1. The appellants who are the father-in-law and mother-in-law of the deceased, one Shanti Devi, have been convicted
under Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code,
1860 (for short, ‘the IPC’). They have been sentenced to
undergo rigorous imprisonment for ten years for the offence
under Section 304B IPC and for a period of one year for the
offence under Section 498A IPC. Sentences of fine for each
of the offences had also been imposed. In appeal, the High
Court, while affirming the conviction of the accused
appellants, had, however, reduced the sentence so far as the
offence under Section 304B IPC is concerned from a period
of ten years custody to a period of seven years custody.
Aggrieved, this appeal has been filed.
2. The FIR in the present case was lodged by one Kalu
Ram, father of the deceased, who was working as a Clerk in
Government Girls High School, Pataudi. According to the
complainant, the marriage between his daughter Shanti Devi
and accused Raj Kumar, son of the appellants, Jagdish
Chand and Mishri Devi, was solemnised on 19.4.1988.
Immediately after the marriage and despite giving of
sufficient gifts by the complainant to the accused party, there
were demands of further dowry including demands for a
scooter and television. As the complainant was unable to
fulfil the demands, the deceased was turned out from the
matrimonial home whereafter she stayed with her parents.
This had happened on several occasions. According to the
complainant, on all such occasions, the deceased returned to
her matrimonial home only to be turned out again. Finally,
in the night intervening 6th and 7th December, 1994, death of
Shanti Devi on account of burn injuries had occurred leading
to institution of the FIR in question.
3. The evidence of PW1, Dr. S.K. Gupta, who conducted
the post mortem on the dead body of Shanti Devi on 8th
December, 1994; the evidence of PW6, the complainant Kalu
Ram; the deposition of PW7, Sarjit Singh, a coemployee of
PW6; and the evidence of PW8, Sanjay, son of the
complainant would be relevant to be noticed.
4. From the evidence of PW1, it transpires that the death
was on account of shock due to ante mortem burns which
were sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course.
According to PW1, the extent of burns on the dead body was
100 per cent and were caused by kerosene.
5. PW6, Kalu Ram, the complainant and father of the
deceased reiterated the version stated by him in the FIR
including the details of what was reported to him by the
deceased with regard to her illtreatment on account of dowry
demands. PW6 also had deposed that on several occasions
the deceased Shanti Devi had been turned out from the
matrimonial home and she had come to stay with her
parents only to go back on assurance of good behaviour
finally culminating in the incident of 6th7th, December, 1994
resulting in her death.PW7 and PW8 corroborated the
evidence of PW6.
6. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and we
have considered the matter. We have also considered the
judgments of the Trial Court and that of the High Court,
presently under challenge in this appeal.
7. Admittedly, death in the instant case took place within
seven years of the marriage which was solemnised on
19.4.1988 and the incident of death had occurred on 6
7.12.1994. Though the defence had tried to prove otherwise,
namely, that death had occurred beyond seven years of
marriage, no concrete evidence in this regard has been
forthcoming. Demands for dowry by the accusedappellants
as well as the husband and illtreatment/cruelty on failure to
meet the said demands is evident from the evidence of PW6.
From the evidence of PW1, it is clear that the death was on
account of burn injuries suffered by the deceased which
injuries were caused by use of kerosene. In the light of the
aforesaid evidence, this Court has no hesitation in holding
that all the three ingredients necessary to draw the
presumption of commission of the offence under Section 304
B IPC have been proved and established by the prosecution.
Consequently, the presumption under Section 113B of the
Indian Evidence Act has to be drawn against the accused and
in the absence of any defence evidence to rebut the same, the
Court has to hold the accused guilty of the offence under
Section 304B IPC. On the basis of the same consideration,
the offence under Section 498A must also be held to be
proved against the accused persons. We, therefore, have no
hesitation in dismissing the appeal and in affirming the
conviction and sentence imposed by the High Court.
8. The appeal is dismissed accordingly.
January 07, 2019.
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