Devi Vs. The State of U.P  INSC 582 (19 April 1996)
Sujata V. (J) Manohar Sujata V. (J) Punchhi, M.M. Mrs. Sujata V.Manohar, J.
1996 SCC (5) 121 JT 1996 (6) 58 1996 SCALE (3)613
Criminal Appeal No. 534 of 1987) Onkar Singh & Ors. V. The State of U.P.
appellant Rajeshwari, in Criminal Appeal No.38 of 1987 is the mother-in-law of
the deceased. The first appellant Onkar Singh, in Criminal Appeal No.534 of
1987 is the father-in-law of the deceased. The second appellant in that appeal,
Santosh Singh is the husband of the deceased while appellants 3 and 4 in that
appeal Lallu Ram and Bandha are the servants of Onkar Singh. The deceased Sudha
was married to Santosh Singh on or about 3.2.1982. She died of a gun shot
injury in the house of her husband on 22.11.1982 at around 12.30 noon. The village Chowkidar Rameshwar was sent by the
accused to the parents of Sudha who reside in a different village. He reached
the house of Sudha's parents around 4.30 p.m. and informed them that Sudha had committed suicide. He said that she
was still alive and she was being taken to Hardoi Hospital. Accordingly, the entire family of Sudha
went to Hardoi instead of to the village of the accused. They reached there at
about 8.00 p.m. They did not find Sudha there.
Hence the brother of the deceased went to village Samtharia where the accused
reside on the following morning. On reaching their house he was told that his
sister had died instantaneously the previous day and her body had been cremated
the previous evening at 4.00
p.m. The accused could
not give any proper explanation why the cremation could not wait till the
arrival of the family of Sudha.
persons were tried before the Sessions court;
Singh Onkar Singh, Rajeshwari and Suman alias Guddi, the sister-in-law of the
deceased were charged under Section 302 read with Section 149, Section 147 and
Section 201 of the Penal Code. The two domestic servants Lallu Ram and Bandha
were tried under Section 201. One Manipal Singh was also tried under Section
201. Rameshwar, the village Chowkidar was tried under Section 202. The Sessions
court acquitted Suman, alias, Guddi, the sister-in-law of the deceased. It
convicted the husband Santosh Singh and his parents Onkar Singh and Rajeshwari
and sentenced them to life imprisonment under Section 302 read with Section 149
of the Indian Penal Code. They were also sentenced to 2 years and 4 years
rigorous imprisonment under Sections 147 and 201 respectively. The two domestic
servants Lallu Ram and Bandha were convicted and sentenced to four years'
rigorous imprisonment. Mahipal Singh was similarly sentenced under Section 201.
Rameshwar, the village Chowkidar was convicted and sentenced to 6 months
appeal before the High Court the High Court has convicted Santosh Singh under
Section 302 and maintained his sentence of life imprisonment. Onkar Singh and Rajeshwari
have been convicted under Section 302 read with Section 34, and the sentence of
life imprisonment is maintained. The sentence under Section 147 is set aside.
The conviction of Lallu Ram and Bandha has been maintained while Mahipal Singh
has been acquitted. Rameshwar did not prefer any appeal and has served his
High Court has upheld the findings given by the Sessions court regarding motive
for the murder of Sudha. It has been found the Sudha was being harassed by her
husband and in-laws for not bringing sufficient dowry. As the marriage of Suman,
the sister-in-law of the deceased had been fixed, there was a renewed demand
for ornaments from the family of Sudha. She was harassed on account of her
failure to get the ornaments. About a month prior to Sudha's death, when she
was at her parent's house, her husband had come to fetch her. Sudha was
refusing to go back. Sudha had told her parents that she may not be sent there
because on account of her failure to bring ornaments as demanded by her
in-laws, they would kill her. However, she was persuaded to go.
on or about 18.11.1982 the brother of the deceased, Yaduvir Singh who is P.W.2
had gone to Sudha's place in connection with the preparations for the marriage
of Sudha's sister-in-law. He was at the house of the deceased upto 22.11.1982,
the day of the occurrence. On 22.11.1982 he had been told by Sudha that she was
treated very badly as she had not brought sufficient dowry and she was given
state food to eat. p.w.2 thereupon, thought it proper to talk to Sudha's
husband Santosh Singh. But he did not give a satisfactory reply and said that
bad days had come and the day of extermination of his line had approached. So
saying he picked up the gun and went out towards his field. Thereafter, p.w.2
started back for his own house around 10.00 a.m. and he reached his house around noon.
P.W.5 Rukmangal Singh has stated in his evidence that while he was in his
field, at about 12.30
noon, the heard a gun
shot. He rushed to the house of Onkar Singh where he saw Sudha lying injured,
and Santosh Singh, Onkar Singh, Rajeshwari, Suman and the servants standing
there. Sudha died shortly thereafter of gun shot injury. He was informed by Lallu
and Bandhsa that on the instigation of Onkar Singh, Santosh had fired on his
wife and injured her. P.W.5 told the Chowkidar to report the matter to the
matter, however, was not reported to the Police Station.
further stated that after sometime, he found smoke coming from the northern
side of the ground near Onkar Singh's house. He went there and saw the two
servants, throwing sticks on the fire and burring the dead body of Sudha Onkar
Singh and Santosh were also present. No pyre was made and the dead body was
burnt by sticks.
High Court, on the basis of circumstantial evidence and, in particular, the
fact that Santosh Singh had been seen by Yaduvir Singh with a gun in his hand
going to the field and making a statement that his line was about to be
extinguished, coupled with the evidence of P.W.5 has convicted Santosh Singh
under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The High Court has rightly negatived
the theory of suicide for the reasons which it has set out in its judgment. We
do not see any reason to set aside this findings of the High Court.
cases of Onkar Singh and Rajeshwari, however, stand on a somewhat different
footing. The death of Sudha occurred prior to the two amendments of the Indian
Penal Code introducing Sections 498A and 304B in the Indian Penal Code and
amending the Evidence Act by introducing Section 116B.
the presumptions under these Sections are not available to the prosecution
although there is clear evidence relating to the demand for dowry by Onkar
Singh and Rajeshwari and harassment of Sudha on that count. In the absence of
these presumptions we find that there is no material to convict them under Section
302 with the help of Section 34. The evidence of P.W.2 Yaduvir Singh is to the
effect that Santosh Singh had taken the gun in his hand and gone to the field
after P.W.2 Yaduvir Singh had talked to him about the treatment being given to
his sister Sudha.
is no evidence to indicate any instigation by either Onkar Singh or Rajeshwari
of Santosh Singh to kill Sudha.
evidence of P.W.5. Rukmangal Singh, undoubtedly shows the presence of Rajeshwari
and Onkar Singh at the site of the occurrence. He has deposed that the two
servants told him that Onkar Singh had instigated Santosh Singh to kill Sudha.
This, however, is hearsay evidence. There is no satisfactory evidence to
establish that Onkar Singh was in any manner responsible for instigating Santosh
Singh to shoot his wife Sudha. Undoubtedly, both Onkar Singh and Rajeshwari had
demanded dowry from Sudha's family and were parties to harassing her. But in
the absence of presumptions which are available after the amendments of the
Penal Code and the Evidence Act, there is no other direct or circumstantial
evidence which would justify the conviction of Onkar Singh and Rajeshwari under
Section 302 read with 34. Their conviction on this count is, therefore, set
Singh, however, was present at the time of the cremation of the dead body of Sudha
alongwith Santosh Singh and the two servants. The High Court has rightly come
to the conclusion that Section 201 is attracted. Sudha was cremated on the land
adjoining the house of her in-laws without waiting for anyone from her parents,
side to come and attend the funeral. In fact
was ensured that none from her parents' family would reach Onkar Singh's house
until after the dead body was cremated;
The cremation did not take place at the usual cremation ground but in the field
close to Santosh's house;
Deliberate attempt was made to prevent anyone from Sudha's parents side to
reach Santosh's house for cremation and
report of her unnatural death was made at the police Station. As Onkar Singh
was present at the time of cremation and the servants who burnt the body were
under his control and can be said to have acted on his instructions, his
conviction under Section 201 of the Penal Code must be upheld.
two servants Lallu Ram and Bandha have also been convicted under Section 201.
The two servants being the employees of Onkar Singh, Onkar Singh was in a
position of exercise authority overthem. Being financially dependant on Onkar
Singh and Santosh Singh, it is likely that the servants may have acted at the
bidding of both of them. This is, therefore, a fit case for reducing the
sentence of Lallu Ram and Bandha to the sentence already undergone.
appeals are accordingly partly allowed. The conviction and sentence of Santosh
Singh is upheld. The conviction of Rajeshwari is set aside and she is acquitted
of all charges. The conviction of Onkar Singh under Section 302 read with
Section 34 is set aside. However, his conviction under Section 201 and the
sentence imposed, of four years' rigorous imprisonment is upheld. The sentence
of Lallu Ram and Bandha is reduced to the sentence already undergone.