Decided on May 22,2013

UDAI LAL Appellant


- (1.) In the instant case, at around 6:00 PM of 1st June, 2007, revenue police, having jurisdiction over the locality, came to learn that the victim, wife of Udai Lal, is dead and her dead body has been suspended by a rope from a tree outside the matrimonial home of the victim. On 2nd June, 2007, inquest was made at 9 AM. Durga Singh Patwari (PW5), who was the incharge of the local revenue police, lodged the FIR on 7th June, 2007. In the meantime, post-mortem of the dead body was conducted by Dr. Satish Kumar (PW4). In the post mortem report, it was clearly indicated that the death is by reason of ante mortem strangulation. FIR was investigated, whereupon a charge sheet was filed alleging that Udai Lal, husband of the victim, has committed offence pertaining to the said death, which offence is punishable under Section 304B. In addition to that, it was alleged that the husband of the victim, Udai Lal, and the mother-in-law of the victim Mathura Devi, have committed, during the life time of the victim, offence associated with her and which is punishable under Section 498A of IPC. By the judgment under Appeal, the court below has convicted Udai Lal for offences punishable under Sections 304B and 498A of IPC and has, also, convicted Mathura Devi for offence punishable under Section 498A of IPC. They have been appropriately sentenced.
(2.) In these Appeals, it is the contention of the appellants that there is no evidence that either of the appellants or both of them, at any point of time, harassed the victim or meted out any cruelty to her, whether the same was for non-fulfillment of dowry demand or for any other reason. Practically, there is no evidence, at all, to suggest that, during the life time of the victim, she was harassed by the appellants or the appellants meted out any cruelty to her. Bachan Lal (PW1) is the father of the victim, who deposed that for non-fulfillment of dowry demands, appellants used to tease the victim or used to taunt her. In other words, victim was subjected to sarcasm. No attempt was made to establish the intensity thereof. One of the items demanded was allegedly a television. It has come on record that there was no electricity in the house of the appellants. Smt. Choti Devi (PW2) was the mother of the victim. She stated that because of non-fulfillment of dowry demand, appellants used to beat the victim. She added that the appellants may have strangulated the victim for non-fulfillment of dowry demands. The allegation of beating is not corroborated by the evidence of any other prosecution witnesses. Post mortem report and the deposition of PW4 do not show existence of any mark of beating on the dead body of the victim. Rupesh (PW3) is the brother of the victim. He stated that the victim has been murdered by the appellants. No doubt, murder is the ultimate cruelty that can be meted out to a person. In the event, therefore, it could be established that the victim was murdered, the same would have certainly established meting out of cruelty. Neither the investigation, nor the prosecution proceeded on the basis that it was a case of murder and, accordingly, never wanted a charge for offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC to be framed. Even otherwise, nothing was brought on record to suggest the circumstances leading to the murder of the victim, despite knowledge of the fact that, according to the medical report, the death was caused by strangulation, whereafter the dead body was suspended by a rope from a tree. In the absence of any evidence pertaining to cruelty and harassment, despite the death having taken place in an unnatural circumstances and within seven years from the date of marriage of the victim, the prosecution utterly failed to put home its case of commission of offence punishable under Section 304B of IPC. Similarly, there being no evidence pertaining to cruelty and harassment, prosecution failed to make out any case for offence punishable under Section 498A of IPC. The court below committed gross error by convicting the appellants under the said Sections, despite there being no evidence, far less any cogent evidence of cruelty and harassment.
(3.) We, accordingly, interfere and allow the Appeals by setting aside the judgment under Appeals. Consequentially, sentences, as awarded, go. Appellant Mathura Devi is on bail. Her bail bond is cancelled and sureties are discharged. She need not surrender. Appellant Udai Lal is in custody. He be released forthwith.;

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