Hemraj And Anr. vs State Of M.P. on 1 May, 2000

Madhya Pradesh High Court
Hemraj And Anr. vs State Of M.P. on 1 May, 2000
Equivalent citations: II (2000) DMC 415
Author: S Khare
Bench: S Khare

JUDGMENT

S.P. Khare, J.

1. Appellants Hemraj and Subhadrabai have been convicted under Sections 498A and 306, I.P.C., and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for two years, ten years, and two years respectively. They have also been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/-, Rs. 5,000/-, and Rs. 5,000/- each for these offences. The substantive sentences have been ordered to run consecutively.

2. Deceased Purnabai was married to appellant Hemraj about three years before her death. Her dead body was recovered from the well behind the house of the accused in village Pusli on 12.11.1997. Appellant Subhadrabai is her mother-in-law. Purnabai lived in the house of her husband for about an year from the date of her marriage and then she was with her parents in village Dharni for about two years. She had come to the house of her husband 15 days before her death as his grand-mother had died. Sodhu (P.W. 6) is father, Dudhnath (P.W. 11) is brother and Phulwati (P.W. 5) is mother’s sister of the deceased.

3. The prosecution case is that the appellants were treating Purnabai with cruelty. They were demanding a motor cycle as dowry. The father of the deceased was not in a position to fulfil this demand. Purnabai was being beaten by her husband and mother-in-law. She was not being given proper food and she was made to sleep in the verandah of the house. She was being harassed so much that she committed suicide by jumping into the well.

4. The accused persons pleaded not guilty. Their defence was that Purnabai had brought ‘Jadi-buti’ (herbs) with her and she was not prepared to tell why she has done so. There after, she lived with her parents for two years and she was brought to the house of her husband by her father Sodhu (P.W. 6) when the grand-mother of the husband died.

5. The Trial Court held that the accused persons were demanding motor cycle as dowry and were harassing and ill-treating the deceased as this demand was not met. This amounted to ‘cruelty’ within the meaning of Section 498A, I.P.C. and abetment to commit suicide punishable under Section 306, I.P.C.

6. In this appeal it has been argued that there is no definite evidence to prove that Purnabai committed suicide and it is further argued that the evidence does not establish beyond reasonable doubt that the appellants treated her with cruelty.

7. The evidence on record has been scanned by this Court. The dead body of Purnabai was recovered from the well on 12.11.1997. That is not disputed. This well is behind the house of the accused. There is no material to suggest that the deceased fell into the well accidently. She had come from the house of her father 15 days before her death. She was sleeping in the house and in the morning she was found missing and on rearch her dead body was found into the well. Therefore, it is clear that she must have jumped into the well and she committed suicide.

8. Sodhu (P.W. 6), father of the deceased has deposed that Purnabai had told him when she came to his house from the house of her husband second time that she was not being treated well by her husband and he was beating her. He was asking her to bring motor cycle from her father. She was not being given proper food and she was also being beaten by her mother-in-law. He has further deposed that he requested the accused persons with folded hands to treat Purnabai well. He took her to the house of her husband after two years when his grand-mother died as it was customary to do so. If he had not taken Purnabai to the house of her husband on the happening of that event there would have been adverse criticism against her that she did not come even when there was death in the family. He had come back leaving Purnabai there and after about 15 days he received the message that she has died.

9. Dudhnath (P.W. 11) is brother of the deceased. He has corroborated the testimony of his father. He has further deposed that after 13th day ceremony of the grand-mother of accused Hemraj he went to his house and then he was told by the accused persons that they would keep Purnabai only on condition that a motor cycle is given to the husband. Dudhnath (P.W. 11) has further stated that his sister told him that she was beaten by the accused persons. She had shown the marks of injury on her back, hands and other parts of the body. After second or third day he got the information that his sister has died.

10. Hiralal (P.W-12) has also deposed that the marriage between Hemraj and Purnabai was settled through him. He has deposed that Purnabai had told him that she was being beaten on the failure of her father to give motor cycle. He has further stated that he talked to accused Hemraj and he told him that he must be given a motor-cycle. Accused Hemraj further told him that he would not keep Purnabai with him if motor cycle is not given to him and he would remarry. She was sent to the house of her husband but he did not treat her well and continued to beat her. Therefore, he brought her back to the house of her father. He has further stated that he had also gone with Sodhu (P.W. 6) when the grand-mother of Hemraj died and he told him “why have you come with the girl without invitation”. He replied that he has brought her because of the social customs. The accused persons replied that they have not brought the motor cycle and have brought the girl once again.

11. Phulwati (P.W. 5) is living in village Pusli. She has deposed that the accused persons were making Purnabai to sleep in the verandah of the house, she was not being given proper food and they were asking her to bring motor cycle. She used to tell these things when she met her .on the well for drawing water.

12. The evidence of the four witnesses Sodhu (P.W. 6), Dudhnath (P.W. 11),Hiralal (P.W. 12), and Phulwati (P.W. 5) is consistent and corroborative of each other. Sodhu (P.W. 6) has stated in cross-examination that Purnabai had told her that a false allegation was being made against her that she had brought some ‘Jadi buti’. The evidence adduced by the prosecution is trustworthy. The Trial Court has rightly held that the accused persons were treating Purnabai with cruelty and were harassing her in connection with their demand for motor cycle. The story of ‘jadi buti’ has been concocted to set up a false defence. The evidence of Deenu (D.W. 1), Suresh (D.W. 2) and Sudama (D.W. 3) on the point of jadi-buti is not convincing. Even if it is assumed that Purnabai had in her possession some ‘Jadi-buti’ that could not bo a ground to treat her with cruelty after she returned to the matrimonial house after two years when her grand mother-in-law died. That was too stale a matter and that could not be a ground to ill-treat and torture her. The real ground for such conduct on the part of the appellants was the demand of motor cycle which the . father of the girl could not fulfil because of his poverty. The appellants have been rightly convicted for the aforesaid offences.

13. Coming to the question of sentence considering all the aspects the sentence under Section 306, I.P.C. is reduced from ten years to seven years and all the substantive sentences are ordered to run concurrently instead of consecutively. The sentence of fine under Section 306, I.P.C. and Section 4, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 are also set aside. With this modification in the sentence the appeal is dismissed.

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