Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How to appreciate evidence in case of offence U/S 498A of IPC?

 If we peruse the records of the Court below, more
particularly the appreciation of the evidence of the Complainant, PW-1 as well
as Aatmaram, PW-2 and Siya Bai, PW-3 i.e. the father and mother of the
Complainant, PW-1, it is evidently clear that there was no allegation of any
demand of dowry against the Non-Applicants by the Complainant all along till
the written complaint for the first time was written by the Complainant on
7.8.2013 based upon which, the First Information Report was subsequently
registered on 7.9.2013. The Court below has in detail, considered the
evidence of the Complainant and the evidence of the prosecution and in the
course of the evidence, it was found that the relationship between the
Complainant and Non-Applicant No.1- her husband was in fact cordial which is
established from the fact that after she had conceived of her 1st child, it was
Non-Applicant No.1 who went and dropped the Complainant at her home
when she was at the advanced stage of 8 months pregnancy. Even at that
point of time, there was no allegation of any cruelty met upon the Complainant
by the Non-Applicant No.1. From the evidence, it is also clear that the entire3
dispute arose because of a report of theft lodged by Non-Applicant No.1
against the Complainant and her family members on 6.1.2012 wherein in a
complaint made to the SDM, it was alleged that the Complainant in the present
case and her parents had committed theft of certain gold and silver articles
and also certain clothes from the house of Non-Applicant No.1 and the said
complaint was registered with the SDM who in turn, had called upon the
Complainant and her parents and it was only subsequently for the first time
that the Complainant had lodged a complaint against her in-laws levelling
allegations of cruelty on the ground of demand of dowry.
HIGH COURT OF CHHATTISGARH, BILASPUR
Criminal Revision No. 482 of 2016
Chaya Sahu 
Versus
 Amit Sahu 
Single Bench: Hon'ble Shri P. Sam Koshy, J
Dated:13.6.2016
Citation: 2016 CRLJ(NOC)269 Chh

1. The present Revision has been preferred challenging the order dated
16.2.2016 passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sakti, Distt. JanjgirChampa
in Criminal Appeal No.156/2015. By way of the said impugned order,
the Court below has, while hearing the appeal against the judgment of
acquittal dated 29.6.2015 passed by the Judicial Magistrate, First Class,
Jaijaipur in Criminal Case No.525/2013, had passed a judgment of acquittal to
Respondents No.1 to 5 wherein the Respondents were charged for the2
offence punishable under Section 498-A/34 IPC.
2. Learned Counsel for the Applicant submits that the two Courts below
have failed to appreciate the evidence which is available on record in its
correct perspective. The statement of the Complainant/Applicant i.e. the wife
of Non-Applicant No.1 and the statement of father and mother of the
Complainant i.e. Aatmaram, PW-2 and Siya Bai, PW-3 respectively have not
been properly appreciated by the Court below while passing the judgment of
acquittal. He fairly concedes that so far as Non-Applicants No.4 & 5 are
concerned, there does not seem to be any strong case made out by the
Complainant in her evidence so as to interfere with the order of acquittal
granted to them. If we peruse the records of the Court below, more
particularly the appreciation of the evidence of the Complainant, PW-1 as well
as Aatmaram, PW-2 and Siya Bai, PW-3 i.e. the father and mother of the
Complainant, PW-1, it is evidently clear that there was no allegation of any
demand of dowry against the Non-Applicants by the Complainant all along till
the written complaint for the first time was written by the Complainant on
7.8.2013 based upon which, the First Information Report was subsequently
registered on 7.9.2013. The Court below has in detail, considered the
evidence of the Complainant and the evidence of the prosecution and in the
course of the evidence, it was found that the relationship between the
Complainant and Non-Applicant No.1- her husband was in fact cordial which is
established from the fact that after she had conceived of her 1st child, it was
Non-Applicant No.1 who went and dropped the Complainant at her home
when she was at the advanced stage of 8 months pregnancy. Even at that
point of time, there was no allegation of any cruelty met upon the Complainant
by the Non-Applicant No.1. From the evidence, it is also clear that the entire3
dispute arose because of a report of theft lodged by Non-Applicant No.1
against the Complainant and her family members on 6.1.2012 wherein in a
complaint made to the SDM, it was alleged that the Complainant in the present
case and her parents had committed theft of certain gold and silver articles
and also certain clothes from the house of Non-Applicant No.1 and the said
complaint was registered with the SDM who in turn, had called upon the
Complainant and her parents and it was only subsequently for the first time
that the Complainant had lodged a complaint against her in-laws levelling
allegations of cruelty on the ground of demand of dowry.
3. For the foregoing reasons, this Court is of the opinion that the two
Courts below have not committed any error of fact or law while reaching to the
conclusion that the Complainant or for that matter the prosecution side has not
been able to prove the case beyond all reasonable doubts for convicting the
Non-Applicants for the offence punishable under Section 498-A IPC. Even
otherwise, the records clearly show that the order of conviction has already
been subjected to challenge before the Appellate Court and the Appellate
Court also vide impugned order, has found that there is no case made out by
the Applicant calling for any interference with the order of acquittal dated
29.6.2015.
4. It is settled position of law that in an appeal against an order of acquittal
only in exceptional cases where there are compelling circumstances and the
judgment under appeal is found to be perverse can the Appellate Court
interfere with the order of acquittal. Recently, Hon'ble the Supreme Court in
the case of Phula Singh Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, AIR 2014 SC 1256, in
Para-10, has in very categorical term held that: “The appellate Court should
bear in mind the presumption of innocence of the accused and further that the
trial Court's acquittal bolsters the presumption of his innocence. Interference in
a routine manner where the other view is possible should be avoided, unless
there are good reasons for interference.”
5. Once there is an order of acquittal in favour of the alleged accused
person, the same should not be interfered with very lightly unless there is a
prima facie strong case with cogent, sufficient and substantial proof in favour
of the prosecution brought before the Court below and which has not been
considered or has been overlooked by the Court below, only then can the
order of acquittal have a scope of interference.
The law in this regard is by now well settled in a series of judgement of
the Hon'ble Supreme Court wherein the Supreme Court has in very
categorical terms held that whenever there is an order of acquittal, the higher
Courts should not upset the holding without there being very convincing
reasons and comprehensive considerations.
An appellate Court, however, must bear in mind that in case of acquittal,
there is double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption
of innocence is available to him under the fundamental principle of criminal
jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is
proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having
secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further reinforced,
reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial Court.
If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence
on record, the appellate Court should not disturb the finding of the acquittal
recorded by the trial Court. The High Court is also required to see that unless5
there are substantial and compelling circumstances, the order of acquittal is
not required to be reversed in appeal.
It is trite here to refer to a few decisions in this regard by the Hon'ble
Supreme Court:
• 2007 (4) SCC 415 – Chandrappa v. State of Karnataka.
• 2012 (1) SCC 602 – State of Rajasthan v. Shera Ram.
• 2013 (5) SCC 705 – Shivasharanappa v. State of Karnataka.
• AIR 2009 SC 1542 (Para 12) – State of Punjab v. Sukhchain Singh &
Anr.
• 2012 (6) SCC 589 (Para-27) – Rohtash v. State of Haryana.
6. Thus, this Court is of the considered view that the finding arrived at by
the Courts below is purely in accordance with law and the Courts below have
not committed any error of fact or law in reaching to the said conclusion of
acquitting the Respondent of the charge leveled against him under Section
498-A/34 IPC.
7. In view of above, this Court does not find any good ground calling for
any interference with the impugned order and the Revision Petition being
devoid of any merits, the same is accordingly dismissed.
Sd/-
 (P. Sam Koshy)
 JUDGE
Priya
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