rajni has stated in her testimony that she met the doctor in the hospital on 15.1.2002. Rajni told her that her husband had put kerosene on her and her sister-in-law Pooja Rani and brother- in-law Bobby had caught hold of her and her husband set her on fire. As per the testimony of Dr.Harjit Singh DW-3, appellant Sumit Kumar had got burn injuries on his hand. Nothing has come on record to show that appellants Pooja Rani or Vijay Kumar alias Bobby had burn injuries on their hands. It is the case of the prosecution that both of them had caught hold of Rajni. If they had done so, they would also have suffered burn injuries.

Neelam Rani PW-7 has further stated that appellants after seeing Rajni had asked that the marriage be performed on the next day. It is correct that due to shortage of time, no invitation cards were printed or sent. No Marriage Palace was booked for the ceremony. Marriage of both deceased Rajni and appellant Sumit Kumar was performed in haste. This also shows that no demand of dowry or any other article could have been made, as the marriage had taken place on the next day when both boy and the girl had met. There was no occasion for exchange of any type of gifts. No sort of harassment or demand has come forward, nor any Panchayat or respectables had met for any type of dispute between deceased Rajni and her husband Sumit Kumar during the course of 5 years after the marriage. The learned trial Court has erred in coming to the conclusion that appellants Roshan Lal and Kanta Rani are guilty for the demand of dowry under Section 498-A I.P.C.

Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C PW-6 in her testimony before the Court has stated that on 15.1.2002 an application Ex.PH was made by ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 about injured Rajni being admitted in Pasricha Hospital. She passed an order Ex.PH/1 at 5.30 p.m. Then she proceeded to Pasricha Hospital, Jalandhar and recorded the statement of Rajni. She put certain questions to her and in reply the statement of Rajni Ex.PL was recorded and it was signed by Rajni. Before recording the statement of Rajni, Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6 satisfied herself by putting some introductory questions about her willingness. Opinion of the doctor had been taken before recording of her statement vide application Ex.PM. The doctor vide endorsement Ex.PM/1, gave the permission to record her statement. The doctor remained present during the entire recording of the statement. Rajni remained conscious throughout. The doctor vide document Ex.PM, endorsed that Rajni was fit to make statement on 15.1.2002 at 5.30 p.m.

Vide document Ex.PN. It has been stated by the doctor on duty, that the patient remained fit and conscious during her statement. The statement of Rajni Ex.PL has been reproduced above. To a question as to how did she catch fire, she has stated that her husband had put her on fire. He used to keep taunting her. To another question as to whether she wanted to say anything, she replied in the negative.

Thereafter Ms.Harpreet Kaur, J.M.I.C. PW-6 certified that the statement of Rajni was voluntary and free. The dying declaration Ex.PL inspires confidence. ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 who investigated the case, also found appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani to be innocent and put them in Column No.2 while presenting the challan.

The dying declaration Ex.PB recorded on 16.1.2002 by ASI Sewak Singh PW-5 and the statement of Rajni in Court before the summoning of Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani under Section 319 Cr.P.C. does not inspire confidence. It is a statement made after Rajni was tutored by her mother Neelam Rani PW-7 and her father and brother. Neelam Rani PW-7 has not given any explanation as to why she kept silent on 15.1.2002 and till the evening of 16.1.2002 when the police came to record her statement and that of Rajni, as already spelt out above.

We have no hesitation in concluding that Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani have been falsely implicated in the case.

They being innocent are acquitted of all the charges.

Appellant Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma has committed the offence of murder of his wife Rajni. His conviction and sentence shall remain intact as awarded by the learned trial Court.

Appeal qua appellants Roshan Lal, Kanta Rani, Vijay Kumar alias Booby and Pooja Rani is allowed. Appeal qua appellant Sumit Kumar alias Rimpy Verma is dismissed.

( MEHTAB S.GILL )

JUDGE

( BALDEV SINGH )

January 08, 2007 JUDGE

GD

WHETHER TO BE REFERRED TO REPORTER? YES/NO


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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