Ram & Ors Vs. Sate of Punjab  INSC
150 (5 March 1998)
Nanavati, V.N. Khare Nanavati. J.
three appellants were tried in the court of Sessions, Behinds in Sessions Case
No.73 of 1987 for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34
IPC. The charge against them was that appellant No.2 - Krishna Devi, the
mother-in-law of Santosh Rani, poured kerosene on her and Babu Ram, the
father-in-law, threw a lighted match stick on her and when Santosh Rani was
trying to run out of the room, her husband - Rajinder Kumar - appellant No.3
had tried to bold the door. It was also the prosecution case that all the three
had set her on fire because they felt that sufficient dowry was not to her by
of appellant - Babu Ram was that he was not in the house at the relevant time
as he had already left at about 8.30 a.m. for the shop in which he was working.
Devi's defence was that she was washing clothes in the court yard of their
house and was not present in the room on the first flow where the incident of
the burning had taken place. The defence of the husband was that he was taking
bath on the ground floor at that time.
trial court believed the pleas of Babu Ram and Krishna Devi but disbelieved the
explanation to Rajinder Kumar. It, therefore, acquitted Babu Ram and Krishna Devi
but convicted Rajinder Kumar of the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.
Kumar filed Criminal Appeal No.389-DB/88 before the High Court challenging his
conviction. The State also filed Criminal Appeal NO.138/89 challenging the
acquittal of Babu Ram and Krishna Devi. Both the appeals were heard together by
the High Court and by a common judgment they were disposed of. The High Court
confirmed the conviction of Rajinder Kumar and also set aside the acquittal of Babu
Ram and Krishna Devi as it held that both the dying declarations made by Santosh
Rani were true and there was no good reason to disbelieve them.
by their conviction, all the appellants have filed this appeal. It was
submitted by the learned counsel for the appellants that Santosh Rani could not
have made the dying declaration as she could not have been in a fit state of
mind as she had received 60% burns and was given an injection of Morphin about
an hour before her dying declaration was recorded. However, this contention
cannot be accepted in view of the categorical evidence of the Doctor who has
stated that she was in a fit state of mind when she made the statement. The
Judicial Magistrate, who recorded the dying declaration, has also stated that
he had enquired from the Doctor whether she was in a fit state of mind and
after Doctor Garg certified her to be so and finding her fit he had recorded
therefore, see no reason to doubt the genuineness of the dying declaration -
Ex.PG/1. The second dying declaration - Ex.PH was recorded by ASI, Jagdish
Singh, sometime after the dying declaration Ex.PG/1 was recorded by the
Judicial Magistrate. In that dying declaration also, Santosh Rani had given the
same version. In fact, it was recorded as the First Information Report and
subsequently treated as dying declaration after she had died. We are,
therefore, of the opinion that the High Court was right in relying upon both
the dying declarations.
two dying declarations, what Santosh Rani had stated was that her mother-in-law
had poured kerosene over her and the father-in-law had thrown a lighted match
stick and set her on fire. The only part stated to have been played by the husband
was that when she was truing to go out of the room, he had attempted to bolt
that door so as to prevent her from going out of the house. Therefore, even
accepting the two dying declarations as (****) , it cannot be said with
reasonable certainty that the husband was also a party to the commotion of the
offence. The version of the husband was that at the time of the incident, he
was taking bath on the ground floor. It, therefore, appears that on coming to
know that sometime had happened on the first flow, he went there and seeing her
in flames, he had tried to bolt the door with a view to prevent he outsiders
from commit to know about the incident. Nothing else was alleged against the
husband. The evidence against the husband was thus not sufficient to warrant
his conviction under Section 302 read with 34 IPC. This aspect has been
overlooked by the High Court.
therefore, dismiss the appeal of Babu Ram and Krishna Devi and allow the appeal
of Rajinder Kumar, Appellant - Rajinder Kumar is acquitted of the charge levelled
against him and his bail bonds are ordered to be cancelled. Appellants - Babu
Ram and Krishna Devi were also released on bail during the pendency of the
appeal. Their bail is cancelled and they are ordered to surrender to custody to
serve out the remaining part of the sentence.