Delhi High Court
Devi Dutt Malhotra And Anr. vs State Of Delhi on 22 April, 2002
Equivalent citations: 2002 IVAD Delhi 970, 98 (2002) DLT 206, II (2002) DMC 157, 2002 (63) DRJ 21
Author: S Agarwal
Bench: S Agarwal

JUDGMENT S.K. Agarwal, J.

1. This revision petition is directed against the order dated 10.4.1997, passed by the court of Ms. Rekha Sharma, ASJ, Delhi, holding that prima facie case under Section 498-A IPC is made out against Devi Dutt Malhotra, (petitioner No. 1 – father-in-law) and under Sections 498-A/304-B IPC against Pramod Kumar, (petitioner No. 2 – husband), of the deceased.

2. Facts in brief are that petitioner No. 2 is son of petitioner No. 1; that the deceased (Meenu) was married to him at Amritsar; after the marriage they started living in Delhi. On 26.6.1994 she was found dead and her body was found hanging from the ceiling fan, by their landlady (Kamlesh). Parents of the deceased were informed. Father of deceased (Satpal) made a statement before the S.D.M. stating that his daughter (Meenu) was married with Pramod Kumar on 20.9.91. In the marriage he had given the dowry to the best of his capacity. In between, Pramod asked for Rs. 40,000/-, which he had given after raising a loan and he was paying the interest thereon. On 18.6.1994 he came to Delhi to see his daughter. She told him that her husband was in bad habit of gambling and whenever she tries to persuade him not to do so, she was given beating. He wanted to take his daughter Along with him but Pramod Kumar refused. He wend back. After receiving the information about the death of his daughter he came to Delhi. He felt that his daughter was first beaten up and thereafter hanged on the fan. Earlier when he Along with his wife have stayed with his daughter, during that period she was also beaten up by her husband and they were insulted and money was also demanded. After he had gone from Delhi his son-in-law continued to harass his daughter and demanding dowry. He identified the dead body of his daughter. This statement was read over to him and he accepted the same to be correct. Thereafter, it is recorded that his “Samdhi D.D. Malhotra (petitioner No. 1), also used to harass my daughter, used to taunt her, saying that his house is not a SARAI, bring dowry from your parents”. On the basis of this statement, above noted case was registered.

3. Learned counsel for the petitioners, at the outset, submits that he has instructions not to press the petition of petitioner No. 2 Parmod Kumar (husband of deceased), who has been charged under Sections 304B/498A IPC. He would press the petition only of petitioner No. 1, Devi Dutt Malhotra, under Section 498A IPC. On behalf of petitioner No. 1 he argued that admittedly, he was living at Amritsar (Punjab), that the allegation against him in FIR to the effect that he used to say to the deceased ‘that his house is not a sarai’ was added subsequently; he was seen fort he first time in Delhi after the death of Meenu, as per the statement of land lady Kamlesh. He argued that petitioner No. 1 is a sick and infirm person and is suffering from acute cardiac problem and the charge against him is liable to be quashed. In support of his submission, reliance was placed on the Supreme Court decision in Ramchandra v. State of M.P. 2001(3) Crimes SC 166. Learned APP for the State referring to the statements of father, mother and brother of the deceased argued to the contrary. Reliance was placed on the law laid down by the Supreme Court in (i) Munna Devi v. State of Rajasthan and Anr. 2001 (8) SC 172, (ii) State of M.P. v. S.B. Johari and Ors., 2000(1) Crimes 165 (SC), (iii) Ram Kumar Laharia v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Anr., 2001 1AD(Cr.) S.C. 54, (iv) Om Wati v. State 2001 Supreme Court cases (Cri) 685.

4. I have considered the rival contentions. Each case depends on its own fats. At the time of framing of charge the court the powers to weigh and sift the material for the limited purpose to find out whether prima facie, a case is made out against the accused or not. The court is not expected to act as the post office to the decision of investigating agency. When there is “some suspicion” but not “grave suspicion”, court is empowered to discharge the accused if the circumstances so warrants. The Supreme Court in the recent decision in Dilawar Babu Kurane v. State of Maharashtra 2002 AIR SCW 146 held as under:-

“Now the next question is whether a prima facie case has been made out against the appellant. In exercising powers under Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the settled position of law is that the Judge while considering the question of framing the charges under the said section has the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima facie case against the accused has been made out; where the materials placed before the Court disclose grave suspicion against the accused which has not been properly explained the Court will be fully justified in framing a charge and proceeding with the trial; by and large if two views are equally possible and the Judge is satisfied that the evidence produced before him while giving rise to some suspicion but not grave suspicion against the accused, he will be fully justified to discharge the accused, and in exercising jurisdiction under Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Judge cannot act merely as a post office or a mouthpiece of the prosecution, but has to consider the broad probabilities of the case, the total effect of the evidence and the documents produced before the court but should not make a roving enquiry into the pros and cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if he was conducting a trial (See Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal and Anr. (1979(3) SCC 5).”

5. In this case, admittedly, the deceased was married to petitioner No. 2 at Amritsar. After her marriage, the couple shifted to Delhi and started living here. Petitioner No. 1, father-in-law of the deceased, continue to live at Amritsar. As per the statement of Smt. Kamlesh Kumari, land-lady, petitioner No. 1 was seen in Delhi for the first time only after the death of the deceased. The allegations in the FIR that petitioner No. 1 used to harass her daughter and taunt that his house was not a Sarai and that she should bring dowry from her parents appear to have been added after the FIR was concluded. Mother of the deceased in her statement did not make any allegation of harassment or demand of dowry against petitioner No. 1. She only alleged that jewellery of the deceased was not returned by the petitioner despite demand but there is no charge under Section 406 IPC. The brother of the deceased in his statement has only alleged that petitioner No. 1 used to harass his sister for dowry. The allegations are not only vague but do not corroborate each other. In my view, these circumstances may give rise to some suspicion but not to a grave suspicion, so as to warranting the framing of charge. Framing of charge does affect liberty of a person and a cautious approach in such like matters is called for. The position could be different if allegations were either more specific or corroborating, each other.

6. The deceased and her husband were living separately in Delhi. Unfortunately, the deceased died within three years of her marriage. There are allegations that she was being harassed and beaten up by her husband who was in the bad habit of gambling. He used to come to home in drunken state and beat the deceased. Learned counsel for the petitioner rightly did not press the petition for the petitioner No. 2 Pramod Kumar.

7. In view of the above, revision petition of petitioner No. 1, Devi Dutt Malhotra, is allowed. Charge against him under Section 498A IPC is quashed. Revision petition of petitioner No. 2, Parmod Kumar, is dismissed. Order of framing charge against him under Section 498A/304B IPC is sustained. Any observations made herein shall not affect the merits of the case. Petition stands disposed of. Trial court record be sent back.

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