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Allahabad High Court sets man free from conviction in wife’s suicide abetment case

Laxmi Devi made several complaints regarding the demand of additional dowry and torture due to non-fulfillment of the demand. Several times they tried to convince Jagveer Singh, but Jagveer Singh used to quarrel with them also.

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The Allahabad High Court recently set aside the conviction order passed against a man for abetting the suicide of his wife and held that separating wife from his own life could not be a reason which could come under the category of abetment.

A single-judge bench of Justice Ajai Tyagi passed this order while hearing a Criminal Appeal filed by Jagveer Singh alias Bantu. The appeal has been preferred by appellant Jagveer Singh @ Bantu against the order dated February 28, 2011 passed by Additional Sessions Judge, Pilibhit, arising out of case under Sections 498-A & 306 IPC and Section ¾ Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Police Station Jahanabad, District Pilibhit.

The facts of this case are that on December 14, 2008, informant Madan Lal submitted a written report in PS Jahanabad, District Pilibhit with the averments that his grand-daughter (daughter of his daughter) Laxmi Devi was married to Jagveer Singh @ Bantu s/o Khoob Chandra, resident of Village Jalipura in April 2008. They have given sufficient dowry according to their financial capacity but Jagveer Singh and his parents were not satisfied. So, they used to torture Laxmi Devi.

Laxmi Devi made several complaints regarding the demand of additional dowry and torture due to non-fulfillment of the demand. Several times they tried to convince Jagveer Singh, but Jagveer Singh used to quarrel with them also. Residents of Jagveer Singh’s village informed us through telephone that Laxmi Devi has been killed. It was evident that she was given poison.

In the above written report, the Case under Section 498A, 304B IPC and Section ¾ Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, was registered at PS Jahanabad, District Pilibhit on the same day against the appellant Jagveer Singh and his parents. Post-mortem of Laxmi Devi was conducted and cause of death could not be ascertained, therefore, viscera was preserved. After an inquest of the body of the deceased, a report from Forensic Science Laboratory, Lucknow was received. In the report, aluminum phosphide poison was found in the viscera of the deceased, therefore, a charge sheet was submitted against Jagveer and his father Khoob Chandra under the above mentioned offences.

The trial court, after conducting full trial, acquitted Khoob Chandra for all charges framed against him, but convicted Jagveer Singh @ Bantu under Section 306 IPC for five years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine and under Section 498A IPC for two years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 3,000 fine.

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Counsel for the appellant argued that the appellant has been falsely implicated in the case by the informant and wrongly convicted by the trial Court. No offence is made out against the appellant.

Counsel for the appellant further submitted that initially a case was registered against the appellant under Section 304B, 498A IPC and ¾ Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and it was alleged in the First Information Report that appellant and his parents were not happy and satisfied with the dowry given in the marriage of the deceased and they used to demand additional dowry and also used to torture for non-fulfillment of the dowry, but no such evidence has come out on the record and trial court acquitted the accused- Khoob Chandra for all the charges and convicted the appellant- Jagveer Singh under Section 306 IPC only, therefore, it is clear from the judgement of the lower court that prosecution story was not believed to be true by the trial court and allegations of demand and torture were found false.

Counsel for the appellant argued that when the prosecution story was not found true then the trial court should have acquitted the appellant also.

Counsel for the appellant next submitted that in the case a suicide-note had come into the picture. Suicide note was found from the room of the deceased by the Investigating Officer. Entire case is based on it and in the entire suicide-note there is no allegation of demand of dowry or torture and moreover there is no allegation against the appellant for instigating the deceased to commit suicide, but trial court did not consider the suicide-note in right perspective.

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Counsel for the appellant further submitted that the informant, who is Nana of the deceased and real brother of the deceased Rakesh @ Satish Kumar admitted in their statements that suicide-note was written in the hand-writing of the deceased, therefore, there was no dispute regarding the suicide-note and prosecution witnesses admitted it to be in the hand-writing of deceased-Laxmi Devi.

Additional Government Advocate submitted that there was cruelty against the deceased by appellant and due to this cruelty trial court convicted the appellant for the offence under Section 498-A IPC.

AGA further submitted that suicide-note shows that appellant had driven out the deceased from his life due to which the deceased was mentally disturbed and could not tolerate keeping herself out of life of the appellant.

AGA also submitted that although in suicidenote, deceased has written to his brother that her husband and her-in-laws should not be harassed and no case should be registered against them after her death, but law will take its own course.

The Court noted that,

The trial court, after believing the averments of the suicide-note, came to the conclusion that deceased was very uncomfortable and under mental disturbance when the appellant drove out her from his life, although, they were residing together. Due to this mental agony and disturbances, she committed suicide for which appellant was responsible and, therefore, trial court rightly convicted the appellant under Section 306 IPC.

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Prosecution case is that the appellant and his parents were not satisfied with the dowry given in marriage of the deceased and they used to demand additional dowry and torturing the deceased for not meeting the same. Prosecution has also brought the case before the court that due to non-fulfillment of demand of additional dowry, Laxmi Devi was killed by poison.

The trial Court has opined in the judgement that the fact is not proved on the basis of evidence available on record that husband or father-in-law of deceased have ever tortured her in connection with demand of dowry and trial court gave finding that appellant has separated the deceased from his life which comes in the category of mental cruelty which is clear from the suicide-note, therefore, in this way, the appellant had created such a circumstance and situation before the deceased, which inspired the deceased to commit suicide by consuming the poison and, therefore, the appellant was solely responsible for abetting the deceased to commit suicide.

The trial court found that appellant tortured the deceased mentally and he had created such a situation before the deceased by separating her from his life that she was not left with any other option but to commit suicide.

The Court said that, in the case in hand, the trial court has referred the suicide-note left by the deceased which shows the sole reason of committing the suicide by the deceased was that she was separated by the appellant from his life. In the opinion of the Court, the aforesaid reason could not be the reason which could come under the category of the abetment. There is absolutely nothing in the suicide-note, which would make him responsible for an offence under Section 306 IPC.

The Court finds nothing in the suicide-note suggesting abetment to commit suicide. There is nothing in the suicide note which can be said to be proximate reason to commit suicide by the deceased. The aforesaid suicide note does not show any mens rea on the part of the appellant. No guilty mind of appellant is shown by any statement in suicide note as referred by the trial court.

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Further, suicide note does not show the fact that there was any instigation or even cruelty on the part of appellant due to which the deceased was left with no option but to commit suicide because if the appellant had separated the deceased from his life, it was not compelling reason which put the deceased in a situation where she had no option but to commit suicide.

The Court observed that,

The trial court has given finding that there was mental cruelty on the part of appellant towards the deceased and on the basis of this finding, appellant was convicted under Section 498A IPC, but this Court is not convinced with this finding also because firstly there was no averment of demand of additional dowry of Rs.50,000/- and a four wheeler in the FIR.

The statements of Madan Lal and Rakesh Kumar @ Satish Kumar show that they did not state the fact before the Investigating Officer also, both the above witnesses have stated the fact of demanding Rs.50,000/- and a four wheeler for the first time before the trial court, therefore, these averments will come under the category of improvement. Moreover, the entire suicidenote does not contain any such demand of dowry or torturing the deceased.

“The trial court has wrongly given the finding of mental cruelty on the basis that appellant drove out the deceased from his life. In the absence of mens rea and proximate cause for abetting the suicide, trial court has wrongly appreciated the law regarding the abetment.

On the basis of above discussion, the Court is of the definite opinion that the trial court did not appreciate the evidence on record in right perspective and wrongly convicted the appellant for the offence under Sections 306 IPC and 498A IPC”,

the Court observed while allowing the appeal.

“Conviction and sentence of appellant as awarded is hereby set aside. Appellant is on bail, his bail bond is cancelled and sureties are discharged,” the court ordered.

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