Bombay High Court
The State Of Maharashtra vs Sanjay Shesharao Suryawanshi on 22 December, 2014
Bench: S.S. Shinde
                                                                585.96crapl
                                   1




                                                                  
      IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
                                                 




                                          
                 BENCH AT AURANGABAD.
                                       
             CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.585 OF 1996
                         WITH




                                         
      CRIMINAL REVISION APPLICATION NO.336 OF 1996

     The State of Maharashtra,
     through P.S. Gangapur.              ...APPELLANT.




                             
                                     
                v/s
                
     1. Sanjay Sheshrao Suryawanshi,
     age 23 yrs. Occu. Agril., r/o
     Boruf, Tq. Gangapur,Dist. Aurangabad.
               
     2. Vijay Sheshrao Suryawanshi,
     age 19 years, occu. Education,
     r/o as above.
      


     3. Sheshrao Madhavrao Suryawanshi,
     age 50 years, occu. Agril., r/o as above.
   



     4. Sakharabai @ Vimalbai w/o Sheshrao 
     Suryawanshi, age 45 years, occu. 





     Household, r/o as above.                 ...RESPONDENTS.
                                                (Ori. Accused). 

                                ...
        APP for Appellant / State : Mrs. S.G. Chincholkar. 





          Advocate for Respondents: Mr. N.S. Ghanekar.
                                ...

                               WITH

      CRIMINAL REVISION APPLICATION NO.336 OF 1996

     Sanjay s/o Laxmanrao Borude,
     age 25 years, occu. Teacher,




                                          ::: Downloaded on - 23/12/2014 23:47:01 :::
                                                                    585.96crapl
                                      2

     r/o New Kawsan, Paithan,




                                                                     
     District Aurangabad.                ...PETITIONER.
                                     




                                             
                v/s
     1. Sanjay Sheshrao Suryawanshi,
     age 23 yrs. Occu. Agril., r/o
     Borudi, Tq. Gangapur,Dist. Aurangabad.




                                            
     2. Vijay Sheshrao Suryawanshi,
     age 19 years, occu. Education,
     r/o as above.




                                
     3. Sheshrao Madhavrao Suryawanshi,
                  
     age 50 years, occu. Agril., r/o as above.

     4. Sakharabai @ Vimalbai w/o Sheshrao 
                 
     Suryawanshi, age 45 years, occu. 
     Household, r/o as above. 

     5. The State of Maharashtra.              ...RESPONDENTS.
                                          (Ori. Accused 1 to 4).
      


                                  ...
   



             Advocate for petitioner: Mr.K.B. Chaudhari.
          APP for Appellant / State : Mrs. S.G. Chincholkar. 
            Advocate for Respondents: Mr. N.S. Ghanekar.





                                  ...

                 CORAM : S.S. SHINDE & A.I.S. CHEEMA, JJ.

RESERVED ON : 12.12.2014.

PRONOUNCED ON : 22.12.2014.

JUDGMENT: [Per SHINDE, J]

1. Being aggrieved by the judgment and order of 585.96crapl acquittal of the respondents / accused passed by the learned Addl. Sessions Judge, Aurangabad in Sessions Case No.312 of 1995 for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 302, 304-B r.w. 34 of IPC, the appellant State has preferred this appeal; So also, the original complaint has also preferred Criminal revision application No.336/1996 challenging the judgment and order of acquittal.

2. The facts of the case, in brief, are as under:

The accused No.1 Sanjay Sheshrao is the husband of deceased Latabai. Accused No.2 Vijay is the brother of accused No.1 and accused No.3 Sheshrao and accused No.4 Sakharabai are the parents of accused No.1 and 2 and in-laws of deceased Lata. P.W.1 Sanjay Borude is the brother of deceased Lata, P.W.2 Sumanbai is the mother and P.W.3 Jagannath Borude is the uncle of the deceased Latabai. All accused are residing at Borudi, Tq.

Gangapur, District Aurangabad. The marriage between Lata and accused Sanjay took place on 30.3.1993 at 585.96crapl Paithan. Dhanesh is the son of Lata and Sanjay.

3. Further case of prosecution is that good treatment was given to Latabai for six months after the nuptial.

Accused Sanjay was not in service at that time. Accused Sanjay came to the complainant P.W.1 Sanjay Borude at Paithan and informed that he requires Rs.500/- for going to interview at Deoolgaon Raja. Complainant gave Rs.500/- in the month of June, 1993. Accused No.1 Sanjay did not get the service. In the month of October, 1993, Lata and accused Sanjay came at Paithan.

Accused Sanjay demanded gold ring of 3 gms. The father of Lata gave him gold ring. After four days, complainant received letter of accused No.1 Sanjay, in which, he informed that he disposed of that gold ring and amount was invested in Peerless company in the name of the mother of Lata and again demanded Rs.2000/-. All accused started giving ill-treatment to Lata and used to tell that she was not doing the work properly. Accused Sanjay and his mother used to assault her and used to tell that she was not knowing field work. Accused Vijay 585.96crapl also used to quarrel with her. There was harassment to Latabai in the house of accused. Thereafter, after 15 days accused Sanjay again came to Paithan and mother of Lata gave him Rs.1000/-. Accused Sanjay spent all the amount. The mother of complainant and Lata gave in all Rs.5000/- to accused Sanjay. Accused Sanjay did not invest amount in the name of anybody in Peerless company.

4. It is alleged that there was marriage of complainant on 23.4.95. Accused Sanjay and Latabai came for the espousal of the complainant. Accused Sanjay had taken wrist watch of the complainant and did not return. Lata used to come at Paithan for festivals. At that time, she used to tell that accused used to assault her and were not providing food to her. On the festival of Nagpanchami of 1995, Lata was brought to Paithan by her brother Bhagwan. At that time, Lata told her parents and brothers that accused started constructing house and accused demanded Rs.25,000/-, and gave threats if the amount is not brought, accused No.1 will marry with 585.96crapl other woman. It was told to Lata that there would be a marriage of another sister Sangita and it is not possible to satisfy the demand of the accused of Rs.25,000/-.

After 3-4 days after Nagpanchami accused No.1 Sanjay came to Paithan and stayed for three days. He demanded Rs.25000/-. As the amount was not given, accused Sanjay became angry and left the house in anger. Then on 18.8.95 accused No.1 Sanjay came at Paithan by jeep. He went to Jaikwadi, because Lata was there. He met uncle of Lata named Jagannath Borude and demanded Rs.5000/-. Jagannath Borude did not give the amount. Accused Sanjay told them not to send Lata without money. Accused Sanjay did not take Lata with him.

5. It is the case of the prosecution that on 22.8.95, accused No.1 Sanjay went to Tandulwadi to the house of aunt of Lata named Rahibai Idhate. He said to Rahibai that parents and brothers of Lata were not willing to send Lata to him and further said to Rahibai to send Lata to him within 2 days. Rahibai went to the 585.96crapl complainant and gave the said message. On 23.8.95 complainant, Lata, and Rahibai went upto Bidkin. The maternal uncle of complainant Uttamrao joined them and complainant, Lata and Uttamrao went to Borudi village, to the house of accused. They all reached to Borudi village in the evening by bullock-cart. All accused were present in the house. After seeing them, accused no.1 Sanjay left the house and did not return home whole night. On the very night Uttamrao left the village and started proceeding towards Bidkin by bullock-cart.

On the way, accused No.1 Sanjay met him and gave abuses and said why Latabai was brought. When Lata went to accused Sakharabai for bowing, accused Sakharabai kicked her in the presence of complainant.

On next day, Lata told the complainant that accused No.4 Sakharabai was not allowing her to do any work.

Complainant informed this fact to the uncle of accused No.1 and it was told the complainant that the uncle will satisfy the accused and complainant would not worry.

Leaving Lata at Borudi village, complainant went to Savkheda and he narrated the incident to his maternal 585.96crapl uncle. There is dispensary of accused No.3 at Savkheda and he was there. The uncle and complainant went to accused No.3 and narrated facts to him. Accused No.3 gave assurance not to worry. Thereafter, complainant came to Aurangabad to the house of his cousin uncle Sampat Idhate.

6. Lastly, contention of prosecution is that on 25.8.95 another uncle of complainant Gangadharrao came to him to the house of Sampat. He informed complainant and others that Lata was admitted in Ghati hospital and some medicine was administered to her. They all went to Ghati hospital and noticed dead body of Lata. Dead body of Lata was sent to Doctor for autopsy. Inquest panchanama was drawn. Firstly, A.D. was registered vide A.D. No.28/95 by City Chowk Police Station.

Thereafter dead body was taken to village of accused for obsequies. The family members of complainant and other relatives attended the obsequies. Then, they all went to Paithan. On 28.8.95 complainant went with others to Gangapur Police Station and lodged the 585.96crapl complaint against the accused persons.

7. Investigation was done by PSI Aute. He went to Borudi village and drew spot panchanama Exh.29. Three poisonous bottles (Articles 1 to 3) were seized under said panchanama. He recorded statements of witnesses.

Accused No.1 and 2 were arrested on 28.8.95. When accused No.1 Sanjay was in police custody, he made voluntary statement and memorandum to that effect was drawn. Accused No.1 led Police and panchas to his village. At the instance of accused No.1 Sanjay Thimat box was recovered, which was seized under seizure memo Exh.32. Accused No.3 and 4 were absconding.

They surrendered themselves before the court and then they were released on bail. Firstly, charge-sheet was filed against accused Sanjay and Vijay in the Court of JMFC, Gangapur on 24.11.95. Then on 26.12.95 supplementary charge-sheet was filed.

8. The committal court perused the police case papers and found that offence u/s 302 & 304-B of IPC585.96crapl exclusively triable by Court of Sessions, committed the case to Court of Sessions.

9. The charge was framed at Exh.3 to which accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried. The defence of accused No.1 was that he did not demand any amount from the parents of Lata. It was an accidental death. The defence of rest of the accused was that they never gave abuses to Lata and never assaulted her. The amount was not demanded. The specific defence was that on the day of incident, Lata had gone in the field with accused No.4 for sprinkling insecticide. At that time, it went in her mouth. She was feeling giddy and she came at home. There was vomiting. Accused No.3 was in his dispensary. He was called. Froth was coming out from mouth of Lata. He immediately, moved her to Aurangabad. Doctor informed regarding death of Lata.

The further defence of the accused was that P.W.1 Sanjay came to the house of accused after 3-4 days after the death of Lata and demanded Rs.15000/- and said if the amount would not be given, he will file a case against 585.96crapl them. A false case was filed against the accused persons. In other words, the evidence adduced against the accused was totally false.

10. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that the spot of the incident was the house of the accused. They were bound to explain under which circumstances death of deceased Latabai occurred. It is submitted that the evidence of prosecution witnesses unequivocally indicates that there was cruelty and ill-

treatment meted out to deceased on account of unlawful demand and therefore, the impugned judgment and order of the trial Court deserves to be set aside by convicting the respondents / accused.

11. The learned Counsel for the respondents / accused submitted that, the case of prosecution is based upon evidence of 3 witnesses namely, P.W.l, Sanjay Borude, P.W.2, Sumanbai Borude and P.W.3, Jagannath Borude.

He submits that the marriage of deceased Lata and accused No.1 Sanjay was solemnized on 30.3.1993 at 585.96crapl Paithan. They had one son Dhanesh born out of wedlock.

Date of incident is 25.8.1995. Lata died because of poison. It is further submitted that, P.W.No.l Sanjay Borude brother of Lata has stated in his evidence about demand of Rs. 500/- which he gave on demand in June 1993, demand and acceptance of Gold Ring of 3 grams which accused No.1 sold and invested money in the name of mother of Lata in Peerless Company. Fact of taking wrist watch at the time of marriage of p.w. no. 1 Sanjay and not returning back. These all are not having any allegations of ill treatment or illegal demand. The learned Counsel for respondents/accused submitted that allegations of demand of Rs.25,000/- for construction of house at the time of Nagpanchami of the year 1995 is alleged. That P.W.No.1 alleges that after 3-4 days of Nagpanchami accused No.1 Sanjay came and stayed for 3 days, and demanded Rs. 25,000/- and thereafter he left in anger. That the evidence of demand of Rs.25,000/- in the evidence of P.W. 2 Sumanbai is that one day prior to Nagpanchami, Lata demanded Rs.

25,000/- from Bhagwan who is another brother of Lata 585.96crapl and who is not examined. She has alleged that accused No.1 came after 8 days and demanded amo4713unt. It is alleged that, it was told to Lata to come with money otherwise accused No.1 will marry another girl. These are the two witnesses on the point of demand of Rs.

25,000/-. P.W.No.3 Jagannath uncle states that, he received information of demand of. Rs. 25,000/- from Laxmanrao who claimed that accused demanded Rs.

25,000/- from Laxmanrao. However, Laxmanrao father of Lata is not examined and therefore, evidence of P.W.No.3 on the point of demand of Rs. 25,000/- is hearsay. Even prosecution did not examine brother Bhagwan who brought Lata at the time of Nagpanchami Festival of 1995 and to whom Lata told about demand of Rs.

25,000/-. It is further submitted that, the evidence shows that Lata was in contact with her brother, parents and uncle. It has come in the cross examination of p.w.no.1 Sanjay that accused have their own house, they have also their own land which is near to the house.

Earlier roof of the house of accused was of Tin and they had renovated and laid slab on the roof and585.96crapl he also admitted that the work of Slab was completed in May 1995. He also admits’ that, in para No.10 that financial position of accused Sheshrao is sound and never borrowed any money. He admits that, accused no.1 was also doing profession of Medical Practitioner and no complaints were made with Sarpanch, Police Patil, Talathi or Police Station. If the work of Slab was completed in May 1995 there would have been demand for the same prior to May 1995 however, there are no allegations of demand. P.W.NO. 1 in Para no.11 of his cross examination sates that Lata did not disclosed regarding construction prior to Nagpanchamai.

The learned Counsel for the respondents further submitted that the second allegation on the point of demand is that, accused no. 1 on 18.8.1995 demanded Rs. 5000/- from P.W.No.3 Jagannath Borude uncle of Lata who resides at Jaikwadi. P.W.No.3 Jagannath is not stating as to what accused did to Lata for over demand of Rs. 5000/- he only uses the word ill-treatment. Basic 585.96crapl facts on the basis of which cruelty, ill-treatment can be inferred are to be stated by the witness and whether that amount to ill-treatment or cruelty is the inference which should be drawn by the Court. P.W.No.3 alleges that, accused Sanjay when came and informed that he requires Rs. 5000/- as he is in financial crises. He states that, accused told him that he is requiring Rs. 5000/- for the time being. That he alleges that accused No.1 had food with him and then left. P.W.No.3 doesn’t say that accused gave any threats of marring again with another woman or any other threats. P.W. NO.3 also doesn’t say that he tried to convince accused No.1 not to ill-treat.

That, P.W. No.3 doesn’t say that, he disclosed about this incident to P.W.No1. Sanjay of P.W.No. 2 Sumanbai and as such on the point of demand of Rs. 5,000/- there is no other substantive evidence and as p.w.no.3 doesn’t claim to have disclose the incident to P.W.No.1 and 2 their evidence becomes hearsay. It is submitted that, P.W.No.1 in his evidence in para in no. 5 states that, on 22.8.1995 accused no.1 Sanjay went to Tandulwadi to the house of Aunt Rahibai Idhate and told that brother 585.96crapland parents of Lata are not willing to sent Lata and on this point Rahibai Idhate was material witness however, she is not examined and therefore this evidence becomes hearsay.

It is further submitted that, p.w.no.l has stated in para no.5 that on 23.8.1995 he along with Lata and Rahibai and uncle Uttamrao Idhate left Lata at the house of accused. It is alleged that on the next day Lata told that mother in law was not allowing her to do any work and therefore P.W.No.l Sanjay disclosed about incident to uncle of accused no.l and also to accused no.3. That, prosecution did not examine Rahibai or Uncle Uttamrao Idhate and therefore there is no corroboration to the evidence of P.W.NO.1 Sanjay.

He further submitted that, the P.W.No.l Sanjay in cross examination admits that, when Lata was taken and left at the house of accused she bow down to her in laws.

Hospitality was shown and tea was offered to them by accused. They also took food at night in the house of 585.96crapl accused and at that time food was prepared by Lata and her mother in law. Lata slept at that night along with her mother in law. Even on the next day lunch was offered, this falsifies the story of incident of ill-treatment alleged by P.W.No.l Sanjay. That, the incident was informed immediately to relatives of Lata. They immediately came.

They were present when the panchnama was prepared and dead body was handed over and last rites took place at the village of Accused and subsequently it is only after discussion in between themselves prosecution witnesses decided to lodge report, there is delay of more than three days in lodging report which is not explained and which is fatal to prosecution. Delay in lodging the F.I.R. more often than not, result in abolishment and exaggeration, which is a creature of afterthought. A delayed report not only get bereft of the advantage of spontaneity, the danger of introduction of coloured version, exaggerated account of the incident or a concocted story as a result of deliberations and consultations, also creeps in casting a serious doubt on its veracity. On this point defense is relying upon authority ofState of A.P. vs. M.

585.96crapl Madhusudhan Rao.1 He submitted that, P.W.No.1 admits in para no. 12 that, they all family members sat together and they had discussion and only after discussion they decided to file complaint against accused. That, the two letters Exh.18 and Exh.19 also falsify the case of prosecution about ill-treatment over demand of money. That, nature of accused no.1 can also be gathered form letters that even one he disposed of the Ring he invested the amount in the name of mother of Lata. That mere demand doesn’t amount to cruelty unless and until cruelty is to fulfill the illegal demand.

There is no evidence that, Lata was subjected to cruelty of personal nature to meet out illegal demands of accused. It is further submitted that in order to draw presumption u/s 113-B of Evidence Act prosecution is required to prove that decease was subjected to cruelty and that cruelty was soon before her death and there is a nexus and proximity in between the demand and ill-

treatment and commission of suicide.

1 2009 ALL MR (Cri) 547 (S.C.);

585.96crapl It is further submitted by learned Counsel for the respondents / Accused that, learned trial court has considered and appreciated the entire evidence in its proper perspective and has acquitted the accused. There is no illegality, perversity, committed by the trial court, and therefore, the judgment of acquittal doesn’t required interference. In case of acquittal, there is a double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence is available to him. Secondly the accused having secured an acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is certainly not weakened but reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court. Defense on the point has relied on the decision of Supreme Court in a case of Nepal Singh vs. State of Haryana.,2 That, defense has relied upon case ofRaman Kumar vs State of Punjab 3 on the point of 304-

B and presumption under 113-B of Indian Evidence Act.

That, learned Counsel for respondents / accused 2 AIR 2009 SC 2913;

3 (2009)16 SCC 35;

585.96crapl has further relied upon the case of Ishwarilal Vs. State of M.P.4 and Sakatar Singh and ors vs State of Haryana,5. He submitted that in case of alleged abetment of suicide there must be proof of direct or indirect act of incitement of commission of suicide. The mere fact that husband treated wife with cruelty is not sufficient. It is submitted that, prosecution has not made any case and therefore appeal filed by State against judgment and order of acquittal deserves to be dismissed.

12. We have heard learned APP for the appellant State and learned Counsel for the respondents / accused at length. With their able assistance, perused the original record and proceedings and all other material placed on record. In this case, charge assumes importance inasmuch as, the trial Court did not frame charge for offence punishable under section 306 of IPC. Following charge was framed against the accused:

4 AIR 2007 SC 2457;

5 (2004) 11 SCC 291;

585.96crapl ” That you acc.no.1 being the husband of deceased and other accused being relatives of husband of deceased in furtherance of your common intention since her marriage with acc.no.1, subjected her to cruelty and harassment on account of demand of money, gold ornaments etc. and thereby committed an offence punishable u/s 498.A r/w 34 IPC.

Secondly, you all accused on or about 24.8.95 at about 3.30 p.m. at village Borudi Tq. Gangapur, in furtherance of your common intention, intentionally and knowingly committed murder of deceased Latabai w/o Sanjay by administering the poison and thereby committed an offence punishable u/s 302 r/w 34 IPC.

You all accused in furtherance of your common intention, being husband and relatives of deceased subjected her to cruelty, harassment in connection with demand of dowry and due to which the death of the deceased is caused/occurred otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and you all accused thereby committed an offence punishable u/s 304- B r/w 34 IPC.”

585.96crapl

13. The case requires appreciation of evidence of the prosecution witnesses, in the light of the provisions of sections 302 r/w 34, 304-B r/w 34 and 498-A r/w 34 of IPC, the provisions of sections 304-B and 498-A of IPC are reproduced herein below:

“304B. Dowry death (1) 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.

Explanation- For the purpose of this sub-section, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961). (2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.”

The provisions of section 498-A of IPC read thus:

“498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to585.96crapl cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation- For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-

(a) any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.”

The provisions of Section 113B of the Evidence Act read, thus:

“113B. Presumption as to dowry death. – When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman has been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the Court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.

Explanation.–For the purposes of this section, “dowry death” shall have the same meaning as in section 304B, of the Indian Penal Code, (45 of 1860).”

14. In order to appreciate definition of cruelty, it would be necessary to look into the provisions of section 2 of 585.96crapl the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The section 2 of the said Act, reads thus:

“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 parents 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.

Explanation I. — [***] Explanation II.-The expression “valuable security” has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).”

15. In the light of above mentioned provisions, the evidence of the prosecution witnesses will have to be considered.

16. The prosecution has examined three witnesses in order to prove the case in general and case of unlawful 585.96crapl demand and cruelty in particular. As per the prosecution case, there was demand of Rs.500/- by the accused Sanjay. In order to prove the illegal / unlawful demand of Rs.500/-, prosecution examined P.W.1 Sanjay Laxmanrao Borude.

17. P.W.1 Sanjay Laxmanrao Borude is brother of deceased Latabai. There is another sister to this witness namely Sangeeta. P.W.1 Sanjay stated that the accused gave good treatment to Lata for six months after marriage. All accused were staying jointly at village Borudi. At that time, accused Sanjay was not in service.

Accused Sanjay came to him and informed that he required Rs.500/-. The said incident took place in the month of June, 1993.

It is further stated that in the month of October, 93, his sister Lata and her husband Sanjay came to him at Paithan. At that time, accused Sanjay demanded gold ring of 3 gms. His father gave him gold ring. After four days, this witness received a letter from accused No.1 585.96crapl Sanjay informing that he disposed of that gold ring and amount was invested in Peerless company in the name of the mother of Lata and again demanded Rs.2000/-. The letter was addressed to the father of the P.W.1. The said letter was in the handwriting of accused Sanjay, which is at Exh.8. It is further stated by this witness that thereafter, accused No.1 Sanjay came to their house and demanded Rs.1000/-. Accused Sanjay did not invest the said amount in the name of anybody in Peerless Company and no policy was taken.

This witness has further narrated the incident that on 23rd April, 1995 there was marriage of P.W.1 Sanjay.

Accused Sanjay came for his marriage. He had taken wrist watch of Richo Company from his hand. When P.W.1 Sanjay demanded the wrist watch back, accused No.1 Sanjay refused to give the said wrist watch back.

This witness further stated that his sister Lata used to come at Paithan for festivals. At that time, she used to tell that accused Vijay used to tell his mother Sakharabai that Latabai was not doing field work and on 585.96crapl his say, Sakharabai used to assault her and was not providing food to her. It is further stated that for the festival of Nagpanchami of 1995, Lata was brought to Paithan. At that time, Lata told that accused started constructing house and the same was not completed. For its completion, there was need of Rs.25000/-. Her husband accused No.1 and accused No.3 Sheshrao told her to bring the amount from the family of P.W.1 Sanjay otherwise, accused No.1 will marry with another woman.

It was told to Lata that there would be marriage of another sister Sangita and it would not be possible for them to satisfy demand of accused of Rs.25,000/-. It is further stated by this witness that after 3 – 4 days of Nagpanchami, accused No.1 Sanjay came to Paithan. He stayed for three days. During those days, accused Sanjay demanded Rs.25,000/- from them. They told him that they were unable to satisfy his demand of money.

Accused No.1 Sanjay became angry and he left their house in anger. Then again on 18 th August, 1995, accused Sanjay came at Paithan by jeep. He went to Jaikwadi to his uncle Jagannath Borude. He demanded 585.96crapl Rs.5000/- to his uncle. His uncle did not give the amount. At that time accused Sanjay told him whether he gives more respect to amount than relations. Sanjay further told uncle not to send Lata without money. It is further stated by this witness that on 22 nd August, 1995 accused No.1 Sanjay went to Tandulwadi to the house of his aunt Rahibai Idhate. He said to Rahibai that they were not willing to send Lata to him and further said to Rahibai to send Lata to him within 2 days. Rahibai went to the P.W.1 and gave the said message. On 23.8.95 P.W.1, Lata, and Rahibai went upto Bidkin. The maternal uncle of P.W.1 Uttamrao joined them and P.W.1, Lata and Uttamrao went to Borudi village, to the house of accused. However, admittedly, Rahibai is not examined by the prosecution.

After P.W.1 Sanjay reached the house of the accused, all accused were present in the house. After seeing them, accused no.1 Sanjay left the house and did not return home whole night. On the very night Uttamrao left the village and started proceeding towards 585.96crapl Bidkin by bullock-cart. On the way, accused No.1 Sanjay met him and gave abuses and said why Latabai was brought. When Lata went to accused Sakharabai for bowing, accused Sakharabai kicked her in the presence of P.W.1. On next day, Lata told him that her mother-in-

law was not allowing her to do any work. The said incident was narrated by P.W.1 to uncle of accused No.1.

He replied that he would satisfy the accused and P.W.1 should not worry. This witness has further stated that he went to the dispensary of accused No.3 at Savkheda.

He narrated all incident to accused No.3. Accused No.3 also gave assurance not to worry. Then P.W.1 came to Aurangabad.

This witness was cross-examined by the Advocate of the accused. In his cross-examination, he has given vital admissions which would nullify the prosecution case. He has admitted in his cross-examination that he went alone for the first three times to the house of accused after marriage. He stayed there for a day. At that time, Latabai did not make any complaint regarding 585.96crapl ill-treatment. Latabai made complaint for the first time at the time of Diwali of 1993. It is further admitted that accused No.1 had come for diwali festival to their place for the first time and he stayed with them for 2 – 4days.

At that time, this witness did not tell to accused No.1 anything about ill-treatment to Latabai. He admits that there was no quarrel between then and accused persons.

The P.W.1 further stated in cross-examination that he had gone to the house of accused even after November, 1993. In the month of Feb. 95 he went to the house of accused for giving intimation to them for settlement of his marriage. Latabai was there at that time. Thereafter, Latabai and accused No.1 Sanjay attended his marriage at Chitegaon and also came to Paithan and stayed for two days. P.W.1 Sanjay further admitted that there was marriage of his cousin brother Krishna at Lasur Station on 10.5.95 and at that time, Lata came to then on 9.5.95. She came directly to Jaikwadi. Accused Sanjay was also with her. After marriage they both came to Paithan and stayed for two 585.96crapl days. Then both went to their village.

This witness admitted in cross-examination that the accused have their own house and land. He admits to have seen the land, which is near their house. Roof of house of accused was of tin. They removed those tins and they wanted to erect slab on it. P.W.1 admits that in the month of May, 1995 the work of slab was completed.

The work of stair-case was going on. This witness admits that financial position of accused Sheshrao is sound. He further admits that accused had not taken any amount as Usanwar (loan) from them. He states that accused No.1 was doing profession of medical practitioner. The witness admits that no complaint was lodged to Police Station or Police Patil prior to the incident in question.

He further admits that Nagpanchami had come in the month of August, 1995 and Latabai did not tell regarding construction of house prior to Nagpanchami.

He admits that accused No.3 Sheshrao had not come personally to them for demand amount; as also, accused 585.96crapl Sakharabai did not come to them at any time for demanding the amount. The witness admits that thereafter accused Sanjay had come to them and that, he could not say for what purpose he had come. He states that he did not know why accused Sanjay had come by jeep to them. The witness admits that the talks between accused No.1 and Jagannath Borude had not taken place in his presence. The witness states that he does not know whether there was any transaction between Jagannath and accused persons. He admits that accused No.1 came to them from house of Jagannath Borude. P.W.1 admits that there was no quarrel between him and accused No.1 at that time.

This witness further stated that Latabai bowed down to in-laws immediately after reaching there, hospitality was shown and tea was offered to them. They took food at night in the house of accused. Lata and her mother-in-law prepared food. He also admits that on that night, Lata slept near hear mother-in-law i.e. accused No.4. In the next day morning, lunch was 585.96crapl offered to them. He stated that he alone went to the dispensary of accused Sheshrao at Savkheda, there were patients in the dispensary, accused gave him assurance not to worry. The witness stated that there was suspicion that accused might have administered poison to Lata. He admits that there was Police Chowki at Ghati Hospital and due to his mental condition he could not lodge complaint there. The witness admits that confinement of Lata took place at Paithan at their house and accused Sanjay came many times to see Lata before and after confinement. All accused came to see son of Lata at Paithan.

The P.W.1 Sanjay admits that all family members sat together and there was a discussion and they all decided to file complaint against the accused persons and he was informed to lodge complaint, for which he consented.

18. The P.W.2 Sumanbai w/o Laxmanrao Borude is mother of deceased Latabai. In her examination-in-chief, 585.96crapl this witness stated that Latabai used to visit their house often. She used to tell that accused used to give abuses to her and were not giving good treatment to her.

Accused Sanjay wanted to go to Deoolgaon Raja for interview and therefore he had taken Rs.500/- from her son Sanjay. Thereafter, accused No.1 demanded ring.

They gave ring. Accused No.1 sent letter and informed that he disposed of ring and invested amount in peerless company. She further stated that he demanded Rs.2000/-. Accused No.1 had taken Rs.1000/- from her in the month of October. She further stated that he took amount many times and in all she gave him Rs.5000/-.

P.W.2 Sumanbai stated further that Lata used to come for Dipawali, Dasara, Nagpanchami and Holi. She used to tell that accused were giving ill-treatment to her.

Her mother-in-law used to tell that Lata was not knowing house work. They were not providing food to her. The witness stated that Lata came one day prior to Nagpanchanmi of 1995. Rs.25000/- were demanded from Bhagwan. She told this fact to the witness. She 585.96crapl further stated that the amount was demanded for construction of house. It was told to her to come with money otherwise not to come, and accused would see other girl for Sanjay. After eight days, accused Sanjay came and demanded amount. He stayed with them for 3 days at Paithan. They told him that they were unable to satisfy the demands. He went in anger. Then on 18 th accused Sanjay again came with jeep. Lata had gone to Jaikwadi to the house of her uncle Jagannath. Accused Sanjay went to him and demanded Rs.5000/-.

Jagannath refused to give the amount. After four days Lata went to the house of accused. This witness stated further that her son Sanjay also went with Lata. They received message that Lata was admitted in hospital.

They all went there. Lata was no more.

During the cross-examination, the P.W.2 Sumanbai stated that, she had not gone to house of the accused.

For the first time, Lata came after three days after her marriage. She did not make any complaint against accused persons at that time. Thereafter, she came after 585.96crapl 15 days or one month. At that time Lata made complaint. Witness further admitted that Lata did not make any complaint against accused persons. During first six months, Lata came to them for three times. She stated that accused Sanjay came to them for demanding Rs.500/- after three months after marriage. After 8 months, accused Sanjay demanded ring. Her husband had purchased that ring. The value of ring was Rs.2000/- at that time.

She further stated that Lata used to come for Nagpanchami festival each year. She stated that when Lata came to them for confinement, accused Sanjay also came with her. After the delivery, all accused came to them for seeing the child. Accused Sanjay used to stay with them at that time. When all accused came to see child, they tried to convince them and requested not to give trouble to Lata. Witness admitted that Lata had passed SSC at the time of marriage and she studied at the house of accused for HSC and gave exam at Paithan.

She came 15 days prior to examination to Paithan for 585.96crapl study. Latabai told them regarding demand of Rs.25000/- in the month of October, 1995. She stated that Jagannath told that accused Sanjay had demanded Rs.5000/- to him. The witness admits that at Paithan herself, her husband and her sons did discussion regarding death of Lata and after three days, they decided to lodge complaint. The witness stated that Lata used to go to field of accused for work.

19. P.W.3 Jagannath Mahipatrao Borude is uncle of Lata. He deposed that on 18.8.95 Lata came to him at Jaikwadi. She told that accused were demanding amount and were giving ill-treatment. She demanded Rs.5000/- from him. He told her that he would discuss with her father. After one hour accused Sanjay came to him and demanded Rs.5000/- from him. He stated that they were in critical financial position and for that purpose he required Rs.5000/- for the time being. The witness told him that after salary day, he would decide to give amount. He further stated that at that time, accused No.1 Sanjay said to him whether he gives more 585.96crapl value to money than relation. He took food with him and in anger he left his house. The witness states that after half an hour, he went to Paithan and narrated facts to the father of Lata, Laxmanrao.

It is further stated by the witness that Laxmanrao said to him that accused demanded Rs.25000/- from him and he showed his inability to give the amount. He further deposed that on 23.8.95 Lata went with her brother Sanjay to the house of accused. On 24.8.95 they came to know from Jagannath, cousin in-law of Lata that Lata consumed poison and she was admitted in hospital.

He went to Ghati hospital and came to know that Lata expired. According to this witness, her husband and mother-in-law administered poison to Lata and caused her murder.

In his cross-examination, this witness admits that he went to the house of the accused only for one time and he never went to bring Lata. He stated that he went to house of accused after one and half years after her 585.96crapl marriage. He went alone. He stated that Lata came to his house 10-12 times. This witness in his cross-

examination stated that he had gone to Borudi for obsequies and after that, they returned to Paithan. He admitted that they were making inquiry regarding death of Lata when they returned to Paithan.

20. In the foregoing paragraphs, the evidence of P.W.Nos.1, 2 and 3 has been discussed so as to find out as to whether before death of Lata she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or other accused.

If the evidence of P.W.1 Sanjay – complainant and P.W.2 Sumanbai, mother of the complainant in respect of demand of Rs.500/- and gold ring is considered, evidence of both these witnesses does not disclose that Lata was subjected cruelty of personal nature to meet out illegal demands by the accused. According to the P.W.1 Sanjay, accused Sanjay asked for Rs.500/- so as to enable him to bear expenses to attend interview. So far gold ring of 3 gms given to accused Sanjay is considered, he sold the same and invested the said 585.96crapl amount in the name of P.W.2 in Peerless company. So far demand of Rs.25,000/- is concerned, P.W.2 Sumanbai stated that accused Sanjay demanded Rs.25,000/- for construction of house to Bhagwan.

Bhagwan is brother of the complainant and son of P.W.2 Sumanabi. However, prosecution has not examined Bhagwan and therefore, evidence of P.W.2 Sumanbai as regards demand of Rs.25,000/- by the accused Sanjay is hearsay.

P.W.3 Jagannath in his evidence stated that Laxmanrao told him that accused Sanjay asked for Rs.25,000/- for construction of their house. However, said Laxmanrao i.e. father of the complainant was not examined by the prosecution. Therefore, evidence of P.W.3 Jagannath as regards demand of Rs.25,000/-, is hearsay.

P.W.1 Sanjay admitted in his cross-examination that constructions was completed in the month of May, 1995 inasmuch as, slab work was already over. It has 585.96crapl also come on record that after marriage, accused Sanjay used to visit house of the complainant with Lata for marriage of some relative. It has also come on record that after marriage, Lata completed her education of HSC i.e. 12th standard. Even if the letters written by the accused Sanjay, which are exhibited, are read in its entirety, contents of the same would not attract the cruelty as defined under Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Even if the evidence of the witnesses about demand of Rs.5000/- by accused Sanjay and that on refusal, accused Sanjay left the house of the complainant or reacted to P.W.3 Jagannath that he gives more importance to money than relation, is taken as it is, it would not attract cruelty. Even if it is taken that if the amount is not given, accused Sanjay may perform another marriage, would not attract cruelty as defined under Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

21. The Supreme Court, in the case of Tummala Venkateswar Rao vs State of A.P.6, considered the 6 2014(2) Mh.L.J.(Cri.) 284;

585.96crapl provisions of Section 304-B of IP.C. and section 113-B of the Evidence Act and held, thus:

“The term “soon before her death” has been employed by Parliament to refer to cruelty or harassment which was meted out in proximity to the death and has to be considered as the cause of the death. The provision does not employ the term “at any time before” not “immediately before” and must be construed according to its true import.”

22. The Supreme Court in the case of Raman Kumar (supra), while interpreting the provisions of section 304-

B and 498-A of IPC, held that there must be existence of proximate and live link between effect of cruelty based on dowry demand and death of deceased. If alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb mental equilibrium of woman concerned, it would be of no consequence.

23. Therefore, if the evidence of P.Ws.1 to 3 is considered in its entirety, it appears that the prosecution has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that soon before death of Lata the deceased, was subjected to cruelty or 585.96crapl harassment by accused Sanjay or other co-accused in connection with any demand for dowry. Upon perusal of the findings recorded by the trial Court on aforesaid aspect, it appears that those findings are in consonance with the evidence on record and there is no perversity as such.

24. According to the prosecution, the spot of the incident is the house of the accused. As per the report of the Chemical Analyzer, poison (Thimat) was detected.

Even if, prosecution case is taken as it is, that death of Latabai occurred in the house of accused, in order to invoke the provisions of section 106 of the Evidence Act, the prosecution has to discharge burden u/s 101 of the Evidence Act. In the present case, there are four accused. The prosecution has not brought on record any circumstantial evidence or direct evidence to show that the accused were present in the house at the relevant time. In order to invoke the provisions of section 106 of the Evidence Act, the prosecution ought to have brought on record the evidence in the nature of last seen together 585.96crapl or any other evidence which would suggest that the accused persons were present at the relevant time in the house. The prosecution has also not brought on record the evidence showing that poison (Thimat) was forcibly administered to Lata. In absence of any signs of violence or external injury on the person of the deceased, administering poison forcibly could not be believed.

Upon perusal of the entire evidence brought on record by the prosecution, it appears that the prosecution has not proved, either by direct evidence or circumstantial evidence, that poison (Thimat) was forcibly administered by the accused persons, thereby committing murder of deceased Latabai. No witness has stated that, poison (Thimat) was forcibly administered by the accused persons. The victim had no external injury or signs of resistance or violence. Therefore, the view taken by the trial Court acquitting the respondents for the offence punishable under Section 302 r.w. 34 of IPC appears to be in consonance with the evidence brought on record by the prosecution. The entire 585.96crapl evidence led by the prosecution suggests involvement of the accused Sanjay only regarding demands and so far as other accused are concerned, the prosecution has not brought evidence on record that they asked for some money or demanded money from the complainant or his family. Father of the accused Sanjay, at the relevant time, was running a dispensary. The prosecution has placed heavy reliance on the disclosure statement of the accused Sanjay. However, said evidence in absence of any other evidence on record, would not help the prosecution so as to prove the guilt of the accused Sanjay beyond reasonable doubt. It is true that defence taken by the accused that while spraying insecticide in the field, Thimat was swallowed by deceased accidentally by deceased Lata, does not appear to be correct in view of the quantity of liquid containing poison found in the stomach. False defence taken by the accused may be an additional circumstance; however, it cannot form basis for conviction and prosecution case has to rest upon the evidence led by the prosecution. Even if accused admitted Post Mortem Report, State had burden to prove 585.96crapl the chemical composition of the liquid found in stomach other than smell.

25. The Supreme Court while explaining scope and ambit of section 106 of the Evidence Act, in the case of Sohel Mehaboob Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra,7 held that in case of circumstantial evidence, if there is no evidence to show that accused was present in the room when occurrence took place, chain of circumstances is not complete and accused is entitled to be acquitted.

The fact that accused has not given any explanation about unnatural death of wife is not material.

26. Yet, in another judgment in the case of Vikramjit Singh @ Vicky vs. State of Punjab,8 the Supreme Court held that suspicion, however, grave may be, cannot be a substitute for proof. The same would lead to only conclusion that the prosecution has not been able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.

7 AIR 2009 SC 2702;

8 2007 ALL SCR 2094;

585.96crapl While interpreting the provisions of section 106 of the Evidence Act, the Supreme Court in paragraphs 12 to 15 held, thus:

“12. In the instant case, there are two versions. The learned Sessions Judge proceeded to weigh the probability of both of them and opined that the appellant having not been able to prove its case, the prosecution case should be accepted. In our opinion, the approach of the learned Sessions Judge was not correct. The High Court also appeared to have fallen into the same error. It invoked Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act although opining:

“The section is not intended to relieve the prosecution of its burden to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. But the section would apply to cases where the prosecution has succeeded in proving facts from which a reasonable inference can be drawn regarding the existence of certain other facts, unless the accused by virtue of his special knowledge regarding such facts, failed to offer any explanation which might drive the court to draw a different inference.”

13. Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act does not relieve the prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt. Only when the prosecution case has been proved the burden in regard to such facts which was within the special knowledge of the accused may be shifted to the accused for explaining the same. Of course, there are certain exceptions to the said rule, e.g., where burden of proof may be imposed upon the accused by reason of a statute.

14. It may be that in a situation of this nature where the court legitimately may raise a strong suspicion that in all probabilities the accused was guilty of commission of heinous offence but applying the well-settled principle of law that suspicion, however, grave may be, cannot be a substitute for proof, the same would lead to the only conclusion herein that the prosecution has not been able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.

15. In Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of 585.96crapl Maharashtra [AIR 1984 SC 1622 = (1984) 4 SCC 116], this Court laid down the law in the following terms :

“153. A close analysis of this decision would show that the following conditions must be fulfilled before a case against an accused can be said to be fully established:

(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established.

It may be noted here that this Court indicated that the circumstances concerned “must or should” and not “may be” established. There is not only a grammatical but a legal distinction between “may be proved” and “must be or should be proved” as was held by this Court in Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra where the observations were made: [SCC para 19, p. 807: SCC (Cri) p. 1047] “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 distance between ‘may be’ and ‘must be’ is long and divides vague conjectures from sure conclusions.”

(2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty, (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency, (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved, and (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.”

It was further observed :

“179. We can fully understand that though the case superficially viewed bears an ugly look so as to prima facie shock the conscience of any court yet suspicion, however great it may be, cannot take the place of legal 585.96crapl proof. A moral conviction however strong or genuine cannot amount to a legal conviction supportable in law.

180. It must be recalled that the well established rule of criminal justice is that “fouler the crime higher the proof”. In the instant case, the life and liberty of a subject was at stake. As the accused was given a capital sentence, a very careful, cautious and meticulous approach was necessary to be made.”

27. Yet, in another judgment in case of Subramaniam vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr.,9 in paragraphs 15 to 21, the Supreme Court observed, thus:

“15. Mr. Kanagaraj has placed strong reliance upon the decision of this Court in Trimukh Maroti Kirkan vs. State of Maharashtra [(2006) 10 SCC 681] wherein it was held:

“18. The question of burden of proof where some facts are within the personal knowledge of the accused was examined in State of West Bengal v. Mir Mohammad Omar and Ors.[(2000) 8 SCC 382].

In this case the assailants forcibly dragged the deceased, Mahesh from the house where he was taking shelter on account of the fear of the accused and took him away at about 2.30 in the night. Next day in the morning his mangled body was found lying in the hospital. The trial Court convicted the accused under Section 364 read with Section 34 IPC and sentenced them to 10 years’ RI. The accused preferred an appeal against their conviction before the High Court and the State also filed an appeal challenging the acquittal of the accused for murder charge. The accused had not given any explanation as to what happened to Mahesh after he was abducted by them. The learned Sessions Judge after referring to the law on circumstantial evidence had observed that there 9 2009 ALL MR (Cri) 2118 (S.C.);

585.96crapl was a missing link in the chain of evidence after the deceased was last seen together with the accused persons and the discovery of the dead body in the hospital and had concluded that the prosecution had failed to establish the charge of murder against the accused persons beyond any reasonable doubt. This Court took note of the provisions of Section 106 of the Evidence Act and laid down the following principle in paras 31 to 34 of the reports:

31. The pristine rule that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused should not be taken as a fossilised doctrine as though it admits no process of intelligent reasoning. The doctrine of presumption is not alien to the above rule, nor would it impair the temper of the rule. On the other hand, if the traditional rule relating to burden of proof of the prosecution is allowed to be wrapped in pedantic coverage, the offenders in serious offences would be the major beneficiaries and the society would be the casualty.

32. In this case, when the prosecution succeeded in establishing the afore-narrated circumstances, the court has to presume the existence of certain facts. Presumption is a course recognised by the law for the court to rely on in conditions such as this.

33. Presumption of fact is an inference as to the existence of one fact from the existence of some other facts, unless the truth of such inference is disproved. Presumption of fact is a rule in law of evidence that a fact otherwise doubtful may be inferred from certain other proved facts. When inferring the existence of a fact from other set of proved facts, the court exercises a process of reasoning and reaches a logical conclusion as the most probable position. The above principle has gained legislative recognition in India when Section 114 is incorporated in the Evidence Act. It empowers the court to presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened. In 585.96crapl that process the court shall have regard to the common course of natural events, human conduct etc. in relation to the facts of the case.

34. When it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that Mahesh was abducted by the accused and they took him out of that area, the accused alone knew what happened to him until he was with them. If he was found murdered within a short time after the abduction the permitted reasoning process would enable the court to draw the presumption that the accused have murdered him. Such inference can be disrupted if the accused would tell the court what else happened to Mahesh at least until he was in their custody.”

16. Yet again in Ponnusamy vs. State of Tamil Nadu [(2008) 5 SCC 587], this Court held:

“21. We have to consider the factual background of the present case in the light of the relationship between the parties. If his wife was found missing, ordinarily, the husband would search for he. If she has died in an unnatural situation when she was in his company, he is expected to offer an explanation therefor. Lack of such explanation on the part of the appellant itself would be a circumstantial evidence against him.

27. We must also take into consideration the fact that the dead-body was decomposed with maggots all over it. Other marks of strangulation which could have been found were not to be found in this case. The dead body was found after a few days. We are, therefore, of the opinion that medical evidence does not negate the prosecution case.”21 case. The dead body was found after a few days. We are, therefore, of the opinion that medical evidence does not negate the prosecution case.”

17. In both the aforementioned cases, the death occurred due to violence. In this case, there was no mark of violence. Appellant has been found to be wholly innocent. So far as the charges under Section 498A or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is concerned, the 585.96crapl evidence of the parents of the deceased being P.W. 1 and P.W. 2 as also the mediators P.Ws.4 and 5 have been disbelieved by both the courts below. That part of the prosecution story suggesting strong motive on the part of the appellant to commit the murder, thus, has been ruled out.

18. However, we may notice that in Mohd. Zahid (supra), this Court opined:

“Of course, the prosecution has established that the appellant was the only person in the company of Jabeena and her child at the relevant time on the fateful day. But this again stops the prosecution case in the realm of suspicion, which by itself cannot be substituted for hard evidence. Aware as we are of the fact, a budding life came to an unfortunate premature end, our jurisprudence will not permit us to base a conviction on the basis of the evidence placed by the prosecution in this case and the benefit of a reasonable doubt must be given to the appellant.”

19. In Sharad Birdichand Sarda vs. State of Maharashtra [(1984) 4 SCC 116], this Court has laid down the parameters for arriving at a opinion in regard to proof of a prosecution case on the basis of the circumstantial evidence, stating:

“153. A close analysis of this decision would show that the following conditions must be fulfilled before a case against an accused can be said to be fully established:

(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established.

It may be noted here that this Court indicated that the circumstances concerned ‘must or should’ and not ‘may be’ established. There is not only a grammatical but a legal distinction between ‘may be proved’ and ‘must be or should be proved as was held by this Court in Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra [(1973) 2 SCC 793] where the following observations were made: (SCC para 19, p.807: SCC (Cri) p.1047].

Certainly, it is a primary principle that the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before a585.96crapl Court can convict, and the mental distance between ‘may be’ and ‘must be’ is long and divides vague conjectures from sure conclusions.

(2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty.

(3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency.

(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved, and (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.

154. These five golden principles, if we may say so, constitute the panchsheel of the proof of a case based on circumstantial evidence.”

It was furthermore held:

“163. We then pass on to another important point which seems to have been completely missed by the High Court. It is well settled that where on the evidence two possibilities are available or open, one which goes in favour of the prosecution and the other which benefits an accused, the accused is undoubtedly entitled to the benefit of doubt. In Kali Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh [(1973) 2 SCC 808], this Court made the following observations:

Another golden thread which runs through the web of the administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused should be adopted. This principle has a special relevance in cases wherein the guilt of the accused is sought to be established by circumstantial evidence.”

585.96crapl

20. Yet again in Vinay D. Nagar vs. State of Rajasthan [(2008) 5 SCC 597], this Court held: “9. The principle of law is well established that where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should in the first instance be fully established, and the facts, so established, should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and they should be such as to exclude hypothesis than the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.”

21. This Court in K.T. Palanisamy vs. State of Tamil Nadu [(2008) 3 SCC 100], held:

“18. All the prosecution witnesses are related to the deceased. It is difficult for us to believe that all the witnesses saw the deceased accompanying the accused persons one after the other at different places.

Therefore, chances of their deposing falsely cannot be ruled out. Be that as it may, when the offence is said to have been committed and the circumstantial evidence is made the basis for establishing the charge against the appellant, indisputably all the links must be completed to form the basis for his conviction.”

28. The learned Counsel for the accused also submitted that there was delay of 3 – 4 days in filing the FIR. It is submitted that it has come in the evidence of the complainant that all the family members, after due deliberation, decided to file complaint. There is no 585.96crapl explanation offered for the delay in lodging FIR. It is true that there is 3 – 4 days delay in lodging the FIR. The Supreme Court, in case of M. Madhusudhan Rao (supra) held that time and again, the object and importance of prompt lodging of the First Information Report has been highlighted. Delay in lodging the First Information Report, more often than not, results in embellishment and exaggeration, which is a creature of an afterthought. A delayed report not only gets bereft of the advantage of spontaneity, the danger of the introduction of coloured version, exaggerated account of the incident or a concocted story as a result of deliberations and consultations, also creeps in, casting a serious doubt on its veracity. Therefore, it is essential that the delay in lodging the report should be satisfactorily explained.

29. In the case of Nepal Singh (supra), the Supreme Court held, thus:

“In case of acquittal, there is a double presumption 585.96crapl in favour of the accused- firstly, the presumption of innocence is available to him-secondly, the accused having secured an acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is certainly not weakened but reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court.”

In the judgment in case of State of A.P. V/s M. Madhusudhan Rao (supra), the Supreme Court in para 13 held thus :-

“13. There is no embargo on the appellate court to review, reappreciate or reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded. Yet, generally, the order of acquittal is not interfered with because the presumption of innocence, which is otherwise available to an accused under the fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a court of law, gets further reinforced and strengthened by his acquittal. It is also trite that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case and the one favourable to the accused has been taken by the trial court, it should not be disturbed. Nevertheless, where the approach of the lower court in considering the evidence in the case is vitiated by some manifest illegality or the conclusion recorded by the court below is such which could not have been possibly arrived at by any court acting reasonably and judiciously and is, therefore, liable to be characterised as perverse, then, to 585.96crapl prevent miscarriage of justice, the appellate court is obliged to interfere.”

30. Therefore, taking overall view of the matter, it appears that the view taken by the trial Court is a possible view. The benefit of doubt deserves to be given to the accused.

31. In the result, appeal sans merits and the same stands dismissed.

Consequently, Criminal Revision Application No.336 of 1996 filed by the complainant stands dismissed.

                    [ A.I.S. CHEEMA, J]                 [S.S. SHINDE, J]





     Kadam.



       





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