K. Sreedhar Rao, J.
1. The accused charged for committing offences punishable Under Sections 498-A & 304(B) IPC.
2. The trial Court convicted A1 for an offence punishable under Section 304(B) and holds that a separate conviction under Section 498-A is unnecessary since the offence under Section 304(B) partakes all the ingredients of Section 498-A.
3. The deceased Kalpana is married to A1 about one and a half-year prior to the death. A3 and AS are the parents of A1 A2 and A4 are the brother and sister of A1. At the time of marriage, the father of victim PW-6 gave cash of Rs. 1000/- as dowry and some gold articles, A1 some time after the marriage started pestering the deceased to bring money from her parents and inflicted cruelty. Unable to bear the cruel treatment, the deceased committed suicide by jumping into well on the night of 26/27.8.92.
4. In the course of inquest, two chits at Exs. P8 & P9 were recovered from the dead body and they disclose that the contents are written by the deceased. In first chit-Ex P8 it is written that “A1 told her that why she should not bring the money. The deceased replied that her parents are poor and unable to pay.” The second chit-Ex P9 refers to an incident where A1 demanded deceased to bring Rs. 1000/- by evening of the day. The deceased further makes a reference that A1 was a money minded and a cruel man and she was fed up with the torture he has given. She also states that her mother-in-law; sister-in-law, brother-in-law and father-in-law have harassed her and that the harassment meted out is an endless story.
5. PWs 6 and 7 are the parents of the deceased. They have testified to the fact that the deceased was subjected to cruelty and their evidence corroborates the contents in Ex P9.
6. It is the contention of the defence that A1 was already a married man. The deceased is a second wife and not a legally wedded wife. Therefore, the offence under Sections 498-A and 304(B) does not attract the conviction is untenable. The argument does not hold water in view of the ruling of the Supreme Court in Reema Agarwal V. Anupam and Ors. , in para 8, the following observations are made:
8. In response learned Counsel for the respondents submitted that to constitute a marriage in the eye of the law, it has first to be established that the same was a valid marriage. Strong reliance was placed on Bhaurao Shankar Lokhande v. State of Maharashtra in that context. Reference was also made to Sections 5(i), 11 and 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for short “the Marriage Act”) to contend that the stipulations of conditions of a valid marriage, the circumstances in which tie marriage becomes void and the protection gives, to children of void and voidable marriages respectively makes the position clear that wherever the legislature wanted to provide for contingencies flowing from void or voidable marriages, it has specifically done so. It is latently evident from Section 16 of the Marriage Act. There is no such indication in Section 498-A IPC. The Language used is “husband or relative of the husband”. Marriage is a legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife and cannot extend to a woman whose marriage is void and not a valid marriage in the eye of the law.
7. In para 16 of the same decision, the ‘Dowry’ defined in the following words is:
Under Section 4, mere demand of “dowry” is sufficient to bring home the offence to an accused. Thus, any “demand” of money, property or valuable security made from the bride or her parents or other relatives by the bridegroom or his parents or other relatives or vice versa would fall within the mischief “dowry” under the Act where such demand is not properly referable to any legally recognized claim and is relatable only to the consideration of marriage.
8. The distinction made by the Supreme Court is subtle and clear. An unlawful demand of dowry within the meaning of Section 2 of the D.P. Act, which results in un-natural death attracts Section 304-B. The word ‘Dowry’ is defined as money or other valuables demanded as a consideration of marriage and prior to or after the marriage. All the demands for money or other valuables do not amount to Dowry, unless such demand is as a consideration for the marriage, A mere monetary demand not in the nature of Dowry attracts Section 498-A, but if it is in the nature of Dowry, it attracts Section 304-B.
9. The contents of Exs. P8 and P9 disclose that the demands are not in the nature of dowry and only an unlawful monetary demands. Therefore, suicide, if any, committed does not attract Section 304-B. Hence, conviction under Section 304-B is bad in law. However, A1 is convicted for the offence under Section 498-A, In respect of A2 to A4, Ex P9-ehit makes only vague reference. The nature of harassment meted out to her by in-laws A2 to A5 is not mentioned. The act complained in Ex P9 does not corroborate the acts of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498-A.
10. Hence, the acquittal of A2 to AS is sound and proper. A1 is acquitted for an offence Under Section 304-B but convicted under Section 498-A. A1 is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/- indefault to undergo SI for a period of six months.
11. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed in part as indicated above.