Panakanti Sampath Rao Vs. State of A.P  Insc 328 (18 May 2006)
& Lokeshwar Singh Panta
O R D
E R Heard Mr. Baijoyonta Barooah, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellant (A-1) and Mr.P.Vinay Kumar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the respondent. This appeal is directed against the judgment and order
dt.18.04.2003 passed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in Criminal Appeal
No.81 of 2003 whereby the High Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the
appellant herein challenging his conviction under Sections 498-A, 304-B of the
IPC read with Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. The High Court has
converted the conviction of the appellant under Section 302 IPC and sentenced
him to undergo life imprisonment while acquitting the father and mother of the
appellant (A-2 and A-3)from the convictions under Sections 498-A and 304-B read
with Sections 2 and 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
short facts are as follows:-
appellant married Panakanti Kavitha. They lived together for three months in a
rented house. According to the accused, he being a medical representative had
to leave for Hyderabad on 06.08.2000 itself for official
reasons. On 07.08.2000, the PW-8 pushed the door-wing of the house of Accused
No.1 and found Panakanti Kavitha lying dead by the side of the cot on the
ground with injuries in the body. On the same day, at about 7.55 p.m., P.W.-1 (the father of the deceased) filed a
complaint at Karimnagar police station. The same was registered as a case in
Cr.No.15/2000 for offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 302, 304-B IPC. The
police recorded the statements of PW 3 to PW 6, PW 9, LW 14, PW 12, LW 16, PW
13 and LW 18 on 08.08.2000. A chargesheet was filed against the appellant and
his father and mother as accused No. 2 and 3 for the offences under Section
498-A, 302, 304-B IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. The
Additional Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Karimnagar registered the case as
P&C No.20/01 and committed the same to the Sessions Court, Karimnagar. The
learned Sessions Judge, Karimnagar upon committal, registered the case as
Sessions Case No.36/2002. The Sessions Court examined 20 witnesses and the
appellant, along with accused Nos. 2 and 3, were examined under Section 313 Cr.PC
wherein they denied their involvement in the offences alleged.
trial court, after taking in view the evidence adduced, convicted the appellant
besides Accused Nos.2 and 3 under Sections 498-A, 304-B IPC and Section 4 of
the Dowry Prohibition Act and sentenced each of them as follows:_
"In view of the seriousness of the offence and with a view to curb the
menace of the social evil dowry, I am inclined to sentence A-1 to A-3 to
undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of three years each and to pay fine of
Rs.5,000/- each in default of payment of fine, they shall undergo simple
imprisonment for one month for the offence punishable U/s 498-A IPC. I also
sentence A-1 to A-3 to undergo imprisonment for life for the offence punishable
under Section 304-B IPC. I also sentence A-1 to A-3 to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for a period of two years each and to pay fine of Rs.10,000/- each
in default of payment of fine, they shall undergo simple imprisonment for one
month each for the offence punishable U/s 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. All the
sentences shall run concurrently. Out of the total fine amount of Rs.45,000/-
if paid, an amount of Rs.30,000/- shall be paid to PW-2 who is the mother of
the deceased as compensation. Mos.1 to 4 shall be destroyed after expiry of
appeal time. The unmarked property [non-valuable] if any shall be destroyed
after expiry of appeal time." Being aggrieved, the appellant, besides
accused Nos. 2 and 3, filed Criminal Appeal Nos.81 and 536 of 2003 under
Section 374 of Cr.P.C. before the High Court.
appeal under Section 378 Cr.P.C. was also filed being Criminal Appeal
No.536 of 2003. The Division Bench of the High Court, after hearing the parties
and after perusing the evidence on record, allowed the criminal appeal as far
as accused Nos.2 and 3 are concerned and dismissed the appeal of the appellant
Division Bench has also allowed the appeal filed by the State. Aggrieved by the
same, the appellant (Accused No.1) has preferred the present appeal.
have heard the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant and the
respondent. Learned counsel for the appellant has challenged the evidence on
record and also the judgments rendered by the trial court as well as by the
learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the High Court is not
justified in convicting the appellant under Section 498-A read with Section 4
of the Dowry Prohibition Act and reversing the conviction from Section 304-B
IPC to Section 302 IPC without any reason and in the face of the overwhelming
contradictions and discrepant testimony of the prosecution witnesses who all
are close relatives of the deceased and are highly interested in conviction of
the appellant more so in the presence of independent witnesses from whom
nothing substantial could be elicited and majority of them being declared
hostile. It is further submitted that the prosecution has not proved that the
victim was subjected to cruelty and harassment for dowry soon before the death,
which is totally lacking in the present case. He further submitted that the
courts below overlooked the facts that the appellant was a medical
representative and was required to go on official tours and on 06.08.2000 at
about 6.00 p.m., he had to leave for Hyderabad after informing PW-10, a fact
which is substantiated in the evidence of PW-9 and 10 and that he was not at
all present at his residence when the fateful act was occurred. It is further
submitted that the courts below totally ignored the aspect of suicide and delved
into the conclusion solely relying upon the opinion of the doctor and further
erred in holding the death to be homicidal in nature inasmuch as in the
post-mortem report injury No.4 was caused at the right knee and below knee
patella being dislocated no swelling was found which clearly goes to show that
it was a case of hanging and not throttling. He also submitted that the High
Court has committed a grave mistake in convicting the appellant under Section
learned counsel appearing for the respondent submitted that the High Court has
come to the right conclusion after keeping in view the evidence on record in
its proper perspective and, therefore, the judgment passed by the High Court
does not call for any interference.
have carefully gone through the judgments passed by the learned Sessions Judge
and also the High Court and perused the evidence adduced in this case.
charge against the appellant-accused is that on 06.08.2000, the accused was
alleged to have caused the death of the deceased within seven years of marriage
by subjecting her to cruelty and harassment for more money. The case of the
prosecution has been extensively dealt with by the High Court in paragraph 5 of
its judgment. It is also the case of the prosecution that on the date of
shifting of the house by the accused at the request of the accused P.W.-1 went
to their house where A-1 (the appellant herein), in the presence of A-2 and
A-3, demanded him to pay the balance of the amount of dowry due and also to
provide extra furniture. At that time, P.W.-1 gave Rs.10,000/- to A-1 for
purchase of extra furniture. During holidays, the deceased used to visit the
house of PW 1 and PW 2 and informed them about the demand for dowry made by the
PW-1 gave cash of Rs.70,000/- to A-2 as agreed upon. It is also alleged that on
06.08.2000, at about 06.08.2000 when P.W.-1 telephoned to PW-10 to know about
the welfare of the deceased, P.W.-8 the daughter of PW-10, informed him that
A-1 was not in the house and that the deceased is not responding to her call.
It is also alleged that on 07.08.2000 at about 6.00 a.m., PW-8 while collecting
water from the tap called the deceased, but as there was no response, PW-8 went
to the portion of the house of the deceased and pushed the door and the door
opened and so she entered the house and found the deceased lying on the floor
by the side of her bed, and not responding to her calls.
have also perused the post-mortem certificate. According to P.W.-17, Civil Asstt.Surgeon,
Govt. Hospital, Karimnagar who conducted the autopsy over the dead body
and issued P.11 M.E.Certificate, the cause of death was due to asphyxia due to
throttling. P.-11 M.E.certificate shows the following injuries :-
minor abrasions over strnum with medial side of right shoulder.
upper arms middle 1/3 10X6 cm left upper arm. 8 cm x 6 cm right upper arm.
front and around the neck;
Three over left
side of neck, extending from upper end of thyroid cartilage to below the left ear
Thyroid cartilage to middle of the neck, 7 cm from the cartilage;
Lower end of
Thyroid cartilage to left supra cuavicular region 6 1/2 cm.
over right side of the neck from Thyroid cartilage to right side of cervical
spine 10 x 3/4 cm.
Multiple minor abrasion
over right knee and below the knee patella dislocated.
Rupture of right
eye ball corneal traumatic. Lungs congested. Stomach containing pinkish liquid.
Liver congested." It is the evidence of the doctor that the deceased died
on account of asphyxia due to throttling and the approximate time of death was
about 30 to 42 hours prior to his post mortem examination. The doctor further
stated that it was not a case of suicidal death, but a homicidal death.
have carefully perused the evidence tendered by P.W.-17 (the doctor).
cross-examined by the counsel appearing for the accused. He has not elicited
anything from him to discredit his evidence-in-chief and the certificate issued
under Exh.P.W.-11. The doctor was of the opinion that the possibility of using
rope is ruled out and that the injury No.4 is not possible in the case of
hanging and that injury No.4 might be possible due to pressure applied either
with hand or with legs and the nails can create multiple abrasion. He also
denied the suggestions that his opinion as to asphyxia due to throttling is
incorrect and that it is a case of suicidal hanging.
already noticed, the prosecution in order to prove its case examined as many as
20 witnesses and got marked PW-1 to PW-21. The defence marked two
contradictions as Exh.D-1 and Exh.D-2. Out of the witnesses examined by the
prosecution, P.W.11, 12 and 13 did not support the case of the prosecution and
were declared hostile.
have also considered the evidence tendered by the above witnesses and we are
convinced that the involvement of A-1 (the appellant herein) has been clearly
established. It is in the evidence of prosecution witnesses that A-1 and the
deceased were staying in a rented house belonging to PW-9 in Bhagyanagar
locality situated at No.2-10-1370 and the appellant and the deceased were the
only persons who were residing at the said house. The Evidence of P.W-8, the
daughter of P.W.-10, shows that on 07.08.2000 at about 6.00 a.m., PW-8 while
collecting water from the tap called the deceased, but as there was no response
PW-8 went to the portion of the deceased and pushed the door and the door was
opened and so she entered the house and found the deceased lying on the floor by
the side of her bed, and not responding to her calls.
the aunt of the deceased was also residing at Karimnagar where the deceased was
living clearly stated about the harassment and cruelty by the appellant. As
rightly pointed out by the High Court, we also see no grounds or reasons to
disbelieve the evidence of P.W.4 regarding cruelty and harassment of the
deceased for dowry by the appellant.
is ample evidence which shows that the appellant has harassed and ill- treated
the deceased for dowry and the circumstances point out that he has caused the
death of the deceased. Therefore, we find the appellant (A-1) guilty of the
offence under Section 302 IPC. The conviction and the sentence recorded by the
learned Sessions Judge against the appellant for the other offences is also
confirmed and we direct that the substantive sentence shall run concurrently.
In the result, we affirm the order passed by the High Court and dismiss the
High Court has imposed the fine of Rs.15,000/- on A-1 and ordered the payment
of Rs.10,000/- as compensation to P.W.-2. In the facts and circumstances of the
case, we are of the opinion that the fine imposed by the High Court is very
high and we, therefore, reduce the fine from Rs.15,000/- to Rs.1,000/-. In default,
he shall undergo the simple imprisonment for one week.
place on record our appreciation in the manner in which the appeal was ably
argued by the learned counsel for the appellant Mr.Baijoyonta Barooah who was
appointed as the counsel by the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. We,
therefore, direct the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee to pay a sum of
Rs.3,000/- towards fees to the learned counsel for the appellant as a special
appeal stands dismissed accordingly.