Gujarat High Court
State Of Gujarat vs Avinas Dinkar Joshi & on 8 April, 2013
  
	 
	 STATE OF GUJARAT....Appellant(s)V/SAVINAS DINKAR JOSHI
	 
	 
	 
	 
	 
	 
	 
	 
	

 
 


	 


	R/CR.A/900/2000
	                                                                    
	                           JUDGMENT

 

 


 
	  
	  
		 
			 

IN
			THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD
		
	

 


 


 


CRIMINAL APPEAL  NO. 900
of 2000
 


 


 

 


 

 

 

FOR
APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE: 

 

 


 

HONOURABLE
SMT. JUSTICE ABHILASHA KUMARI
 

===========================================================
 
	  
	 
	 
	  
		 
			 

1    
			
			
		
		 
			 

Whether
			Reporters of Local Papers may be allowed to see the judgment ?
			 

 

			
		
		 
			 

Yes
		
	
	 
		 
			 

2    
			
			
		
		 
			 

To
			be referred to the Reporter or not ?
			 

 

			
		
		 
			 

Yes
		
	
	 
		 
			 

3    
			
			
		
		 
			 

Whether
			their Lordships wish to see the fair copy of the judgment ?
			 

 

			
		
		 
			 

No
		
	
	 
		 
			 

4    
			
			
		
		 
			 

Whether
			this case involves a substantial question of law as to the
			interpretation of the Constitution of India, 1950 or any order
			made thereunder ?
			 

 

			
		
		 
			 

No
		
	
	 
		 
			 

5    
			
			
		
		 
			 

Whether
			it is to be circulated to the civil judge ?
			 

 

			
		
		 
			 

No
		
	

 

================================================================
 


STATE OF GUJARAT ....
Appellant
 


Versus
 


AVINAS DINKAR JOSHI  & 
2 .... Respondents
 

================================================================
 

Appearance:
 

MR
KL PANDYA, ADDITIONAL PUBLIC PROSECUTOR for the Appellant
 

MR
MITESH R AMIN, ADVOCATE for the Respondents
 

================================================================
 

 


 


	 
		  
		 
		  
			 
				 

CORAM:
				
				
			
			 
				 

HONOURABLE SMT.
				JUSTICE ABHILASHA KUMARI
			
		
	

 


 

 


Date :    08/04/2013 &
 


					     09/04/2013
 


 


 


ORAL JUDGMENT

The challenge in this appeal is to the judgment and order dated 06.07.2000, rendered by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Court No.14, Ahmedabad City, in Sessions Case No.150 of 1998, whereby, all three respondents original accused were acquitted of the charges under Sections 498A, 306 read with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code.

The case of the prosecution is as follows:

Deceased Bhavna was married to respondent No.1, Avinas Dinkar Joshi, five years prior to the incident that took place on 08.11.1997. Respondent No.1 resided at Dev-ni-Sheri, Lakha Patel s Pole, Sankdi Sheri, Raipur, Ahmedabad, with his father, mother Lalita Dinkar Joshi (respondent No.2), his sister, Alpa Dinkar Joshi (respondent No.3) and another sister and brother. A complaint was registered by Ramanlal Derasaria (PW-5), father of deceased Bhavna, to the effect that on 08.11.1997, in the afternoon, Bhavna left her matrimonial home along with her two children, namely, Puja, aged 3 years and son Kaushal, aged 5 months, without informing respondent No.1 or any of his family members. At about 9:30 pm, respondent No.2, Bhavna s mother-in-law, along with her sister, Usha, and son, Hardik, as well as other members of the family came to the house of the complainant and informed PW-7, Ranjanben, the mother of the deceased, that Bhavna had left the matrimonial house with her children and had gone to the house of PW-8, Taraben, aunt of the complainant, but had not returned home till 9:30 pm. The complainant was on duty at the relevant point of time and was informed that Bhavna was missing by his son, when he returned home. Information that Bhavna was missing with her children was given to the Astodia Police Station by the complainant on 09.11.1997. On 10.11.1997, the police personnel at the Astodia Police Station requested the complainant to go to Ellisbridge Police Station, as the dead body of a woman had been found, which was kept at Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital. The complainant went from Ellisbridge Police Station to the mortuary of V.S. Hospital, where he identified the dead body as that of his daughter, Bhavna. On the night intervening the 10th/11th November, 1997, the dead body of Kaushal, Bhavna s infant son, was found. On the next day, the dead body of Puja, daughter of the deceased, was recovered. It is the case of the prosecution that deceased Bhavna, along with her two children, committed suicide, by jumping into the Sabarmati river as the respondents and Pinakin, Bhavna s brother-in-law (who was not before the Court, being a minor at the relevant point of time), were harassing her frequently by inflicting mental and physical torture upon her. As per the case of the prosecution, respondent No.1 was suspicious of the character of the deceased as their daughter Puja was fair complexioned and he used to infer that she could be the daughter of another man. Due to this, respondent No.1 used to beat the deceased, which information the deceased had imparted to her mother, Ranjanben, PW-7, when she had come to her parental house. However, PW-7 had advised Bhavna to bear the torture and have courage.

The complaint was lodged on 15.11.1997, with Ellisbridge Police Station, alleging that the respondents treated Bhavna with cruelty by causing her physical and mental torture, leading to her suicide. It was also alleged that the respondents demanded a colour television, refrigerator and other articles and as those demands were not fulfilled, the deceased was ill-treated.

Upon registration of the complaint, the investigative machinery was set into motion. An inquest was held on the dead body of Bhavna, which was sent for autopsy. Three Panchnamas, at Exhibits 23, 27 and 29, respectively, came to be drawn. At the end of the investigation, as sufficient incriminating evidence was found against the respondents, a chargesheet was filed against them in the Court of the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, Court No.16, Ahmedabad. The case was committed to the Court of Sessions by the learned Magistrate, as the offence under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code is exclusively triable by such Court. It was registered as Sessions Case No.150 of 1998. The Sessions Court (hereinafter referred to as the Trial Court ) framed charges against the respondents on 13.07.1998, which were read over and explained to them. The respondents denied the charges and claimed to be tried. Accordingly, the case was put to Trial.

To establish its case, the prosecution examined as many as 12 witnesses and produced voluminous documentary evidence. The defence did not examine any witness. After the recording of the evidence of the prosecution witnesses was over, the Trial Court explained to the respondents, the statements appearing against them in evidence and recorded their statements under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The respondents denied the allegations of physical and mental cruelty and abetment of suicide levelled against them and submitted their further statements in defence. At the end of the Trial, after appreciation and evaluation of the evidence on record, the Trial Court acquitted the respondents of the charges against them, giving rise to the filing of the present appeal.

Mr.K.L.Pandya, learned Additional Public Prosecutor, has submitted that the Trial Court has failed to appreciate the evidence on record in proper perspective, as there is sufficient evidence on record to make good the charges against the respondents. It is submitted that the diary of the deceased is an incriminating piece of evidence. As the handwriting on the diary has been proved to be that of the deceased, it shows that on the day of the incident, the deceased left the matrimonial home with the intention to commit suicide, due to the cruel words uttered by respondent No.1. The deceased has written in the diary that her husband, respondent No.1, had called her a quarrelsome woman and told her that there would be peace in the house when she left. It is further submitted that the allegations of cruelty have been amply proved by the evidence of the complainant and PW-7, Ranjanben, mother of the deceased. Had the deceased not been mentally and physically harassed to the extent of committing suicide, she would not have taken her own life and those of her two small children. This shows that the deceased was driven to the point of committing suicide by the cruelty inflicted upon her by the respondents, especially respondent No.1, who abetted the act by their cruel acts.

The learned Additional Public Prosecutor further submits that the aspersions cast by respondent No.1 upon the character of the deceased to the effect that their daughter Puja, was fair complexioned and may not be his daughter, are enough to fall within the meaning of `cruelty as defined in Section 498Aof the Indian Penal Code, and are instigation enough for the deceased to take the extreme step. He has further urged that, as the reasons assigned for acquittal by the Trial Court are neither cogent nor convincing, the appeal may be allowed and the judgment and order of acquittal, set aside.

Mr.Mitesh R.Amin, learned advocate for the respondents, has forcefully submitted that in cases of this nature, the conduct of the accused is important. The incident took place on 08.11.1997, and when the complainant s family was informed that Bhavna was missing, both the families went in search of her together. They eventually informed the police that she was missing, on the basis of which a Janva Jog entry was made and a complaint regarding accidental death, was registered. It is further submitted that at the first instance, when the police took the statements of the complainant and his family members, none of them uttered even a word to the effect that the deceased was being treated cruelly. Suddenly, on 14.11.1997, the complainant got an idea that the keys found on the body of the deceased may furnish some evidence, and the Panchnama at Ex.27 was drawn regarding the recovery of the diary from a cupboard in the house of the respondents.

Learned counsel for the respondents vehemently submits that the manner in which the Panchnama of the recovery of the diary has been drawn is highly suspicious. The fact that the only Panch witness who has been examined is the real brother of the complainant, itself casts a shadow of doubt upon the recovery of the diary, on which the case of the prosecution hinges. Learned counsel further submits that the handwriting in the so-called suicide note (Muddamal Article No.1) has not been sent for verification by a Handwriting Expert, though the complainant has produced a piece of paper on 17.11.1997 (Muddamal Article No.2) allegedly written by the deceased. This paper has been produced after the Panchnama at Ex.27 was drawn. The prosecution has not thought it fit to send both the Muddamal Articles for verification but has chosen, instead, to rely upon the evidence of PW-3, Jayshriben, a friend of the deceased, who states that she recognizes the handwriting of the deceased, as they had studied together upto the 7th standard.

Learned counsel for the respondents further submits that Jayshriben accompanied the complainant to the Police Station frequently, as has emerged from the deposition of the complainant. Moreover, PW-3 states that she knew the deceased was being treated cruelly by the respondents. If this is true, it is curious why she would wait for about 50 days, to disclose it. The note, allegedly written by the deceased in the diary, therefore, does not inspire confidence and cannot be believed to be her Dying Declaration as it is not conclusively proved that it was written by her. It is further submitted that nowhere in the note has the deceased stated that she intends to commit suicide or is leaving the house to commit suicide. The deceased only states that she is leaving the house with her children, as respondent No.1 has called her a quarrelsome woman. The note in the diary cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be termed as a Dying Declaration.

It is further contended on behalf of the respondents that the diary has been recovered from a cupboard by PW-6, Harivadan Narmadashankar, uncle of the deceased, who is closely related to the complainant. He is the only panch witness of the Panchnama at Ex.27, who has been examined. An independent witness could easily have been found, but for some reason, the prosecution has roped in and examined an interested person. That, PW-6 has stated at least seven times in his deposition, that the Panchnama at Ex.27 has been drawn by Mr.Sathwara, PSI, whereas in fact, it has been drawn by Mr.K.D.Jadav, as is clear from the evidence of PW-11, who was the Writer of Mr.K.D.Jadav, since deceased. It is further submitted that the theory of the muscle-men who allegedly tried to prevent the opening of the cupboard, introduced by the respondents, is belied by the evidence of PW-11 who was present when the Panchnama was drawn. The recovery of the diary is shrouded with suspicion and cannot be believed. It is further submitted that it has come in the evidence of PW-6 and the complainant, that the police told all other persons to go downstairs, which left only the Panch witnesses and the police personnel in the room where the cupboard from which the diary was allegedly recovered, was kept. This makes the recovery even more suspicious.

Learned counsel for the respondents has further urged that the diary and the piece of paper allegedly containing the handwriting of Bhavna have been fabricated by the prosecution, in order to give a totally different colour to the entire incident. The piece of paper (Muddamal Article No.2) has been fabricated to lend support to the diary (Muddamal Article No.1). Had there been any ill-treatment by the respondents to the deceased which the complainant and his family knew of, it is not believable that they would keep silent for seven days and suddenly introduce the story of physical and mental torture, after the recovery of the diary. The complaint has been filed a day after the diary was recovered, though nothing had prevented the complainant from filing it immediately after the incident, had the allegations against the respondents been true to the knowledge of the complainant.

It is further submitted that the deceased had visited PW-8 just before the incident. PW-8 has deposed that the deceased was in a joyous mood and had taken tea and snacks with her. This does not indicate that the deceased was upset or depressed before the incident. Learned counsel for the respondents has further submitted that the oral evidence of the prosecution witnesses reveals that there are embellishments and improvements in the versions given by them. The complainant has himself admitted that his statements given to the police are true but has made several improvements in his oral deposition.

Lastly, it is submitted that the Trial Court has examined and appreciated the evidence in proper perspective and has given cogent and convincing reasons for the findings of acquittal in favour of the respondents. As the present is an appeal against acquittal, even if two views are possible, the view favouring the respondents ought to be adopted; therefore, this Court may not interfere with the judgment and order of the Trial Court.

In support of his submissions, learned counsel for the respondents has relied upon the judgments in the cases of State of Gujarat v. Bharatbhai Balubhai Lad and Ors. – 2006(1) GLH 718 and State of Gujarat v. Kalavatiben Liladhar 2007(2) GLR 1272.

I have heard the learned Additional Public Prosecutor for the appellant and learned counsel for the respondents at length and in great detail and examined the evidence on record.

After appreciation of the oral and documentary evidence on record, the Trial Court has, inter alia, arrived at the conclusion that undoubtedly Bhavna s death was due to drowning, and was a suicidal one. The Trial Court further found that the prosecution had been unsuccessful in proving the charges against the respondents beyond reasonable doubt, inter alia, for the following reasons:

(a) The deceased was missing from the matrimonial house on 08.11.1997. The complainant, in his statements made before three different police officers, did not level any allegations of physical or mental cruelty against the respondents upto 15.11.1997, when the complaint was filed.

(b) In the earlier statements given by the complainant and other prosecution witnesses before the police, it was stated that the matrimonial life of Bhavna with respondent No.1 and his family members, was harmonious. If the complainant had any knowledge of the physical and mental cruelty inflicted by the respondents upon the deceased, he would not have hesitated to state so before the police, at the first instance.

(c) The complainant states that as a bunch of keys was found on the body of the deceased, he felt that some evidence might surface if the cupboard of the deceased is opened with the keys. The cupboard in the house of the respondents was opened in the presence of Panch witnesses, one of whom is PW-6, Harivadanbhai Narmadashankar, the real brother of the complainant. The other Panch witness Labhubhai K. Joshi, has not been examined. A diary containing a note purportedly written by the deceased, was recovered from the cupboard. This note was allegedly written on 08.11.1997, on the day of the incident. It reads to the effect that respondent No.1 had said he had no use for Bhavna in the matrimonial house and had called her a quarrelsome woman. The Trial Court has observed that the deceased has not written in the note that she is leaving the house with the intention of committing suicide. She has only stated that she is leaving the house with her two children, due to the words allegedly spoken by respondent No.1. The handwriting on the note as well as the handwriting on the piece of paper allegedly written by Bhavna, produced by the Panchnama at Ex.23, have not been sent for verification by a Handwriting Expert, which casts a doubt on the authenticity of the note in the diary and the piece of paper produced at Ex.23.

(d) The Panchnama at Ex.27 regarding the recovery of diary, on which the entire prosecution case rests, is seriously disputed. The only Panch witness to have been examined. in this regard is PW-6, Harivadan Narmadashankar Derasari, who is the real brother of the complainant. It is noticed by the Trial Court that no other witnesses from the locality or neighbourhood of the respondents have been examined.

(e) Of the two Panch witnesses of the Panchnama at Ex.23, whereby the piece of paper allegedly containing the handwriting of the deceased was produced, the first witness Vanraj Jagatsinh Meena, resides in the same society as the complainant and the other Panch witness, Ashok Jagannath Raval, is the landlord of the complainant. Both the Panch witnesses are known to the complainant. Only one Panch witness of this Panchnama, Ashok Jagannath Raval, who is known to the complainant, has been examined as PW-1, at Ex.8. No independent witness has been examined.

(f) PW-3, Jayshriben, has stated that she has studied with the deceased upto the 7th standard and recognises her handwriting. She has deposed about 50 days after the incident and has been brought to the police station by the complainant. She professes to have knowledge regarding the ill-treatment of the deceased by the respondents, told to her by the deceased. However, she has not divulged any specific details of such ill-treatment or disclosed this information earlier.

(g) The Trial Court has found that independent witnesses have not been examined, though available. The statements of two such persons, namely Hardik Jitendrabhai and Ushaben Jitendrabhai, neighbours of the respondents, were recorded. However, for some unknown reason, they have not been examined.

(h) It is noticed by the Trial Court that the complainant has not uttered a single word regarding the demand for a television or refrigerator by any of the respondents, in his oral deposition and there is no material on record to substantiate this allegation.

(i) The Trial Court has further found that the oral and documentary evidence is insufficient to lead to the conclusion that the respondents have inflicted physical or mental torture upon the deceased, therefore, the charge under Section 498A of the IPC is not proved against the respondents.

(j) Regarding the charge under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, the Trial Court has found that there is no material on record to suggest that any of the respondents have instigated, abetted, aided or persuaded the deceased to commit suicide. In fact, on the day of the incident, the deceased along with her children, had visited PW-8, Taraben, aunt of the complainant, who lived near her house. PW-8 has stated that the deceased was in a happy frame of mind. Taraben is the person who has last seen the deceased. She has categorically stated that the deceased never complained of any harassment to her.

This Court is to determine whether, upon independent scrutiny, re-evaluation and analysis of the material on record, it finds itself in agreement with the above findings recorded by the Trial Court.

The present case is undoubtedly an unfortunate one, where a young woman ended her life by jumping into the Sabarmati river. She did not take this drastic step alone but took her two small children, daughter Puja, aged 3 years and son Kaushal, aged just five months, to their deaths. Whether she was forced to take this extreme step due to the physical and mental torture meted out to her by the respondents and whether there was active instigation from them to drive her to this end, is the question to be answered.

It is an admitted fact that from 09.11.1997, the day on which the deceased was missing from her house upto 15.11.1997, when the complaint was registered, the complainant did not state, in any of the statements given by him to the police, that his daughter Bhavna had ever complained of physical and mental torture at the hands of the respondents. In fact, when confronted with his statements to the Police, the complainant has accepted in his deposition that what he has stated in those statements is true. What happened suddenly after seven days of the incident that made the complainant change his stand? The answer to this question lies in the deposition of the complainant, himself.

The complainant, Ramanlal Narmadashankar, is the father of the deceased. He has been examined as PW-5 and his deposition is at Ex.14. He states that on 09.11.1997, his son Virendra came to inform him at his place of work that Bhavna was missing from her matrimonial house. He, therefore, came home and went to the house of the respondents. He states that he, along with the father-in-law of the deceased and about 50 other persons, went in search of Bhavna, but could not find her. On 09.11.1997, a complaint that Bhavna was missing was registered at Astodia Police Station. On the same day, they were informed by the police that the dead body of a woman had been found and was lying in the mortuary of Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital. Upon going to the said hospital, the complainant identified the dead body as that of his daughter, Bhavna. On the night of the same day, the dead body of Bhavna s infant son Kaushal was found from the river. On the next day, when the funeral ceremony of Bhavna was taking place, the dead body of her daughter, Puja, was found. It is at that point, that the complainant states in his deposition, that the deceased was facing harassment in her matrimonial house as respondent No.1 used to cast aspersions on her, that their daughter, Puja, did not resemble him, being fair complexioned. As per the complainant, this was disclosed by Bhavna to his wife, who informed him. Thereafter, both had gone to the house of the respondents and complained to the father of respondent No.1 (father-in-law of the deceased) regarding this. According to the complainant, the father-in-law of the deceased scolded respondents Nos.1 and 3.

It is clear from the evidence of the complainant that this incident had taken place after the birth of Puja, who was about three years old, at the time of the incident. There is no material on record to suggest that respondent No.1 continued to cast aspersions on Bhavna s character. The evidence of the complainant further discloses that there were cordial relations between his family and that of the respondents. He states that on the day before the Diwali festival, they had visited the house of the respondents to give a wedding invitation and had spent about two hours with the family of the respondents. They had taken tea and sweets, at least thrice. This witness further states that on 08.11.1997, the day of the incident, the deceased went to the house of PW-8, Taraben, aunt of the complainant. Thereafter, she went missing. Upon being shown the diary (Muddamal Article No.1), the complainant states that he recognises the handwriting of Bhavna. He further states that the bunch of keys found on the body of Bhavna aroused his suspicion, and he thought it proper to have the cupboard opened, to find some clues regarding Bhavna s death. The complainant further states that initially, a police officer objected to the cupboard being opened but the complainant approached the higher authorities and got the cupboard opened. When the cupboard was opened, he rummaged through it and initially did not find anything. Later, a box was found, in which the diary along with some bangles, etc., was found. He further states that when the cupboard was opened, PW-6, who is his brother, was present. It is stated by the complainant that some muscle-men entered the house and tried to prevent the police personnel and Panch witnesses from opening the cupboard. However, they were sent away by the police, who asked everybody present to go away, leaving only the Panch witnesses and the police in the room when the cupboard was opened. The note allegedly written by Bhavna on the day of the incident, was found in the diary recovered from the cupboard.

In his cross-examination, the complainant states that the police has recorded his statement on 17.11.1997, and admits that the statements recorded on 09.11.1997 and 10.11.1997 are true and correct. He further admits that he went for the `Besna at the house of the respondents. From the other details divulged by the complainant in his cross-examination, it transpires that the families of the complainant and the respondents were on good terms with each other socially, and there were frequent social interactions between them. Their relations were definitely cordial which indicates that there was no harassment to Bhavna. This witness admits in his cross-examination that the matrimonial life of his deceased daughter and respondent No.1 was good and that they used to frequently visit their house. He further states that the deceased did not face any harassment from her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law or brother-in-law, and that the respondents used to treat the deceased properly, and they all lived happily. The father of the deceased has further admitted that the deceased never complained of any ill-treatment. When the deceased committed suicide by jumping into the river, he did not suspect anyone as she was treated well in her matrimonial house and there was no dispute at her parental house. Having stated that there was no ill-treatment to Bhavna from the respondents, this witness reiterates that Bhavna told his wife that respondent No.1 used to cast aspersions on her that their daughter Puja did not resemble him. The deposition of the complainant is, therefore, self-contradictory. It has come in the cross-examination of this witness that he had gone to Astodia Police Station at least eight to ten times with PW-3, Jayshriben. It has further emerged from the cross-examination of the complainant that the deceased was desirous of living separately from her in-laws and that the parents of respondent No.1 had arranged for a separate house for her.

The evidence of PW-6, Harivadan Narmadashankar Derasari, is recorded at Ex.15. He is the brother of the complainant and uncle of the deceased. He is the only Panch witnesses of the Panchnama at Ex.27 regarding the recovery of the diary to be examined. He states that on 14.11.1997, he was called by the police as a Panch witness. The other Panch witness was one Labhubhai Keshavlal Joshi, who has not been examined. PW-6 states that he, along with the complainant, his other brother Maheshbhai, his nephew, PSI Sathwara (PW-12) and two Writers went to the house of the respondents. Several persons had gathered there, including the relatives of the deceased. According to him, Mr.Sathwara wanted to smoke a cigarette and one Chetanbhai was sent to fetch it. He states that he, along with others, went to the room where the cupboard was kept. Before the proceedings of the Panchnama could begin, some muscle-men tried to prevent them from entering and created an atmosphere of fear. Other relatives of the accused also gathered there, upon which Mr.Sathwara asked everybody to leave the place. This witness categorically states that Mr.Sathwara then handed over the keys to him and told him to open the cupboard. The cupboard belonged to the family of the respondents but its contents belonged to the deceased. He states that initially, nothing was found in the cupboard though several persons rummaged through it. Later on, however, a diary was recovered from a locker. Upon opening the diary a note, written by deceased Bhavna on the day of the incident, was found. According to PW-6, it was written in the note that the respondents had told Bhavna that she was a burden upon the family, therefore, she was going to commit suicide.

At this point, it would be relevant to state that the version given by PW-6 regarding the note allegedly written by Bhavna is not correct as, it is not written in the note that the deceased is leaving the house to commit suicide. Rather, it is just stated that she is leaving the house with her children. It is categorically stated by this witness that the note has not been addressed to any person and neither has it been signed. He further states that the other Panch witness Labhubhai Keshavlal, initially objected to the recovery of the diary but later on signed on the Panchnama. This witness further states that the Panchnama has been signed by PSI Sathwara, which fact is belied by the statement of Mr.Sathwara, himself, who is examined as PW-12. Mr.Sathwara categorically states in his testimony that he has not drawn the Panchnama at Ex.27 and neither has he signed on it. This casts a shadow of doubt on the entire version of the recovery of the note, especially as it is stated by PW-6 and the complainant that only the Panch witnesses and police were present when the cupboard was opened.

It is noteworthy that the Panchnama regarding the recovery of the diary (Muddamal Article No.1) has been drawn on 14.11.1997. Only thereafter, has the complaint been filed, on 15.11.1997. It is as though the prosecution was laying the foundation for the complaint. The version in the complaint is materially different from the version given by the complainant and other prosecution witnesses before the police, even though the complainant admits that the statements given by him to the police are correct. Even after the recovery of the diary, the prosecution did not take any pains to send it for verification by a handwriting expert, though there was nothing to prevent them from doing so. Instead, another Panchnama at Ex.23 was drawn on 17.11.1997, whereby the complainant produced a piece of paper, on which the deceased had written something regarding Shiv Parvati Vrat , when she had come to her parental home. This has been produced to prove that the handwriting on the piece of paper is the same as the handwriting in the diary, and both have been written by the deceased. One of the Panch witnesses of the Panchnama at Ex.23 is the landlord of the complainant (Ashok Jagannath Raval). The other Panch witness Vanrajsinh Jagatsinh Meena, who has been examined, resides in the same society as the complainant. The only Panch witness to have been examined is known to the complainant. The manner in which the piece of paper has been brought on record does not inspire confidence.

As discussed earlier, instead of sending the diary and the piece of paper produced by the Panchnama at Ex.23 for verification by a Handwriting Expert, the prosecution has chosen to examine PW-3, Jayshriben, a friend of the deceased, to prove that the handwriting on both is that of the deceased. Jayshriben has stated in her deposition that she has studied with the deceased upto the 7th standard. Thereafter, she used to meet the deceased during the Navratri festival. She states that the deceased had told her that respondent No.1 used to harass her. She further states that she and the deceased used to do lessons together, so she recognises the handwriting of the deceased.

In her cross-examination, this witness admits that she went to Astodia Police Station with the complainant and his wife. She further admits that the ink of the note in the diary, is faded whereas the ink used for writing the piece of paper produced by the complainant, is bright red. The evidence of this witness does not inspire much confidence, for the reason that being a close friend of the deceased, it is not natural behaviour to have waited for 50 days before divulging that the deceased had confided in her regarding the harassment by respondent No.1. PW-3 does not say anything regarding the nature of the alleged harassment, or any specific incident. It appears that this witness has deposed at the behest of the complainant, as it is clear from her deposition and that of the complainant.

The mother of the deceased, Ranjanben, has been examined as PW-7, at Ex.16. In her deposition she refers to a minor altercation between respondent No.1 and the deceased, at the time of the Puja s birth. She states that respondent No.1, while looking at Puja, stated that Puja was good-looking and did not resemble him. From the version of this witness, it transpires that this observation was made by respondent No.1 several years ago. Another altercation mentioned by this witness is one between the deceased and her sister-in-law, Alpaben (respondent No.3), regarding some household work, during which respondent No.3 allegedly called Bhavna by her name, which was not liked by Bhavna as, according to her, she was not addressed respectfully. According to Ranjanben, she went to the house of the respondents and advised both Bhavna and respondent No.3, Alpaben, to live together peacefully and harmoniously. At that time, her daughter had started sobbing uncontrollably, and told her that respondent No.1 and other members of the family are suspicious of her. This witness states that the deceased disclosed that the respondents were harassing her for small things. This witness states that she confronted respondent No.1 with this, and he apologised to her, saying he would not say such things in future. This witness further states that the father-in-law of the deceased admonished respondent No.1 for saying that Puja is fair-complexioned and does not resemble him. From the incidents stated by PW-7 in her deposition, nothing emerges to show that the respondents were inflicting continuous and unbearable physical and mental harassment upon the deceased. The incidents described by this witness are trivial in nature, as would normally occur in domestic life in a joint family, where all family members may not see eye to eye and one or the other may wittingly, or unwittingly, give offence to the other. However, such incidents are not so grave or serious, so as to be termed as cruelty, within the meaning of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. There is nothing on record to show that respondent No.1 continued to cast aspersions on the character of the deceased or that this was the reason for her suicide.

Even if the allegations made by the prosecution witnesses are taken at their face value, the fact remains that the deceased does not mention in the note allegedly written by her in the diary, that she was leaving the house with the intention to commit suicide because of the suspicion nurtured by respondent No.1 regarding her character. It is only stated that she is leaving the house along with her children and that respondent No.1 should not search for her or bother to find out whether she is alive or dead. The reason for leaving the house as stated in the note, is that respondent No.1 called her a quarrelsome woman and told her that she has brought two quarrelsome children with her, and peace would return to the house only when she goes. This note is neither signed by the deceased nor addressed to anybody. It bears the date of the fateful day when the incident took place.

PW-8, Taraben Bhaishankar Derasari, is the aunt of the complainant, who has been examined at Ex.20. This witness resides near the house of the deceased and was the last person to have seen her alive. The deceased had visited her at about 3:30 o clock in the afternoon on the date of the incident, with her children. The testimony of this witness reveals that the deceased took tea and snacks and was in a happy mood. She did not, at any point of time, complain of any ill-treatment at the hands of the respondents. This witness categorically states in her cross-examination that when the deceased came to meet her during the Diwali festival, she did not complain of any quarrels in the matrimonial house, nor did she say anything against her parents-in-law. This witness adds that the deceased lived peacefully at her matrimonial house.

There is no reason to disbelieve the evidence of Taraben, who is closely related to the complainant and resides close to the house of the deceased. From the evidence of this witness, it is clear that the deceased was not in a depressed or disturbed state of mind when she came to visit her. On the contrary, she appears to have been in a happy frame of mind. Had any incident or quarrel taken place in the matrimonial house just before the incident, the deceased would not have happily partaken of tea and snacks and sat with Taraben in a good frame of mind. This does not appear to be the natural behaviour of a woman who is contemplating suicide, taking her two small children with her. It, therefore, appears that there was no instigation or goading on the part of the respondents, within the period of time proximate to her suicide, so as to lead her to take the extreme step. The prosecution has failed to produce any cogent evidence to this effect.

At this stage, it may be noted that the respondents have stated in their written statement of defence that the deceased was scolded by respondent No.2 as she had beaten her daughter Puja for soiling her underclothes. It is further stated that a house had been arranged for the deceased to live separately. From the above, it appears that the demeanor of the deceased before taking the extreme step was not that of a distressed or disturbed person as is clear from the evidence of PW-8 Taraben. Further, there does not emerge any reason for taking the extreme step along with her children. Certain trivial incidents that have been described by the prosecution witnesses are not sufficient or serious enough to conclude that the respondents had treated Bhavna with cruelty, or had driven her to suicide.

Mr.Kantilal Atmaram Sathwara, Police Sub Inspector, has been examined as PW-12, at Ex.28. According to the testimony of PW-6, Harivadan Narmadashankar, brother of the complainant, this Police Officer was present when the Panchnama at Ex.27 was drawn and had also signed it. This aspect is belied by the evidence of PW-12, who states that he has not signed the said Panchnama, though he admits that the Panchnama at Ex.29 has been signed by him. He states that a bunch of keys, a buckle and bangles were found on the body of the deceased and it is for the recovery of these articles that Panchnama at Ex.29 has been drawn.

In his cross-examination, this witness categorically denies having anything to do with the Panchnama at Ex.27. Surprisingly, PW-6 has mentioned the name of this witness about seven times in his deposition. The oral evidence of PW-6 and PW-12 is, therefore, contradictory. One more suspicious circumstance is added to the recovery of the diary vide the Panchnama at Ex.27. It does appear from the sequence of events and the evidence on record that the diary and the piece of paper with Bhavna s handwriting are an afterthought.

The Police Officer who had, in fact, drawn the Panchnama at Ex.27 is one Mr.K.D.Jadav, who has since passed away. However, the fact that he had drawn the said Panchnama and signed it, is substantiated by the testimony of PW-11, Muljibhai Dhuljibhai, the Writer of Mr.Jadav, recorded at Ex.25. This witness identifies one of the signatures on the Panchnama as his own. He further identifies the signature of Mr.K.D.Jadav. The presence of this witness at the spot is substantiated by the testimony of PW-6, who states that along with Mr.Sathwara, two Writers were present when the Panchnama was made.

The above are the salient features of the evidence led by the prosecution witnesses. The crucial document on which the case of the prosecution rests is the Panchnama at Ex.27, regarding the recovery of the diary, in which the deceased allegedly wrote the so-called suicide note on 08.11.1997, the day of the incident. This Panchnama has been prepared on 14.11.1997, a day prior to the complaint dated 15.11.1997. From 08.11.1997, upto 15.11.1997, the complainant did not state before the police that his daughter Bhavna was being subjected to physical and mental cruelty, or that the respondents had driven her to commit suicide. The evidence on record is to the contrary. The complainant has himself admitted in his deposition that his earlier statements before the police are true and correct. Those statements do not incriminate the respondents, but are to the effect that the matrimonial life of the deceased was harmonious. It seems that the preparation of the Panchnama at Ex.27 paved the way for the registration of the complaint, on the very next day. A perusal of the contents of the complaint reveals that about six to seven days after the incident, the complainant changed his stand by stating that deceased Bhavna, was driven to her death by the taunts given by respondent No.1 regarding Puja not resembling him. He states that the deceased told her mother Ranjanben, that she was being harassed in her matrimonial home, but Ranjanben told her to have courage and sent her back. The complainant then introduces the story of the diary in which the deceased purportedly wrote the suicide note, by stating that the deceased has committed suicide due to the taunts given by respondent No.1. Lastly, the complainant has alleged that the respondents had demanded a colour television, refrigerator, and other articles from the deceased. There is absolutely no evidence regarding such demands.

Insofar as the allegations of cruelty are concerned, no specific incident has been narrated by the complainant. The allegations that have surfaced in the evidence of the complainant and his wife, are general and trivial in nature and do not pertain to the period of time proximate to the suicide of the deceased. The complaint has been filed after the recovery of the diary. It is not believable that any father, who has knowledge that his daughter is being harassed, tortured or treated cruelly in her matrimonial home, to the extent that she is forced to commit suicide, would keep silent regarding such treatment for six to seven days and file a complaint only after the note is found. If there was cruelty to the deceased in the knowledge of the complainant, it would have existed even before the note was written, and would not have been ignored by a father when the dead bodies of his daughter and her children are found in such tragic circumstances.

This brings us to the contents of the note in the diary recovered from the cupboard allegedly written by the deceased, on the day of the incident. This note has not been exhibited. However, its contents have been reproduced, verbatim, in the judgment of the Trial Court. In the note, the deceased has referred to some money borrowed by her parents from the respondents, and has stated that the amount would be paid back soon. She has further stated that on 08.11.1997 (the day of the incident), respondent No.1 called her kakadatan (quarrelsome woman) and said that she has brought two kakadatans (two quarrelsome children) with her and that the condition of the house had deteriorated since she came. It is further stated that respondent No.1 told her that she and her children are a burden on the family and peace would return only if she left. In the note, the deceased has stated that she is leaving the house with her children and that respondent No.1 should not search for her or bother whether she is alive or dead.

The suspicious circumstances shrouding the recovery of the note have already been discussed earlier. The complainant states that he suddenly got an idea that the bunch of keys found on Bhavna s dead body should be used for opening the cupboard in the house of the respondents, to get a clue regarding her death. The articles found on the dead body of the deceased have been taken into custody vide the Panchnama at Ex.29 dated 10.11.1997, about five days before the filing of the complaint.

It was known to the complainant that a bunch of keys was found on the dead body of Bhavna on 10.11.1997, on which date, he has also given a statement to the police, wherein he has not incriminated the respondents. Why the complainant chose to wait for five days before filing the complaint, remains unexplained.

The next important piece of documentary evidence relied upon by the prosecution is the Panchnama at Ex.23 drawn on 17.11.1997, whereby, the complainant has produced a piece of paper with Bhavna s handwriting on it. It is supposed to have been written by her when she had come to her parental house for a Shiv Parvati Vrat . It may be noticed that this Panchnama has been drawn three days after the recovery of the diary, and its main purpose is to lend support to the theory that the handwriting in the diary and the piece of paper is that of Bhavna. The manner in which the recoveries are made and Panchnamas drawn gives the impression that the events are a well-planned afterthought. The prosecution has not thought it proper to send the diary and the piece of paper for verification by a Handwriting Expert, which would have been the obvious thing to do. This would have furnished conclusive evidence regarding whether the note in the diary and the handwriting on the piece of paper, is that of Bhavna. However, the prosecution has chosen to rely upon the deposition of PW-3, Jayshriben, to prove the handwriting of Bhavna in the diary. PW-3 has stated that she has studied with the deceased upto the 7th standard and they were doing lessons together. Whether the handwriting of an adult woman would remain the same as it was when she was studying in the 7th standard, is a question that has not been posed to PW-3. In any case, the testimony of this witness is the only piece of evidence linking the note in the diary to the deceased. Jayshriben has stepped into the witness box after about 50 days of the incident, though she has stated that the deceased used to meet her and tell her of the harassment meted to her by the respondents. It has come in evidence of the complainant that Jayshriben used to accompany him to the Police Station. Being a close friend of the deceased, Jayshriben has surprisingly not disclosed anything regarding the ill-treatment to the deceased earlier. This witness, it appears, has been examined with a purpose.

At this juncture, it would be instructive to advert to the relevant judicial pronouncements in order to ascertain whether the evidence on record is sufficient to prove the charges of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, and abetment to suicide, under Sections 107 and 306 of the Indian Penal Code, against the respondents.

In Indrasing M.Raol v. State of Gujarat 1999(3) GLR 2536, this Court has succinctly explained the meaning of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, in the following terms:

16. ….

As made clear, hereinabove, every act of cruelty or harassment is not made a crime under Sec. 498-A. The prosecution has to, as made clear hereinabove, establish that the cruelty or harassment was unabated, incessant & persistent and being grave in nature unbearable;

and the same was with the intention to force the woman to commit suicide or to fulfil illegal demand or dowry of the husband or her in-laws.

At this stage, reference of two decisions may be made. The High Court of Bombay has also taken the same view in the case of Sarla Prabhakar Waghmare v. State of Maharashtra 1990 Cr.L.J. 407 observing that every harassment or every type of cruelty would not attract Sec.498-A. It must be established that beating and harassments was with a view to force the wife to commit suicide or fulfil illegal demands of husband or her in-laws. The Supreme Court has also taken the same view in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Ashok Chotelal Shukla, 1997 (11) SCC 26 observing that the prosecution has to establish that the accused committed acts of harassment or cruelty as contemplated by Sec.498-A, and such harassment or cruelty must be the cause forcing the wife to commit the suicide. What can be deduced from these authorities is that a solitary incident can not be interpreted to be the sufficient evidence of cruelty or harassment attracting Sec.498-A because in that case, incessant, persistent and sufficiently grave cruelty as is likely to drive the woman to a point of desperation leaving her with no option except to think about suicide will be absent. In other words, a single incident will not incite a woman to commit suicide the improvident act, believing that life is now not worth living. Even if in some case it incites, the same will not attract Sec.498-A as persistency or incessancy will be lacking. The section when envisages that cruelty or harassment must be unabated continuous or recurring & unbearable, one or two incidents casually taking place, may therefore, attract another penal provisions of I.P.Code, but will not attract Sec. 498-A of Indian Penal Code….

(emphasis supplied) This judgment has been referred to, with approval, by a Division Bench of this Court in State of Gujarat v. Bharatbhai Balubhai Lad and Ors. (supra) in the following terms:

17. This court in case of Indrasing M.Raol v. State of Gujarat, reported in 1999(3) GLR p.2536 has explained the concept of cruelty within the meaning of the definition as provided under Section 498-Aof IPC. The ratio of this decision is that every act of cruelty or harassment is not made a crime under Section 498-A. The prosecution has to establish that the cruelty or harassment was unabetted, incessant and persistent and being grave in nature unbearable and the same was with the intention to force the woman to commit suicide or to fulfil illegal demand or dowry of the husband or her in-laws. As held by this Court, Section 498-A will not come into play in every case of harassment and/or cruelty. Reasonable nexus between cruelty and suicide must be established. It should, therefore, be shown that the incessant harassment or cruelty was with a view to force the wife to end her life or fulfill illegal demands of her husband or in-laws, and was not matrimonial cruelty, namely, usual wear and tear of matrimonial life.

(emphasis supplied) The evidence regarding the allegations of cruelty in the present case, if tested upon the anvil of the principles of law enunciated in the above judgments, reveals that the prosecution has been unable to establish that there was incessant, persistent, grave or unbearable harassment and cruelty by the respondents upon the deceased, with an intention to force her to commit suicide or fulfill their illegal demands for dowry. In fact, apart from a stray reference in the complaint regarding the demand for a refrigerator and colour television, no other corroborative evidence in this regard has surfaced in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. The reference regarding the alleged cruelty, in the nature of the aspersions cast by respondent No.1 upon the deceased that their daughter Puja did not resemble him, cannot be termed as incessant, persistent or unbearable cruelty. The mother of the deceased has stated that such a comment was made by respondent No.1 at the time of Puja s birth. Though she has deposed that the deceased had told her that respondent No.1 nurses suspicion towards her, no specific or cogent evidence has emerged from the testimonies of any of the prosecution witnesses in this regard. In her so-called suicide note, the deceased does not refer to this aspect at all, but narrates another incident where respondent No.1 allegedly called her a quarrelsome woman and told her that peace would return to the family only when she leaves. The entire evidence, if scrutinised minutely, does not reveal that the ingredients of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code are proved against the respondents. The findings of the Trial Court in this regard, therefore, are perfectly legal and justified.

In order to prove the charge under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, it would be fruitful to advert to the provisions of Section 107, which defines abetment of a thing in the following terms:

107. Abetment of a thing A person abets the doing of a thing, who —

First Instigates any person to do that thing; or Secondly Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or Thirdly Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.

The Supreme Court has interpreted the word instigation in the following terms, in Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh (2001)9 SCC 618:

20. Instigation is to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do “an act”. To satisfy the requirement of instigation though it is not necessary that actual words must be used to that effect or what constitutes instigation must necessarily and specifically be suggestive of the consequence. Yet a reasonable certainty to incite the consequence must be capable of being spelt out. the present one is not a case where the accused had by his acts or omission or by a continued course of conduct created such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide in which case an instigation may have been inferred. A word uttered in the fit of anger or emotion without intending the consequences to actually follow cannot be said to be instigation.

(emphasis supplied) To bring home the charge of abetment to suicide it would, therefore, be necessary to adduce evidence to show that the respondents had, by their continued course of conduct or acts of omission or commission, created a situation where the deceased was urged, provoked, incited or goaded to commit suicide. The incitement should be such that intends the end result of suicide. The cruelty should be inflicted with the intention that the deceased would be left with no other option but to take the extreme step of ending her life.

In State of Gujarat v. Kalavatiben Liladhar (supra), referring to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Sanju @ Sanjay Singh Sengar v. State of M.P. – 2002 AIR SCW 2035, this Court has held as below:

17. In the case of Sanju alias Sanjay Singh Sengar v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2002 AIR SCW 2035 the Supreme Court has held that accused telling deceased ‘to go and die’ that itself would not constitute ingredient of ‘ instigation’. Presence of mens rea is necessary concomitant of instigation.

The fact that deceased committed suicide after two days of quarrel during which the said words were uttered by accused would show that suicide was not direct result of quarrel and, therefore, the Supreme Court has held that that the charge-sheet framed under Section 306 of IPC against the accused was liable to be quashed as ingredients of abetment were totally absent.

(emphasis supplied) In the present case, it does not emerge from the evidence on record that there was any element of mens rea in any act or word uttered by the respondents, intending that the deceased should commit suicide. Further, there is no evidence that any incident or quarrel had taken place on the day of the incident, or even immediately before that fateful day, due to which the deceased was compelled to end her life.

The so-called suicide note in the diary is not addressed to any particular person, nor has it been signed by the deceased. It does not state that the deceased is leaving the house in order to commit suicide. Therefore, whether it can be termed as a suicide note or a Dying Declaration at all, is doubtful.

The deceased committed suicide within a period of seven years from her marriage. Whether a presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act ought to be drawn against the respondents is another aspect that requires consideration.

In Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh (supra), the Supreme Court has held as below:

12. …..Before the presumption may be raised, the foundation thereof must exist. A bare reading of Section 113-A shows that to attract applicability of Section 113-A, it must be shown that (i) the woman has committed suicide, (ii) such suicide has been committed within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage, (iii) the husband or his relatives, who are charged had subjected her to cruelty. On existence and availability of the abovesaid circumstances, the Court may presume that such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relatives of her husband. The Parliament has chosen to sound a note of caution. Firstly the presumption is not mandatory; it is only permissive as the employment of expression “may presume” suggests. Secondly, the existence and availability of the abovesaid three circumstances shall not, like a formula, enable the presumption being drawn; before the presumption may be drawn the court shall have to have regard to all the other circumstances of the case . A consideration of all the other circumstances of the case may strengthen the presumption or may dictate the conscience of the Court to abstain from drawing the presumption. The expression – the other circumstances of the case used in Section 113-A suggests the need to reach a cause-and-effect relationship between the cruelty and the suicide for the purpose of raising a presumption. Last but not the least, the presumption is not an irrebuttable one. In spite of a presumption having been raised the evidence adduced in defence or the facts and circumstances otherwise available on record may destroy the presumption…..

(emphasis supplied) As held by the Supreme Court in Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh (supra) and the Division Bench of this Court in State of Gujarat v. Bharatbhai Balubhai Lad and Ors. (supra), the presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act would not be automatically applicable like a formula, even though the woman has committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and her husband and his relatives are charged with having subjected her to cruelty. All the other circumstances of the case are necessarily to be looked into, before such a presumption can be raised.

Section 113-A of the Evidence Act reads as follows:

113A.

Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman.-

When the question is whether the commission of suicide by a woman had been abetted by her husband or any relative of her husband and it is shown that she had committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband or such relative of her husband had subjected her to cruelty, the court may presume, having regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband.

Explanation.–

For the purposes of this section,”cruelty” shall have the same meaning as in section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860 ).

(emphasis supplied) The word used in the above provision of law is may . Therefore, it is open to the Court to raise the presumption of cruelty, but it is not necessary in all cases. The presumption that the suicide was abetted, may be raised having regard to all the other circumstances of the case . It, therefore, follows that in order to raise the presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act, all the other circumstances of the case have to be scrutinised by the Court, as the presumption does not arise automatically. If, after such scrutiny the Court finds that the circumstances militate against raising of such presumption, it may not be raised.

The present case is such a case in which the circumstances do not promote the raising of a presumption under Section 113-A of the Evidence Act. The evidence led by the prosecution is not conducive to raising a presumption that the alleged cruelty, which is not proved beyond reasonable doubt, is the reason for the suicide of the deceased, which has been aided and abetted by the respondents. On the contrary, there is no material on record to substantiate such allegations.

Last but not the least, it may be noted that the present is an appeal against acquittal. As per the settled legal position, where two views are possible, the Court ought to adopt the view favourable to the accused.

In Kali Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh AIR 1973 SC 2773, the Supreme Court has held as below:

27. …..

Not many persons undergoing the pangs of wrongful conviction are fortunate like Dreyfus to have an Emile Zola to champion their cause and succeed in getting the verdict of guilt annulled. All this highlights the importance of ensuring as far as possible, that there should be no wrongful conviction of an innocent person. Some risk of the conviction of the innocent, of course, is always there in any system of the administration of criminal justice. Such a risk can be minimised but not ruled out altogether. It may in this connection be apposite to refer to the following observations of Sir Carleton Allen quoted on page 157 of “The Proof of Guilt” by Glanville Williams, Second Edition:

“I dare say some sentimentalists would assent to the proposition that it is better that a thousand, or even a million, guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer; but no responsible and practical person would accept such a view. For it is obvious that if our ratio is extended indefinitely, there comes a point when the whole system of justice has broken down and society is in a state of chaos.”

The fact that there has to be clear evidence of the guilt of the accused and that in the absence of that it is not possible to record a finding of his guilt was stressed by this Court in the case of Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade & Anr. (supra) as is clear from the following observations :

“Certainly it is a primary principle that the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before a court can convict and the mental distinction between ‘may be’ and ‘must be’ is long and divides vague conjectures from sure considerations”.

(emphasis supplied) What went on in the mind of the deceased, leading her to commit suicide, remains a mystery. Human nature and the workings of the mind are too complex to be fathomed. The mystery becomes all the more baffling as just before she went to commit suicide, the deceased visited PW-8 Taraben in a happy and joyful mood and took tea and snacks with her. She never complained of anything at all. Suddenly thereafter, she jumped into the Sabarmati River along with her two small children and ended not only her own life but the lives of her two innocent children. It is hinted that the deceased did not want to live in a joint family. However, a separate house had been arranged for her and respondent No.1. So, that could not have been the cause of her death. Whatever may have been the reason for Bhavna s tragic suicide, examined from the legal perspective, the nature of the evidence on record is such that no criminal liability can be fastened upon the respondents.

The above aspects have been clearly and cogently dealt with by the Trial Court in the impugned judgment. This Court finds itself in agreement with the findings recorded by the Trial Court. There is no justifiable reason, therefore, to interfere with the impugned judgment.

In view of the above discussion and for the aforestated reasons, this Court finds no merit in the appeal.

The appeal fails, and stands dismissed.

(SMT. ABHILASHA KUMARI, J.) sunil Page of 63

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