GANANATH PATTNAIK Vs. STATE OF ORISSA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
STATE OF ORISSA
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Sethi, J. -
(1.)The appellant was charged for the commission of offences punishable under Sections 304B and 498A of the Penal Code for allegedly subjecting his wife to cruelty and causing the dowry death. After trial, the appellant was acquitted of the charge framed against him under Section 304B but convicted under Section 498A of the Penal Code and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment. The appeal filed by the appellant against his conviction and sentence under Section 498A IPC was dismissed vide the judgment impugned in this appeal.
(2.)The facts of the case are that the appellants marriage with Rashmirekha was solemnised on 4.3.1984. A male child was born to the parties on 3.5.1985. Rashmirekha, the wife of the appellant died by hanging herself in the bathroom regarding which the appellant is stated to have lodged a written report to the Police Station Sahid Nagar and he informed the family members of the deceased. PW1, the father of the deceased thereafter lodged an FIR alleging therein that his daughter was murdered by the appellant and his family members. During the investigation it transpired that the deceased had committed suicide on account of dowry demands, allegedly made by the appellant and his family members. It was further revealed that the deceased had been subjected to ill-treatment, harassment and cruelty. The appellant was alleged to be having illicit connection with his brothers wife. The accused totally denied the occurrence. In his statement, recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, he admitted that the deceased was his wife but asserted that he was having very cordial relations with her. There was no demand of dowry either by him or his brother or his family members. According to him the deceased had committed suicide which is not related to either cruelty or harassment or demand of dowry.
(3.)Upon analysis of the prosecution evidence, the trial court concluded that, "in absence of any acceptable evidence to establish the foundational fact, the accused cannot be held guilty for the offence under Section 304B of IPC". The trial court, however, found the appellant guilty for the offence under Section 498A IPC by finding :
"In this case there is evidence that the accused has given purses to the deceased in presence of PW4. He has taken away the child from her as stated by PW5. There is also evidence that the deceased was not allowed to sit on the scooter by the accused and he was frequently staying absent in the house. He also failed to explain his position in relation to his sister-in-law Bijayalaxmi to the deceased for which there was an impression that he had illicit relationship with Bijayalaxmi. I find the evidence of the witnesses on this score is consistent. Taking away the child and the further ill treatment of the accused to the deceased as indicated above amounts to cruelty in as much as by the said conduct of the accused, it could be much possible that the deceased Rasmirekha could be driven to commit suicide."
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