Chhaju And Ors. vs State Of Haryana on 6 November, 1989

Punjab-Haryana High Court
Chhaju And Ors. vs State Of Haryana on 6 November, 1989
Equivalent citations: I (1990) DMC 153
Author: A Chaudhary
Bench: S Dewan, A Chaudhary


JUDGMENT

Amarjeet Chaudhary, J.

1. Chhaju, Smt. Shanti and Sunder were convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge, Hissar under Sections 304B and 498A read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. They were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one and a half year and to pay a fine of Rs. 1000/- each; in default of payment of fine to undergo further R.I. for six months, each, under Section 498A read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Chhaju and Sunder were also sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/- each; in default of payment of fine to undergo further R.I. for two years each whereas Shanti was sentenced to undergo R.I. for seven years and to pay a fine of Rs. 2000/-; in default of payment of fine to undergo further R.I. for one year under Section 304B read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

2. Substantive sentences on both the counts were, however, ordered to run concurrently.

3. Feeling aggrieved against their conviction and sentences, the aforementioned convicts have preferred this appeal.

4. A detailed narrative of the prosecution case is :

5. Krishna (deceased) wag married to Chhaju and from their wedlock a male issue was born. Prem Chand father of the deceased spent about Rs. 40,000/- on the marriage of his daughter (Krishna deceased). But the appellants were not satisfied with the same and they were pestering the deceased for bringing inadequate dowry. On a call of their daughter, father mother of Krishna and one Ram Sarup visited her at Hissar where she brought to their notice the harassment and ill-treatment meted out to her at the bands of the appellants. They requested the appellant not to harass their daughter. They also assured them that as long as they were alive, they shall go on giving something or the other to their daughter. Again on 9th June, 1987, when Krishna visited her parents’ house, she complained of the same treatment and told that her life at the matrimonial home had become unbearable.

6. On 20th June, 1987, on the information of one Bhoop Singh that Krishna had burnt herself along with her 9 months old son, the parents of Krishna rushed to Civil Hospital, Hissar but they were not allowed to have a glance on the dead bodies of their daughter Krishna and her son. The accused who were in the hospital at that time tried to put pressure on the parents of the deceased to hush-up the matter. On the following day, father of the deceased lodged a report with the police and when after his repeated requests, no action was taken, he filed a private complaint in Court on 1st August 1987 whereby the appellants were summoned under Sections 498A, 304B and 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code after recording preliminary evidence, vide order dated 19-10-1987. Against this summoning order, a revision petition was filed which was dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Hissar vide order dated 27-5-1988 and ultimately the accused were committed to the Court of Session to face trial. The trial Court, however, charged the accused for the offence punishable under Sections 498A and 304B read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

7. As many as eight witnesses were examined by the prosecution in order to substantiate its allegations against the accused. PW 1 Prem Chand and PW-2 Smt. Savitri are the father and mother of the deceased respectively. They supported the allegations set out in their complaint. PW-3 Dr. S.K. Goyal who examined Krishna deceased on 20-6-1987 stated that she was brought in the hospital with 100 per cent burns. He also stated that a child namely Narender about nine months of age was also brought with 100 per cent burns. PW-4 Dr. R.K.. Dhamija who conducted postmortem examination on the dead bodies of Krishna and her son Narender on 21-6-1987 with the help of one Dr. Sushma Madan besides observing other things opined that the cause of death was asphyxia due to extensive burns 100 per cent which were ante-mortem in nature and were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. PW-5 Ram Sarup was examined to support the factum of his accompanying the parents of the deceased to Hissar where she narrated her tale of woe of being harassed and beaten by the accused for bringing inadequate dowry. PW-7 Bhoop Singh deposed that on having come to know of the demise of Krishna, he went to village Chindhar and informed the parents of the deceased on 20-6-1987. PW 6 Man Singh constable and PW-8 Ishwar Singh were the formal witnesses. The former produced a copy of FIR No. 235 dated 21-6-1987 Exhibit PW6/A and the latter brought a copy of the complaint Exhibit PW8/A received in the S.P. Office Hissar on 27-6-1987.

8. After the close of the prosecution evidence, the appellants denied the prosecution allegations and claimed innocence when called upon by the Court for recording their statements under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The defence taken by the appellants is that Phulla father-in-law of the deceased had been confined to bed for the last four years and her mother-in-law Smt. Shanti was a patient of asthma. The deceased felt, over-burdened with work and tired of performing house hold chores. She was a sensitive girl and committed suicide along with her infant son.

9. To support their defence pleas, the appellants produced five witnesses namely, DW-1 Satbir Singh an Inspector of Police; DW-2 Bhim Singh Assistant in S.P. Office, Hissar; DW-3 Varum Singh District Revenue Officer, Hissar; DW-4 Sanjay Kumar and DW-5 Lal Chand. DW-l stated that he had conducted the investigation of a case F.I.R, No. 235 dated 21-6-1987 registered under Sections 306/304B/498A Indian Penal Code and found the allegations made therein to be baseless and had also sent a report for cancellation of the case. DW-2 had proved the affidavit Exhibit D-2 and stated that the deponent Prem Chand had signed the same in his presence. Thereafter the appellants were convicted and sentenced as stated in the earlier part of the order.

10. The counsel for the appellants while making dent on the veracity of the prosecution version, submitted that it was a case of suicide and Krishna (deceased) was never harassed or intimidated by the appellants in any manner. He further submitted that Prem Chand the father of the deceased had himself filed an affidavit (Exhibit D. 2) duly signed by him and attested by DW-3 Varun Singh, Executive Magistrate, Hissar exonerating the appellants of the allegations of alleged harassment of his daughter by them, but this affidavit has been over-looked by the trial Court. He also contended that either in the first information report or the reports sent to the higher police authorities by Prem Chand it was nowhere mentioned that there was any demand of additional dowry of Rs. 5000/-by the appellants from them and that these allegations are cooked-up and an after-thought version just to extract money from the appellants.

11. The counsel for the appellant led us through the entire evidence on the record. The marriage of Krishna (deceased) with Chhaju appellant having taken place about three years back of her demise, as stated by her father Prem Chand is not disputed. The plea taken by the appellants that since Krishna was fed up with the household work and the long illness of her father-in-law and mother-in-law and to get rid of all this she committed suicide along with her son, does not appeal to reason, in the circumstances of the instant case. It is not only the parents of the deceased but a quite independent and dis-interested person namely Ram Sarup PW-5 appeared in the witness box and categorically deposes about harassment and ill-treatment of the deceased at the hands of the appellants. The testimony of each of these three witnesses finds ample corroboration on all vital aspects. A young bride especially in our country, having an infant aged about nine months would hardly end her life along with her only son owing to pressure of work at home or in the fields. We might mention that although PW-1 Prem Chand, PW-2 Savitri the parents of the deceased and PW-5 Ram Sarup were subjected to gruelling and searching cross-examination yet nothing of importance was elicited from their evidence in order to shake their testimony. We are in entire agreement with the reasoning employed and the conclusions drawn by the trial Court that it was not a case of suicide at all. Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code reads as under :–

“304-B Dowry death–(1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon after her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.

Explanation–For the purpose of this sub-section “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. (2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.”

The alleged factum of harassment and beatings to Krishna deceased by the appellants principally rested on the evidence of her parents. There could have been no other evidence to show the circumstances under which the death of Krishna took place. Her parents very cleary deposed in Court that their daughter was the target of harassment and humiliation at the bands of the appellants. Their testimony is not only trustworthy but is natural and very straight-forward and contain a ring of truth. In these . circumstances, we have no hesitation in holding that the death of Krishna wag result of harassment and humiliation by the appellants and her death bad taken place within seven years of her marriage. It was clearly a case of dowry death.

12. As regards the affidavit Exhibit D. 2 we might mention that it was an attempt made by the appellants to save them from the clutches of law that ultimately did not gain any ground It is evident from the testimony of Prem Chand PW-1 that having come to know of the demise of her daughter Krishna he reached Civil Hospital, Hissar on 20th June, 1987 but was not allowed to see even the dead bodies of his daughter and her son and rather pressure was exerted upon him to patch up the matter. Faced with this situation, he was fully convinced that his daughter was done away with and she did not die under normal circumstances. It was for this reason that he approached the police on the same day but no heed was paid to his hue and cry, but on the following day i.e. on 21st June, 1987 he succeeded in lodging the report with the police. How can by any stretch of imagination it be said that on 22nd June, 1987 he was satisfied that his daughter committed suicide of her own and no body had set her on fire. The explanation given by Prem Chand PW-1 in this regard that some blank document was got signed from him by the police under pressure seems to be true and there is no bitch to draw a conclusion that it was this blank document which must have been shaped as an affidavit Exhibit D. 2 to strengthen their defence plea. Thus, the story put forth by the appellants that once they were not found involved in the death of Krishna by her father himself and he gave an affidavit to this effect, they should not be held responsible for the offence charged, appears to be an imaginary one. We therefore, reject this argument.

13. Needless to mention that Phulla father-in-law of the deceased was also arraigned by the complainant but he expired during trial.

14. In the result, the appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed. The conviction of the appellants for the offences charged and the sentences imposed thereunder by the trial Court are affirmed.

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