TAPUBHA BHAGVANJI Vs. SATTE OF GUJARAT
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: GUJARAT)
Tapubha Bhagvanji And Ors.
STATE OF GUJARAT
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D. P. Mohapatra, J. -
(1.)The five appellants in this appeal were accused Nos. 1 to 5 in Sessions Case No. 33/84 of the Court of Sessions Judge at Surendranagar and respondents in Criminal Appeal No. 19/85 in the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad. They are aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court dated 23-10-96, reversing the order of acquittal passed by the Sessions Judge and convicting them under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC and also under Section 201 read with Section 34 of the Code. The High Court sentenced all the appellants to undergo imprisonment for life on the first count and Rigorous Imprisonment for 7 years on the second count with the direction that the sentences shall run concurrently.
(2.)The case of the prosecution, shortly stated was that Manharba, the deceased was married to Dilubha, who is son of appellant Nos. 1 and 2 and brother of appellant Nos. 3 to 5.
(3.)After marriage she left her parental home in village Chotila and started residing in village Olak where the appellants reside. Shortly after marriage she complained of ill-treatment, harassment and torture by the appellants on account of inadequacy of dowry. Her husband Dilubha used to reside at Bhavnagar where he was serving. The young bride living alone in the house of the in-laws expressed considerable difficulty in putting up with insulting and torturous behaviour of the appellants. While complaining about such conduct of the appellants before her parents Manharba expressed that she should not be sent to the village Olak. When she did not go back to the house of her parents-in-law, appellant No. 1 used to come to the house of Mohabatsinh Bachuba father of Manharba and pressed for sending his daughter with him (appellant No. 1). When he was told about the complaint of ill-treatment and torture of Manharba he made promises that there will be no cause for any such complaint in future and Manharba will join her husband at Bhavnagar very soon. Such promises were given on several occasions when on one pretext or the other father of the deceased was prevailed upon to send his daughter to the house of the accused-appellants. The promises were not kept; Manharba was never sent to Bhavnagar to join her husband; on the other hand ill-treatment, harassment and torture on account of inadequacy of dowry continued to be meted out to her. On the last occasion when her father was prevailed upon by the accused No. 1 to send her to Olak the deceased had told him and other members of the family that if she is forced to go there she may be killed. When such was the situation Mohabatsinh father of Manharba received a message from one Thakarsi, Laghra (PW2), a neighbour of the appellant, who used to treat Manharba as his daughter, that he (father of deceased) should come to village Olak immediately. Before the latter could reach village Olak he was communicated by Natubha Ladhubha (accused No. 15) and Mangalsinh Devubha (accused No. 16) that his daughter died of burn-injuries during the night between 13-5-84 and 14-5-84 and her body had been cremated. On receiving the information the shocked father accompanied by his elder brother Parbatsinh and nephew reached village Olak on the 15th. All that they found were few bones and remnants of the body of Manharba. At Olak they came to know that at about 1 O'clock at night Manharba's body was found burning inside the kitchen of the house and her tongue protruded. The appellants were all present in the house sitting in the Orsi (court-yard) without making any move to put out the fire or to provide any medical treatment to Manharba. Thereafter the body was taken from the house in a Jholi (sling) and cremated early in the morning by 6 O'clock.
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