Excerpt:A bare perusal of the testimony reveals that the accused did not ask for any dowry, but was only asking for a financial help to secure a permanent job. Thus, the demand of money was not in consideration of marriage or in connection with the marriage. The accused was seeking financial help for securing a permanent job for himself. There is no evidence at all that the demand was in connection with marriage and thus it amounts to demand for dowry.

Delhi District Court
State vs . Arun @ Vicky on 10 January, 2019
 IN THE COURT OF O. P. SAINI: ADDL. SESSIONS JUDGE/SPL.
    JUDGE (CBI­04), PATIALA HOUSE COURT, NEW DELHI

Old SC No. 8592/2016
New SC No. 73/2018
State Vs. Arun @ Vicky
FIR No. 97/2014
U/s: 498A/304B IPC
PS: Chankya Puri

1.    Date of Institution             :      30.07.2014

2.    Date of Commencement
      of Final Arguments              :      10.01.2019

3.    Date of Conclusion of
      Final Arguments                 :      10.01.2019

4.    Date of Reserving Order         :      10.01.2019

5.    Date of Pronouncement           :      10.01.2019

6.    Whether Acquitted or
      Convicted?                      :      Acquitted.

Present:    Sh. Pradeep Kumar, Addl. PP for the State.
            Accused on bail with Sh. V. V. R. Rao, Advocate.


                            JUDGMENT

Brief Facts of the Case The instant case was registered on 06.05.2014 on the statement of Sh. Raidass, as his daughter Hemlata had committed ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky suicide on 05.05.2014 at her matrimonial house at Quarter No. 272, Block 2, Bapu Dham, New Delhi. Information about this incident was received in Police Station Chankyapuri and was also conveyed to the Sub­Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of the area. The Sub­Divisional Magistrate reached the spot and also recorded the statement of Sh. Raidass and marked the statement to the SHO, Chankya Puri for necessary action as per law. In the statement, he stated that he had married his daughter Hemlata with accused on 19.01.2014. Both were divorcees and were having a son each, aged seven years and eight years respectively. Accused Arun Kumar was working as a Sweeper in NDMC on muster roll basis. He alleged that after fifteen days of marriage, accused Arun Kumar and his mother Pushpa had demanded an amount of rupees one lakh from his daughter on the pretext of getting the accused confirmed in the said post and his daughter conveyed this demand to him. However, Sh. Raidass expressed his inability to pay the said amount, as he was retired person and he had even arranged the marriage of his daughter Hemlata after taking loan. He also alleged that on 17.03.2014, on the day of Holi, accused and his family members had beaten up her daughter Hemlata in the night and in the night itself, she reached Malcha Marg after leaving her matrimonial home and from there she informed her father about the incident. She also informed that the accused was drunk. She requested her father to take her to his house. However, her ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky daughter­in­law Sarita went to her at Malcha Marg and instead of bringing her back, took her to her matrimonial house, where she counselled both the parties and left Hemlata there. However, at about 12:00 in the night, the accused again beat her up and she made a telephonic call to the police and the police reached over there and counselled both the parties to live peacefully. Again on 02.04.2014, Hemlata and his two sisters Sunita and Sangeeta had gone to airport to drop her brother and while returning, Hemlata was dropped at her matrimonial house and Sangeeta also stayed there to stave off any quarrel between Hemlata and the accused. However, Sangeeta informed Sh. Raidass that the accused had started drinking and he may beat up Hemlata again and on this, he sent his son­in­law to bring them back and both were taken by him to their parental home. However, after two­three days, the accused and his mother Pushpa came to his house, apologized for their behaviour and took Hemlata to her matrimonial house. However, on 04.05.2014, Pushpa accused Hemlata of breaking the engagement of her son Navin by telling his would­be in­laws that the family was alcoholic and also spoiled his name by telling them that Navin was living illicitly with Asha, though claiming to be his god sister. Pushpa also told that she would not let Hemlata stay in her house even if his son, that is, accused agreed to keep her. She also stated that four persons from each side should sit to settle the matter. However, on the next day, that is, 05.06.2014, the accused _@ Vicky killed Hemlata

These facts led to the registration of the instant case under Section 498A/304B IPC.

2. During investigation, inquest report was prepared and postmortem was also got conducted on the dead body of the deceased. The scene of crime was got photographed and a site plan was prepared. Pieces of a chunni and a knife was also seized from the spot, accused was arrested, statements of witnesses were recorded, investigation was completed and on completion of investigation, the instant charge sheet was filed.

Committal of Case and Framing of Charge

3. On completion of formalities under Section 207 CrPC, the case was committed to the Court of Sessions on 11.08.2014.

4. Vide order dated 08.09.2014, my learned predecessor was pleased to frame charges under Sections 498A and 304B IPC against the accused, to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

Evidence of the Prosecution

5. In support of its case, the prosecution has examined twenty witnesses in all.

6. PW 1 is Sh. Raidass, father of deceased Hemlata. He has deposed on the same lines as narrated to by him in his  statement leading to the registration of the instant case. He has proved his statement, Ex PW 1/A, to the SDM, on the basis of which the instant case was registered. He had also identified the dead body of the deceased vide memo, Ex PW 1/B, and also obtained her dead body vide receipt, Ex PW 1/C. He also proved the arrest memo, Ex PW 1/D, of the accused and also his personal search memo, Ex PW 1/E.

7. PW 2 is Smt. Sarita. She is sister­in­law of deceased Hemlata. She has also deposed about the marriage of the deceased with the accused on 19.01.2014, relations between them and her suicide on 05.05.2014. She had also made a statement, Ex PW 2/A, to the Executive Magistrate.

8. PW 3 is Ms. Sangeeta. She is elder sister of deceased Hemlata. She has also deposed about the marriage of the deceased with the accused on 19.01.2014, relations between them and her suicide on 05.05.2014.

9. PW 4 is Ms. Sunita. She is also elder sister of deceased Hemlata. She has also deposed about the marriage of the deceased with the accused on 19.01.2014, relations between them and her suicide on 05.05.2014.

10. PW 5 is master Joy @ Tanvir, son of deceased Hemlata from her earlier marriage. He has deposed that accused used to beat his mother for money, which he needed for liquor, cigarette and gutka.

11. PW 6 is Dr. Mahesh Chand Meena of Department of Forensic Medicines, Lady Harding Medical College, New Delhi. He had conducted postmortem on the dead body of the deceased and his report is Ex PW 6/A.

12. PW 7 is Sh. Sunil Sharma, who is acquaintance of Sh. Raidass. Once in 2014, he had gone to the house of the accused along with family members of deceased Hemlata. When he was waiting outside the house, the accused told him that he was less drunk and would come back after taking drinks and thereafter would teach the family members of deceased a lesson.

13. PW 8 is Dr. Sonia Raghav of RML Hospital. She had prepared MLC, Ex PW 8/A, when deceased Hemlata was brought to the hospital.

14. PW 9 is HC Satish Kumar. On 06.05.2014, he was posted as Duty Officer in Police Station Chankya Puri. On that day, the SHO marked rukka, Ex PW 1/A, to him and thereon he recorded the FIR, Ex PW 9/A, and handed over a copy of the same to Inspector Desh Raj for investigation.

15. PW 10 is Sh. Nathu Ram, the then Executive Magistrate, Chankya Puri. He has deposed that on receipt of information about hanging of a woman, he had reached the spot on 05.05.2014, where he saw a girl lying on the floor and one scarf was hanging from a window pane. He recorded the statements, Ex PW 1/A and 2/A, of father of the deceased and his sister­in­law respectively. He y also prepared a report, Ex PW 10/A, in this regard.

16. PW 11 is Ms. Hemwati. She is also sister of deceased Hemlata. She has also deposed about the marriage of the deceased with the accused on 19.01.2014 and relations between them.

17. PW 12 is Sh. S. S. Lamba, the then learned Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi. On 18.07.2014, he recorded the statement of master Tanvir @ Joy under Section 164 CrPC, when an application, Ex PW 12/A, was moved before him. The statement is Ex PW 12/B.

18. PW 13 is Ct. Surender. On 05.05.2014, he was posted as Photographer in Crime Team, New Delhi District. On receipt of information, he reached the spot with the Crime Team and as per instruction of the IO, took eleven photographs of the spot. The photographs are Ex PW 13/A1 to A11 and the negatives are collectively Ex PW 13/A.

19. PW 14 is SI Rahul, In­charge, Mobile Crime Team, New Delhi. On 05.05.2014, on receipt of information about the incident, he reached the spot, inspected the scene of crime and prepared report, Ex PW 14/A.

20. PW 15 is SI Ramvir Singh. On 05.05.2014, he was posted in Police Station Chankya Puri and on receipt of DD No. 18A, Ex PW 20/A, he along with PW 17 HC Rakesh went to the spot at House No. 2/272, NDMC Quarter, Bapu Dham, Chankya Puri. There, he came to know that the dead body of deceased ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky Hemlata had already been shifted to RML Hospital. He also informed the SHO as well as area SDM, as the incident was related to dowry death. Crime Team was also summoned to the spot. He also seized a piece of chunni and a knife from the spot vide Ex PW 15/A and B respectively. From the spot, he went to RML Hospital and collected MLC of the deceased and got her dead body shifted to mortuary at RML Hospital. He also informed the relatives of the deceased and thereafter returned to the police station and deposited the case property in the Malkhana. On 06.05.2014, he again went to RML Hospital with PW 17 HC Rakesh, where SDM was also present. Father of the deceased was also present there and the dead body was got identified vide statements, Ex PW 1/B and 15/C. Thereafter, the dead body was shifted to Lady Harding Medical College for postmortem. After postmortem, the dead body of the deceased was handed over to the relatives. Thereafter, he returned to the police station and handed over the documents to the SHO. On the same day, further investigation of the case was assigned to PW 20 Inspector Desh Raj. A site plan, Ex PW 15/D, was also prepared. He has identified the knife as Ex PW 15/P1 and the piece of chunni as Ex PW 15/P2.

21. PW 16 is Ct. Kuldeep Kumar. He joined the investigation of the instant case on 06.05.2014. In his presence, the accused was arrested vide arrest memo, Ex PW 1/D, and his personal search was conducted vide memo, Ex PW 1/E. He also joined the investigation ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky of the case on 07.05.2014 and on that day, the accused got a chunni, Ex PW 16/P1, recovered and the same was taken into possession vide memo, Ex PW 16/A, by the IO.

22. PW 17 is HC Rakesh Pant. He has deposed on the same lines as deposed to by PW 15 SI Ramvir Singh. On 06.05.2014, disclosure statement, Ex PW 17/A, of the accused was also recorded.

23. PW 18 is Inspector Banay Singh. On 08.05.2014, he was posted as SHO, Chankya Puri. The investigation of the case remained with him from 08.05.2014 till 29.05.2014, when PW 20 Inspector Desh Raj was transferred from the police station. During this period, he recorded statements of Sunita, Hemwati and Sangeeta and thereafter again handed over the investigation to PW 20 Inspector Desh Raj, when he was again posted in the police station.

24. PW 19 is SI Deepak Shiwatch. He deposed that on 18.03.2014, he received information vide DD No. 4A, Ex PW 19/A, regarding a quarrel at the house of the accused. He went to the spot, where he came to know that it was a quarrel between two brothers and accordingly he filed a closure report vide DD No. 6D, Ex PW 19/B.

25. PW 20 is Inspector Desh Raj. He has partly investigated the case. In the course of investigation, he arrested the accused, recorded statements of witnesses, completed the investigation, prepared the charge sheet and filed the same in the Court.

26. Thereafter, prosecution evidence was closed.

Statement of the Accused and Defence Evidence

27. Statement of the accused was recorded under Section 313 CrPC, wherein he denied the allegations against him to be incorrect stating that he has been falsely implicated in this case. He did not lead evidence in his defence.

Submission of the Parties

28. It is submitted by learned Addl. PP that deceased Hemlata was married to accused Arun on 19.01.2014 and she committed suicide at her matrimonial house on 05.05.2014. It is submitted that thus the deceased died an unnatural death almost immediately after her marriage and the death took place within seven years of marriage. It is also submitted that the accused had demanded rupees one lakh from the deceased on the pretext of securing a permanent job in NDMC. It is also submitted that the deceased was constantly being harassed by the accused, as she failed to bring rupees one lakh from her father. It is further submitted that the accused used to beat her regularly. It is repeatedly submitted that all the ingredients of an offence under Section 304B IPC are made out from the evidence led on record. My attention has been invited to the deposition of PW 1 Sh.

___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky Raidass; father of deceased Hemlata, PW 2 Smt. Sarita; sister­in­ law of the deceased, PW 3 Ms. Sangeeta and PW 4 Ms. Sunita; two sisters of the deceased. It is submitted that on the basis of evidence led on record, the prosecution has been successful in proving its case against the accused beyond all reasonable doubt under Sections 498A and 304B IPC. It is further submitted that if the charge under Section 304B IPC is not made out, then in the alternative charge under Section 306 IPC stands proved from the evidence led on record.

29. On the other hand, it is submitted by learned defence counsel that there was no demand of dowry on the part of the accused or any of his family members. It is submitted that the deceased used to remain under stress due to problems related to her earlier marriage, as she was not formally divorced from her earlier husband. It is submitted that there was no formal marriage between the parties. It is further submitted that the demand of rupees one lakh by the accused, even if taken to be proved, was not in connection with the marriage, but in the form of financial help for securing a permanent job. It is further submitted that the deceased committed suicide on 05.05.2014 and as per deposition of PW 1 Sh. Raidass, the demand of rupees one lakh was made within fifteen days of marriage. It is submitted that thereafter, there was no demand. It is submitted that the demand was not repeated. It is submitted that since the deceased committed suicide on 05.05.2014, it is clear that there was no demand of dowry soon before her death. It is submitted that thus ingredients of Section 304B IPC are not made out from the evidence led on record. It is also submitted that from the perusal of evidence led on record, it is clear that the quarrels between the deceased and accused were due to drunkenness of the accused and not due to demand of dowry, as the accused belongs to the lowest strata of society being a sweeper and drunkenness is common amongst them. It is repeatedly submitted that the prosecution has failed to prove any case against the accused and he may be acquitted of charges against him. It is also submitted that case under Section 306 IPC is also not made out, as there was no constant harassment of the deceased. It is submitted that there is no evidence of harassment immediately before death.

30. In rebuttal, learned Addl. PP for the State has reiterated the same submission that the evidence led on record is good enough to prove the charges against the accused. He has again read out the relevant parts of the evidence at the bar.

31. I have carefully considered the submissions made at the bar in the light of material on record. I proceed to dispose of the matter issue­wise.

Legal Provisions

32. Let me take note of the relevant Sections of law ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky applicable to the case.

33. Section 498A IPC, which deals with cruelty to a woman by her husband or relative of husband, reads as under:

“Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to 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 wilful 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.”

34. Section 304B IPC, which deals with dowry death, reads as under:

“(1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns of 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.”

35. Section 113B of Indian Evidence Act, which deals with presumption as to dowry death, reads as under:

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

Whether there was a demand of dowry?

36. It is the case of the prosecution that the accused had demanded rupees one lakh from deceased Hemlata within fifteen days of her marriage and this demand amounted to demand of dowry.On the other hand, the case of defence is that it was not demand of dowry but was a request for financial help for securing a permanent job.

37. Let me take note of the relevant parts of the evidence in this regard.

The relevant part of the testimony of PW 1 Sh. Raidass reads as under:

“…….After 15 days of her marriage, the accused and his mother Smt. Pushpa demanded Rs.1 Lac from her on the pretext of securing a permanent job of accused as he was stated to be working as a sweeper with NDMC on Muster Roll. When my daughter told me this fact then I told that being a retired govt. employee I was not in a position to fulfill this demand. My daughter told the accused about my incapacity to pay the demanded money and had also told him that I had married her after taking loan from my neighbours…….”

Similarly, the relevant part of the testimony of PW 4 Ms. Sunita, sister of the deceased, reads as under:

“…….After sometime of the marriage, I had gone to my father’s house and there I met with Hemlata who had also come there and in my presence, Hemlata informed my father that she was being demanded Rs.1 Lac for the purpose of getting job of the accused permanent from her father. My father replied that he could not provide the amount as he was retired person…….”

38. A bare perusal of the testimony reveals that the accused did not ask for any dowry, but was only asking for a financial help to secure a permanent job. Thus, the demand of money was not in consideration of marriage or in connection with the marriage. The accused was seeking financial help for securing a permanent job for himself. There is no evidence at all that the demand was in connection with marriage and thus it amounts to demand for dowry. There is no evidence that the demand was repeated by the accused. In an authority reported as Appasaheb and Another Vs. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 9 SCC 721, while dealing with a similar question, where the accused used to demand money from his wife for household expenses and manure, Hon’ble Supreme Court observed in paragraph 11 as under:

“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 well­known social custom or practice in India.

It is well­settled principle of interpretation of ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky statute 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. [(1996) 10 SCC 413 : AIR 1996 SC 3509] and Chemical and Fibres of India Ltd. v. Union of India [(1997) 2 SCC 664 : AIR 1997 SC 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 304­B IPC viz. demand for dowry is not established, the conviction of the appellants cannot be sustained.”

39. Thus, I find myself in agreement with learned defence counsel that one of the most important ingredients of Section 304B IPC is not made out, as there was no harassment of deceased Hemlata in connection with dowry. There was no repeated demand of dowry. The demand, made only once was for financial help. The above authority applies to the facts of the case with full force.

___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky Whether there was cruelty or harassment of the deceased soon before her death?

40. It is the case of the prosecution that the accused used to regularly harass and beat the deceased for not bringing rupees one lakh and this continued till her death. In this regard, my attention has also been invited to the testimony of PW 5 master Tanvir @ Joy.

However, the case of the defence is that even if the evidence of father of the deceased is to be believed, the demand of rupees one lakh was made within fifteen days of marriage, that is, somewhere in first week of February 2014, as the marriage had taken place on 19.01.2014. It is the case of the defence that this is the only demand by the accused and there is no other demand or its repetition. It is the case of the defence that the deceased committed suicide on 05.05.2014. It is the case of the defence that this shows that there was no harassment of the deceased for dowry soon before her death.

41. The perusal of evidence of PW 1 Sh. Raidass, PW 2 Smt. Sarita, PW 3 Ms. Sangeeta, PW 4 Ms. Sunita and PW 11 Hemwati, all family members of the deceased, does not reveal that the demand of dowry was repeated by the accused or any of his family members. There is absolutely no evidence at all that any demand of dowry was made by the accused or his family members in the months of March, April and May 2014. The only demand was ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky made after fifteen days of marriage, that is, somewhere in first week of February 2014. Thus, there is no evidence that soon before her death, the deceased was being subjected to any harassment for not bringing dowry. In this regard, it is relevant to take note of an authority reported as V. K. Mishra Vs. State of Uttarakhand, (2015) 9 SCC 588, wherein while dealing with the ingredients of Section 304B IPC, Hon’ble Supreme Court observed in paragraph 7 as under:

“In order to attract application of Section 304­ B IPC, the essential ingredients are as follows:

1. The death of a woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under a normal circumstance.

2. Such a death should have occurred within seven years of her marriage.

3. She must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband.

4. Such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with demand of dowry.

5. Such cruelty or harassment is shown to have been meted out to the woman soon before her death.

On proof of the essential ingredients mentioned above, it becomes obligatory on the court to raise a presumption that the accused caused the dowry death. A conjoint reading of Section 113­B of the Evidence Act and Section 304­B IPC shows that there must be material to show that soon before her death the victim ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky was subjected to cruelty or harassment. “Soon before” is a relative term and it would depend upon circumstance of each case and no straitjacket formula can be laid down as to what would constitute a period “soon before the occurrence”. There must be in existence a proximate live link between the facts of cruelty in connection with the demand of dowry and the death. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb mental equilibrium of the woman concerned, it would be of no consequence.”

Similarly, in an another authority reported as Kailash Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2006) 12 SCC 667, Hon’ble Supreme Court while dealing with the ingredients of Section 304B and the meaning of words “soon before” death, observed in paragraphs 9 and 10 as under:

“9. In Kans Raj v. State of Punjab [(2000) 5 SCC 207 : 2000 SCC (Cri) 935] a three­Judge Bench of this Court dealt with the presumption available in terms of Section 113­B of the Evidence Act, 1872 (in short “the Evidence Act“) and its effect on finding persons guilty in terms of Section 304­B IPC. It was noted as follows: (SCC p. 217, para 9) “9. The law as it exists now provides that where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within 7 years of marriage and it is shown that soon before her ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative for or in connection with any demand of dowry such death shall be punishable under Section 304­B. In order to seek a conviction against a person for the offence of dowry death, the prosecution is obliged to prove that:

(a) the death of a woman was caused by burns or bodily injury or had occurred otherwise than under normal circumstances;

(b) such death should have occurred within 7 years of her marriage;

(c) the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or by any relative of her husband;

(d) such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with the demand of dowry; and

(e) to such cruelty or harassment the deceased should have been subjected soon before her death.”

10. No presumption under Section 113­B of the Evidence Act would be drawn against the accused if it is shown that after the alleged demand, cruelty or harassment the dispute stood resolved and there was no evidence of cruelty or harassment thereafter. Mere lapse of some time by itself would not provide to an accused a defence, if the course of conduct relating to cruelty or harassment in connection with the dowry demand is shown to have existed earlier in time not too late and not too stale before the date of death of the victim.

This is so because the expression used in the relevant provision is “soon before”. The ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky expression is a relative term which is required to be considered under specific circumstances of each case and no straitjacket formula can be laid down by fixing any time­limit. The expression is pregnant with the idea of proximity test. It cannot be said that the term “soon before” is synonymous with the term “immediately before”. This is because of what is stated in Section 114 Illustration (a) of the Evidence Act. The determination of the period which can come within the term “soon before” is left to be determined by the courts, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Suffice, however, to indicate that the expression “soon before” would normally imply that the interval should not be much between the cruelty or harassment concerned and the death in question. There must be existence of a proximate and live link.”

42. The perusal of evidence led on record does not reveal that the deceased was being constantly and continuously subjected to cruelty or harassment by the accused or any of his relatives in connection with demand of dowry. There is no evidence of any demand immediately before 05.05.2014. There is no evidence at all that the deceased committed suicide on 05.05.2014 due to demand of rupees one lakh made by the accused and his mother within fifteen days of the marriage, which took place on 19.01.2014. Thus, there is no live link between the alleged demand of rupees one lakh, made somewhere in first week of February ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky 2014 and suicide of the deceased on 05.05.2014.

43. On the other hand, the suicide committed by the deceased may be for some other reasons, like drunkenness of the accused, which led to brawls between husband and wife and she being accused by the family members of the accused of breaking the marriage of younger brother of the accused by telling his would­be in­laws that the family was alcoholic. In this regard, it is relevant to take note of deposition of PW 2 Smt. Sarita, which reads as under:

“…….After marriage, initially the things went smooth but later on we came to know through Hemlata that accused was a habitual drinker. This habit of accused coupled with his lack of interest in having a regular income became the bone of contention of the dispute between him and my sister in law. The problem aggravated gradually…….”

Similarly, her further deposition reads as under:

“……On 04.05.2014 mother of accused Pushpa alongwith Asha followed by Naveen and Nitin came to our house where Pushpa, accused, my sister in law Hemlata being instrumental in breaking the relationship of her son Naveen on the ground that he was a regular drinker and was having relations with Asha. She had also told us that now she will not keep my sister in law at my home at any cost whatsoever. When my father in law came to know about this, then he intervened and told them to settle the ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky case in the presence of four people from each side. After which, they left our home saying that they shall come next day……”

Similarly, relevant part of testimony of PW 5 master Joy @ Tanvir reads as under:

“…….He used to beat my mother everyday by slapping her and when my mother used to tell him that she will go to Teen Murti then he used to apologize for his conduct but again used to beat her. He used to beat my mother because my mother used to dine alone or with me and she used to avoid dining with him. Sometimes, papa used to beat mother with a thick stick (mota danda) as well. My father, mother, my chachu Nitin and my daadi (grandmother) alongwith my younger brother Eklavya were residing at the said house. My papa used to come home after consuming liquor with his friends. Before her death, my mother had told me that she will meet me differently when I will come back from my school. My papa used to beat my mother for money which he needed for his liquor, cigarettes and gutka and my mother never gave him money for these things…….”

44. Thus, the cause of suicide of the deceased was not dowry related, but maybe due to domestic discord between the husband and wife on account of drunkenness of the accused. The accused belongs to the lowest strata of society and works as a sweeper and in this section of society, drunkenness is rampant, as ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky submitted by learned defence counsel. Thus, though the unnatural death of the deceased took place within seven years of her marriage, but there is no evidence that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by the accused or any members of his family in connection with dowry.

Whether the deceased was harassed and beaten up due to dowry?

45. It is the case of the prosecution that the accused used to beat the deceased on various occasions for not bringing dowry, particularly rupees one lakh.

This has been disputed by the defence submitting that there is no evidence on record that the quarrels between the two and the beatings of the deceased related to dowry.

46. Perusal of evidence of PW 1 Sh. Raidass and PW 2 Smt. Sarita reveals that the incidents, apart from the one relating to demand of rupees one lakh, relate only to four dates, that is, 17.03.2014, 02.04.2014, 04.05.2014 and 05.05.2014. As far as the incident of 17.03.2014 is concerned, PW 1 deposed that the deceased informed him that the accused had given her beatings, but he does not mention the reason for this and the accused later on apologized for his conduct. On 02.04.2014, the accused again beat up Hemlata, but the reason for this has not been mentioned, except that PW 2 mentioned that he was heavily drunk. The ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky incident of 04.05.2014 relates to an incident, where mother of the accused, accused the deceased of breaking the engagement of her son Naveen by telling his would­be in­laws that the entire family was alcoholic. On 05.05.2014, the deceased committed suicide. In all these instances, there is no mention of any demand of dowry. In the entire narration, any demand of dowry is not mentioned. The deceased was medically examined by PW 8 Dr. Sonia Raghav in RML Hospital vide MLC, Ex PW 8/A, and there is no mention of any injury on her person. Similarly, her postmortem was conducted by PW 6 Dr. Mahesh Chand Meena and in the postmortem report also, there is no mention of any injury, which might have indicated the physical torture of the deceased at the hands of the accused.

In the instant case, many family members have been examined as a witness. None of them has deposed that the accused used to harass or torture the deceased for want of dowry and that it was a regular feature. Thus, there is no evidence at all to the effect that either the accused or any member of his family subjected the deceased to any cruelty in connection with any demand of dowry.

Whether any case of abetment of suicide is made out?

47. It is submitted by learned Addl. PP that from the evidence led on record, a case of abetment of suicide is clearly made out, as he constantly used to abuse and beat the deceased. It is submitted that these beatings left no option for the deceased  except to commit suicide. It is repeatedly submitted that her act of committing suicide is clearly related to the cruel acts of the accused.

On the other hand, the case of the defence is that there is no relation between the suicide of the deceased and the act of the accused. It is submitted that the last incident of beating of the deceased by the accused took place on 02.04.2014, whereas she committed suicide on 05.05.2014. It is submitted that there is no clear link between the two acts and the accused cannot be held responsible for her suicide.

48. Section 306 IPC, which deals with abetment of suicide, reads as under:

“Abetment of suicide.­ If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section 107 IPC, which deals with definition of abetment, reads as under:

“Abetment of a thing.­ A person abets the doing of a thing, who­ First. ­ Instigates any person to do that thing;

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

49. In an authority reported as M. Mohan Vs. State, (2011) 3 SCC 626, while dealing with the ingredients of offence of abetment of suicide, Hon’ble Supreme Court observed in paragraphs 44 and 45 as under:

“44. Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained.

45. The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this Court are clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. It also requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and this act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he/she committed suicide.”

(All underlinings by me for supplying emphasis).

50. In the instant case, as per deposition of PW 1 Sh. Raidass and PW 2 Smt. Sarita, the last incident of beating took  place on 02.04.2014. Thereafter, there is no evidence that the accused either beat up the deceased or harassed her for dowry in such a manner as to compel her to commit suicide. As noted above, deceased Hemlata committed suicide on 05.05.2014. Thus, there was a long gap between the two incidents and the incident of 02.04.2014 cannot be linked to suicide on 05.05.2014. However, it is in evidence of PW 5 master Joy, son of the deceased, that the accused used to beat her for money, which he needed for liquor, cigarette and gutka. There is also evidence to the effect that the accused used to beat her with thick stick and he also deposed that his mother had died because of his father. However, there is no evidence of any constant beating or harassment or beating immediately preceding to her act of suicide. There is absolutely no evidence from which it can be concluded that her suicide is related solely to the acts of the accused. There may be family discord due to drunkenness of the accused, which might have compelled her to take the extreme step of committing suicide. Evidence does not reveal any live link between the acts of the accused and suicide of the deceased. There is no evidence at all th,,,,mmat the conduct of the accused towards the deceased was such that it was likely to drive her to commit suicide, leaving her no other option. Thus, there is no evidence to the effect that the accused abetted her suicide.

51. In view of the above discussion, the prosecution has failed to prove any case against the accused. Accordingly, the ___________________________________________________________________________ State Vs. Arun @ Vicky accused is acquitted.

52. Bail bond of the accused is cancelled and his surety is discharged. Endorsement, if any, be also cancelled. Documents, if any, be released against proper signatures of the surety.

53. Case property is forfeited to the State to be disposed of after the time of appeal is over.

54. As per provisions of Section 437­A CrPC, accused is directed to furnish personal bond in the sum of Rs.10,000/­ with one surety in the like amount to appear before Hon’ble Appellate Court, as and when he receives notice of appeal.

55. File be consigned to Record Room.

Announced in open Court                            (O. P. Saini)
today on 10.01.2019                            Addl. Sessions Judge/
                                               Spl. Judge (CBI­04)
                                                    New Delhi




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