(1.) THIS is an appeal against the judgment and order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore in sessions Trial No. 3 of March, 1969 by which the two appellants, Pratima Dutta and Subrata Dutta were convicted under section 306/34 I. P. C. and each sentenced to suffer R. I. for five years.
(2.) THE presecution case relates to the tragic death of a young woman Sumana alias Buria at premises no. 35, Lansdown Terrace, Calcutta. This unfortunate girl lost her father in 1954, her mother having earlier committed suicide in 1951. Cheerful and vivacious Sumana was not apparently brought up in a normal, healthy and happy family surroundings. The appellant Subrata Dutta was her husband and appellant. Pratima Dutta was her mother-in-law. Prior to their marriage Subrata had fallen in love with Sumana, a former resident of premises no. 162a, Lansdown Road. Intimacy developed between them and the two were married against the wishes of Subrata's mother, Smt. Pratima Dutta, who did not like the union to take place. After marriage Subrata went to satpura in Madhya Pradesh on transfer as an Officer of Kuljian corporation. A son named Shibaji alias Buria was born there on 11. 7,1966. From satpura Subrata and Sumana returned to Calcutta and lived at 35, Lansdown Terrace. Besides Subrata's mother he had two brothers Jahar and Ratan and a young sister, Chitu who all lived in the same house. Subrata's father was a lawyer at Imphal, Assam, who occationally came to Calcutta. The prosecution case is that both Subrata and his mother, Pratima, treated Sumana with cruelty. Subrata not only tormented her mentally but also indulged in physical assaults. His mother instigated Subrata to torture the girl. They used to exhoot her to die or leave the house. Subrata's mother even said that girls like Sumana better died by burning themselves. Subrata's mother used to suspect parentage of Sumana's son as the child was born shortly after the marriage between Subrata and Sumana. Sumana was even called a prostitute. Sumana's life became miserable. On the 7th of March, 1968 at about 10-30 she set fire to her clothes soaked with kerosene oil. A few days before death she told some neighbors and wrote to her brother about the miseries of her life. On the 7th of March, 1968 Sumona visited her paternal uncle's house at Lake Gardens with her son and returned to 35, Lansdown Terrace at about 8 P. M. Her husband and mother-in-law had gone out of the house on marriage invitation. The servant took the meal of Sumana to her room and found her sitting on the bed with her hands resting on her cheek. She was weeping looking down towards the floor. The meal was left in the bed room. After the servant came out she bolted the door from inside. At about 10-45 her next door neighbour, Sri Arun Kumar Dutta, of premises no. 33, Lansdowne Terrace, then a senior Municipal Magistrate saw the burning figure and rushed to 35, Lansdown Terrace followed by his wife, Shikha rani Dutta, an Advocate of Judge's Court at Alipur. Sri Dutta saw her standing in the verandah adjoining her bed room clutching a pillar. She told Dutta that she. was unable to stand any more. Dutta brought a sari from the bed room and put it round her body. She told Dutta, "pishemassay, today is the 7th of March, the date of my mother's death. Today I have been asked to die. Save me". Dutta shouted for help but no inmate came to help him. He brought a blanket from the bed room wrapped Sumana's body and with the help of two Hindusthani people who had come, laid her down on a wooden bench. Soon Pasupati Khan and Dr. Pal, two neighbours came there. Sumana wanted to drink water but no inmate of the house supplied water to her. The servant at last supplied water to Shikha Rani Dutta who gave the same to Sumana with the permission of Dr. Pal Sri Dutta then called Subrata to take Sumana to the hospital. Subrata showed his burnt hand and said that he was not in a position to drive. Sri Dutta then asked for the keys of the car but Subrata gave no reply. As Dutta searched for a car or a taxi a neighbour offered a car. Smt. Bhiba Rani Dutta, Ex. M. L. A. , elder sister of Shikha Rani Dutta also arrived there in her car. Sri Dutta then took Sumana to S. S, K. M. Hospital. Sumana was examined and admitted in the hospital. Subrata also went there in the other car. He was discharged after examination and medical aid. The prosecution case is that the members of Subrata's family were very non-cooperative. Even on asking, Subrata's mother did not give any money for the expenses of the hospital at first. Later on, of course, a sum of Rs. 100/- was given to Mr. Dutta. Sumana died on the 8th of March, 1968. Neither Subrata nor his mother visited Sumana in the Hospital. Subrata even" did not attend the cremation of Sumana in spite of the requests. On receipt of injury report from the S. S. K. M. Hospital a G. D. Entry was made at Tollygunge Police Station and investigation was taken up. After completion of investigation a charge sheet under section 306/34 I. P. C. was submitted by the police on the basis of which an enquiry was held by the learned magistrate who committed the two appellants to the court of Sessions. The learned Additional Sessions Judge examined 52 witnesses and after hearing arguments convicted the two accused as noted above. (The oral evidence of the witnesses was then summarised and discussed and the judgment proceeded)
(3.) APART from the oral evidence it has also transpired that certain letters were made exhibits (Ext. 7, 8 and 9 series) in course of the trial which have important bearing on this case. These letters were written by Sumana from time to time. One of, the letters written to her brother, Ext. 7/2 dated the 25. 11. 67 states that "for sometime past Dulu (her husband) has been severely beating me with a slipper. His mother made me hear many words before my taking meal at night such as, woman of the town with a great liking for marketing. " In another letter dated the 27. 12. 67 addressed to the brother she wrote "today I am asking for death. . . . He does not hesitate to call me a prostitute today. The people want to be relieved of my responsibilities. I do not also" want to live. You tell me the easiest way to die. " In another letter dated the 6. 2. 68, Ext. 7/5, addressed to the brother she states "now mother-in-law in presence of Dulu has been showing great favour to Bapsu and to him. She has been wishing my death i now whole heartedly pray to God so that I may be out from this hell. " In another letter dated the 6. 3. 68 immediately before her death she wrote as follows:
"nothing is left in my body as a result of assault. I have come to the last stage, receiving kicks and shoe beating in the face. Glass has entered my eyes after spectacle was broken. Anyone receiving such inhuman treatment from these people would be turned into a beast. Even a wild beast does not receive assaults as I do" Another letter, Ext. 14 dated 23. 10. 67 which is written by Subrata's father to Subrata contains this :
"you have not written to me as to your conduct towards Sumana. You know I am serious about it and somehow I am mighty unhappy as to the treatment she is having from you all. Was she ill ? Who paid for her treatment ? Write to me. You are spending a lot after the car and neglecting her requirements. Not only that you are also taking all her money. I do not like this I am very eager to know all about this thing. " In another letter, Ext. 43 dated the 29. 7. 1967 Subrata's father wrote to Smt. Nalini Mazumder, "i am her father. So long I am alive she is not fatherless and, if necessary, I shall make arrangements for her. Kindly advise Sumana so that she behave with modesty and she. never becomes argumentative. ";