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State of Haryana v/s Raj Rani

    Criminal Appeal No. 265-DBA of 1992

    Decided On, 03 August 2000

    At, High Court of Punjab and Haryana


    For the Appearing Parties: Rajesh Bhardwaj, AAG, Haryana, Ajay Lamba, Advocate.

Judgment Text

Harjit Singh Bedi, J.1. The facts of the prosecution case are as under :On 24th May, 1988, A.S.I. Kewal KrishanPW 10, was present in the Civil Hospital, Jagadhri, in connection with the investigation of some criminal case, when he received information that one Indu since deceased wife of Ashwani Kumar of Roop Nagar Colony, Jagadhri, had been admitted in the Emergency Ward of the Civil Hospital, with serious burns on her body. The police officer then went to the Emergency Ward and the doctor advised him that her statement be recorded by the S.D.M. The ASI, thereafter, made an application to the S.D.M., Jagadhri, and he deputed Sh. Satish Bhardwaj, PW2, Naib Tehsildar, Jagadhri, to record the statement of the injured. The statement Ex.PEE was, accordingly, recorded at 11.50 a.m. on 24th May, 1988. In her statement, Indu stated that there were frequent quarrels between her and her motherinlaw and that very morning, there had been another quarrel on which she had gone to the kitchen, poured kerosene on herself and set herself ablaze. She further stated that her mother-in-law didn't make any attempt to save her but had on the contrary given her yet another beating. She further went on to say that after the inhabitants of the mohalla had gathered at the spot, she had been removed to the hospital by her mother-in-law. On the basis of her statement, an F.I.R. was recorded at Police Station, Jagadhri for offences punishable under sections 323/306/511 of the I.P.C. As Indu's condition was serious, she was referred by the attending doctor to the P.G.I., Chandigarh, but she succumbed to her injuries on the way. On receipt of the information with regard to her death, the police made further enquiries and a challan against the two accused Raj Rani, the motherinlaw and Ashwani Kumar, the husband of the deceased was presented in the trial Court for offences punishable under Sections 306/498A/304B of the I.P.C., and as they pleaded not guilty, were brought to trial.2. The prosecution in support of its case examined PW1 Dr. Naveen Sabharwal, who had first treated Indu on her arrival in the hospital; PW2 Sh. Satish Bhardwaj, Naib TehsildarcumExecutive Magistrate, who had recorded the dying declaration, which formed the basis of the First Information Report; PW3 Dr. Gurupyari, who alongwith a panel of doctors including Dr. Naveen Sabharwal had carried out the post mortem examination on her body and had found very serious burn injuries; PW6 Vishva Pati, the brother of the deceased, who deposed that at about 10.00 a.m. on 24th May, 1988, he had learnt that his sister had been admitted to the hospital with burn injuries, on which, he alongwith his brother Siromani, and cousin Ashok Kumar had gone to the hospital and had observed that her dying declaration was being recorded, and further that whenever he had visited his sister's house, she had told him that the two accused were harassing her for bringing insufficient dowry; PW7 Nathi Ram, who also deposed with regard to the demand for dowry made from the deceased and from her brother and ASI Kewal Krishan PW10, the Investigating Officer.3. The prosecution case was then put to the accused and their statements under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C. were recorded. They denied all the allegations and pleaded false implication.4. The trial Court observed that from the dying declaration of the deceased, no case under Section 304B of the I.P.C. was spelt out as there was absolutely no reference to the demand for dowry or harassment on that account by the appellant in the dying declaration and that it was for the first time on the 27th May, 1988 that Vishva PatiPW6 had, in his police statement, stated that such a demand had been made, and as such this allegation appeared to be an afterthought. The trial Court also found that at the time when the dying declaration had been recorded by Sh. Satish Bhardwaj, Vishva Pati had been present, and even at that stage, he had not interjected or made any reference to a demand for dowry. The trial Court, accordingly, acquitted the two accused of the charge under Section 304B of the I.P.C. The Court, however, found that from the dying declaration itself, it stood proved that Indu deceased had been treated with cruelty by her mother-in-law and even on the day of the incident, there had been a quarrel between them, which had led to the suicide. The Court, nevertheless, found that there was no allegation whatsoever that Ashwani Kumar, the husband of the deceased had been cruel to her and, accordingly, convicted Raj Rani accused alone under Section 498A of the I.P.C. and sentenced her to undergo R.I. for a period of one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/ and in default of payment of fine, to further undergo R.I. for three months. Hence these two appeals Crl. Appeal No. 265DBA of 1992, by the State against the acquittal of Raj Rani for the offence under Section 304B, and Crl. Appeal No. 35SB of 1992, by Raj Rani challenging her conviction.5. We have heard the learned State counsel in support of this appeal and have gone through the record very carefully. We find that the judgment of the trial Court in ordering the acquittal of Raj Rani for the offence punishable under Section 304B of the I.P.C. is well merited. In the dying declaration made by Indu deceased, she didn't state a word regarding a demand for dowry, although there were serious allegations of cruelty which had apparently been meted out to her by her mother-in-law. We also find that PW6 Vishva Pati, the deceased's brother, was present at the time when the dying declaration was being recorded, but he chose to keep silent even at that stage with regard to the demand for dowry and it was only in his supplementary statement recorded by the police on the next date when he, for the first time, deposed with regard to such a demand. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the demand for dowry referred to by Vishva Pati PW6, was an afterthought and couldn't be believed, the more so that the deceased herself didn't state to any such demand having been made from her. We, therefore, find no reason whatsoever to interfere in the State Appeal.6. Mr. Ajay Lamba, the learned counsel representing the appellant Raj Rani in Crl. Appeal No. 35SB of 1992 has, first and foremost, argued that the dying declaration Ex.PEE, which formed the basis of the F.I.R. had not been taken down in the manner prescribed in Chapter 13A of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Rules and JUDGMENTs, Volume 3 and as such, the same could not be relied upon. He has also argued that as Indu had been brought to the hospital at about 10.30 a.m. and referred to the P.G.I. at Chandigarh at about 1 p.m., there was enough time for the police to have secured the services of a Judicial Officer to record her statement, but admittedly, no such effort had been made. It has also been argued that the attending doctor, in this case Mr. Naveen Sabharwal, had nowhere stated that Indu was fit to make a statement and for these reasons as well, the dying declaration couldn't be believed. The learned counsel has cited some judgments in support of his argument.7. We have considered this argument and find that it lacks merit. Admittedly, Indu had reached the hospital at 10.30 a.m. on the 24th May, 1988 and a ruqa had been sent to the police station and on an application made by ASI Kewal KrishanPW10 to the S.D.M. Jagadhri, he had deputed Sh. Satish Bhardwaj, Naib Tehsildar, Jagadhri to record the statement. The statement was, thereafter, recorded in the presence of the doctor, who also attested the same as having been recorded in his presence. Sh. Satish Bhardwaj, Naib Tehsildar, who appeared as PW2 clearly stated that he had recorded the dying declaration in the words that had been uttered by the injured. He also stated that Vishva Pati, the brother of the deceased had also attested the statement. We have absolutely no reason to doubt the statement given by these witnesses as they had no animus towards the accused and, in fact, none has been suggested. When this statement is read alongwith that of Dr. Naveen Sabharwal, it is clear that the deceased was in a fit condition to make a statement. It is true th

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at the dying declaration has not been recorded in the manner laid down in the High Court Rules and JUDGMENTs, but the procedure laid down therein is advisory and a dying declaration doesn't become inadmissible or lacking in credibility for this reason alone.8. Faced with this situation, Mr. Lamba, the learned counsel has pointed out that Raj Rani had undergone about four months of her sentence and that the sentence imposed should be reduced to that already undergone. We find no justification for granting this prayer. The dying declaration clearly states that the deceased had been treated with the utmost cruelty and Raj Rani had advised her to become a prostitute to support herself and even after she had set herself ablaze, she had been administered a beating. We, therefore, find no justification in reducing the sentence awarded to Raj Rani appellant. Crl. Appeal No. 35SB of 1992, is also dismissed.