Joymalya Bagchi, J.
1. The appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 4/5.10.2012 passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, 2nd Court, Barasat, North 24 Parganas in Sessions Case No. 15(7)10 in connection with Sessions Trail No. 4(09)10 convicting the appellant for commission of offence punishable under Section 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code and directing him to suffer rigorous imprisonment of three years and to pay a fine of Rs. 2000/- in default to suffer further imprisonment six months for the offence punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and to suffer rigorous imprisonment for ten years for the offence punishable under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, both the sentences run concurrently.
2. The prosecution case, as alleged, against the appellant is that the victim Sonali Debnath was married to the appellant on 30.06.2008 according to the Hindu Rites and Customs Act. At the time of marriage a cash of Rs. 10,000/-, gold ornaments, bedding and other utensils and various other articles were given as dowry. The appellant and his brother were dissatisfied with the dowry and other articles exerted pressure on Sonali to bring more money and gold ornaments from her parents. When the victim disagreed such proposal, the appellant and his brother inflicted torture on her both physically and mentally and unable to bear such torture, she committed suicide on the residence of her matrimonial home on 12.09.2008 at 7 PM. The sudden death of the victim cause severe mental agony and depression in the minds of the parents and after overcoming such depression, the father of the victim, Dilip Debnath (PW 1), lodged First Information Report, bearing Habra Police Station Case No. 312 dated 18.09.2008 under Sections 498A/306/34 of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 3/4 of Dowry Prohibition Act. In conclusion of evidence, charge sheet was filed against appellant and co-accused person Asit Kumar Saha and the case was committed to the court of Sessions and subsequently transferred to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, 2nd Court, Barasat, North 24 Parganas for trail and disposal. The charges were framed under Section 498A/304B/34 of the Indian Penal Code.
3. The accused persons pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
4. Prosecution examined 14 witnesses in support of his case and exhibited a number of documents. Defence of the accused persons was one of innocent and false implication.
5. In conclusion of trial, the trial Judge by judgment and order dated 4/5th October, 2012 the appellant was convicted and sentenced as aforesaid. However, the co-accused, Asit Saha, was acquitted of the charges levelled against him.
6. Mr. Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya appears for the appellant and argues that there is an inordinate delay in lodging the first information report. He further submits that the allegations of torture over the demand of dowry has not been noted in the inquest report which was contemporaneously prepared after the death of the victim. Hence, the prosecution case is clearly an afterthought and is liable to be rejected. It is also argued that the PW 1 admitted in cross examination it was his conception that his daughter committed suicide over the demands of dowry. He also submits that the independent witnesses of the prosecution are not supported and as a result, the appellant ought to be acquitted.
7. On the other hand, Mr. Arun Kumar Maity, learned lawyer appearing for the State argued that the evidence of the father of the victim, PW 1, is corroborated by PW 2, the mother and PW 3, brother of the victim. All of them have spoken of torture upon the victim in unison and the victim committed suicide within six months of her marriage at the matrimonial home. No explanation is forthcoming as to the circumstances in which the newly wedded wife chose to end her life and in the facts of the aforesaid evidence relating to torture arising out of demand of dowry, the conviction of the appellant does not call for interference. Let us examine the rival versions in the light of the aforesaid submission of P.Ws. 1 and 3.
8. P.W. 1 is the father of the de-facto complainant in the instant case. He deposed that the victim was married the appellant according to the Hindu Rights and Customs Act and he gave Rs. 10,000/- in cash, ornaments and furniture to the appellant. The victim resided at the matrimonial home with the appellant. The appellant was not happy with the things which were given as dowry at the time of marriage. They used to torture and pressurized the victim over the demands of more dowry and cash. They also told the victim to die if she would not bring the dowry. They used to beat the victim. One day the accused informed him that his daughter was admitted in Habra hospital on 12.09.2008 and came to know that the victim had died there. He also came to know that the victim took poison in the matrimonial home on 12.09.2008 at 7/7.30 PM. She has been compelled to take poison after being tortured and pressurised by the accused persons for demand of dowry. He lodged FIR at Habra Police Station on 18.09.2008. He proved the written complaint. PW 1, PW 2 and PW 4 are the scribe of the complaint. He was mentally depressed due to torture of a dear daughter and hence there was a delay in lodging FIR. He had signed the inquest report prepared at Habra hospital (Exbt. 1). In cross examination he stated that Tapas had business. He had good income from the business. His daughter used to visit his house from time to time and the accused came to his house very rarely. He also on some occasions visited the matrimonial home of the daughter. They had good relation with the accused. He also deposed that it is his conception that his daughter committed suicide as the accused persons pressureised the victim to bring dowry.
9. P.W. 2 is the mother of the victim deposed that the victim was married to Tapas Saha on 30.06.2008 according to Hindu Rites and Customs. After marriage, the victim stayed at her matrimonial home with Tapas. The accused persons used to torture the victim mentally and physically and pressurized her for more dowry and other ornaments. They gave a cash of Rs. 10,000/-, gold ornaments, furniture and other articles to the accused persons. Her daughter used to report to her about such torture whenever she came to parental home. They could not meet the demands of the accused persons. The accused persons inflicted torture as we could not meet up their demands. On 12.09.2008 we got information that the condition of her daughter was very bad. We went to the hospital and found my daughter was dead. Her daughter took poison at the matrimonial home and committed suicide. In cross examination, she admitted that Tapas had a grocery shop and had good income from the business. Her daughter used to come to her house but Tapas used to visit her home rarely. She did not lodge any complaint at the Nagarak Committee or at police station about the torture at any point of time. She did not mention the date, month and year of the torture by the accused persons to the police.
10. P.W. 3 is the brother of the victim. He has corroborated the evidence of PWs. 1 and 2. In cross-examination, he stated that he did not intimate the Councilor or Nagarik Committee or any Forum or local Police Station about the torture.
11. PW 4 is the scribe in the instant case. He is the neighbour of PW 1. He proved his signature on the written complaint (Exbt. 1). He stated that he heard from PW 1 that the accused inflicted torture on Sonali both mentally and physically on demand of dowry and died in her matrimonial home.
12. PW 5 is the landlady of the premises where the appellant stayed with the victim. She was declared hostile and was confronted of the statement to the police during cross-examination. He deposed that she could not say how the victim died. She also deposed that there was a talking relationship between the family members of the victim and that of the accused persons.
13. PW 6 is another neighbour. He was also declared hostile. He, however, admitted that the victim died within three months of her marriage. He is he husband of the landlady. In cross-examination, he admitted that he seldom used to talk with the victim.
14. PW 7 was the constable of police and posted at Habra P.S. at that point of time and he took the dead body of the victim from Habra hospital to the morgue of Barasat hospital for post mortem examination. He identified the body of the victim.
15. PW 10 is the another neighbour who was declared hostile.
16. PW 8 was the ASI of the police and posted at Harba P.S. at that point of time. He received the written complaint from PW 1 and filed the formal FIR (Exbt. 4).
17. P.W. 13 was an A.S.I. of police attached to Habra U.D. P.S. He held the inquest report over the dead body of the victim and prepared inquest report marked as exbt. 2/1.
18. P.Ws. 11,12 and 14 are the investigating officer in the instant case.
19. P.W. 12 is the second investigating officer. He prepared sketch map with index. He collected postmortem report. He proved the statements recorded by the hostile witnesses P.Ws. 5 and 5. During investigation P.Ws. 11 took over investigation from P.W. 12. He made prayer for collection of chemical examiner's report but could not do so.
20. P.W. 14 completed the investigation and filed charge-sheet.
21. P.W. 9 is the autopsy surgeon who held autopsy over the dead body of the victim. He deposed as follows :
"I did not find any external injury on her body in the course of P.M. examination."
22. Rigor mortis was present all over her body. Stomach contained - 7 ounc of violate colour watery fluid, mucus membrane - was intensely conjested submicosal hemorrhage. Mouth feharynx esophagus was intensely donjested. Opinion was kept pending till receipt of Chemical Examiner's report. Visera, blood, scalp hairs, nail cuttings were sent for chemical examination".
23. In cross-examination he stated that he did not receive examiner's report. He did not give final opinion.
24. From the evidence on record it appears that the victim was married to the appellant on 30.06.2008. At the time of marriage cash of Rs. 10,000/-, gold ornaments and other articles were given as dowry. The victim committed suicide at the matrimonial home within three months of her marriage that is 12.09.2008.
25. In this backdrop, learned counsel for the appellant argued that the prosecution case of torture on the housewife over demands of dowry ought not to be believed as such fact did not transpire in the inquest report which was prepared immediately after the incident and there is delay of six days in lodging first information report.
26. I have given anxious consideration to such contention but I am unable to persuade most to accept the same. Firstly, P.W. 1 father of the victim has given cogent reason for the delay in lodging of first information report. He stated that the untimely demise of his daughter within three months of her marriage caused severe mental agony and hence there is delay in lodging the first information report. Such explanation in the backdrop of the instant case is plausible one and I have no reason to disbelieve the same. In absence of the allegations of torture over dowry in the inquest report does not militate against the prosecution case as the purpose of preparing inquest report is to determine the cause of death that is whether the nature of death of the victim is homicidal incident or suicidal. Hence, the absence of allegations of torture on the housewife resulting in her death over demands of dowry resulting in her death in the inquest report, in our considered opinion does not militate against the prosecution case at all.
27. On the other hand, the evidence of P.Ws. 1, 2 and 3 is clear, cogent and convincing over demands of dowry and torture on the housewife. It has been argued that P.W. 1 stated in cross-examination it was his conception that his daughter had died due to torture over demands of dowry and that too in the light of other evidence on record. P.W. 2 is the mother of the victim in the instant case. He deposed that the victim narrated ordinarily the incident of torture. During her short matrimonial life and also informed her that she did not put to such agony due to any demands of dowry demands. This also corroborated by P.W. 3. It has been argued that no complaints were lodged during the lifetime of the victim. The matrimonial life of the victim was barely for three months. The family members of the victim definitely were under a fond expectation that the matters would improve in the matrimonial life of their daughter and, hence, they did not choose to inform the police and or inform outsiders. With regard to the domestic violence perpetrated on her, it is for this reason that the neighbours were also clueless as to the cause of death of the victim who had suffered and committed suicide within few months after her marriage. However, the evidence on record particularly that of the parents and the brother of the victim clearly portray the case of cont
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
inuing torture on her perpetrated by the appellant which compelled the victim to commit suicide. The evidence on record shows that the victim was subjected to torture by the demands of dowry and suffered unnatural death within three months of the marriage. No explanation is forthcoming as to the reason for the victim committed suicide and, hence, we are of the opinion that the appellant was unable to rebut the statutory presumption under Section 113 B of the Evidence Act. 28. For the aforesaid reasons, we uphold the conviction of the appellant. Coming to the issue of sentence while upholding the sentence recorded for the offence under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and in view of the fact that the instant case is one of suicidal death of the housewife, we reduce the sentence imposed on the appellant for the commission of offence punishable under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code and direct him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for seven years. Both the sentences will run concurrently. 29. Accordingly, the appeal is disposed of. 30. Period of detention suffered by the appellant during investigation, enquiry and trial shall be set off from the substantive sentence imposed upon him in terms of 428 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Copy of the judgment along with LCR be sent down to the trial court at once for necessary compliance. Rajarshi Bharadwaj, J. I agree. Appeal Disposed of.