Kumar Vs. State of Punjab  INSC 106 (14 January 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1327
OF 2003 SUDHIR KUMAR .. APPELLANT(S) vs.
O R D E R
prosecution story is as under:
Rani deceased, daughter of PW.3-Tej Ram was married to Sudhir Kumar, the
appellant herein, on 28th July, 1989 at Maur Mandi, District Bhatinda. At the
time of marriage, ornaments and cash befitting the status of the families, were
given in dowry. A month after the marriage, however, the appellant and his
parents Angoori Lal and Kaushalya Devi and sisters Neelam Kumari and Urmila
Devi started maltreating Kamlesh Rani for having brought insufficient dowry.
Sudhir Kumar also demanded a scooter for himself and a gold ring each for his
sisters Neelam and Urmila. The demand was duly conveyed by Kamlesh Rani to her
parents at Maur Mandi. Tej Ram promised to fulfill the demand on which Kamlesh
Rani returned to her matrimonial home and was immediately questioned by her
mother-in-law as to the scooter and the gold rings. Bhim Sain, brother of
Kamlesh Rani, however, told them that the family was not in a position to
fulfill the demand on account of financial difficulties. He, however, returned
to Maur Mandi after -2- leaving Kamlesh Rani in the matrimonial home. About 10
days prior to the incident Ramji Das-PW.2, Tej Ram's younger brother, came to
Maur Mandi and told Tej Ram that the accused had given slaps to Kamlesh Rani in
his presence on which he had promised that the demand for a scooter and gold
rings would be fulfilled within a few days. Sudhir Kumar also came to Maur
Mandi and once again reiterated the demands to his father-in-law failing which
he threatened dire consequences for Kamlesh Rani. On 30th November, 1989, Bhim
Sain went to the house of the accused and found the outer gate shut. On
persistent ringing of the bell, Angoori Lal came out but moved away and when
Bhim Sain entered the house he noticed Kamlesh Rani's dead body lying in the
latrine. Bhim Sain immediately came to the house of his uncle Ramji Das PW.2
and the two then went to the police station where the former lodged the report
Exh. PD on the basis of which an FIR was registered. Sub-Inspector Santokh
Singh thereupon reached the place of incident and made the necessary inquiries.
On completion of the investigation a challan was duly presented against Angoori
Lal, Kaushalya Devi and Neelam and Urmila for an offence punishable under
Sections 302/34 of the IPC and the matter was brought for trial to the Court of
Sessions. The Court of Sessions, however, charged the accused under Sections
302/149 IPC read with Section 304(B) of the IPC in the alternative.
prosecution in support of its case relied on the evidence of PW.1 Dr. S.S.
Malik who had performed the post- mortem on the dead body, the three primary
witnesses PW.2- Ramji Das, PW.3-Tej Ram and PW.4-Sat Paul, also an uncle of the
deceased, in addition to the formal evidence of Santokh Singh the I.O. The
statements of the accused were thereafter recorded under Section 313 of the
Cr.P.C. and they denied the allegations simplicitor. Sudhir Kumar, however,
took up additional plea:
am innocent. I have been falsely involved. This occurrence has taken place
before noon time and at that time myself and my father Angoori Lal were present
at our medical store while my sister Neelam Kumari was teaching at private
school and Urmila was at her in-laws house. I was suffering from Epilepsy and
used to be treated by Dr. Sohan Lal Grover and other senior doctors before and
after marriage and due to the effect of the drugs I was unable to perform the
sexual intercourse and for that reason my wife used to remain under depression.
After the occurrence we were summoned from the shop. I never maltreated or
demanded dowry from the parents of the deceased."
produced some evidence in defence. The trial Court on an appreciation of the
evidence convicted the appellant and Kaushalya Devi, his mother under Section
304-B of the IPC and sentenced them to R.I. of seven years.
Angoori Lal, Urmila and Neelam were, however, acquitted.
was thereafter taken to the High Court which in its judgment dated 7th April,
2003, which has been impugned in the present proceedings, allowed the appeal of
Kaushalya Devi as well. This appeal by way of special leave is, therefore,
confined only to Sudhir Kumar, the husband of the deceased.
heard Mr. A. Sharan, the learned senior counsel for the appellant and Mr.
Kuldip Singh, the learned counsel for the State of Punjab. We find that the
prosecution story is fully proved by the evidence of PW.2- Ramji Das, the uncle
of the deceased, PW.3 Tej Ram, her father and PW.4. Sat Paul, another uncle of
medical evidence shows that the deceased had suffered 95% burn injuries and the
dead body had been found in the bathroom of the house. Keeping in view the fact
that the presumption under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act has to be raised
in such matters, it is for the defence to dispel the presumption. We find that
the trial Court and the High Court have gone through the evidence and given the
benefit of doubt to three of the accused while maintaining the conviction only
against one i.e. the husband of the deceased. We also see from the evidence that
the marriage had been performed on 28th July, 1987 and death had occurred on
30th November, 1987, that is just four months after the marriage.
Sharan, the learned counsel for the appellant has, however, submitted that in
the light of the fact that the prosecution story had been disbelieved with
respect to four of the five accused, the presumption under Section 113-B of the
Evidence Act had been rebutted and as such the appellant was entitled to
acquittal on parity with the other accused. It is true that four of the five
accused have been acquitted but we find that primary evidence is against Sudhir
Kumar, the appellant herein. A reading of the evidence shows that it was the
appellant who had, just a few days' before the incident, visited the house of
his father-in-law and threatened Kamlesh Rani with dire consequences if his
demand for a scooter and two gold rings was not fulfilled and Bhim Sain, the
brother of the deceased had told him that his father Tej Ram was not in a
position to meet the demands on account of financial difficulties. A few days
later Ramji Das (PW.2) too had visited Kamlesh Rani's in-law's home and had
also informed Tej Ram thereafter that the appellant had been found beating his
wife at that time and had once again threatened that if the demands were not
satisfied Kamlesh Kaur would pay dearly for it. It is true, as contended by Mr.
Sharan, that in a case where the peculiar evidence has been discarded with
respect to four of the five accused, the presumption under Section 113-B could
to some extent be -6- said to be dispelled, but on an over view we find that
the primary role and the weight of the evidence has been on the appellant
accordingly, find no merit in this appeal.
.................J. (HARJIT SINGH BEDI)
.................J. (J.M. PANCHAL)
January 14, 2010.