Surinder Kaur & Anr vs State Of Haryana on 25 February, 2004

Supreme Court of India
Surinder Kaur & Anr vs State Of Haryana on 25 February, 2004
Author: S Hegde
Bench: N.Santosh Hegde, B.P.Singh.
           CASE NO.:
Appeal (crl.)  834 of 1997

PETITIONER:
Surinder Kaur & Anr.	

RESPONDENT:
State of Haryana	

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 25/02/2004

BENCH:
N.Santosh Hegde & B.P.Singh.

JUDGMENT:

J U D G M E N T

SANTOSH HEGDE,J.

Two appellants and 3 others were charged before the
Additional Sessions Judge, Kurukshetra for offence punishable
under section 304B read with section 34 IPC in connection with
the suicide of one Baljit Kaur who was married to the first
accused Surinder Kumar about 2 = years prior to her death on
28.1.1992. It was the prosecution case that because of the
harassment meted out to said Baljit Kaur, she consumed poison
on the intervening night of 27th and 28th January, 1992 and died
at about 4 a.m. in Ismailpur village within the jurisdiction of
Police Station Thaska Miranji in Kurukshetra district. The
information of death of Baljit Kaur was conveyed to her family
on the said morning by one Dewa (not examined). On receipt of
the said information, her family members including her brother
Hari Chand PW-6 went to the village where Baljit Kaur’s in-
laws were residing and PW-6 having come to the conclusion
that his sister had died under suspicious circumstances, lodged
a complaint with Thaska Miranji P.S. on 28.1.1992 at about
12.40 p.m. The initial investigation in regard to the death of
Baljit Kaur was conducted by PW-10 which was later
completed by Sub-Inspector of Police who was examined as
PW-9 who submitted the chargesheet for the offence stated
hereinabove and after trial the Sessions Court came to the
conclusion that the prosecution has established its case as
against all the accused and it awarded 10 years’ RI to A-2
Basawa Singh who was the father-in-law of the deceased, while
A-3 Shanti Devi, mother-in-law, was awarded 8 years’ RI and
A-4 Surinder Kaur and A-5 Rajvinder Kaur were awarded 7
years’ RI each all under section 304B IPC while A-1 Surinder
Kumar, the husband of the deceased was awarded life
imprisonment under section 304B IPC.

Aggrieved accused persons preferred an appeal before
the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh which by
the impugned judgment confirmed the conviction and sentence
awarded to A-1 Surinder Kumar, husband and A-4 and A-5
Surinder Kaur and Rajwinder Kaur, the sisters-in-law of the
deceased. It allowed the appeal of A-2 Basawa Singh, the
father-in-law and A-3 Shanti Devi, the mother-in-law of the
deceased and acquitted them of the charges.

The present appeal before us is preferred by A-3
Rajwinder Kaur and A-4 Surinder Kaur who, at the time of the
incident, were aged 18 and 16 years respectively and were
unmarried. We are told at the Bar that their brother Surinder
Kumar, the husband of the deceased has not preferred any
appeal, hence, the conviction and sentence imposed on him by
the two courts below has attained finality.

Mr. K.B. Sinha, learned senior counsel appearing for the
appellants, contended that both the courts below have
committed serious error in accepting the prosecution case as
against the appellants herein though no specific allegation
whatsoever has been made by the prosecution against them. He
pointed out that the only allegation found against these
appellants is in a general manner in the FIR filed by PW-6 and
in the evidence of PWs.-6 and 7 in their examinations-in-chief
which the learned counsel submitted under no stretch of
imagination could be construed as sufficient evidence to base a
conviction. He submitted that one of the ingredients necessary
for establishing the allegation of harassment against an accused
person under section 304B is that the concerned accused had
harassed the victim soon before the death.

After reading the evidence of PWs.6 and 7 in conjunction
with the contents of the FIR, the learned counsel pointed out
that so far as the allegation against these appellants are
concerned, it is omnibus in nature and has been made without
any specific instance only to involve the entire family of the
appellants. He pointed out that the appellants who were then 18
and 16 years of age and unmarried, could not have gone to the
extent of causing such harassment which would compel the
deceased to commit suicide. At any rate the learned counsel
pointed out that whatever allegation that is found in the FIR and
in the evidence of PWs.6 & 7, could only relate to a period
immediately after the marriage of deceased to A-1 which was
about 2 = years prior to the incident.

Mr. D P Singh, learned counsel appearing for the State,
however, defended the judgments of the two courts below
contending that the same being a concurrent finding of fact, the
same does not require any interference in this appeal. Since the
present appeal is preferred by accused 4 and 5 who are the
sisters-in-law of the deceased, we will confine our
consideration of the evidence led by the prosecution as against
them only. It is noticed, as contended by learned counsel for the
appellants, that the complainant states that these appellants
along with their brother used to harass Baljit Kaur for not
bringing sufficient dowry and a Maruti car. In that process they
used to beat the deceased. It is rather difficult to believe that
these two young girls would go to the extent of beating the
deceased merely based on a statement made by the brother of
the deceased that too after the incident of his sister committing
suicide without his evidence being corroborated in material
particulars. From a perusal of the evidence of PW-6, two facts
emerge. One is a general allegation of harassment against the
mother of A-1 and the appellants herein. It is to be noted that
mother of A-1 who was an accused has been acquitted by the
courts below solely on the ground that hers and her husband’s
name did not find mention in the complaint even though the
prosecution has alleged harassment by similar evidence as is
available against the appellants. The second fact that arises out
of the evidence of PW-6 is that he has made specific allegations
against the husband A-1 and the father in regard to the demand
of Maruti car, a buffalo, Rs.25,000 just before the death of the
deceased. Therefore, this factum shows that these 2 persons
might have been responsible for harassment soon before the
victim’s death which is one of the conditions precedent under
section 304B IPC but then the High Court thought it fit to
acquit the father of A-1 (father-in-law of the deceased) because
his name was also not mentioned in the FIR which means the
High Court did not believe the oral evidence led by the
prosecution in regard to him and his wife. Therefore the
evidence led by the prosecution should be appreciated in this
background.

We have noticed neither PW-6 nor PW-7 or for that
matter the complaint does give the particulars of the time and
date when the alleged harassment was meted out by the
appellants. As noticed by us hereinabove, these statements are
omnibus in nature. The specific allegations of harassment made
only involves A-1 and his father with whose case we are not
concerned now. The appellants are neither parties to the
demand for a buffalo or Rs.25,000 which seems to be the
proximate cause of Baljit Kaur committing suicide. The courts
below in appreciating the evidence have failed to appreciate the
material on record properly nor have they applied the required
standard of proof necessary to base a conviction on the
appellants. We have already noticed that if at all the prosecution
case against these appellants is to be accepted it would only
show that soon after the marriage i.e. about 2 = years prior to
the death of the deceased, there was some alleged harassment
for lack of dowry which, in our opinion, is not a sufficient
ground to hold the appellants guilty for the offence charged,
since these allegations are not proximate to the death of the
deceased.

Having perused the evidence of PW-7 also, in our
opinion, the same does not further the cause of the prosecution
any more than what is discussed by us hereinabove about the
evidence of PW-6. As a matter of fact, a careful consideration
of the evidence of PW-7 in regard to the involvement of the
appellants herein clearly shows that part of the evidence of PW-
7 is an improvement inasmuch as he has not stated the specific
allegations now he is making before the trial court in his
previous statement to the Police as could be seen from Ex. D-8.

It is also be noted that the High Court on the same set of
evidence has chosen to acquit the mother of the appellants
whose case is no better than that of the appellant. Of course, the
only difference between the evidence led by the prosecution in
regard to their mother and the appellants is that the name of the
mother is not found in the FIR. That by itself in the facts of this
case is not sufficient to differentiate the case of the appellants
for conviction. Even the allegation made against the appellants
in the FIR assuming it to be proved shows certain harassment
much before the death which is not sufficient to bring home the
guilt under Section 304 B IPC otherwise the evidence led by the
prosecution is similar to that led against their mother. We agree
with the High Court that the evidence against the mother is
insufficient to convict her and in our opinion it is the same
against appellants.

For the reasons stated above, we are of the considered
opinion that the evidence led by the prosecution in regard to the
involvement of the appellants in the death of Baljit Kaur is not
proved beyond all reasonable doubts by the prosecution, hence,
the courts below were in error in basing a conviction as against
these appellants.

For the reasons stated above, this appeal succeeds and the
same is allowed. The appellants are on bail. Their bail-bonds
shall stand discharged.

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