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Gopal Prasad @ Gopal Sao and ors. Vs. State of Bihar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Criminal
CourtPatna High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCri. Appeal (SJ) No. 50 of 1992
Judge
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 201, 306 and 498A
AppellantGopal Prasad @ Gopal Sao and ors.
RespondentState of Bihar
Appellant AdvocateVindhya Keshri Kumar, Sr. Adv. Ambica Prasad Sinha, Chandra Shekhar Jha and Rana Sanjay Singh, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateB.P. Gupta, A.P.P.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....it would not be sufficient to bring home the guilt of committing cruelty, as defined in explanation a, as a reasonable nexus had to be established between cruelty and the suicide, in order to make good offence of cruelty, and that apart, cruelty, even if established, has to be of such gravity which is likely to drag a woman to commit suicide......which accusation, inter alia, was made that information received from his brother suggested that veena devi was poisoned and her dead body was cremated. as usual, investigation commenced in course of which, police officer visited place of occurrence, recorded statement of witnesses and on conclusion of investigation, laid charge-sheet before the court. in the eventual trial, that followed, state examined 12 witnesses, father, uncle, and brother of the deceased, state also examined one police officer yogendra prasad (p.w. 12) who simply brought on the record first information report and also part of the police case diary. a good number of witnesses were either tendered by the state or they had turned volte face to the prosecution.2. defence of the appellants, both before the court below.....
Judgment:

B.N.P. Singh, J.

1. Veena Devi, wedded to Gopal Prasad, appellant No. 1, died in her in-laws' house within 6 1/2 years of her marriage allegedly for torture meted out to her by the in-laws. Father of the deceased on receipt of message of tragic end of his daughter, took recourse to public authority and set criminal law in motion on filing written complaint on 20.1.1988 before Officer-in-charge, Bodh Gaya Police Station, in which accusation, inter alia, was made that information received from his brother suggested that Veena Devi was poisoned and her dead body was cremated. As usual, investigation commenced in course of which, Police Officer visited place of occurrence, recorded statement of witnesses and on conclusion of investigation, laid charge-sheet before the Court. In the eventual trial, that followed, State examined 12 witnesses, father, uncle, and brother of the deceased, State also examined one Police Officer Yogendra Prasad (P.W. 12) who simply brought on the record First Information Report and also part of the police case diary. A good number of witnesses were either tendered by the State or they had turned volte face to the prosecution.

2. Defence of the appellants, both before the Court below and this Court has been that of innocence and they ascribed false implication for no good reasons. Other defence of the appellants was that Veena Devi died of diarrhoea while she had been in in-laws' house.

3. Trial Court, however, on appreciation of probative value of testimony of witnesses rejecting plea of innocence of the appellants, recorded finding of guilt under Sections 498A, 306 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.), and while for the first and third counts, they were sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a term of three years, for the second count, they were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of ten years with a rider that all the sentences shall run concurrently.

4. Though narrations made by witnesses have been fairly spelt out in the judgment of the Court below, a brief resume of them shall be discussed with brevity to appreciate contentions raised on behalf of the appellants. Tulsi Thakur (P.W. 1) and Rup Charan Mahto (P.W. 2) while stating about death of Veena Devi due to diarrhoea, had turned volte face to the State, and for which their attention too had been drawn at trial by the defence ostensibly to impeach their credibility on account of they having not made parallel statement before the police. We may notice at this juncture argument canvassed on behalf of the appellants, as it is argued with all stress that since Investigating Officer was not examined at trial, many a good question remained unanswered. We may advert to the evidence of Ram Kumar Prasad (P.W. 8) also who while stating about death of Veena Devi, had turned volte face to the State. Ram Briskha Sao (P.W. 7), Chandrika Singh (P.W. 9), Prem Prakash Gaur (P.W. 10) and Umesh Prasad (P.W. 11) were simply tendered by the State and there is nothing material in their evidences for consideration.

5. Reiterating his earlier version, Laxmi Chandra Prasad (P.W. 3), who happens to be father of the deceased and also maker of First Information Report, would state that information about death of his daughter Veena Devi, who was wedded to Gopal Prasad was received from his brother Hari Nath Singh. The witness states that whenever Veena Devi visited his house, she had been complaining about crude treatment of the husband who had also been beating her. If narration made by the witness is to be given any credence, she had been complaining about her woes even in her letters which she addressed to them. However, this witness could not furnish details as to when Veena Devi visited his house from the in-laws, and it was rather acknowledged in no uncertain terms by the witness that she had no occasion to meet her as he was residing outside when she visited his house. The witness has also sought to place on the record, three letters allegedly written by Veena Devi to persuade Court to believe about torture meted out to her by the in-laws, that being the cause of her death. Attention of the witness was drawn by the defence to the written complaint, where no such assertion about Veena Devi ever complaining to him about torture meted to her was made by the deceased. Even the conduct of father of the deceased does not appear to be natural as father was expected to have visited house of his daughter on receipt of message about torture or cruelty, with all sensibility and human instinct but that is not the case with this witness.

6. Now adverting to the evidence of other witness, one may come across with the testimony of Ram Saran Prasad (P.W. 4). The deceased happened to be his niece, who was wedded to Gopal Prasad. He stated to have learnt about death of Veena Devi from Harinath Sah and also that Veena Devi had met her tragic end on consuming insecticide. This witness too without giving any particulars or details when such treatment was meted out to the deceased, would make bald assertion that treatment of in-laws with the deceased was not cordial, and I am afraid as to whether simply such bald assertion made by the witness would either persuade the Court to believe about abetment which can drag the deceased to commit suicide or may lead to a conclusion, adverse to the appellants to make them answerable about premature death of the deceased. It was acknowledged by none else but this witness that whenever he visited in laws' house of Veena Devi, he did not find atmosphere hostile to her, and that apart, even bald assertion made by the witness was pointedly questioned by the defence, there being no such parallel statement made before the police during investigation. As I have noticed earlier, since Police Officer was not examined during trial, grievance of the appellants about they materially prejudiced for non-examination of the Police Officer does not appear to be without substance. Harinath Prasad (P.W. 5) happened to be uncle of the deceased, who stated to have learnt about death of Veena Devi, from none else but the in-laws, and only grievance of this witness was that no information was given to the parents about her tragic end. Though father of the deceased had brought on the record some letters allegedly written by Veena Devi, his witness even though he happens to be family member, would acknowledge that no such letters were ever shown to him by Laxmi Chand Prasad and about torture allegedly meted out to Veena Devi to be within the knowledge of Laxmi Chandra Prasad, he never had a talk on those issues with him. Whenever Veena Devi came to her parents' house, neither he asked any question nor she ever stated her woes to him. While adverting to the evidence of last witness, who happens to be Ashok Kumar, one finds him stating that he learnt information from Harinath Sao and also one doctor that there was quarrel between Veen Devi and sister of her husband. However, this witness would acknowledge that he did not even know the doctor. Though he had occasion to meet members of her in-laws, there had been no talk about such matters.

7. Learned Counsel for the appellants while assailing the finding recorded by Court below would submit that the Trial Court feeling handicapped to the oral evidence about torture allegedly meted out by the in-laws of the deceased, primarily based its findings on three letters, of which deceased was suggested to be the author, and as for those letters, contention raised was that apart from the fact that authorship of those letters had been seriously disputed by the defence at trial, genuineness of which had not been established by cogent evidence, even if those letters were taken into consideration, these letters no where betray that demand of dowry had been ever made by the accused, for which there may be possibility that deceased was poisoned by appellants to death. Admittedly, author of the letter, namely, deceased is not alive. There is none else, in whose presence these letters were written and hence it is not permissible, therefore, to place reliance on a thing which is not there. Even these letters did not bear either signature or LTI of the author, and if narrations made by the witnesses are to be given any credence, Veena Devi was not literate, and as has been urged, no assertions were made even in those letters which could lead to conclusion about torture which drove her to commit suicide. Similar was the case about there being no evidence for abetment by appellants which could have driven the deceased to commit suicide.

8. Learned Counsel for the State resisting the contentions raised on behalf of the appellant would refer to Section 113B of the Evidence Act to persuade the Court to draw a presumption envisaged in the Act. However, one may not be oblivious that for presumption under Section 113-A or B about abetment for committing suicide, there must be evidence that the husband or relations, who were charged, had subjected the deceased to cruelty, and only on existence and availability of these circumstances, the Court can presume that suicide had been abetted by her husband or relation. Abetment, as has been reiterated in catena of decisions by the Court, does not envisage that actual words must be used to that effect but what constitutes instigation, must necessarily and specifically be suggestive of the consequences, yet a reasonable certainty to incite the consequences must be capable of being spelt out. If evidences available on the record were marshalled with all care and caution, I find that present case was not one where appellants had by their acts or omission or by their continued course of conduct created such circumstances so as to drive the deceased to commit suicide. As has been noticed earlier, though some sorts of bald assertions were made by some witnesses about maltreatment of the deceased or even husband beating her, particulars thereof were conspicuously wanting in their evidences. Even if cruelty by itself is established and the fact of suicide too is so established, while relying on a decision of the Bombay High Court reported in 1993 Cri. L.J. 3019, Ravindra Pyarelal Bidlan and Ors. v. State of Maharashtra, it can be safely inferred that it would not be sufficient to bring home the guilt of committing cruelty, as defined in explanation A, as a reasonable nexus had to be established between cruelty and the suicide, in order to make good offence of cruelty, and that apart, cruelty, even if established, has to be of such gravity which is likely to drag a woman to commit suicide. There has been no evidence to suggest that even if cruelty or harassment had been meted out to the deceased, there was close proximity between period of cruelty and death of the deceased. It is no longer res integra that there must be perceptible nexus between period of cruelty and also period of death of the deceased and if the interval between two periods is wide, I am afraid that even if there be evidence of cruelty that would bring the offence under the mischief of Sections 306/304B, I.P.C.

9. Having given my anxious and deepest consideration to the evidences available on the record and also facts and circumstances of the case, I am of the view that the finding recorded by Court below is not sustainable in law which is accordingly set aside. Since appellants are on bail, they are also discharged from liability of the bail bonds. This appeal is accordingly accepted.


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