Saturday, 23 January 2021

Whether the court can hold accused guilty U/S 498A of IPC if the wife was given cruelty due to her dark complexion?

 Though argument was raised that prosecution case could not be

believed on the ground that even after knowing the commission of cruelty

upon the victim, and cause of cruelty, the parents of victim never

reported the same to police station or to panchyaat body, and the

neighbouring people living around in-law’s house of deceased victim, but

this cannot be invariable rule that parent would immediately lodge a

complaint immediately after knowing commission of cruelty upon their daughter, ignoring possibilty of reconciliation mutually. It is ordinary conduct that parents would prefer to persuade their daughter ignoring the torture, and the cruelty for the future benefit of their daughter.


Causing cruelty to deceased victim for her black complexion even after her marriage by the in-law’s members would definitly attract Section 498A/34 I.P.C. against the in-law’s members, including accused husband.

In the High Court at Calcutta

Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate Side

Present:-

The Hon’ble Justice Sahidullah Munshi.

And

The Hon’ble Justice Subhasis Dasgupta.

CRA No. 247 of 2006

Mazidul Miah @ Mia & Ors. Vs. State of West Bengal


Judgment on : 25.06.2020

Subhasis Dasgupta, J:-

This appeal found its emergence after it was preferred by accused

persons/appellants against the judgment and order of conviction, and

sentence, passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Cooch Behar, in

Sessions Case No. 74/2 giving rise to Sessions Trial No. 4(12)04,

convicting the accused persons/appellants under Section 498A/302/34

I.P.C., and sentencing them thereunder to suffer rigorous imprisonment

for three (3) years with fine of Rs. 5,000/-(Rupees Five Thousand) each,

with default stipulation to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six (6)

months each under Section 498A I.P.C., and to suffer imprisonment for

life with fine of Rs.5,000/- (Rupees Five Thousand) each, and in default

to pay fine further rigorous imprisonment for six (6) months each under

Section 302/34 I.P.C.

We feel inclined to mention the factual scenario of this case

precisely as established and highlighted by the prosecution, discernable

from the witnesses examined during trial, that the deceased being the

second daughter of the de-facto complainant/father was put to suffer

death in her in-law’s house by hanging about seven (7) months after her

marriage.

Admittedly, victim was given marriage with accused/appellant no.

1 Mazidul Miah on 16.10.1997, according to mohammedan rites and

customs satisfying the demand of accused persons, like by paying cash

of Rs.11,000/- (Rupees Eleven Thousand), silver ornaments of three

descriptions along with one Hero cycle and other valuables.

After visit to her in-law’s house, deceased victim was put to suffer

cruelty, oppression and ill-treatment by her in-law’s members, including

her accused husband for her black complexion. She was not loved by

family members of in-law’s house, and frequently abused her with a


threat that accused husband would be given marriage shortly after

repealing her marriage and driving her out of the matrimonial home.

The in-law’s members while causing ill-treatment upon victim

made her understand just three days after her marriage for staying in a

cow shed, expressing their dissatisfaction on the ground of her black

complexion. Accused husband beat her physically with cycle chain while

causing physical torture upon the deceased victim. She was attempted to

be killed. Deceased victim reported everything to her parents about the

torture and cruelty, she received in her in-law’s house, when she visited

her paternal house on several occasions.

The de-facto complainant/father sent his daughter/victim to her

in-law’s house on 11.06.1998, after persuading her to withstand such

torture inflicted upon her, for her future benefit upon realization of weak

financial condition of her father. The mother of deceased victim, when

visited her in-law’s house on 20th June, 1998, the victim daughter

informed her narrating the plight of her physical assault committed upon

her by her in-law’s members. The father/complainant learnt everything

after his wife had returned to house. The eldest son-in-law of the de-facto

complainant/father on 24th June, 1998, visited to the house of de-facto

complainant and informed de-facto complainant that victim daughter

had been put to suffer death by hanging with use of rope. Having

received such information, de-facto complainant/father rushed to the in4

law’s house of his deceased daughter, when victim daughter’s body had

already been sent to P.S. for holding post-mortem examination.

The police inquest was held. Two pieces of light green coloured

tape recorder chord, one of which measuring about 2.5 ft. long, and

another being 8 ft. long, were seized during investigation, alleging the

same to have been used in the instant murder, as weapon of assault. The

dead body of deceased was subjected to autopsy after due consultation of

inquest report and F.S.L. report of viscera of deceased. The Autopsy

Surgeon opined that the death of the deceased was due to asphyxia as

effect of strangulation by ligature, which was ante-mortem and homicidal

in nature.

Police undertook investigation receiving a complaint on 26.06.1998

from the father of deceased, and on completion of investigation

submitted charge against the accused persons. The Trial was conducted

framing charge against the accused persons/appellants under Section

498A/302/34 I.P.C., and collecting evidence of as many as eleven (11)

witnesses.

PW-1 is the de-facto complainant being the father of deceased,

while PW-2 is the eldest son-in-law of the de-facto complainant. PW-

and PW-4 are the neighbours of PW-1, and they are also relatives of PW-

1. PW-5 and PW-6 are neighbours of accused/appellants, out of which

PW-5 was declared Hostile to prosecution. PW-7 is Autopsy Surgeon


furnishing his post-mortem report Exhibit-1, and his final opinion to the

cause of death is Exhibit-3, given after perusal of F.S.L. report of the

viscera of deceased (Exhibit-2). PW-8 is the first Investigating Officer,

while PW-11 is the last Investigating Officer submitting charge sheet in

this case. PW-9 is a seizure witness in respect of whom two (2) pieces of

tape recorder chord (Exhibit-7), one piece of which was found lying by

the side of the dead body of deceased, and another was found tied with

the bamboo of thatched roof ceiling house in the in-law’s of accused

persons. PW-10 is the Recording Officer in respect of complaint received

from the de-facto complainant (Exhibit-5).

The Trial Court appears to have based his conviction relying upon

the testimony of prosecution witnesses, other than PW-5 (declared

hostile), taking support of Autopsy Surgeon’s report, and the

Investigating Officer as well.

Defence set up during trial is denial of offence, false implication

together with a plea, though not successfully established, that since

victim had love affairs with someone, and against her wish she was given

marriage with accused husband, the victim herself committed suicide by

hanging for her past love having been frustrated.

The order of conviction and sentence was challenged in this appeal

making submission, which may be mentioned as hereunder:


1. That the learned Trial Judge had improperly exercised his

authority in holding the accused persons/appellants guilty

laying much emphasis upon the Autopsy Surgeon’s report in a

case where there was no supportive, clinching materials in

evidence to make out a clear case of strangulation, as opposed

to suicidal death, and further in the absence of weapon of

assault being two (2) pieces of tape recorder’s chord, being

produced before the Trial Court, there cannot be any

conviction in a murder trial;

2. That the learned Trial Judge most illegally disregarded the

version of PW-5, a neiboughering people of accused persons

having had his opportunity to be present in the house of

accused persons after being attracted by the cries of accused

mother-in-law of deceased victim, and PW-5 having himself

found the deceased victim to be in hanging condition, he

proceeded to cut the knot and caused dead body to be brought

down to the earth, and thus making no reliance upon the

testimony of PW-5, the probability of occasioning suicidal

death was stifled to death;

3. That the learned Trial Judge committed a breach in

believing the testimony of PW-1, 2, 3, and 4, who were

partisan by themselves, to make out a case of cruelty, in a

case where admittedly the marriage of victim was a negotiated

one, expressing mutual satisfaction by each of the parties to


the marriage, and thus the allegation of having caused cruelty

to victim for her black complexion would not be a believable

version;

4. That the evidence adduced having contained serious

discrepancies/contradictions, there developed substantial

doubt over the death of the deceased, and the benefit of such

doubt should be necessarily favoured to accused/appellant;

5. That the post conduct of the mother-in-law revealed in the

testimony of witnesses would not necessarily leave materials

for homicidal death, contrary to suicidal death of deceased;

6. That the dead body of victim having recovered from a cow

shed, though situated within the compound of the house of

accused persons, the parents-in-law could not be necessarily

implicated in this case framing charges against them;

7. That there was delay of two (2) days in lodging the F.I.R. at

the police station, which left sufficient room for concoction and

embellishment in the version of prosecution case.

Respondent/State contested the appeal supporting the order of

conviction. According to Respondent, the cross-examination of Autopsy

Surgeon revealing a case of homicidal death of deceased victim remaining

unshaken to doubt, learned Trial Judge had rightly believed the report of

Autopsy Surgeon, describing the prosecution case to be coming within

the meaning of homicidal death, but not a suicidal death.


The plea of suicidal death not being established in trial even during

cross-examination, the same should not be allowed to be reopened. The

allegation of causing homicidal death thus, according to

State/Respondent was rightly attracted against the accused/appellants

taking resort to Section 106/113(A) of Evidence Act. The order of

conviction and sentence, according to State, would remain undisturbed.

At the very threshold of this case, this may be mentioned that the

instant case is not based on dowry demand. The death of deceased, as

set up by prosecution during trial was the dissatisfaction of accused

persons expressed with regard to black complexion of deceased victim in

a case where marriage was admittedly negotiable one.

Investigation was initially started recording a case against

accused/appellants under Section 498A/306 I.P.C., but upon receipt of

final report of Autopsy Surgeon, a new horizon was developed attracting

the provision of Section 302 read with Section 498A against accused

persons. The Autopsy Surgeon kept his final opinion pending even

noticing presence of a continuous ligature mark on the neck of deceased,

without perusing the F.S.L. report of viscera of deceased, where nothing

could be detected as regards poison in the viscera of the deceased. The

definite opinion of Autopsy Surgeon was that the death of deceased was

asphyxia, being consequent upon strangulation evidenced by ligature,

which was ante-mortem and homicidal in nature. Prosecution thus, is

found to rest upon strangulation, a homicidal death respecting Autopsy

Surgeon’s report.

Five (5) accused persons were put up for trial, including the

present appellants. Out of three (3) appellants herein appellant no. 1 is

the husband, appellant no. 2 is the father-in-law, while appellant no. 3 is

the mother-in-law of deceased. Out of five (5) persons put up for trial,

two (2) accused persons were favoured with acquittal for want of evidence

by the Trial Court. During the pendency of this appeal, we had the

occasion to receive a report from correctional authority informing that

appellant no. 2/Hasaruddin Miah @ Mia @ Hachheruddin Mia had

expired on 24.02.2013 in hospital.

The prosecution case simpliciter is that deceased victim was put to

suffer death by hanging in her matrimonial home, the reason being the

dissatisfaction of the accused persons for the black complexion of

deceased victim. The entire effort of accused/appellant was to render the

prosecution case improbable and unbelievable on the principal ground of

non-production of offending weapon in the instant murder a case where

the prosecution firmly relied upon the Autopsy Surgeon’s report,

revealing a case of homicidal death by reason of strangulation suffered

by deceased.

We would now address the points raised in this appeal by the

discussion made hereunder, bearing in mind that the deceased victim, a twenty (20) year old woman, suffered her unnatural death in her

matrimonial home about seven (7) months after her marriage. Such

discussion would help us coming to a rational decision after ascertaining

whether it was a homicidal death or a suicidal one.

Admittedly, the marriage of deceased victim was a negotiable one.

After marriage victim had been to her in-law’s house. She lived together

with her husband to maintain her conjugal life staying in a separate

room of her in-law’s house. Though, the de-facto complainant being the

father/PW-1 of deceased victim stated in his evidence that he satisfied

the demands of accused persons by paying a cash of Rs. 11,000/-

(Rupees Eleven Thousand), one bicycle, ornaments of three descriptions

at the time of marriage of his deceased daughter, but the entire edifice of

prosecution case of homicidal death being not founded upon the story of

dissatisfaction of post marital demand leading to the death of deceased

for the cruelty she received in her in-law’s house, it would be an

irrelevant exercise for our present purpose to deeply go into such issue.

A look to the evidence is necessary to ascertain perpetration of

cruelty upon victim in her marital home by appellants for their

dissatisfaction over the black complexion of victim.

The evidence adduced by PW-1 is specific to reveal that four days

after marriage, victim visited her paternal house, when she expressed her

dissatisfaction expressing the cruelty she received by her in-law’s

members over her black complexion. The deceased thus, made her

father/PW-1 posted with a fact that the torture assumed such

dimension, when in-law’s members directed her to live in a cow shed.

The cause of inflicting torture was the black complexion of

deceased victim, which lead the in-law's members of victim including her

accused husband to cause physical cruelty upon her. It was also given to

understand that victim received threat from in-law’s members for her

husband's second marriage after driving her out from matrimonial home.

So long victim remained alive and visited her paternal house, she

expressed her extent of torture and cruelty inflicted upon her by her inlaw's

members, and all the times the de-facto complainant persuaded his

daugther to return to her in-law's house for her future prospect, keeping

in view the poor condition of de-facto complainant/father. The mother of

victim, since deceased, when visited the in-law's house about four days

prior to the incident of death, the in-law's members wounded the

deceased victim even in presence of her mother, and the victim

individually informed everything to her mother aobut the extent of

cruelty she recieved, and reason of such torture. The mother of the

victim after returning to her house stated such things to de-facto

complainant/ father. Ultimately, the deceased victim was put to suffer

death by hanging on 24.06.1998, in her in-law's house.


Such unnatural death information, according to PW-1, was not

given to PW-1/father, and when de-facto complainant/father reached to

the in-law's house of victim pursuant to the information supplied by his

eldest son-in-law, the dead body of deceased victim had already been

sent to police station for post-mortem. The contention of PW-1, as stated

in his evidence, was that the accused persons deliberately got the dead

body of victim buried without furnishing information of his daughter’s

death. PW-1/father thus, claimed in his testimony that his deceased

victim daughter had been put to suffer her death by accused persons

after causing her to suffer cruelty, expressing their utter dissatisfaction

over her black complexion even after the marriage was a negotiated one.

PW-2 being the eldest son-in-law of PW-1 corroborated the

testimony of PW-1, as regards the cruelty perpetrated upon the victim,

and the cause of cruelty inflicted upon the victim. PW-2 supporting the

prosecution story gave out that he had the occasion to know about

torture and cruelty inflicted upon victim whenever she visited his house.

PW-2 after receiving death information of deceased victim had been to

the in-law’s house of deceased victim, which was about 1-1.5 Km. away

(approx.) from his house, and on reaching there he found the dead body

lying over there. PW-2 having learnt from accused persons that

information of death had not been sent to the father of deceased, he

returned to his house and sent information to his father-in-law/PW-1 by

sending his younger brother. Both PW-1/father and son-in-law/PW-2

together visited the in-law’s house of victim, when the dead body of

victim had already been sent to police station for post-mortem

examination.

PW-3 and PW-4 are the relatives and neighbouring people of PW-1.

Both PW-3 and PW-4 supported prosecution case offering corroboration

to the testimony of PW-1 that the accused persons put the victim to

cruelty in several ways, expressing their dissatisfaction for her black

complexion. They knew about the torture either from deceased victim,

whenever she visited her father’s house, or from victim’s father. They

consistently stated that whenever victim visited her paternal house, all

the times the father/PW-1 persuaded her to go back to her in-law’s

house, keeping in view the poor condition of her father obviously for

future benefit. These two witnesses (PW-3 and pw-4) had know occasion

to to see commission of cruelty in their own eyes by visiting to the inlaw’s

house of deceased victim.

Though argument was raised that prosecution case could not be

believed on the ground that even after knowing the commission of cruelty

upon the victim, and cause of cruelty, the parents of victim never

reported the same to police station or to panchyaat body, and the

neighbouring people living around in-law’s house of deceased victim, but

this cannot be invariable rule that parent would immediately lodge a

complaint immediately after knowing commission of cruelty upon their daughter, ignoring possibilty of reconciliation mutually. It is ordinary conduct that parents would prefer to persuade their daughter ignoring the torture, and the cruelty for the future benefit of their daughter.

This is a case where PW-1/father of victim owns 15-16 kathas of

agricultural land for his livelihood. Naturally, the father was left with

best option to persuade his daughter for rejoining her in-law’s house,

foregoing the torture, ill-treatment, cruelty for future prospect, and this

was rightly done by father/PW-1 by persuading his daughter, so that she

could be made to return to her in-law’s house for leading a peaceful conjugal life

with husband.

The cause of cruelty was challenged by the learned advocate for

the appellant contending that since it was a negotiated marriage, there was no scope for the in-law’s members to express their dissatisfaction for the black complexion of victim.

Though marriage was held after negotiation between the parties,

but when there is consistent evidence of PW-1 to PW-4 that victim was

put to suffer cruelty by in-law’s members, for their dissatisfaction

expressed over the black complexion of deceased, and further for giving a

threat to deceased victim proposing a second marriage of her accused

husband after driving her out from in-law’s house, the prosecution case

should not to be looked with doubt simply upon noticing denial of the accused persons in their cross-examination.

Causing cruelty to deceased victim for her black complexion even after her marriage by the in-law’s members would definitly attract Section 498A/34 I.P.C. against the in-law’s members, including accused husband.

The next question begging answer from us is whether the victim

suffered homicidal or suicidal death is a question of fact being dependent

upon circumstances, to be decided from evidence established in this

case.

Learned advocate for the appellant referring cross-examination of

PW-2 submitted that since the marriage of victim was given against her wish, ignoring her love affair with someone, the deceased victim

 voluntarily committed suicide in her in-law’s house, and therefore,

allegation of homicidal death by accused in-law’s members for her black complexion after causing cruelty to her was far from belief.

True it is that there was a suggestion to that effect in cross examination

to PW-2, but the witness denied the same. There was no

other convincing evidence transpired in the cross-examination of

witnesses to reveal the previous love affairs of deceased victim with

someone else, and the mental disposition of victim, supportive of

commissioning suicide, as contended.

During examination under Section 313 Cr.P.C., accused persons

failed to offer any satisfactory explanation in support of their stand based

on suicidal death, compared to homicidal death. Accordingly, such

suggestion of love affair of deceased victim, and commission of suicide for

giving marriage against her wish, thus, would be without any relevance.

The place of occurrence, according to rough sketch prepared is at

the north of in-law’s house of victim. According to PW-1/father, there

are five rooms in the in-law’s house of his deceased daughter, and his

daughter at the relevant point of time used to occupy south facing room

with his son-in-law.

Autopsy Surgeon while holding post-mortem examination,

consulted the police inquest, wherein the place of occurrence was

described to be situated at the north sided room of in-law’s house of

deceased victim, and thus, matching with rough sketch map prepared by

Investigating Officer, and the evidence of PW-1. Though police inquest

was not proved in evidence, but the same may be incidentally looked

upon applying judicial notice over the same for identification of P.O.

perspicuously in the instant case for a challenge over the P.O. disputing

it to be a cow shed. We are accordingly not impressed with the

submission of appellant challenging the P.O. so as to exculpate the inlaw’s

members from charges framed.

PW-5, a neighbour of accused person before being declared hostile

to the prosecution stated in his evidence that while he was going for bath

in the nearby river, he rushed to the house of the accused persons being


attracted by the shout raised by the mother-in-law, and on reaching

there her found the body of victim in hanging condition. Seeing such

hanging body of the victim, PW-5 claimed to have cut down the knot of

the dead body, and caused the body to be brought down. According to

PW-5, the mother-in-law was then found weeping. PW-11, being the last

Investigating Officer contradicted with such evidence of PW-5 by stating

to the effect that during investigation PW-5 never made any statement,

stating that he found the body in hanging condition and also found the

same on floor, thereby rendering the testimony of PW-5 to be suspicious

one. When there is clear contradiction as regards that part of the

statement of a hostile witness (PW-5) before being declared hostile with

that of the statement of Investigating Offcer, the inference would be that

it is nothing but an embellishment, exaggeration or improvement of a

version of a witness, developed during trial, and relying upon which no

conclusion can be reached.

PW-6 is an another neighbour of accused persons, who visited the

hosue of accused persons on the relevant date being attracted by the

alarm raised by mother-in-law of deceased victim. This witness found the

mother-in-law of victim crying, taking out the dead body of the victim.

PW-6 could not tell as to how the dead body was brought down, and who

brought down the same on earth, but he could only find marks of half

strangulation on the neck of deceased. He, however, supported stating

that the victim had suffered death about seven moths after her marriage.

18

The mark of strangulation, as noticed by PW-6 was unveiled by Autopsy

Surgeon/PW-7, who found one straight horizontal line linear in the

middle of neck, three (3) inch in length, resembling ligature mark of

telephone chord.

Initially, the post-mortem doctor could not give a definite any

opinion of death by his report (vide Exhibit-1), but he subsequently after

perusal of F.S.L. report (Exhibit-2) passed his opinion stating that the

death was due to axphyxia, as effect of strangulation by ligature mark,

which was ante-mortem and homicidal in nature. Autopsy Surgeon also

stated categorically in his evidence that if any person is pressed by

telephone chord on his throat, then there could be ligature mark, as he

found in the instant case, which might have caused the death of

deceased victim.

Thus, noticing such continuous ligature mark Autopsy Surgeon

opined in absence of poison in the viscera of deceased that it was a case

of homicidal death, and ante-mortem in nature.

Though, death of deceased was contended grossly to be suicidal

one by the appellant, contrary to the case of homicidal death, as revealed

from Autopsy Surgeon’s report, but surprisingly such death of the

deceased victim could not be challenged in the cross-examination of

witnesses, specially to post-mortem doctor proposing that such death of

deceased would not have held with use of telephone chord seized. It

19

would be insignificant if the seized chord is known for the use of tape

recorder or telephone. Relevant fact is that death was caused with use of

such chord, as produced before P.M. doctor before holding his postmortem

examination.

Alternatively, it may be put in this way that homicidal death stated

to be caused with use of telephone chord could not be challenged even by

putting suggestion to the effect such homicidal death of deceased would

not have been possible with use of such telephone chord. Having noticed

continuous ligature mark, Autopsy Surgeon completely eliminated the

possibility of causing any suicidal death of deceased. And thus, the

homicidal death of deceased with use of telephone chord remained unchallenged,

and unshaken during the ordeal of cross-examination of

Autopsy Surgeon.

PW-9 is a police constable, and a seizure witness in respect of two

pieces of tape recorder chord (vide Exhibit-7). Admittedly, the seized two

pieces of chords, seized as Exhibit-7, could not be produced during trial

of this case so as to get the same identified, at least by the seizure

witness, and by the Autopsy Surgeon.

Learned advocate for the appellant putting much emphasis on the

ground of non-production of offending weapon in the instant murder trial

contended that it would be most unreasonable to hold that in-law’s

20

members had used those seized chords as an offending weapon to cause

death of deceasd in her matrimonial home.

Reliance was accordingly placed by learned advocate for the

appellant on such issue, on a decision reported in 2010 (6) SCC 525

delivered in the case of Niranjan Panja Vs. State of West Bengal, that

non-production of offending weapon in murder trial would lead to a

major discrepancy in the prosecution evidence, and in the absence of any

explanation being offered by the prosecution regarding non-production of

offending weapon during trial, the evidence adduced by the prosecution

should have been discarded after providing benefit of doubt in favour of

accused persons for non-production of such offending weapon.

The only question thus, required to be answered by us is whether

such non-production of weapon in a murder trial will lead to the

rejection of the testimony of Autopsy Surgeon or not.

In the decision referred above by appellant, the conviction in a

murder case was upheld by the High Court relying upon the

circumstantial evidence upon due consideration of the theory of “last

seen together”, and further discovery of weapon, as used in the

commission of murder being a ‘katari’ in the referred case. Investigation

recovered a ‘katari’ being offending weapon in application of provision of

Section 27 of the Evidence Act. The Apex Court held in such referred

case that the proof of discoveries itself was doubtful, and further the

21

‘katari’ was never produced before the court during trial, which was said

to have been lost and never seen the light of day before the court. The

discovery of weapon being doubtful together with non-production of

offending weapon in court in absence of any explanation for nonproduction

of the same lead to the rejection of testimony of Autopsy

Surgeon. Resultantly, accused was favoured with acquittal.

In the instant case, deceased victim being the second daughter of

the de-facto complainant was put to suffer her death by hanging in her

in-law’s house. The south facing room situated to the north of in-law’s

house was ordinarily shared by deceased and her accused husband,

after they got married. In this case, no explanation was offered by

prosecuting agency for the non-production of such pieces of chord, said

to be seized in this case, as per PW-9 (a seizure witness).

We should not be forgetful to take note of evidence adduced in the

testimony of PW-7 (Autopsy Surgeon) that the seized chord was shown to

Autopsy Surgeon by the escorting police producing the dead body for

holding post-mortem examination. Such part of the evidence of Autopsy

Surgeon remained undisturbed even in cross-examination of Autopsy

Surgeon.

The established fact is that there was an unnatural death of

deceased held within seven months of her marriage. Such unnatural

death was admittedly held in the in-law’s house of deceased victim. There

22

was sufficient evidence to show that the victim received oppression, illtreatment,

torture, cruelty in her in-law’s house by her in-law’s members

for her black complexion. Victim was further threatened to be driven out

from her matrimonial home for giving second marriage of her husband.

The in-law’s house of the deceased being situated at a distance of

6-7 miles away from the paternal house of the deceased victim, it was

quite impossible for the de-facto complainant family members to

physically present at the time of commission of cruelty upon the victim in

her in-law’s house. The neighbouring people of the accused persons,

though examined like PW-5 and PW-6, remained silent on such issue.

Prosecution is thus in an extream difficult situation to adduce

foundational evidence in respect of facts, which are known exclusively to

the knowledge of the in-law’s members, as to how the deceased victim

suffered her death in her in-law’s house.

It would be profitable here to take recourse to Section 106 of

Evidence Act at this juncture for its appropriate application, as the

injured victim suffered death in her dwelling home, where the victim and

her husband ordinarily resided. Section 106 of Evidence Act provides

inter alia that when any fact is specially within the knowledge of any

person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Learned advocate for

the appellant in his honest effort persuaded us to impress that since

deceased victim suffered her death by hanging in consequence of her

23

frustrated previous love affair with someone, Section 106 of the Evidence

Act would not have any application over the present facts and

circumstances of this case.

We are not prepared to accept such contention of the appellant,

when victim was put to suffer her death by hanging in a room situated to

the north of in-law’s house of deceased victim, ordinarily and commonly

shared by deceased herself and her accused husband together after they

got themselves married. That being the present situation, the accused

husband having failed to offer any explanation for the injuries caused to

his wife, the failure would lead to the conclusion that the death of the

deceased had occurred in the custody of accused husband.

The denial of prosecution case by accused husband coupled with

absence of explanation, in our considered view, appears to be

inconsistent with the innocence of accused, but consistent with

hypothesis of guilt of accused husband. More so, since deceased was put

to suffer her death in her matrimonial home in the manner as disclosed

by Autopsy Surgeon, in the absence of any cogent evidence in the crossexamination

of witnesses that there was a fair possibility of an outsider

committing the offence, the plea of denial with false implication is

inconsequential. It was for the husband alone to explain the grounds for

the unnatural death of his wife.

24

Shelter may be taken profitably on a decision reported in 2014

(12) SCC (211) rendered in the case of State of Rajasthan Vs. Thakur

Singh, wherein the law regarding the special knowledge available under

Section 106 of Evidence Act was reinforced. Paragraph-22 of such

judgment pertinently may be mentioned as hereunder.

“22. The law, therefore, is quite well setlled that the burden

of proving the guilt of an accused is on the prosecution, but

there may be certain facts pertaining to a crime that can be

known only to the accused, or are virtually impossible for the

prosecution to prove. These facts need to be explained by the

accused and if he does not do so, then it is a strong

circumstance pointing to his guilt based on those facts.”

The deceased victim thus having suffered unnatural death in a

room of her in-law’s house, ordinarily shared together with her husband,

the husband would necessarily under his obligation to give an

explanation for the cause of her death either furnishing statement under

Section 313 Cr.P.C. or by adducing evidence independently after entering

into defence under Section 233 Cr.P.C.

True it is that there was no explanation for the non-production of

offending weapon in court, and there was no explanation offered to that

effect by the prosecuting agency, but at any rate the offending weapon

cannot be said to have been lost for want of explanation being offered.

Non-production of offending weapon in the absence of any explanation

may be an error or latches on the part of prosecuting agency, but such

25

error or omission would not itself discard the testimony of Autopsy

Surgeon. When the homicidal death of the deceased held in her

matrimonial home caused with use of chord, as already seized and

produced before the Autopsy Surgeon at the time of post-mortem

examination, remained unchallenged in the cross-examination of

witnesses, particularly, the Autopsy Surgeon, mere non production of

offending weapon in the court, and mere non-showing of the same to

Autopsy Surgeon at the time of his deposition in court would be

inconsequential , and in no manner it would weaken the prosecution

case.

It would be relevant here to take recourse to a decision reported in

2017 (13) SCC 81 delivered in the case of Sudha Renukaiah & Ors.

Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, wherein non-production of weapon to the

P.M. doctor at the time of his deposition in court was held

inconsequential, keeping in view the concurrent finding of death, reached

by the Trial Court and subsequently affirmed by High Court as regards

homicidal death of the deceased upon making reliance on the testimony

of Autopsy Surgeon with other eye-witnesses.

The decision thus referred by the appellant in the case of Niranjan

Panja (supra), will thus have no application over the factual scenario of

this case. More so, the facts covered in the referred case, as cited by the

appellant are distinguishable on facts.

26

When deceased was put to suffer her death by hanging, the cause

of which being exclusively explainable by the accused husband himself,

non-production of the offending weapon would not matter much, so as to

cause damage to the testimony of prosecution witnesses, particularly to

Autopsy Surgeon. Though non-production of offending weapon was

grossly challenged in appeal, but during trial accused persons never

preferred to exercise their option under Section 233 Cr.P.C. requiring

Trial Court for production of same by prosecution in support of their

defence, and as such the same can not be lightly viewed.

As regards the witnesses examined by the prosecution particularly

PW-1, 2, 3 and 4, who were contended to be partisan by themselves

should not be relied upon for their interest over this case. Partisan

witnesesses themselves would not be a strong ground for rejection of

their testimony. What is necessary in the given context of this case is

close scrutiny of the evidence adduced by PW-1, 2, 3 and 4, and

acceptance of the same after caution. Upon applying the same principle,

it appears that testimony of such witnesses, referred above, are

intrinsically reliable being inherently probable, and their testimony

would not be liable for rejection by reason of their inter se relation.

The facts and circumstances would thus unerringly point to the

guilt of accused husband/appellant for causing homicidal death to

deceased/wife by strangulation for his non-satisfaction over the black

27

complexion of his wife, which led to give birth his motive to cause death

of his wife.

The occurrence was held admittedly on 24.06.1998, and the F.I.R.

was lodged on 26.06.1998, by the de-facto complainant/father.

According to appellant, the delay caused in lodging the F.I.R. rendered

the prosecution case to be improbable, and doubtful also. It is settled

proposition of law that delay in lodging the F.I.R. if remaining unexplained,

would leave materials for concoction, and embellishment in

the version of prosecution story during the intervening period of delay.

In this case the post-mortem was held on 25.06.1998. According to

PW-1, appellant’s house was at a distance of 6/7 miles from the house of

de-facto complainant/father. The eldest son-in-law furnished the death

information of victim to de-facto complainant. The house of accused

persons was at a distance of less than two (2) miles away from the house

of eldest son-in-law (PW-2).

Both PW-1 and PW-2 visited the in-law’s house of deceased victim

on the relevant date after receiving information of death, and since it was

night, they could not go to the police station. The de-facto complainant

father after being provided with the information of death, visited the inlaw’s

house of his daughter being accompanied by PW-2, when the dead

body of deceased had already been sent to police station for post-mortem

examination.

28

Thus, complaint came to be lodged on 26.06.1998, by de-facto

complainant father, who by this time managed to cope up his griefs and

frustration, and found reasons to seek justice for the injustice done to

his daughter. The explanation is thus offered in the evidence. In our

view, the same appears to be sufficient and cogent. The delay thus

caused, as contended, would be without any significance.

The post conduct of the mother-in-law revealed from the testimony

of PW-5 and 6, who found mother-in-law crying taking the dead body of

deceased victim, according to appellant, would not necessarily leave

materials against her for commission of a homicidal death, though it

might be suggestive of suicidal death.

The father-in-law of deceased (Hasaruddin Miah @ Mia @

Hachheruddin Mia) having already suffered death during the pendency

of this case, the instant appeal be taken to have dropped against him.

The person committing homicidal death would ordinarily leave the

place of occurrence anticipating the consequence. When mother-inlaw/

accused was found to remain present in her own house, even after

the crime was over, and seen crying taking the dead body of her

daughter-in-law, such post conduct of accused/mother-in-law is a strong

fact requiring due consideration, as focused by the learned advocate for

the appellant.

29

As has already discussed that the unnatural homicidal death of

deceased was held in her dwelling room of her in-law’s house, ordinarily

shared by the deceased and her husband together after they got

themselves married, and the cause of such death being pre-eminently

and exceptionally within the knowledge of her accused husband, which

remained un-explained by accused husband himself, recording an order

of conviction under Section 302/34 I.P.C. as against appellant motherin-

law even after taking note of such facts, referred above, would be

without any reasons and not justified accordingly.

The commission of cruelty upon the deceased though proved

against the mother-in-law under Section 498A read with Section 34

I.P.C., but she should not have been held convicted for causing

homicidal death of deceased victim under the behest of Section 302/34

I.P.C. on the simple ground that death of the victim was held in her

matrimonial home.

The essence of Section 34 being conscious meeting of minds of

persons participating in the criminal action, there is hardly any scope of

drawing application of Section 34 against the appellant mother-in-law for

causing homicidal death of victim, which was admittedly held in a room

occupied by deceased herself and accused husband ordinarily together.

For the discussions made hereinabove, we had no occasion to look

the prosecution case with doubt, disbelieving the version of homicidal

death of deceased victim opposed to the suicidal death, as attempted to

be set up by appellant. The witnesses examined during trial, except PW-

5, are consistent in their respective version, and they are reliabe also.

The credibility of such witnesses including the Autopsy Surgeon/PW-7

could not be shaken to doubt in cross-examination, favourable to the

purpose of accused appellant.

The conviction reached by the Trial Court under Section 498A/34

I.P.C., as against the accused appellant husband and mother-in-law

appellant would remain undisturbed.

The conviction and sentence as against the accused mother-in-law

needs sufficient modification. Accordingly, we modify the conviction and

sentence of accused mother-in-law under Section 498A/34 I.P.C., and

she deserves to be favoured with an order of acquittal for offence under

Section 302/34 I.P.C.

We, however, do not want to interfere with the conviction and

sentence recorded against the accused husband appellant for sufficiency

of the evidence collected against him. We thus dismiss the appeal, as

against the appellant husband, maintaining his conviction and sentence

under Section 498A/302/34 I.P.C. Both the sentences, as awarded by

Trial Court, to run concurrently.


Accused mother-in-law be set free from correctional authority

forthwith upon completion of sentence awarded against her under

Section 498A/34.

The appeal thus stands disposed of.

Department is directed to send a copy of this judgment along with

Lower Court Record to the concerned Trial Court without causing any

delay through the concerned District Judge.

Department is further directed to send a copy of this judgment to

the concerned correctional home.

Urgent certified copy of this order, if applied for, be given to the

appearing parties as expeditiously as possible upon compliance with the

all necessary formalities.

I agree.

(Sahidullah Munshi, J.) (Subhasis Dasgupta, J.)

Print Page

No comments:

Post a comment