Soni & Ors Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
 INSC 393 (6
Nanavati, S.P. Kurdukar Nanavati, J.
three appellants were convicted under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC, in
Sessions Case No. 320/89 by the Court of Sessions Judge, Bhopal. Appellant Murarilal was also
convicted under Section 201 IPC. The High Court confirmed their conviction.
Therefore, they have filed this appeal.
alleged by the prosecution that all the three appellants were treating Sarita
cruelly and that they caused her death on 25.11.1988 by causing burn injuries
to her on 16.11.198.
order to prove that she was treated cruelly by the three appellants, the
prosecution examined PW.1 Bhagwandas, PW-6 Purshotamdas and PW.7 V.K. Sharma.
The prosecution also led evidence to prove that Sarita had received burn
injuries some time on 16.11.1988 and that she had died as a result of those
burn injuries on 25.11.1988. The medical evidence led by the prosecution
remained almost unchallenged. The defence of the appellants was that Sarita was
suffering from mental illness and schizophrenia and that she had received burn
injuries either while lighting a lamp or by bursting crackers. In order to
prove that she was suffering from the disease of schizophrenia, the appellants
had examined Dr. Malvia, Dr. Handa, Dr. Sharma and Dr. Tandon as defence
witnesses. The trial court after appreciating their evidence held that even if
it was accepted that Sarita was suffering from some mental disease, the defence
raised by the appellants was not believable. The trial court also came to the
conclusion that it was not a case of accidental or suicidal death. The
possibility of her having received burn injuries while bursting crackers was
completely ruled out by the medical evidence. The trial court observed that if Sarita
had caught fire accidentally, she should have raised cries for help, the
appellants would have taken her to a hospital. But nothing was done by the
trial court after considering the evidence of the three neighbours held that it
was established that Sarita was treated in a cruel manner by her in-laws. The
trial court also took into consideration subsequent conduct of the appellants
in not getting her treated medically, in not informing her parents about her
having received burn injuries till she died after nine days and the false
explanation given by appellant Murarilal as regards the cause of her receiving
burn injuries for holding that the prosecution had established its case beyond
reasonable doubt. It, therefore, convicted all the three appellants as stated
High Court on reappreciation of the evidence agreed with the findings recorded
by the trial court and confirmed the conviction of the appellants and dismissed
learned counsel for the appellants submitted that in view of the evidence of
the four doctors examined in defence, the High Court ought to have held that Sarita
was suffering from schizophrenia and, therefore, the defence of the appellants
was probable. He also submitted that the evidence regarding cruelty ought not
to h ave been believed as witness Bhagwandas was not on good terms with the
appellants. As regards PW Bhagwandas, he submitted that there was a litigation
between t he father f Bhagwandas and the father f appellants Biharilal and Murarilal
in respect f a piece of land adjoining the house of the appellants and
therefore he was an interested witness. With respect to the two other witnesses
Purshotamdas and Sharma he submitted that their evidence is vague and nor
worthy f acceptance.
the evidence f Bhagwandas, we find that there is nothing on record to show that
Bhagwandas was not on good terms with the appellants. He admitted that there
was a civil litigation between his father and father f appellants Murarilal and
Biharilal, but that suit was disposed f 30 years back and thereafter he had n
dispute with the appellants. Bhagwandas was admittedly doing his business f
selling tea opposite the house f appellants and therefore, he could have seen
the ill-treatment that was given by the in-laws to Sarita. The other two
witnesses, though not specific have also deposed about the ill- treatment and
complaints made to authorities in that behalf.
had no reason t falsely depose against the appellants.
courts below were, therefore, right in accepting their evidence. We find no
infirmity in appreciation f their evidence. In our opinion, the court below
have rightly held that the deceased was ill-treated by her in-laws. However, we
find that the witnesses Purshotamdas and Sharma have not specifically stated
that Biharilala was also treating Sarita cruelly. There was not reason for him
to do so. He being a government servant and a married man would not have taken
part in treating Sarita cruelly and causing her death without any reason. There
is no other evidence against him.
therefore, deserves to be acquitted.
agree with the findings recorded by the High Curt and hold that Murarilal and Leelabai
appellant nos.2 and 3 have been rightly convicted under Section 302 read with
Section 34 IPC. Conviction of Murarilal under Section 201 is also proper and
legal. However, the conviction of Biharilal under Section 302 read with Section
34 IPC will have to be set aside.
therefore, partly allow this appeal. The appeal of appellant nos.2 and 3, Murarilal
and Leelabai, is dismissed.
of appellant Biharilal is allowed and his conviction and sentence under Section
302 read with Section 34 IPC are set aside.
of appellant No. 3 is cancelled and she is directed to surrender to custody to
serve out the remaining sentence.