DEATH WITHIN 7 YEARS OF MAR­RIAGE- NOT NEC­ES­SAR­ILY DOWRY DEATH CASE - BAJINATH V. STATE OF MAD­HYA PRADESH

Libertatem Magazine - - From The Courtroom -

FACT

Around 8 pm at night the de­ceased in laws had din­ner and af­ter watch­ing tele­vi­sion, re­tired to the re­spec­tive rooms for the night. The daugh­ter in law (de­ceased) was found hang­ing from the fan next morn­ing. The de­ceased was mar­ried to Rakesh. A case was reg­is­tered with chaneri Po­lice sta­tion and on the com­ple­tion the in­ves­ti­ga­tion charge-sheet was laid against the ap­pel­lants to­gether with Rakesh, hus­band of the de­ceased and Prem Bai, wife of the ap­pel­lant No.1 un­der Sec­tions 302, 304B, 498A, 201 read with Sec­tion 34 of the Code. Ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tion, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that the hus­band of the de­ceased along with the ap­pel­lants had been de­mand­ing dowry and in pur­suit thereof had sub­jected the de­ceased to ha­rass­ment and tor­ture in the prox­i­mate past of the in­ci­dent. The Trial Court on an ex­haus­tive as­sess­ment of the ev­i­dence ad­duced, ac­quit­ted the ac­cused per­sons of the charges against which the re­spon­dent/state pre­ferred an ap­peal be­fore the High Court. The im­pugned de­ci­sion has been ren­dered thereby up­turn­ing the ac­quit­tal. The trial court though ad­mit­ted the fact that the in­ci­dent oc­curred in the mat­ri­mo­nial home within 7 years of mar­riage yet dis­missed the ev­i­dence in con­nec­tion with the de­mand of mo­tor­cy­cle in the form of dowry and tor­ture, cru­elty and ha­rass­ment on the de­ceased.

The High Court how­ever be­ing of the opin­ion that the de­ceased had died an un­nat­u­ral death in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances in her mat­ri­mo­nial home within 7 years of mar­riage and that the same was pre­ceded by per­sis­tent de­mands for a mo­tor­cy­cle as dowry in mar­riage ac­com­pa­nied by cru­elty, re­turned the find­ing of guilt against the ap­pel­lants but ex­on­er­ated Prem Bai, the wife of ap­pel­lant No.1 i.e. Bai­j­nath. It ac­cepted the ev­i­dence ad­duced by the pros­e­cu­tion qua the charge of dowry de­mand, ha­rass­ment and cru­elty in con­nec­tion there­with and ap­plied the deem­ing pre­scrip­tion/statu­tory pre­sump­tion con­tained in Sec­tion 304B of the Code and Sec­tion 113B of Act, 1892.

DE­CI­SION

The in laws pre­ferred a crim­i­nal ap­peal to the Supreme Court of In­dia, af­ter be­ing ag­grieved by the con­ver­sion of their ac­quit­tal into con­vic­tion by the High Court un­der

Sec­tions 498A and 304B of the In­dian Pe­nal Code. They prayed to set aside the pre­vi­ous ver­dict. But, the Supreme Court re­lied on the find­ing of the trial court and re­jected the ob­ser­va­tion given by the High Court and fur­ther ob­served that the anal­y­sis of the ev­i­dence by the Trial Court, in the court’s view , has been in the proper per­spec­tives, fac­tual and le­gal and thus the find­ings recorded by it are valid, the High Court based its de­ter­mi­na­tion sub­stan­tially on pre­sump­tive in­fer­ences tak­ing the aid of Sec­tion 113B of the Act, di­vorced from the at­ten­dant facts and the ev­i­dence with re­gard thereto. We are thus of the opin­ion, that the con­clu­sions of the High Court do not con­sti­tute a plau­si­ble view on the ma­te­ri­als on record and can­not be sus­tained. Supreme Court also

enu­mer­ated the term dowry and also gave ob­ser­va­tion re­gard­ing the mean­ing of dowry and fur­ther also ob­served and stated that when it should be pre­sumed that dowry death oc­curred be­cause of cru­elty, ha­rass­ment be­fore the death.

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