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Ganga Devi and ors. Vs. State (Delhi Administration) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal Nos. 216 and 224 of 1983
Judge
Reported in28(1985)DLT35a; 1985(9)DRJ158; 1985RLR305
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 306
AppellantGanga Devi and ors.
RespondentState (Delhi Administration)
Advocates: I.U. Khan,; D.C. Mathur and; D.R. Sethi, Advs
Cases ReferredGucharan Singh v. State
Excerpt:
.....is a prima facie case for framing a charge. in the second case, the suicide notes suggest that usha bansal was disgusted with life. she does not allege any mal-treatment by husband or mother-in-law. held--that trial in this case will be an abuse of the process of law. - - the said notes have been reproduced by the trial court in its order dated 2nd august, 1983. apart from noticing the said notes, the learned court has also noticed the evidence of the father as well as her brother alleging that she had been maltreated. you know my condition very well. so good-bye my dear little bhaia and also convey my good bye to our loving parents, brothers, bhabi and the kids. 27, 82. i loved you reeku, loved you too much, i still love you and i'll continue to love you for ever and forever. you..........1982 at house no. b-5/75, safdarjang enclave, new delhi, in the area of p.s. vinay nagar, smt. usha rani committed suicide. and you all in furtherance of your common intention abetted the commission of that suicide by torture and instigation, and thereby you committed the offence punishable under section 306 read with section 34 indian penal code and within the jurisdiction of this court. sd/- a.s.j. new delhi.'.the reasons for framing the above charge are contained in a separate order dated 4th august, 1983. it has been noticed therein that immediately after her marriage to bhupinder kumar, usha rani had been complaining to her parents that her husband, her father-in-law and her grand mother-in-law, the petitioners herein were wanting her to commit suicide 'in this case, i find that.....
Judgment:

Charanjit Talwar, J.

(1) This judgment disposes of two revision petitions, namely, Cr. R. Nos. 216 and 224 of 1983, which were directed by AnandJ. to be heard together.

(2) By Criminal Revision No. 216 of 1983 Ganga Devi, her son 0m Parkash and her grand son Bhupinder Kumar have sought quashing of the charge framed against them under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code by the learned Additional Sessions Judge on 6th August, 1983. The charge reads us under :--

'I,Shri B.B. Gupta, A.S.J : New Delhi charge you Om Parkash son of Hari Ram, (2) Bhupinder Kumar son of Om Parkash and Smt. Ganga Devi w/o Hari Ram as under : That on 8.6. 1982 at house No. B-5/75, Safdarjang Enclave, New Delhi, in the area of P.S. Vinay Nagar, Smt. Usha Rani committed suicide. And you all in furtherance of your common intention abetted the commission of that suicide by torture and instigation, and thereby you committed the offence punishable under Section 306 read with Section 34 Indian Penal Code and within the jurisdiction of this Court. sd/- A.S.J. New Delhi.'.

The reasons for framing the above charge are contained in a separate order dated 4th August, 1983. it has been noticed therein that immediately after her marriage to Bhupinder Kumar, Usha Rani had been complaining to her parents that her husband, her father-in-law and her grand mother-in-law, the petitioners herein were wanting her to commit suicide

'In this case, I find that there is statement of one Zeenat Begum that Usha Rani had bn complaining to her that her husband and husband's grand mother and father-in-law had always been asking her to die so that Bhupinder may be free to re-marry. Without going into the merits of the proposition laid down in the above authorities which are binding on this court and which proposition cannot be disputed, at this stage, I am only to consider as to whether there is grave suspicion that the accused instigated Usha Rani to commit suicide. I am of the considered opinion that in view of statement of Zeenat Begum coupled with the statement of Ram Gopal and other witnesses, there is sufficient material on record to arrive at a prima facie conclusion that the accused did instigate Usha Rani to commit suicide and Which is sufficient to flame a charge. Accordingly, I order that the charge against the accused be framed under Section 306 read with Section 34 I.P.O.'.

In this petition the above reasons are assailed.

(3) In the other revision petition (No. 224 of 1983) Rakesh Kumar Bansal arid his mother Smt. Krishna Gupta who have also been arraigned under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code seek quashing of the charge framed against them for having abetted Usha Rani in committing suicide. That charge reads as under :-

'I,B.B. Gupta, Additional Sessions Judge, New Delhi hereby charge you Smt. Krishna Gupta w/o S.P. Bansal aged 46 years, service, r/o House No. D-20 Gulmohar Park, New Delhi, and (2) Rakesh Bansal s/o Sh. S.P. Bansal r/o D-20 Gulmohar Park, New Delhi, as under: That on 27.2.1982 at about 1.40 p.m. at House No. D-20 Gulmohar Park, New Delhi, Smt. Usha Bansal committed suicide and you both in furtherance of your common intention abetted its commission and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 306 read with Section 34 Ipc and within the jurisdiction of this court.'

Smt. Usha Bansal, wife of petitioner No. 1, and daughter-in-law of petitioner No. 2, had hanged herself in her in-laws house on 27th February, 1982. Admittedly, no one else was present at that time in that house The first information report was lodged by her mother-in-law, petitioner No. 2. The learned trial Court has noticed that Usha Bansal had written two 'suicide notes', one addressed to her husband petitioner No. I and the other addressed to her younger brother. The said notes have been reproduced by the trial Court in its order dated 2nd August, 1983. Apart from noticing the said notes, the learned Court has also noticed the evidence of the father as well as her brother alleging that she had been maltreated. In the said notes. however, there is no suggestion that she was being maltreated. The note to her brother reads :-

'LOVINGPawan, Today life has come to such a point as leaves no other way out than this. You know my condition very well. You all will say that I am a coward that I am running away from life. But Bhaia I'd waited for long and am left with no energies to fight for life any more. Now we are not on speaking terms even. But you know Rakesh is not responsible for this, So don't curse him. It is only to satisfy his mummy's selfish ends and only compelled by her that he turns against me. But this all is the Almight's will. I can't pull on any more. So good-bye my dear little bhaia and also convey my good bye to our loving parents, brothers, bhabi and the kids. once-yours didi'.

The other suicide note addressed to her husband Rakesh Kumar Bansal is to the following effect :-

'REEKU,my dearest one Feb. 27, '82. I loved you Reeku, loved you too much, I still love you and I'll continue to love you for ever and forever. You loved me too, but your love had always been ruled by the selfishness of your mummy and also by the fear that as mummy dominates papa I may also start the same. But darling you had been deceived by this your thought. It was only out of my love for you that ltd killed my passions, desires, emotions. Mentally, emotionally. financially and physically as well I had changed myself altogether. But this all could satisfy neither you nor your mummy. She needs you only. I'm sorry 'ITNI Der Ke Liye Maine Aapko Unse CHHINA' (though only for nights). So now I'm going to make you able to set an exemplary mother-son relationship. May God bless you my love with all the comforts of life. This I'll pray when I'll be quite close to Him. Wishing all the best in this universe for you, once yours an unfortunate soul Shabbo. P. S. Don't spoil anyone else's life. Shabbo. Please send the other letter to Jaitu if you want to rest my soul in peace. Shabbo'.

Mr. I. U. Khan, learned counsel for the petitioners, in the first case and Mr. D. C. Mathur, learned counsel for the petitioner in the second case have taken me through the First Information Reports and the evidence recorded by the Investigation Agency under section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the respective cases. Both of them rely on a judgment of this Court in Brij Lal v. State (Criminal Revision No. 326/83) decided on 15th October, 1984, in support of their contention that charges framed against their clients are groundless. Their plea is that prosecution has failed completely to show that there was any consistent course of torture, humiliation, neglect or oppression which could be said to amount to abetment to an act to suicide. Mr. D. R. Sethi, learned counsel for the respondent in both these cases, submits that the decision in Brij Lal's case is not correct as it is not in accord with the judgment of the Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No. 51 of 1984 (Santokh Singh v. Gurcharan Singh) decided on 27th January, 1984. At any rate, he further submits that this Court in Brij Lal's case has made a distinction between the cases of a self-immolation by a young bride and that of a mother-in-law being driven to commit suicide. I may note here that in Brij Lal's case the allegations were that an old lady had been goaded by her son and daughter-in-law to commit suicide. The son and his wife were charged under section 306 for having abetted the offence. The material collected by the prosecution in that case consisted mainly of two dying declarations of Durga Devi mother of Brij Lal. The victim had died of self- immolation. The dying declarations were contradictory. There was no other evidence as to the course of conduct and the nature of relationship between the victim and the other members of the family or as to the conduct of the son and daughter-in-Law after the event. Admittedly, the victim had lived with the couple happily for over ten years. The dying declaration's language was not very coherent but it was clear from it that Durga Devi had decided to take her life because she did not like the way she was being treated by her son at the instance of her daughter-in-law. Anand J., concluded that 'in the absence of the other material the trial of the couple on the charge would appear to be an exercise in futility, and if the couple must ultimately be acquitted on the material, which ever way one looks at the declarations it would certainly be an abuse of the process of the court to subject them to the agony of the trial......'.

(4) Now adverting to the facts of the case in Gucharan Singh v. State reported in 1983 Chandigarh Criminal Cases 350, decided by this Court which was reserved by the Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No. 51 of 1984 decided on 27th January, 1984. Prima facie findings of the Additional Sessions Judge in that case were that Gurcharan Singh had maltreated his wife and thereby created circumstances which made the deceased to end her life. A charge under Section 306 read with Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code was framed against him. The prosecution case, however, before the High Court was that Gurcharan Singh had burnt his wife and thus committed an offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. While opposing the revision petition seeking quashing of the charge under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, the prosecution had pressed that the Court in its inherent powers should amend the charge to that under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. On the facts of the case Aggarwal J. held that there was no material on the record for framing a charge under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code against the petitioner. Consequently, he allowed the petition and quashed the order of the Additional Sessions Judge. In appeal the Supreme Court held that the High Court purported to go into the merits of the case It was observed that the High Court was not justified in quashing the charge. As noticed above, Mr. Sethi relies on the judgment of the Supreme Court in support of his contention that it is not open to this court to go into the merits and to come to a finding whether the charges as framed in these two petitions are justified. His submission is that, at any rate, in Brij Lal's case, the case of bride who is almost driven to a state of desperation in which self- immolation may appear to her to be the only source of liberation, has been distinguished from a case of mother-in-law burning herself in disgust. It is true that Anand J. has held that the two cases do not appear to have a parallel. It was observed that 'while the consistent course of torture, humiliation, neglect and oppression may, in one situation, amount to abetment to an act of suicide, it need not necessarily be so in the other, unless there are other compelling circumstances, which lend support to such a conclusion' The argument by the counsel for the petitioners is that in the present case it has prima facie not been proved that it was a consistent course of torture and oppression which had led the brides to commit suicide.

(5) It is well-settled that I cannot go into the merits of the prosecution case at this stage. It is not open to me to weigh the evidence and that evidence collected by the prosecution has to be accepted. The question whether a charge is justified in each of these two cases is to be decided by keeping in view the material and the circumstances on record. Now adverting to the first petition the statement of the father of the victim Usha Rani highlights the following facts :-

(I)after marriage of his daughter whenever he visited the house of the petitioners herein complaint was made to him by his son-in- law that Usha was not fit for their family and she did not know anything; (ii) whenever Usha Rani visited his house she had been telling him that she was being taunted by her father-in-law, her husband and her husband's grand-mother; (iii) Usha Rani used to complain that she was being told repeatedly that if she died Bhupinder Kumar her husband would be free to re-marry; and (iv) that Usha Rani was being humiliated and maltreated by the petitioners herein.

The prosecution has also recorded the statement of one Zeenat Begum, a friend of the complainant's family who has stated that Usha Rani had been complaining to her that her husband and husband's grand-mother and father- in-law had always been asking her to die so that Bhupinder may be free to re-marry. In this case the statement of Zeenat Begum clearly brings out on record that prima facie the petitioners were repeatedly suggesting to Usha Rani that she should die. This statement corroborates the statement made by the father that it was the course of torture, humiliation and oppression which the victim had been undergoing at the hands of the petitioners which led her to commit suicide. Such a course adopted by the petitioners prima facie can be said to come within the purview of the expression 'instigation'. A person is said to instigate when he goads, provokes, incites, urges or encourages to commit a crime.

(6) In the second case, the suicide notes which I have noticed above show that the victim Usha Bansal had become disgruntled. She had come to the conclusion that her husband did not love her. There is a suggestion that she was disgusted with life. However, she does not allege maltreatment either by her husband or by her mother-in-law in those two notes. With the assistance of Mr. Mathur, I have gone through the statements of Rakesh Raman, Pawan Kumar, the two brothers of the deceased and that of Sudha Ram, her father. The brothers have stated that their sister used to complain to them that after her marriage she had been harassed and reprimanded by her mother-in-law. Rakesh Raman has stated that her mother-in-law used to reprimand her because of 'small happenings for instance if the light is not switched off etc.........'. Pawan Kumar has said that 'she complained about her husband and mother-in-law and stated that her mother-in-law reprimands her on small domestic matters and scolds her'. He goes on to say that on the asking of his mother Rakesh Bansal would also badly treat her and 'sometimes the situation would come to beating and for days together both of them would come to non-speaking terms and her mother-in- law on the point of dowry used sarcastic words'. Her father has stated that 'she was vary unhappy in her in-laws house and that her mother-in-law and husband on the point of dowry and other small happenings in the house used to harass her very much and abuse her and reprimand her. Sometimes the situation comes to beating. I always counseled her that according to Hindu customs after marriage the matrimonial house is the home of the wife and that she should adjust'.

(7) I may note here that Usha Bansal was highly educated girl. It is on record that she was M.A.B.T. Her husband Rakesh Bansal was only a Lower Division Clerk. From her suicide note it appears that she was quite well-read and had definite view about the role of a husband. She was also very sensitive. She considered her mother-in-law to be selfish. She was married for about 6-7 months and in this period she realised that her mother- in-law ruled not only her father-in-law but also her husband. She came to the conclusion that her husband was merely his mother's boy. To her brother she wrote that her husband was not responsible and that 'it is only to satisfy his mummy's selfish ends and only compelled by her that he turns against me. But this all is the Almight's will'. To her husband she wrote 'you love me but your love has always been ruled by the selfishness of your mummy and also by the fear that as mummy dominates papa I may also start the same'. In these notes there is no suggestion of maltreatment or instigation by the petitioners. From the statements recorded under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also it cannot be said that reprimands given to the victim referred to therein can be said to have instigated her to commit suicide. The trial in this case would, in my view, amount to abuse of the process of the Court.

(8) The result is that I reject Criminal Revision No. 216 of 1983 but allow Criminal Revision No. 224 of 1983.


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