Rohtash Vs. State of
No.878 of 2010]
Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.
criminal appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated 11.1.2007
passed by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh in Criminal Appeal
No. 146-DB of 1994, wherein the High Court has reversed the judgment and order of
the Sessions Court in Session Case No. 44 of 1989 dated 3.8.1993, by which the
appellant has been acquitted of the charges under Sections 304-B and 498-A of the
Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred as `IPC).
and circumstances giving rise to this appeal are that:
A. On 4.7.1989 at 8.00 p.m.,
Jiwan (PW.1) made a statement (Ext.PC) before the police at Rohtak Chowk, Kharkohda
to the effect that his daughter Indro, aged about 21 years, was married to appellant
Rohtash about one year back and in the said marriage he had given sufficient
dowry according to his capacity. However, her husband and parents-in-law were
not satisfied with the dowry. They always made taunts for not bringing
sufficient dowry. His son-in-law made various demands and the complainant had
to give him a sum of Rs.10,000/-.
He had received
information through Gopi Chand and Ram Kishan that his daughter had died by
consuming poisonous tablets and her dead body had been cremated in the morning.
On the basis of the said statement, FIR was recorded in P.S. Kharkhoda on
14.7.1989 at about 8.10 p.m. under Sections 304, 201 and 498-A of the IPC. S.I.
Inder Lal accompanied Jiwan, complainant (PW.1) to village Mandora and went to
the house of the accused persons. The accused persons, namely, Smt. Brahmo Devi,
Rajbir and Dharampal were found present. He made the inquiries from them and,
thereafter, came back to the police station and added the offence under Section
The said accused as well
as the appellant were arrested. The I.O. went to the cremation ground and took
into possession the ashes and bones in presence of Jiwan (PW.1), complainant
and other witnesses and after putting them under sealed cover sent the same for
FSL report. He lifted broken pieces of glass bangles and prepared a recovery
memo in presence of the witnesses. He further recorded the statement of
witnesses under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter called
Cr.P.C.). After completing the investigation, the I.O. submitted the chargesheet
and trial commenced for the offences under Section 304-B and 498-A IPC.
B. The prosecution in
support of its case examined Jiwan (PW.1) complainant, Suresh (PW.2), Fateh
Singh (PW.3), Inder Lal (PW.4) and other formal witnesses, however, gave up
certain witnesses like Gopi Chand on the apprehension that he had been won over
by the accused persons.
C. Under Section 313
Cr.P.C., the accused made the statement that they had been falsely implicated
in the case. Appellant was leading a happy married life and never ill-treated his
wife for not bringing enough dowry. Deceased was suffering from fits, as a result
of which she died. Accused persons had informed her parents through Rajbir accused
and cremation was done after arrival of Jiwan (PW.1) complainant and his other
D. After appreciating
the evidence and considering the documents on record, the trial court reached the
conclusion that there were material inconsistencies in the depositions of Jiwan
(PW.1), complainant, Suresh (PW.2) and Fateh Singh (PW.3), particularly on the issue
of demand of dowry as they could not exactly point out the amount of demand and
payment. Suresh (PW.2), though deposed that he had purchased the house of the complainant
for a sum of Rs.12,000/-, however, no document could be produced in respect of
the same as land under the house belonged to Wakf Board.
The prosecution case
has been that the complainant has been forced to sell his house to meet the demand
of dowry. The trial court also drew adverse inference for withholding material
witnesses, particularly, Gopi Chand who had informed the complainant about the
death of his daughter. The trial court vide judgment and order dated 3.8.1993
acquitted all the accused persons of all the charges.
the State preferred Criminal Appeal No. 146-DB of 1994 before the High Court.
The High Court reappreciated the entire evidence and came to conclusion that
there was nothing on record to show that Indro, deceased, died of fits; no
medical evidence had been produced to show that she had been suffering from fits.
There was sufficient evidence on record to show demand of dowry by the appellant
from his father-in-law. The appellant had been making taunts and caused torture
to the deceased on the ground of inadequate dowry. The demand by the appellant
had been fully supported by Suresh (PW.2) who purchased the house of the
complainant for a sum of Rs.12,000/-. Indro died within a period of one and a
half years of marriage. The High Court convicted the appellant under Section
304-B IPC and imposed the punishment of 7 years rigorous imprisonment, further
under Section 498- A IPC imposed the punishment of six months RI. In respect of
other persons the order of acquittal passed by the trial court was maintained. Hence,
K.K. Kaul, learned counsel appearing for the appellant, has submitted that
there has been no demand of dowry by the appellant. The High Court did not
appreciate the evidence in correct perspective. There had been material contradictions
in the deposition of the prosecution witnesses. Suresh (PW.2) could not
purchase the house of the complainant as admittedly the land belonged to the
Wakf Board and no document had ever been produced in the court to show the sale.
Fateh Singh (PW.3) has no direct relationship with the family. He has supported
the prosecution case merely because he belonged to the village of the
complainant. Appellant had furnished a satisfactory explanation while making
his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C., thus, the appeal deserves to be
contra, Shri Sanjiv, learned counsel appearing for Shri Kamal Mohan Gupta,
Advocate, for the State, has vehemently opposed the appeal, contending that the
Indro, deceased, died within a short span of one and a half years of her
marriage. No evidence has been produced by the appellant to show that she had
been suffering from fits. There has been persistent demand of dowry as stood proved
from the depositions of Jiwan (PW.1), Suresh (PW.2) and Fateh Singh (PW.3), thus,
appeal lacks merit and is liable to be dismissed.
have considered the rival submission made by learned counsel for the parties
and perused the records. It may be pertinent to make reference to the relevant
part of the deposition of witnesses. Jiwan (PW.1), complainant, deposed that her
daughter had complained against the ill-treatment given to her by her husband,
his parents and his elder brother Rajbir; they even taunted her that she
belonged to Bhukha-Nanga family and that her father had not given adequate
dowry. Rohtash accused also visited him and asked him to give Rs. 10,000/- so
that he could settle himself in some business.
Six months after the marriage,
he gave Rs.10,000/- to Rohtash accused after selling his house. Her in-laws
still continued to ill-treat her and raised a further demand of Rs.5,000/- on the
pretext that they wanted to settle Rajbir, elder brother of Rohtash, in some
business. On the fateful day of incident, Gopi Chand and Ram Kishan of Village
Mandora came to him and told that his daughter Indro had consumed poisonous
tablets and died. He was confronted with his statement under Section 161
Cr.P.C. in respect of demand of Rs.10,000/- by appellant Rohtash as no such fact
had been stated by him to the I.O.
Even for the demand of
Rs.5,000/- for Rajbir, he was confronted with his statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C.
as no such fact had been mentioned therein. He was also confronted with his statement
under Section 161 Cr.P.C. as he had not stated before the I.O. that he had been
informed about the death of his daughter by Gopi Chand and Ram Kishan. Regarding
the sale of the house to Suresh (PW.2), he has admitted that land belonged to
the Wakf Board and, therefore, he could not execute any registered sale-deed in
respect of the same.
(PW.2) deposed that he had purchased the house from Jiwan (PW.1), complainant,
for Rs. 12,000/-, however, no sale-deed could be executed in his favour as the
land belonged to the Wakf Board.
Singh (PW.3) deposed that he had been told by Jiwan (PW.1) that he was under a
great pressure to pay Rs.10,000/- to the appellant to buy peace for his
daughter and he had given Rs.10,000/- to the appellant. He was confronted with
his statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. where he has not told the I.O. about
Inder Lal (PW.6), Investigating Officer, deposed that he went to the cremation
ground and collected ashes and bones in presence of witnesses and sent it for chemical
analysis. In his cross- examination he has stated that no independent witness was
ready to involve himself in the case becoming a prosecution witness as it was a
family matter for the accused persons.
far as the statement of the appellant under Section 313 Cr.P.C. is concerned,
he replied that the facts and circumstances put to him were not correct. In
reply to Question No. 10, he stated that his wife Indro did not commit suicide
and the allegation of suicide was concocted version. In reply to para 21, he
stated as under: The deceased Smt. Indro was leading a happy married life with
me and we never ill-treated her, much less on account of any dowry. The
deceased was suffering from fits as a result of which she had died. We had informed
the parents of the deceased through Rajbir accused and after Jiwan P.W. and his
other relations had come to our village, we had cremated the dead body of the
deceased in their presence in our village. There was no question of our demanding
any dowry, much less ill- treating the deceased on that account because our financial
position is very sound.
aforesaid depositions make it crystal clear that the version given by the prosecution
witnesses regarding demand of Rs.10,000/- by the appellant did not find mention
in the statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. of either of the witnesses. The facts
regarding the sale of house by Jiwan (PW.1) to Suresh (PW.2) does not also
inspire confidence as the land belonged to Wakf Board. More so, the demand of
Rs.5,000/- for establishment of a business of Rajbir was made by the in-laws of
the deceased Indro, and not by the appellant, who had been acquitted by both
the courts below, therefore, that issue cannot be considered by us. Only
question remains for our consideration is as to whether there was a dowry
demand by the appellant and for that purpose the deceased Indro had been
ill-treated to the extent that she had to take a drastic step of committing
Court in Appasaheb v. State of Maharasthra, (2007) 1 SCC 721, while dealing
with the similar issue and definition of the word `dowry held as under: A
demand for money on account of some financial stringency or for meeting some
urgent domestic expenses or for purchasing manure cannot be termed as a demand
for dowry as the said word is normally understood.
aforesaid judgment was reconsidered by this Court in Bachni Devi v. State of
Maharashtra, (2011) 4 SCC 427, wherein this Court held that the aforesaid
judgment does not lay down a law of universal application. Each case has to be
decided on its own facts and merit. If a demand for property or valuable
security, directly or indirectly, has nexus with marriage, such demand would
constitute demand for dowry. The cause of raising of such demand remains
view of above, we have to examine as to whether the demand by the appellant for
establishment of his tailoring business could be held to be a demand for dowry
and further whether for that demand, the ill- treatment given by the appellant
to his wife was so grave that she had been driven to the extent that she has to
commit suicide. The prosecution case has been that Indro, deceased, committed suicide
by taking pills/poison. There is ample evidence on record and it has specifically
been mentioned by the prosecution witnesses, particularly, Jiwan (PW.1), Fateh
Singh (PW.3) and S.I., Inder Lal, I.O., (PW.6), that some broken pieces of
bangles had been collected by the I.O. from the place of occurrence and broken bones
and articles were collected from the cremation site and sent for chemical analysis
to Forensic Science Laboratory.
Unfortunately, none of
the courts below has taken note of the FSL report though the documents had been
marked as Ext.PH and Ext. PH1. The first document is report No. FSL(H) dated
29.5.1990 by the Forensic Science Laboratory, Haryana, Madhuban, Karnal,
wherein the result of examination of bones and ashes is as under: Ext.1 some
burnt bones alongwith ash (Approximately 1 Kg.) Result of the examination no common
metallic poison could be detected in Ext. 1. Ext. PH1 dated 16.8.1989 revealed
that the fragments of bones in Ext. PH1 were identified that they belonged to
human individual. The aforesaid reports do not support the case of the prosecution,
rather leans towards the defence taken by the appellant.
High Court interfered with the order of acquittal recorded by the trial court. The
law of interfering with the judgment of acquittal is well-settled. It is to the
effect that only in exceptional cases where there are compelling circumstances and
the judgment in appeal is found to be perverse, the appellate court can
interfere with the order of the acquittal. The appellate court should bear in
mind the presumption of innocence of the accused and further that the trial court's
acquittal bolsters the presumption of innocence. Interference in a routine
manner where the other view is possible should be avoided, unless there are good
reasons for interference. (Vide: State of Rajasthan v. Talevar & Anr., AIR 2011
SC 2271; and Govindaraju @ Govinda v. State by Srirampuram Police Station &
Anr., (2012) 4 SCC 722).
view of above, we are of the considered opinion that in the instant case there
had been major improvements/embellishments in the prosecution case and demand
of Rs.10,000/- by the appellant does not find mention in the statements under
Section 161 Cr.P.C. More so, even if such demand was there, it may not
necessarily be a demand of dowry. Further, the chemical analysis report falsifies
the theory of suicide by deceased taking any pills. In such a fact-situation, the
defence taken by the appellant in his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. could
be plausible. Thus, appeal succeeds and is allowed. The appellant is given the
benefit of doubt and the impugned judgment of the High Court dated 11.1.2007 is
set aside. The appellant is acquitted of all the charges.
(Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)