(1.) A complaint was given by PW1 Vijay Singh on 28.5.2000 to S.O. Kirti Nagar, Tehri Garhwal regarding the death of his daughter in suspicious circumstances. Chik FIR was registered for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A and 304B IPC against the accused persons, namely, Ganesh, Bachdeo, Harish, Kumari Rajni, Smt. Surji Devi and Smt. Rajni Devi wife of Mahesh. After the investigation, a charge sheet against the accused persons, viz., Ganesh, Harish, Smt. Surji Devi and Km. Rajni, for the self same offences was filed on 12.07.2000. The case was committed to the Court of Sessions. When the trial began and prosecution opened it s case, charges for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A and 304-B IPC were framed against the accused persons, who pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. PW 1 Vijay Singh, PW 2 Laxmi Devi, PW 3 Santari Lal, PW 4 Prasan Lal and PW 5 Harshvardhan Kala were examined on behalf of the prosecution. Incriminating evidence was put to the accused persons under Section 313 Cr.P.C., in reply to which they said that they were falsely implicated in the case. DW 1 Vinita Bahuguna, DW 2 Kishor Mani and DW 3 Dharmendra Kumar were examined for defence. CW 1 Dr. Subodh Nautiyal was also examined as Court witness. After considering the evidence on record, learned Sessions Judge, Tehri Garhwal, vide Judgment and Order dated March 21, 2012, convicted all the accused persons for the offences punishable under Section 304-B IPC and Section 498-A IPC. They were directed to undergo seven years rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs. 2000/-, in default of payment of which they were directed to further undergo one month s simple imprisonment, in relation to the offence punishable under Section 304-B IPC and one year s rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000/-, in default of which they were directed to undergo 15 days simple imprisonment in relation to the offence punishable under Section 498-A IPC. Both the sentences were directed to run concurrently. Aggrieved against the impugned Judgment and Order dated 21st March, 2002, present Criminal Appeals were preferred, which are being decided by this common Judgment and Order for the sake of brevity.
(2.) The incident took place on 27.05.2000, at around 9:30 a.m. and the first information report was lodged on the next day i.e. 28.05.2000, at 7:45 a.m. Considering the nature of offences complained of against the accused persons, there appears to be no delay in lodging the first information report. The facts, to which there is no dispute, are that, victim Smt. Manju was married to Ganesh s/o Bachdeo in October, 1997. She died on 27.05.2000, within three years of her marriage. The relationship of other coaccused with Ganesh is also not in dispute. In other words, the co-accused were the relatives of the husband of the victim. Her postmortem was conducted on 29.05.2000, at 11:00 a.m. Postmortem report revealed that the victim died due to asphyxia as a result of strangulation. Thus it is established that the death of the victim was caused otherwise than in normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage. Thus, there is no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that two limbs of dowry death are proved against the accused persons-appellants.
(3.) For establishing a case for the offence punishable under Section 304-B IPC, the prosecution is required to prove, apart from the other limbs, that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with any demand for dowry. If the prosecution is able to prove these three limbs, such death of the victim shall be called dowry death and husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death. Needless to say that Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 stipulates that when the question is whether the person has committed dowry death of a woman, and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with any demand for dowry, the Court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death .;