Crl.Appeal No.1379-SB of 2003 1 IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH Crl.Appeal No.1379-SB of 2003 Date of Decision:07.11.2013 Baru Singh and another .....Appellants Versus State of Punjab .....Respondent CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR. Present: Mr.Rakesh Gupta, Advocate, for the appellants. Mr.K.S.Aulakh, Assistant Advocate General, Punjab, for the respondent-State. ****
MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR , J.(oral) Concisely, the facts & evidence, unfolded during the course of trial, culminating in the commencement, relevant for deciding the instant criminal appeal and emanating from the record, as claimed by the prosecution, are that the marriage of appellant-convict Baru Singh son of Mehar Singh, resident of village Bahadurpur (hereinafter to be referred as “the appellant”) was solemnized with Baljinder Kaur(deceased), daughter of complainant-Mewa Singh son of Budh Singh (PW1)(for brevity “the complainant”), resident of village Gobindpura on 08.12.1997, 7/8 months prior to the present occurrence. Although, sufficient dowry articles were stated to have been given by him(complainant) as per his capacity at the time of her marriage, but the accused were not satisfied. The appellant had started harassing and treating his wife Baljinder Kaur with cruelty for Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh bringing insufficient dowry. She narrated about the demand of dowry to her father many times. He(appellant) gave beatings to her one month prior to the present occurrence. When the complainant came to know about the maltreatment, then he along with Babu Singh son of Chita Singh(PW3) had gone to village Bahadurpur, to enquire about her welfare. Thereafter, the accused taunted them that he(complainant) had not given sufficient dowry articles. The accused demanded `10,000/- in cash and colour T.V. from them, failing which, they refused to keep her (deceased) in the matrimonial home. Then the complainant brought his daughter back to the village. Appellant-Baru Singh then came to village Gobindpura along with mediator Jaswinder Kaur wife of Mukhtiar Singh, to take his wife back in the matrimonial home. However, the complainant refused to send his daughter with them.
2. The case of the prosecution, in brief, insofar as relevant is that, on 10.07.1998, appellant-Baru Singh and mediator Jaswinder Kaur again visited the village Gobindpura. Ex-Sarpanch Niranjan Singh(PW6) also came there. On their assurance, the complainant had sent his daughter along with Baru Singh and Jaswinder Kaur to her matrimonial home. On 12.07.1998, the complainant, Jugraj Singh son of Joginder Singh and Niranjan Singh(PW6) had gone to village Bahadurpur, to know about the welfare of Baljinder Kaur. As soon as, they reached her matrimonial home, in the meantime, he(complainant) noticed that Baljinder Kaur was lying on a cot and was struggling with her life. She breathed her last in their presence. After seeing them, appellants-convicts Baru Singh and his father Mehar Singh had fled away from the place of Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh occurrence.
3. Levelling a variety of allegations and narrating the sequence of events in detail, in all, the complainant claimed that the accused have administered some poisonous substance to his daughter and she died an unnatural death within a period of one year of her marriage. She was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband and father-in-law in connection with and on account of demand of dowry. Thus, they have committed the offence of dowry-death. In the background of these allegations and in the wake of statement(Ex.PA) of the complainant, the present criminal case was registered against the appellants-convicts Baru Singh(husband) and his father Mehar Singh(father-in-law), vide FIR No.66 dated 12.07.1998(Ex.PA/2), on accusation of having committed the offences punishable under Sections 304-B/109/34 IPC, by the police of Police Station Bareta, District Mansa, in the manner described here-in- above.
4. After completion of the investigation, final police report (challan) was submitted by the police against them to face trial for the offences in question.
5. Having completed all the codal formalities, the appellants were charge-sheeted for the commission of an offence punishable under Section 304-B IPC. As, they did not plead guilty and claimed trial, therefore, the case was slated for evidence of the prosecution by the trial Court.
6. Sequelly, the prosecution in order to substantiate the offence of dowry-death, has examined complainant PW1-Mewa Singh son of Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh Budh Singh, who has deposed in the following terms:-
“I have got four children. Out of which one is son and three are daughters. They are named as Inderjit Kaur, Baljinder Kaur and Amarjit Kaur and son named Balwinder Singh. Baljinder Kaur was married with Baru Singh s/o Mehar Singh present in the Court. She was married with Baru Singh about 7/8 months earlier to the occurrence i.e. on 08.12.1997, the marriage had taken place. I had spent a lot on the marriage beyond my capacity. The accused and his father Mehar Singh started harassing Baljinder Kaur after about 15/20 days of the marriage. They used to say that Baljinder Kaur has brought less dowry. Jaswinder Kaur was the mediator in the marriage. Earlier the accused used to abuse her and this continued for about 4/5 months and thereafter they started beating her, one month earlier to the occurrence. Our daughter Baljinder Kaur used to tell us about it and then one month earlier to her death, Gurvinder Singh Patwari came to us and told us that accused have given a beatings to Baljinder Kaur and he asked us to go and know the welfare of Baljinder Kaur. I and Babu Singh went to village Bahadurpur at the house of accused. Baru Singh and Mehar Singh were present there, who are now present in the Court. We asked them as to why they are beating Baljinder Kaur. The accused told us that they wanted `10,000/- and one colour T.V. if Baljinder Kaur is to be kept in their house. They also told us that otherwise they should take their daughter with them. We then took our daughter with us and came to our village Gobindpura. Thereafter, Baru Singh and Jaswinder Kaur came to our house twice, and they requested us to send Baljinder Kaur with them in their house, but I told them that I have not yet made arrangement for the amount and the colour T.V. and, therefore,I felt inability to send Baljinder Kaur with them. On 10.07.1998, again Baru Singh and Jaswinder Kaur came to our house for the settlement. I called upon the Sarpanch Niranjan Singh, Babu Singh at my house. Jaswinder Kaur told that she is responsible and Baljinder Kaur should be sent with us, and if any beating is done by the accused or any demand is made by them she would be responsible. On the responsibility of Jaswinder Kaur and the accused, we sent Baljinder Kaur with them. On the third day of this sending the girl, I along with Jugraj Singh, Niranjan Singh went to village Bahadurpur to know about the welfare of Baljinder Kaur. We went there on 12.7.98. We reached there at about 12.30 P.M. We noticed that Baljinder Kaur was lying on a cot and she was writhing with pain. Baru Singh and Mehar Singh were seen in a room and on seeing us, they slipped away from there. Baljinder Kaur was also in the same room. After some time, she died. I did not notice any injury on her person, but from her mouth froth were coming. The cause of death of Baljinder Kaur was the harassment and demand of dowry. The accused have given some poisonous thing to Baljinder Kaur and for that she died. When we had gone to Baljinder Kaur’s house, Jaswinder Kaur was not there. But we inferred that the poison has been given by the accused to Baljinder Kaur at the instance of Jaswinder Kaur.
I left Niranjan Singh on the spot near the dead body of Baljinder Kaur and then I and Jugraj Singh went to Police Station, Bareta for lodging FIR and on the way at the crossing of Bahadurpur, the Police met us and they recorded my statement Ex.PA, which was read over to me and it was correctly recorded and then I signed it. Thereafter, the police visited the spot and I showed the spot to the police.”
7. Likewise, the prosecution has also examined PW3-Babu Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh Singh son of Chita Singh and PW6 Niranjan Singh son of Surjan Singh. Instead of reproducing their entire statements and in order to avoid the repetition, suffice it to say that they have unsuccessfully attempted to corroborate the statement(Ex.PA) of complainant PW1-Mewa Singh on all relevant aspects of the matter, as regards the demand of dowry and cash by the accused is concerned.
8. Now adverting to the medical evidence, PW2-Dr.Kuldeep Rai, Medical Officer, Civil Surgeon Office Bathinda, along with Dr.Kashmir Singh, has conducted the post-mortem examination on the dead-body of Baljinder Kaur on 12.07.1998 by way of PMR(Ex.PC) on police request(Ex.PD) accompanied by inquest report(Ex.PB). After examining the report(Ex.PF) of chemical examiner on 19.09.1998 on police request(Ex.PE), he opined vide his endorsement(Ex.PE/1) that Baljinder Kaur had died as a result of aluminium phosphate poisoning.
9. Similarly, PW4-HC Sukhmander Singh and PW5-ASI Avtar Singh, are the formal witnesses, who have tendered into evidence their respective affidavits(Exs.PG & PH) to complete the chain of link evidence.
10. The last to note is the testimony of PW7-Inspector Rattan Singh, who is the main investigating officer in this case. He maintained that on 12.07.1998, complainant-Mewa Singh met him near the crossing of village Bahadurpur and made his statement(Ex.PA). He signed it in token of its correctness. He(PW7) made his endorsement(Ex.PA/1) and sent it to the police station for registration of the case, on the basis of which, formal FIR(Ex.PA/2) was recorded by MHC Avtar Singh. Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court ChandigarhThereafter, he visited and inspected the spot. He found the dead-body of Baljinder Kaur lying on a cot in a room. He prepared the inquest report (Ex.PB) of the dead-body in the presence of PWs Mewa Singh, Niranjan Singh and Jugraj Singh. The dead-body was dispatched for its post- mortem examination along with police request(Ex.PD). Then, he inspected the place of occurrence and collected the pouch on which aluminium phosphate was written. It was converted into a sealed parcel and was taken into possession by means of recovery memo(Ex.PI) attested by the witnesses. He also took into possession the parcel containing clothes of the deceased, viscera and envelope vide recovery memo(Ex.PK). He deposited the case property with MHC Avtar Singh in the police station. He further stated that on 14.07.1998, Budh Singh, Ex- Sarpanch of village Bahadurpur, had produced both the accused and mediator Jaswinder Kaur. They were arrested by him. He recorded the statements of other witnesses. After completion of the police investigation, he submitted the final police report(challan) against the accused. In this manner, he has testified his entire investigation.
11. After close of the prosecution evidence, the statements of the appellants were recorded. The entire incriminating material/evidence was put to enable them to explain any circumstance appearing against them therein, as contemplated under Section 313 Cr.P.C. However, appellant- Baru Singh has denied the prosecution evidence in its entirety and pleaded false implication in the following manner:-
“I am innocent. Baljinder Kaur was sent to my house by Mewa Singh, but we were not legally married as my first wife was still alive and no legal divorce was obtained from her, on the instigation of Jagraj Singh PW. I allowed Baljinder Kaur to remain at my house because he had told Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh me that he has got influence over the prosecuting agency as he serves them and will try to help him with judiciary also. Only sham ceremonies were performed. Even according to land of law, I could not remarry myself during the life time of Balwinder Kaur(my first wife) without legal divorce. The deceased was not my legally wedded wife, as such provisions of Section 304-B IPC are not applicable. My father is blind and is 80 years old. He never demanded any thing. Nor, I demanded anything. They have involved both of us in collusion with police so that they may occupy my house and land. They tried to involve my old infirm father and at the time of alleged incident he was almost blind and could not see television. We have the land which could support us very well. We require no money from anybody. Deceased was pregnant and the child in the womb had died. Because of abortion she had extreme pain. She may have accidentally or negligently taken some medicine to avoid pain as the result of which she died, and not due to any cruelty on our part. Our family had cordial relations with deceased. Jagraj Singh PW was working in Distt.Courts Mansa. He had cordial relations with police. So this false case against both of us has been registered. Jaswinder Kaur has been found innocent by the police. Hon’ble High Court refused to summon her.”
12. In the same sequence, the other accused has also adopted the same line of defence. They, in order to prove their defence, have examined DW1-Budh Singh son of Jaggar Singh, DW2-Jasdeep Kaur wife of Mela Singh and DW3-Sham Lal son of Duni Chand. Their evidence is to the effect that first marriage of appellant-Baru Singh was solemnized with Balwinder Kaur. No child was born out from their wedlock. Thereafter, she left Baru Singh for this reason. She is still alive. Then Baru Singh was married with Baljinder Kaur(deceased). He had cordial relations with her. About five years back, Baljinder Kaur had died. She died on account of pain in her abdomen. The accused did not demand any dowry. This is the total oral as well as documentary evidence brought on record by the parties.
13. Taking into consideration the entire evidence brought on record by the parties, the appellants were convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of seven years, for the commission of an offence punishable under Section 304-B IPC, by virtue Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh of impugned judgment of conviction and order of sentence dated 22.07.2003 by the trial Court.
14. Aggrieved thereby, the appellants have preferred the instant appeal. That is how, I am seized of the matter.
15. At the very outset, learned counsel for the appellants has placed on record a copy of Death Certificate(Annexure “PX”) of appellant-Mehar Singh(father-in-law). The factum of his death has also been acknowledged by the learned State Counsel. Since, during the pendency of appeal, appellant-Mehar Singh has expired, so the present appeal qua him stands abated on account of his death and is disposed of as such, as prayed for. That means, the only controversy relatable to appellant-Baru Singh(husband) remains to be determined in this appeal.
16. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, having gone through the evidence on record with their valuable assistance and after bestowal of thoughts over the entire matter, to my mind, the present appeal deserves to be partly accepted in this context.
17. What cannot possibly be disputed here is that the appellant- husband was only convicted for the commission of dowry-death. Section 304-B IPC postulates that “Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.” Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh
18. A conjoint and meaningful reading of this provision, would reveal that the prosecution is legally required to prove the following essential ingredients before invoking the provisions of Section 304-BIPC:-
(i) The death of wife should be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances;
(ii) Such death should have been occurred within seven years of the marriage;
(iii) She must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband; and
(iv)Such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with demand of dowry.
(v) Such cruelty and harassment was made soon before her death.
19. As indicated here-in-above, the marriage of appellant-Baru Singh was solemnized with Baljinder Kaur(deceased) on 08.12.1997. She died an unnatural death within a period of 7/8 months of her marriage by consuming aluminium phosphate poison. Thus, the initial two premises of dowry death stand established on record.
20. Above being the legal position and evidence on record, now the core controversy, which engages an immediate attention of this Court, and that arises for determination in this appeal is, as to whether remaining indicated essential ingredients of offence of dowry-death are complete or not?
21. Having regard to the rival contentions of the learned counsel for the parties, to me, the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the essential ingredients of the offence of dowry-death. However, at the same time, it stands proved on record that the appellant had abetted and driven the deceased to commit suicide. Consequently, he is liable to be Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh convicted and sentenced for the commission of an offence punishable under Section 306 IPC, for the reasons mentioned here-in-below.
22. As is evident from the record, the complainant claimed that although he gave sufficient dowry articles at the time of marriage of his daughter, but the appellant was not satisfied. He had harassed and treated her with cruelty for the demand of `10,000/- and colour T.V. In this regard, the prosecution has pressed into service and placed reliance on the statements of complainant(PW1)-Mewa Singh and PW3-Babu Singh. The statement of PW6-Niranjan Singh being hearsay is not admissible in evidence in this relevant connection. The crux of the statements of PW1 and PW3 is only to the effect that the accused had started harassing Baljinder Kaur after about 15/20 days of the marriage on the ground that she has brought less dowry, as narrated to him(complainant) by his daughter Baljinder Kaur. His statement with regard to cruelty in connection with and on account of demand of dowry is as vague as anything. Neither any specific date or month for the demand of dowry is mentioned. How, when, in what manner and by whom, an amount of `10,000/- and colour TV were demanded from her, remains an unfolded mystery. PW1 and PW3 have very vaguely deposed that they had gone to the house of the accused at village Bahadurpur, where appellant-Baru Singh and his father Mehar Singh were present. They(PW1 & PW3) asked them as to why they were beating Baljinder Kaur. Then the accused told them that they wanted `10,000/- and one colour T.V., if Baljinder Kaur is to be kept in their house. They also told them that otherwise they should take their daughter with them. In other words, Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarhmere demand of `10,000/- and colour T.V. by the accused from the complainant(not from the deceased) would not amount to cruelty to her, in any manner, within the meaning of Section 304-B IPC.
23. Meaning thereby, there is not an iota of evidence on record, much less cogent, even to suggest remotely that the deceased was ever subjected to any legally required cruelty or harassment soon before her death by the appellant on account of demand of dowry. Therefore, the plea of prosecution of alleged demand of dowry, now sought to be projected, pales into insignificance.
24. Although, the plea was made to resort, to the legal presumption contemplated in Section 113-B of the Indian Evidence Act (hereinafter to be referred as “the Act”), but to me, it was imperative for the prosecution, to invoke the aforesaid legal presumption, to prove that “soon before her death”, she was subjected to such cruelty or harassment on account of demand of dowry, which is miserably missing in the present case. What the prosecution has achieved in proving at the most was that there was persisting disputes between the two sides and she was treated with cruelty and nothing more. That means, in order to invoke the provisions of dowry death, there should be a perceptible nexus between her death and the dowry related harassment or cruelty soon before her death. Preceding on these premises, the presumption arising under Section 113-B of the Act could not legally be invoked against the appellant in the absence of specific evidence of legally required harassment and cruelty for demand of dowry soon before her death. In the absence of essential ingredients of Section 304-B IPC, which are Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh totally lacking in the instant case, the legal presumption would not come to the help of the prosecution. This matter is no more res integra and is now well settled.
25. An identical question came to be determined by the Hon’ble Apex Court in case Appasaheb and another v. State of Maharashtra 2007 (1) RCR (Criminal) 747, wherein, having interpreted the provisions of dowry-death prescribed under section 304-B IPC, it was ruled as under (para 9) :-
“Two essential ingredients of Section 304-B IPC, apart from others, are (i) death of woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances, and (ii) woman is subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for “dowry”. The explanation appended to sub- section (1) of Section 304-B IPC says that “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act reads as under :-
“2. Definition of “dowry” – In this Act “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly –
(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
(b) by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (shariat) applies.”
In view of the aforesaid definition of the word “dowry” any property or valuable security should be given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly at or before or any time after the marriage and in connection with the marriage of the said parties. Therefore, the giving or taking of property or valuable security must have some connection with the marriage of the parties and a correlation between the giving or taking of property or valuable security with the marriage of the parties is essential. Being a penal provision it has to be strictly construed. Dowry is a fairly well known social custom or practice in India. It is well settled principle of interpretation of Statutes that if the Act is passed with reference to a particular trade, business or transaction and words are used which everybody conversant with that trade, business or transaction knows or understands to have a particular meaning in it, then the words are to be construed as having that particular meaning. (See Union of India v. Garware Nylons Ltd., AIR 1996 S.C. 3509 and Chemicals and Fibres of India v. Union of India, AIR 1997 S.C. 558). A demand for money on account of some financial stringency or for meeting some urgent domestic expenses or for purchasing manure cannot be termed as a demand for dowry as the said word is normally understood.
The evidence adduced by the prosecution does not, therefore, show that any demand for “dowry” as defined in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act was made by the appellants as what was allegedly asked for was some money for meeting domestic expenses and for purchasing manure. Since an essential ingredient of Section 304-B IPC viz. demand for dowry is not Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh established, the conviction of the appellants cannot be sustained.”
26. Therefore, to me, the mere vague and general allegations that the appellant used to demand dowry and cash, ipso facto, is not sufficient to convict him for dowry-death. The ratio of law laid down in the aforesaid judgment “mutatis mutandis” is applicable to the facts of the present case and is the complete answer to the problem in hand. In that eventuality, the appellant deserves to be and is hereby acquitted, for the commission of offence of dowry-death punishable u/s 304-B IPC.
27. Be that as it may, the perusal of the evidence on record would reveal that the appellant-husband was residing under the same roof, where the deceased died an unnatural death. In that eventuality, it was his duty to explain the reasons of her death as to how, why and in what manner, she had died and what prompted her to commit suicide. He has utterly failed to do so, rather he has set-up a false plea, which remains unsubstantiated in this relevant context.
28. Not only that, there is a positive evidence of PW1, PW3 and PW6 that the appellant has repeatedly sent the deceased to her parental house. He treated her with cruelty and gave beatings to her. PW2- Dr.Kuldeep Rai has maintained that there was no injury on the person of the deceased. The clothes worn were in normal condition and were not torn. PW1 has also deposed that he did not notice any injury on her person, but froth was coming out from her mouth. According to the doctor, the cause of death was aluminium phosphate poison. In this manner, there is acceptable evidence on record that the deceased committed suicide by consuming aluminium phosphate poison on account Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh of cruelty caused to her by the appellant. She was fed-up with the behaviour and he abetted her to commit suicide. Indeed, it had driven her to commit suicide by consuming poisonous substance within a period of 7/8 months of her marriage.
29. At the same time, on the contrary, the line of defence adopted by the appellant that the deceased was not his legally wedded wife, as only sham marriage ceremonies were performed and his first wife did not divorce him, is ridiculous and outrightly deserves to be rejected. The perusal of the evidence on record would reveal that the deceased was residing with the appellant as his wife 7/8 months prior to the present occurrence. Even he(appellant) in his statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. has admitted that the marriage ceremonies were performed. She was pregnant and was carrying a child in her womb at the time of her death. PW2-Dr.Kuldeep Rai has also admitted the factum of pregnancy of the deceased. Under these compelling circumstances, it cannot possibly be saith that the deceased was not legally wedded wife of the appellant, as projected by him.
30. Thus, it would be seen that the peculiar facts & special circumstances, emerging from the evidence on record, as discussed here- in-above, would naturally and indeed suggest that the deceased was fed- up with the pointed conduct of the appellant. She had been subjected to cruelty in the indicated manner. Hence, the conduct of the appellant, to drive his wife to commit suicide, squarely falls within the ambit of, and he is guilty for the commission of an offence punishable u/s 306 IPC, coupled with legal presumption as envisaged u/s 113A of the Act. Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh Although, he was charged u/s 304-B IPC and was not charge-sheeted u/s 306 IPC, but still, he can legally be convicted for lesser offence punishable u/s 306 IPC, in view of the law laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court in case K.Prema S.Rao and another v. Yadla Srinivasa Rao and others (2003) 1 SCC 217. Sequelly, the same view was again reiterated by this Court in case Jit Singh v. State of Punjab, CRA No.406-SB of 2003, decided on 5.9.2013.
31. Therefore, if the contour of the totality of the facts & evidence, oozing out from the evidence on record, as discussed here-in- above, is put together, then, to my mind, the conclusion is inescapable and irresistible that the appellant-husband had harassed and treated Baljinder Kaur (deceased) with cruelty and his conduct had driven her to commit suicide. Meaning thereby, he had abetted the commission of the crime of suicide. He is liable to be and is hereby convicted & sentenced for the commission of an offence punishable u/s 306 IPC in the obtaining circumstances of the case.
32. Now adverting to the question of sentence, as per custody certificate, the appellant(who was earlier convicted & sentenced u/s 304- B IPC (now u/s 306 IPC) has already undergone the considerable period of his sentence of imprisonment for a period of five years, eleven months and six days out of total awarded sentence of imprisonment of seven years. He has already faced the pangs and suffered the agony of protracted trial and appeal for the last more than 15 years. He was a young person of 30 years at the relevant time of commission of offence. His father has expired. There is no other person to maintain and he is the Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh only bread-winner of the family. There is no history of his previous involvement in any other criminal case. The learned State counsel has acknowledged this factual matrix. In this view of the matter, to me, it would be expedient in the interest and justice would be sub-served if the appellant-husband is sentenced to, the period already undergone by him for the commission of an offence punishable u/s 306 IPC.
33. No other legal point, worth consideration, has either been urged or pressed by the counsel for the parties.
34. In the light of aforesaid reasons, the instant appeal is partly accepted. Appellant-Baru Singh is acquitted of the crime of dowry-death punishable u/s 304-B IPC. At the same time, he is held guilty and convicted for the commission of indicated crime prescribed and punishable u/s 306 IPC. Consequently, he is sentenced to the period(five years, eleven months and six days) already undergone by him. Thus, the impugned judgment of conviction and order of sentence deserve to be and are hereby modified to the extent and in the manner depicted here-in- above.
Needless to mention that the necessary compliance and procedural consequences would naturally follow.
November 07, 2013 (MEHINDER SINGH SULLAR) seema JUDGE Whether to be referred to reporter? Yes/No Rani Seema 2013.11.14 16:27 I attest to the accuracy and integrity of this document High Court Chandigarh