Vijay Vs. State of
Maharashtra  INSC 2054 (1 December 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 242 OF 2008 Vijay
....Appellant Versus State of Maharashtra ...Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
this appeal challenge is to the order passed by a Division Bench of the Bombay
High Court, Nagpur Bench, allowing the appeal filed by the State. By the common
judgment two appeals were disposed of. One was by Suman (hereinafter to be
described as `A-3') while the other was by the State. Five accused persons
faced trial for alleged commission of offences punishable under Sections 498A,
306 and 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the `IPC'). Learned 2nd
Additional Sessions Judge, Khamgaon directed acquittal of accused 1, 2, 4 and
5. The present appellant was A-1. The trial Court directed conviction of
accused Suman who in the meantime died. The appeal filed by the State was
admitted only against the acquittal of present appellant. High Court allowed
the appeal and convicted appellant for offences punishable under Section 498A,
304-B and 306 IPC.
version in a nutshell is as follows:
Shrirang (PW-1) S/o
Yashwant Raut and Sou. Vimal W/o Shrirang Raut resident of Bhusawal had two
daughters and a son. Nirmala (PW-3) w/o. Subhash Marine is their elder daughter
and Anita (hereinafter referred to as `deceased') was their younger daughter.
Anita was married to accused No.1 Vijay S/o Pralhad Ghodke on 14.2.1990. After
their marriage, Anita went to stay with her husband at Khamgaon. Accused No.3
Suman is the mother-in-law, accused No.4 Pralhad S/o Rangnath Ghodke is the
father-in- law and accused no.2 Raju S/o Pralhad Ghodke and accused no.5 Pappu
S/o Pralhad Ghodke are the brothers-in-law of Anita. All of them were residing
During Diwali of
1990, Anita went to her parental house at Bhusawal and stayed there for about
4-5 days, During her stay Anita told her parents that her husband (accused
No.1-Vijay) was demanding Rs.10,000/- and her mother-in-law (accused No.3
Suman) was demanding gold ring. The parents of Anita expressed their inability
to satisfy the demand.
On 7.2.1991 Shrirang
(PW-1) received a letter (Exh. 19) of Anita reiterating the demand of gold ring
and money. After receiving the letter, PW-1 Shrirang (PW-1) went to the
matrimonial house of Anita and asked her husband and mother-in-law to send
Anita with him. However, they did not send her. So he went back. On 10.4.1991
the parents of Anita received message that Anita died due to burning. Hence
they rushed to Khamgaon where they had to attend the funeral of Anita. Then
Shrirang (PW-1) lodged report with Police Station, Khamgaon. Since no action
was taken, he moved Superintendent of Police, Buldana (Vide Exh. 20). On the
direction of Superintendent of Police, Buldana Crime No, 118/1991 under
Sections 498- A and 304-B read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code was
registered at Police Station, Khamgaon on 14.4.1991 against the accused
the accused persons were charge sheeted. The defence of the accused persons was
3 In order to
establish the accusations the prosecution examined six witnesses including
Shrirang (PW-1) the father of the deceased, Vimal (PW- 2) the mother of the
deceased and Smt. Nirmala (PW-3) the elder sister of the deceased. The trial
Court found that the demand of gold ring by A-3 and cruelty to deceased on
account of non satisfaction of the demand was proved only against A-3. It was
found that Anita had committed suicide.
Accordingly, A-3 was
convicted as afore-noted and rest of the accused persons were acquitted. As
noted above, Suman challenged the conviction whereas the State challenged the
acquittal of rest of the accused persons.
The High Court found
that the case of prosecution depended upon the interpretation of Exh.19 i.e.
the letter written by the deceased to PW-1. The trial Court found that the
letter only referred to the demand of gold ring by A-3 and there was nothing to
implicate the present appellant. The High Court, however, felt that on reading
of Exh.19 it is crystal clear that the same also related to the demand of
Rs.10,000/- by the present appellant.
Accordingly, as noted
above, while dismissing the appeal filed by A-3 the State's appeal in respect
of present appellant was allowed.
counsel for the appellant submitted that the trial Court had rightly held that
in Exh.19 there was nothing to implicate the present appellant. Therefore, his
acquittal was correct, but the High Court on erroneous reading of the document
has directed conviction.
counsel for the State on the other hand supported the order.
the letter on which both the trial Court and the High Court have relied upon to
conclude one way or the other, reference is made to several earlier letters. It
specifically refers to the demand by mother-in-law of a gold ring. There is no
reference to the present appellant in the letter.
evidence of PWs 1, 2 and 3 is also relevant. PW-1 has stated that except Exh.19
he had not received any letter and the statement in the letter to the effect
that the deceased had earlier sent 2/3 letters is correct. If on one hand he
says that he had not received any letter, the question of not replying to them
does not arise. Similarly, PW-2 has stated that she cannot say whether there
was any demand of Rs.10,000/- in Exh.19. PW-3 has accepted that deceased had
written to her father that mother-in-law Suman was demanding gold ring in the
counsel for the State submitted that there is some reference to money in the
letter. The sentence is being read out of context. The deceased had written in
the letter that she may have to get a gold ring but wherefrom will she get the
money for buying it. Therefore, there is no reference to any demand of money by
the present appellant. That being so, the High Court was not justified in
upsetting the judgment of the trial Court.
The impugned judgment
of the High Court is set aside and that of the trial Court is restored.
appeal is allowed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)