(1.) This appeal is directed against judgment and order dated 5th January, 2002 passed by the Adhoc Additional Sessions Judge, Shahada, District Nandurbar in Sessions Case No.238 of 1998. By the impugned judgment and order, appellants were held guilty of offence punishable under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and sentenced to suffer S.I. for two years and to pay a fine of Rs.15,000/- each, in default of payment of fine, to suffer S.I. for three months.
(2.) In brief, the facts leading to filing the appeal are summarized as under :
(a) Appellants/accused were tried for committing offences punishable under Sections 306, 420 r.w. 34 of IPC and section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. On conclusion of trial, appellants were acquitted of the offences punishable under Sections 306, 420 r.w. 34 of IPC. They were convicted for the offence punishable under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and awarded sentence as stated above.
(b) On 9.10.1992, the complainant Ashok Kalal (P.W.3) visited Police Station, Shahada and lodged complaint vide Exh.39 alleging therein that engagement of his sister Pramila (hereinafter referred to as the 'deceased') had taken place on 7.5.1992 with deceased appellant - accused No.1. Before the engagement, talk in respect of settlement of marriage had taken place on 21.4.1992. The meeting was attended by family members from both sides and other relatives. It was decided to give Rs.33,000/- in cash and golden ring of 10 gm as dowry. It was further decided that expenses towards clothes, photographer, video cassette and band would be borne in equal share and amount as agreed will be given at the time of purchasing clothes of marriage. Subsequent thereto, the programme of engagement had taken place on 7.5.1992. One month after the programme of engagement, appellant Nos.2 and 3 called the complainant to their house and told him that they want to admit their son i.e. deceased appellant No.1 for B.Ed. Course and for that purpose they require Rs.15,000/-. They further told him that only after receiving Rs.15,000/-, they will perform marriage of their son. The complainant refused to pay any amount and clearly told them that he will not pay any amount other than the amount of dowry as fixed and he will pay that amount at the time of marriage. After coming to his house, he disclosed his family members and relatives about the amount of Rs.15,000/- asked to be paid by accused Nos.2 and 3 and further told them that due to his refusal, accused Nos.2 and 3 have become annoyed. He further alleged that after some time, accused told him that if he is not in a position to pay Rs.15,000/- , then get their son Ramesh admitted for B.Ed. Course and whatever expenses required for that purpose, will be adjusted at the time of marriage. In order to ensure good future life of his sister, he spent Rs.7,000/- and got accused No.1 admitted for B.Ed. Course through one Nago Budha Patil.
(c) On 14.6.1992, accused No.2 sent post card to him and informed that the marriage between his sister Pramila and accused is not possible. He has mentioned in the letter that he had shown horoscope of both of them to Brahmin at Shirpur and he has told him that if marriage is performed, death of one of them is likely to take place. Thereafter, talks between the members of family of the complainant and accused persons took place and ultimately it was decided to perform the marriage after accused No.1 completes his B.Ed. Course. On 5.10.1992, father of the complainant went to the house of accused Nos.2 and 3 to meet him. But, they abused his father and asked him to step down from the steps of their house and further asked him not to visit their house. They threatened that if he comes back, then they will kick him out and further told that they will not perform the marriage of their son with his daughter. After returning home, father of the complainant narrated the incident. Because of harassment and disrespect given to his father by accused Nos.2 and 3, his sister Pramila got very much disturbed and felt bad about the incident. Prior to said incident also accused No.3 repeatedly told that she will not allow the marriage of her son to take place with Pramila.
(d) On 6.10.1992, deceased left her house by telling that she is going to nearby Bhavani temple. Since deceased did not return back, the complainant and other family members went in search of her. On 7.10.1992, dead body of deceased was found in the river bed of river Tapi near village Prakasha. Because of said acts of the accused, deceased was deeply hurt. She, therefore, committed suicide by jumping into the river and putting an end to her life. After body of deceased was recovered from river bed of Tapi, the postcards written by her to Nago Patil and Gulabrao Patil were received. In these letters, she disclosed the reason for committing suicide i.e. due to said acts of the accused. Pursuant to the complaint lodged by the complainant, offence punishable under Section 306 r.w. 34 of IPC and section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act came to be registered against accused.
(e) Before lodging of complaint by Ashok Kalal (P.W.3), A.D. was already registered vide AD No.32/1992. On 9.10.1992, complainant Ashok Kalal (P.W.3) lodged complaint against accused. Upon his complaint, offence at C.R. No. 123/1992 was registered. Pursuant to the enquiry, P.S.I. Kashinath Bharte (P.W.7) made inquest panchanama of the dead body of deceased and later on sent dead body of deceased for postmortem. After registration of offence, accused were arrested on 11.10.1992. During the course of investigation, postcards written by deceased as well as accused No.2 came to be seized. Specimen handwriting of accused persons, the letters and specimen handwriting were sent to handwriting expert. During the course of investigation, statement of witnesses Kamalbai Kalal (P.W.4), Nago Budha Patil (P.W.5) and Gulabrao Patil (P.W.6) were recorded. On completion of investigation, accused were charge-sheeted before the Court of J.M.F.C., Shahada and later on case was committed to the Court of Sessions.
(f) Initially, charge was framed under section 306 r.w. 34 of IPC and section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Later on additional charge under Section 420 r.w. 34 of IPC came to be framed against accused. Accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried. On the basis of cross-examination of the witnesses and statements recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C., defence of accused appears to be of total denial and false implication at the instance of complainant. In nutshell, defence of the accused is that they never demanded any dowry nor received any amount. The accused have taken a stand that admission of accused No.1 had taken place on 26.5.1992 and therefore, the entire story about demand of Rs.15,000/- and payment of Rs.7,000/- is false. It is further case that accused No.1 got admitted to B.Ed. Course on 26.5.1992 i.e. much prior to alleged demand.
(3.) In order to prove its case, prosecution has examined seven witnesses and further proved certain documents. On conclusion of trial, learned Additional Sessions Judge acquitted accused for the offences punishable under Sections 306, 420 r.w. 34 of IPC. However, they were found guilty of offence punishable under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and awarded sentence as stated above. Being aggrieved, the appellants have preferred this appeal.;