ANIRUDHAN Vs. STATE OF KERALA
LAWS(KER)-2003-1-40
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Decided on January 31,2003

ANIRUDHAN Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF KERALA Respondents

JUDGEMENT

J.B.Koshy, J. - (1.) One Sudhakumari, aged 26 years, wife of third accused, died in suspicious circumstances within one and a half years of her marriage. First and second accused are the father and mother of the third accused. All the three accused were charge-sheeted under Secs. 498-A and 304-B of the Indian Penal Code read with Sec. 34 IPC. They were convicted under Secs. 498-A and 304-B read with Sec. 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment for the offence punishable under Sec. 304-B IPC and rigorous imprisonment for three years for the offence punishable under Sec. 498-A IPC. Apart from the above, fine of Rs. 20,000/- each with a default sentence of six months simple imprisonment was also imposed on them. This appeal is filed by the above accused.
(2.) The prosecution case was that third accused married Sudhakumari, daughter of P.Ws. 1 and 2 on 27th March, 1994 as per the customary rites. They were living as husband and wife in the house of the third accused at Edakkadumuri in Pooruvazhi village. Third accused was employed in military. According to the prosecution, because of the harassment and demand for dowry, Sudhakumari had to live in the house of her father. But, when her husband came for leave, at the intervention of P.W. 8 her father took her to the residence of the husband on 17th July, 1995. It is stated that she committed suicide on 20th July, 1995 between 2.30 and 5.00 p.m. by consuming poison. It is the allegation of the prosecution that Sudhakumari died otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with demand for dowry and thereby the accused have committed the aforesaid offences.
(3.) Before going to the facts and evidence in this case for a proper understanding of the case we may first go through the ingredients of Secs. 3Q4-B and 498-A (PC for which the accused were charge-sheeted and convicted. Indian Penal Code was amended by introducing a new Chapter as Chap. XXA by the Criminal Law Second Amendment Act, 1983. The Chapter is given the title "Cruelty by husband or relatives of husband". Sec. 498-A reads as follows: "498-A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty:- Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation:- For the purpose of this section, 'cruelty' means: (a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or (b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on a ccount of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand." The explanation to Sec. 498-A clearly provides that any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide will constitute 'cruelty'. If such wilful conduct is likely to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman will also constitute 'cruelty'.;


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