Gumansinh @ Lalo @ Raju Bhikhabhai … vs The State Of Gujarat on 3 September, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Gumansinh @ Lalo @ Raju Bhikhabhai … vs The State Of Gujarat on 3 September, 2021

Author: Krishna Murari

Bench: S. Abdul Nazeer, Krishna Murari

                                                                                REPORTABLE


                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                  CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 940-941 OF 2021

                                         ARISING OUT OF
                         SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) NOS. 2860-2861 OF 2019


           GUMANSINH @ LALO @ RAJU                                      …..     APPELLANT(S)
           BHIKHABHAI CHAUHAN & ANR.

                                                            VERSUS

           THE STATE OF GUJARAT                                         …..    RESPONDENT(S)


                                                JUDGMENT

KRISHNA MURARI, J.

Leave granted.

2. These appeals arise out of final order and judgment of the Hon’ble High

Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad (hereinafter referred to as ‘High Court’) dated

28.12.2018 corrected vide order dated 08.02.2019 in R/Criminal Appeal No.

833 of 2000 and final order and judgment dated 07.03.2019 in Criminal Misc.

Application (for extension of time) No. 1 of 2019 filed by the appellants
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Neelam Gulati
Date: 2021.09.03

challenging the order of conviction against them.
15:39:36 IST
Reason:

1

3. By the said judgment, the High Court has dismissed the appeal filed by

the appellant herein challenging the judgment dated 27.07.2000 passed by the

Learned Sessions Judge, Vadodara in Sessions Case No. 92 of 1998 convicting

the appellant in respect of the offence punishable under Section 306, 498A read

with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘IPC’) is

confirmed.

4. In brief, the prosecution case is that the marriage of Appellant No. 1 was

solemnized with Tahera (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Deceased’) on

27.04.1997 and after the marriage, the deceased was residing with both the

appellants. The Appellant No.1 was constantly asking the deceased to bring

Rs.25,000/- from her father (PW-1) in order to purchase buffaloes as, he was

keen on doing milk business. Due to poor financial condition, PW-1 was not

able to satisfy the demand of Appellant No. 1. Therefore, Appellant No.1

frequently started beating the deceased, while Appellant No. 2 who was her

mother-in-law used to pick up quarrel with her on the pretext that she neither

knew how to cook nor do any house-hold work properly. The deceased

committed suicide on 14.12.1997 between 17:00 and 17:30 hours by consuming

poison at her matrimonial home for the sole reason that she was unable to bear

the continuous mental and physical cruelty meted out to her by the appellants in

a short span of 8 months.

2

5. The PW-1, father of the deceased filed a complaint with Padra Police

Station which was registered as ICR No. 34 of 1997 for the offences punishable

under Section 498A and 306 read with Section 114 of the IPC. After completion

of the investigation, charge-sheet was filed in the Court of Learned Judicial

Magistrate First Class, Padra, who committed the case to the Court of Sessions.

The case was registered as Sessions Case No. 92 of 1998 and was made over to

the Learned Additional Sessions Judge for trial. Charges were framed and

against the appellants and they pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.

6. In order to substantiate the case, the prosecution has examined seven

witnesses and all the incriminating evidence was put to the appellants while

recording their statement under Section 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure

Code, wherein they totally denied the case of the prosecution.

7. The Trial Court came to the conclusion that the Appellants subjected the

deceased to physical and mental cruelty which lead her to commit suicide and

convicted the appellants for offences punishable under Section 498A and 306 of

IPC and sentenced them to undergo Rigorous imprisonment for a period of one

year and pay fine of Rs. 500/- as well as two years Rigorous imprisonment and

pay fine of Rs. 500/-.

3

8. Aggrieved by the same, the accused appellants filed an appeal before the

High Court and mainly contended that there was no demand of money by

Appellant No. 1 as he was only asking for loan to purchase buffaloes in order to

start milk business. It was further contended that the deceased was under

medical treatment as she was suffering from some mental illness. It was pointed

out that only relatives were examined as witnesses though independent

witnesses were available and therefore, the prosecution case becomes doubtful.

It was further contended that the appellants were not present in the house when

the deceased committed and prayed for the appeal to be allowed and the

conviction of the appellants be set-aside.

9. However, the High Court observed that the evidence produced by the

prosecution clearly indicates the deceased was subjected to mental and physical

cruelty by the appellants on the account of non-fulfillment of demand of

Rs.25,000/- and, therefore, the judgment and order of conviction passed by the

learned Trial Court was confirmed.

10. Being aggrieved by the conviction and sentence under Section 498-A IPC

and Section 306 IPC, the accused have preferred these appeals. Ms. Akriti

Chaubey, learned Counsel for the appellants vehemently submitted that the

conviction as recorded by the learned Trial Court and confirmed by the High

Court is not tenable. It is submitted that the evidence of the material witnesses

4
suffer from major contradictions and there was no demand of any money by the

appellant No.1 because he was only asking for loan to purchase buffaloes with

an intention to start milk business. She further submitted that the deceased was

suffering from some mental illness for which she was under medical treatment.

Her further submission is that only close relatives were examined as witnesses

and there was no independent witness.

11. Per contra, Ms. Deepanwita Priyanaka, learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the State submitted that there is a concurrent finding of both the

Courts below as such no interference is warranted. It is further submitted that

all the ingredients necessary for conviction under Section 306 IPC stands

proved with the aid of Section 113-A of the Evidence Act, 1872 as such the

present appeals deserved to be dismissed.

12. We have considered the rival submissions and also perused the impugned

judgment as also the testimony of the witnesses with the aid of learned counsel

for the parties.

13. It is undisputed that the suicidal death of the deceased occurred within a

short span of eight months of marriage. Section 113-A of the Evidence Act,

provides for presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman within

5
seven years of marriage, by her husband or any of his relative. The said section

reads as under :-

“113A. Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married
woman –

When the question is whether the commission of suicide by a
woman had been abetted by her husband or any relative of
her husband and it is shown that she had committed suicide
within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage
and that her husband or such relative of her husband had
subjected her to cruelty, the Court may presume, having
regard to all the other circumstances of the case, that such
suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relative
of her husband.

Explanation.- For the purposes of this section, “cruelty”
shall have the same meaning as in section 498A of the
Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).”

14. Explanation added to Section 113-A of the Evidence Act clearly provides

that ‘cruelty’ shall have the same meaning as in Section 498-A of the IPC and

thus it would be relevant to extract said section which reads as under :-

“498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman
subjecting her to cruelty- Whoever, being the husband or the
relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to
cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term
which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to
fine.

Explanation.- For the purpose of this section, “cruelty”
means-

(a) any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is
likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause
grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether
mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is
with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to
meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable
security or is on account of failure by her or any person
related to her to meet such demand.”

6

15. The prosecution case was that the marriage of the deceased who was the

daughter of the complainant was solemnized with appellant no. 1 around eight

months before the alleged incident and thereafter she was residing in her

matrimonial home along with her husband, the appellant no.1 and mother-in-law,

the appellant no. 2. For about two months, they had a peaceful life, thereafter

the appellant no. 1 started pressing deceased to bring Rs.25,000/- from her father

to purchase buffaloes as he was interested in starting business of milk. It was

further stated that the complainant PW-1 was unable to satisfy the demand on

account of his weak financial condition. When the demand of Rs.25,000/- could

not be met by the complainant, the appellant no.1 started beating the deceased

and appellant no. 2, the mother-in-law also used to quarrel with her on the

pretext that she was not knowing cooking and was not doing household work

properly. On account of physical and mental cruelty meted out to her during a

short span of eight months of marriage, when it became unbearable she

committed suicide on 14.12.1997 between 17:00 and 17:30 hours by consuming

poison at her matrimonial home.

16. Aforesaid complaint lodged by PW-1, the father of the deceased, was

registered vide I-C.R.No. 341 of 1997 for the offences punishable under

Sections 498-A and 306 read with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code.

7

17. A perusal of evidence of PW-1, Mustufa Chhotubhai Ghori, the father of

the deceased would establish that deceased was married to appellant no. 1, eight

months prior to the alleged incident. He stated in his testimony that the married

life of the two was smooth for initial two months, however, after two months of

the marriage, the appellant no. 1 started insisting Tahira (the deceased) to ask for

a sum of Rs.25,000/- from PW-1 to purchase buffaloes for milk business, but he

was unable to pay the said amount as he was earning his livelihood by running a

tea stall and was also indebted. He also stated that since he could not fulfill the

demand because of his weak financial position, his deceased daughter was ill-

treated and beaten frequently by appellant no.1. He further stated that the

appellant no. 2, the mother-in-law of the deceased also started quarreling on the

pretext that the deceased could not make chapatti properly nor could she do the

household work and her father has not taught her anything. He also stated that

the deceased used to share her trauma with her mother (PW-4) who in turn used

to tell her everything. He further stated that the son-in-law was very suspicious

and he did not let Tahira (the deceased) to go alone to any place and used to beat

her. He also stated that lastly appellant no. 2 came to his house along with the

deceased and demanded Rs.500/- from his wife (PW-4), as her husband was to

go to Ajmer. He also stated that in the night at about 1:30A.M., PW-3 his

brother, came and informed about the death of the deceased. In the cross-

examination, his testimony was unshaken. Though during cross-examination, it

was tried to be elicited from this witness that deceased was suffering from some

8
kind of illness prior to marriage and was undergoing some treatment. The

witnesses admitted in the cross-examination that the deceased was suffering

from some pain and his wife used to take her for treatment and was given

medicine. Apart from above, neither the nature of illness nor the details of the

treatment or medication could be elicited from this witness. As a matter of fact,

there was not even a suggestion by the defence that deceased was suffering from

any kind of mental illness or undergoing treatment for the same.

18. The evidence of PW-1 stands corroborated by the evidence of PW-4,

Dariyaben Mustufa Ghori, the mother of the deceased, as well as PW-3

Ahmadbhai Chhotubhai Ghori, the brother of complainant and PW-5, Hanif

Mustufa Ghori, brother of the deceased.

19. It is pertinent to mention that much emphasis has been laid by learned

counsel for the appellants on the cross-examination of PW-1, wherein he stated

that even before marriage the deceased was undergoing treatment and

medication. Learned counsel for the appellants vehemently contended that the

deceased was suffering from some mental disease and was undergoing treatment

and her mental instability might have resulted in suicide. The argument is not

liable to be accepted inasmuch as neither any evidence was produced by the

defence in this regard nor anything about the illness or medication was stated by

them in their statement under Section 313. The deceased lived in her

9
matrimonial home with the appellants for about eight months after marriage and

if she was undergoing any prolonged treatment, it was not possible for the

appellants not to have acquired knowledge of the said facts.

20. It was next submitted by the learned counsel for the appellants that all the

witnesses are relative and interested witnesses and no independent witness was

examined by the prosecution to prove the case, thus, the prosecution case

becomes doubtful.

21. Most often the offence of subjecting the married woman to cruelty is

committed within the boundaries of the house which in itself diminishes the

chances of availability of any independent witness and even if an independent

witness is available whether he or she would be willing to be a witness in the

case is also a big question because normally no independent or unconnected

person would prefer to become a witness for a number of reasons. There is

nothing unnatural for a victim of domestic cruelty to share her trauma with her

parents, brothers and sisters and other such close relatives. The evidentiary value

of the close relatives/interested witness is not liable to be rejected on the ground

of being a relative of the deceased. Law does not disqualify the relatives to be

produced as a witness though they may be interested witness.

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22. However, when the Court has to appreciate the evidence of any interested

witness it has to be very cautious in weighing their evidence or in other words,

the evidence of an interested witness requires a scrutiny with utmost care and

caution. The Court is required to address itself whether there are any infirmities

in the evidence of such a witness; whether the evidence is reliable, trust-worthy

and inspires the confidence of the Court. Another important aspect to be

considered while analyzing the evidence of interested witness is whether the

genesis of the crime unfolded by such evidence is probable or not. If the

evidence of any interested witness/relative on a careful scrutiny by the Court is

found to be consistent and trust-worthy, free from infirmities or any

embellishment that inspires the confidence of the Court, there is no reason not to

place reliance on the same.

23. A three-Judge Bench of this Court in the case of Maranadu and Anr. Vs.

State by Inspector of Police, Tamil Nadu 1, while considering this issue, has

observed as under:-

“Merely because the eyewitnesses are family members their
evidence cannot per se be discarded. When there is
allegation of interestedness, the same has to be established.
Mere statement that being relatives of the deceased they are
likely to falsely implicate the accused cannot be a ground to
discard the evidence which is otherwise cogent and credible.
We shall also deal with the contention regarding
interestedness of the witnesses for furthering prosecution
version.

1 (2008) 16 SCC 529

11
“….Relationship is not a factor to affect credibility of a
witness. It is more often than not that a relation would not
conceal actual culprit and make allegations against an
innocent person. Foundation has to be laid if plea of false
implication is made. In such cases, the court has to adopt a
careful approach and analyse evidence to find out whether it
is cogent and credible.

11. In Dalip Singh and Ors. v. The State of Punjab (AIR
1953 SC 364) it has been laid down as under:-

“26. A witness is normally to be considered independent
unless he or she springs from sources which are likely to be
tainted and that usually means unless the witness has cause,
such as enmity against the accused, to wish to implicate him
falsely. Ordinarily a close relation would be the last to
screen the real culprit and falsely implicate an innocent
person. It is true, when feelings run high and there is
personal cause for enmity, that there is a tendency to drag in
an innocent person against whom a witness has a grudge
along with the guilty, but foundation must be laid for such a
criticism and the mere fact of relationship far from being a
foundation is often a sure guarantee of truth. However, we
are not attempting any sweeping generalization. Each case
must be judged on its own facts. Our observations are only
made to combat what is so often put forward in cases before
us as a general rule of prudence. There is no such general
rule. Each case must be limited to and be governed by its
own facts.”

The above decision has since been followed in Guli
Chand and Ors. v. State of Rajasthan (1974 (3) SCC 698) in
which Vadivelu Thevar v. State of Madras (AIR 1957 SC

614) was also relied upon.

13. We may also observe that the ground that the witness
being a close relative and consequently being a partisan
witness, should not be relied upon, has no substance. This
theory was repelled by this Court as early as in Dalip
Singh’s case (supra) in which surprise was expressed over
the impression which prevailed in the minds of the Members
of the Bar that relatives were not independent witnesses.
Speaking through Vivian Bose, J. it was observed:

“25.We are unable to agree with the learned Judges of the
High Court that the testimony of the two eyewitnesses

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requires corroboration. If the foundation for such an
observation is based on the fact that the witnesses are
women and that the fate of seven men hangs on their
testimony, we know of no such rule. If it is grounded on the
reason that they are closely related to the deceased we are
unable to concur. This is a fallacy common to many criminal
cases and one which another Bench of this Court
endeavoured to dispel in -`Rameshwar v. State of Rajasthan’
(AIR 1952 SC 54 at p.59). We find, however, that it
unfortunately still persists, if not in the judgments of the
Courts, at any rate in the arguments of counsel.”

14. Again in Masalti and Ors. v. State of U.P. (AIR 1965 SC

202) this Court observed: (p. 209-210 para 14):

“14…….But it would, we think, be unreasonable to contend
that evidence given by witnesses should be discarded only on
the ground that it is evidence of partisan or interested
witnesses…….The mechanical rejection of such evidence on
the sole ground that it is partisan would invariably lead to
failure of justice. No hard and fast rule can be laid down as
to how much evidence should be appreciated. Judicial
approach has to be cautious in dealing with such evidence;
but the plea that such evidence should be rejected because it
is partisan cannot be accepted as correct.”

15. To the same effect is the decisions in State of Punjab v.
Jagir Singh
(AIR 1973 SC 2407), Lehna v. State of
Haryana
(2002 (3) SCC 76) and Gangadhar Behera and
Ors. v. State of Orissa
(2002 (8) SCC 381).”

24. In the case at hands, PW-1,2,3 and 4, though they are related to the

deceased, are natural witnesses. There being no bar in examining the family

members or any other person as witnesses, their evidence is not liable to be

discarded on this ground. From a perusal of the evidence of the aforesaid

witnesses, we find that it is consistent without any material contradiction and

inspires confidence. The Courts below have also properly scrutinized their

13
evidence prior to taking them into account and there is nothing unusual in

believing their testimonies.

25. Thus, from the evidence of the prosecution witness we have no hesitation

to hold that prosecution has proved that the deceased was harassed with a view

to coerce her to meet unlawful demand of Rs.25,000/- and such a harassment

was on account of failure by her to bring the said amount from her father (PW-1)

who was financially incapable to meet such demand. We find, on the basis of

the aforesaid evidence, that the prosecution has been successful in proving the

charge of cruelty under Explanation (b) of Section 498-A IPC.

26. Suicidal death by consuming pesticide stands affirmed by the evidence of

PW-2, Dr. Anand, who was one of the panel members of doctors who carried out

post-mortem of the deceased. He stated in his cross-examination that :-

“On 15/12/1997 I was serving as the PMC medical officer
at Gandhi. At noon 3-15 hours the dead body of Tahera
Gumansinh Chauhan was brought to be and the time was
around 3-30 hours. In the panel doctor was Dr. Rolisharan
and he is at present at the Rajkot Medical College. While
checking the dead body, as for the internal injuries, on the
legs the threads were placed. There was normal injury on
the right thigh. There was no other external injury that
could prove that the death occurred due to beating. Even
thereafter, the stomach was opened and the particular that
came out had plunging smell. The samples of her intestine,
liver, kidney and blood were obtained and were sent for
analysis at the forensic science laboratory, Ahmedabad, so

14
that the actual facts could be known. This analysis report
was sent by the forensic department to us. One was sent to
police station. But I have not received a copy. Therefore, I
can give further deposition if the copy of police is shown to
me. I am as on today shown the mark 8/9 being the papers
of the prosecution and upon seeing I state that, in the
intestine of the deceased the poisonous pesticide Diazinon
Organophosphate was found. This proves that, the death of
Taheraben had occurred due to consuming of poison. The
panel doctor along with me undertook the post mortem of
deceased. I am shown the mark 8/7 PM report and we both
doctors have prepared the same. The doctor along with me
has signed it in my presence. It has my signature. I identify
the same. It is given exhibit 17.”

His statement was intact in the cross-examination and
nothing contradictory could be elicited from him.

27. Now, the question that falls for our consideration is the prosecution

having successfully established the charge of cruelty as laid down in

Explanation (b) of Section 498-A IPC and also the fact that the deceased

committed suicide by consuming pesticide within seven years of marriage,

whether the accused can also be held guilty for the offence punishable under

Section 306 IPC with the aid of Section 113 A of the Evidence Act.

28. In the case at hands, the prosecution failed to adduce any direct evidence

to establish that the accused abetted deceased into committing suicide. The

prosecution has placed reliance on Section 113-A of the Evidence Act to

establish the charge of abetment against the accused.

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29. Section 107 of IPC describes offence of abetment as under:-

“Section 107 of IPC-

107. Abetment of a thing.—A person abets the doing of a
thing, who—

(First) — Instigates any person to do that thing; or

(Secondly) —Engages with one or more other person or
persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an
act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that
conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or

(Thirdly) — Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission,
the doing of that thing.

Explanation 1.—A person who, by wilful misrepresentation,
or by wilful concealment of a material fact which he is bound
to disclose, voluntarily causes or procures, or attempts to
cause or procure, a thing to be done, is said to instigate the
doing of that thing. Illustration A, a public officer, is
authorized by a warrant from a Court of Justice to
apprehend Z. B, knowing that fact and also that C is not Z,
wilfully represents to A that C is Z, and thereby intentionally
causes A to apprehend C. Here B abets by instigation the
apprehension of C. Explanation 2.—Whoever, either prior to
or at the time of the commission of an act, does anything in
order to facilitate the commission of that act, and thereby
facilitate the commission thereof, is said to aid the doing of
that act.

30. Section 306 of IPC provides punishment for the offence of abetment of

suicide, reads as under:-

“306. Abetment of suicide.—If any person commits suicide,
whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be
punished with imprisonment of either description for a term
which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to
fine.”

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31. This question came up for consideration before a three-Judge Bench in the

case of Ramesh Kumar Vs. State of Chhattisgarh2. In pragraph 12 of the said

judgment, it has been observed as under :-

“This provision was introduced by Criminal Law (Second)
Amendment Act
, 1983 with effect from 26.12.1983 to meet a
social demand to resolve difficulty of proof where helpless
married women were eliminated by being forced to commit
suicide by the husband or in-laws and incriminating
evidence was usually available within the four-corners of
the matrimonial home and hence was not available to any
one outside the occupants of the house. How-ever still it
cannot be lost sight of that the presumption is intended to
operate against the accused in the field of criminal law.
Before the presumption may be raised, the foundation
thereof must exist. A bare reading of Section 113-A shows
that to attract applicabilty of Section 113- A, it must be
shown that (i) woman has committed suicide, (ii) such
suicide has been committed within a period of seven years
from the date of her marriage, (iii) the husband or his
relatives, who are charged had subjected her to cruelty. On
existence and availability of the abovesaid circumstances,
the Court may presume that such suicide had been abetted
by her husband or by such relatives of her husband. The
Parliament has chosen to sound a note of caution. Firstly,
the presumption is not mandatory; it is only permissive as
the employment of expression “may presume” suggests.

Secondly, the existence and availability of the above said
three circumstances shall not, like a formula, enable the
presumption being drawn; before the presumption may be
drawn the Court shall have to have regard to ‘all the other
circumstances of the case’. A consideration of all the other
circumstances of the case may strengthen the presumption
or may dictate the conscience of the Court to abstain from
drawing the presumption. The expression – ‘The other
circumstances of the case’ used in Section 113-A suggests
the need to reach a cause and effect relationship between
the cruelty and the suicide for the purpose of raising a
presumption. Last but not the least the presumption is not an
irrebuttable one. In spite of a presumption having been
2 (2001) 9 SCC 618

17
raised the evidence adduced in defence or the facts and
circumstances otherwise available on record may destroy
the presumption. The phrase ‘May presume’ used in Section
113-A
is defined in Section 4 of the Evidence Act, which
says-‘whenever it is provided by this Act that Court may
presume a fact, it may either regard such fact as proved,
unless and until it is disproved or may call for proof of it.”

32. From the above observations, it becomes clear that to attract the

applicability of Section 113-A of the Evidence Act, three conditions are required

to be fulfilled :-

i. The woman has committed suicide,

ii. Such suicide has been committed within a period of seven years from

the date of her marriage,

iii. The charged-accused had subjected her to cruelty.

33. From the facts of the case at hands, all the three conditions stand fulfilled.

There is no dispute about the facts that the deceased committed suicide within a

period of seven years from the date of her marriage and charged-accused had

subjected her to cruelty, as we have confirmed the findings of the Trial Court as

well as High Court that prosecution has been successful in proving the charge of

cruelty under Explanation (b) of Section 498-A IPC.

34. It is no doubt correct that the existence and availability of the above said

three circumstances are not to be invoked, like a formula, to enable the

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presumption being drawn and the presumption is not an irrebuttable one, as held

by a three-Judge Bench of this Court in the case of Ramesh Kumar Vs. State of

Chhattisgarh (Supra).

35. At this stage, we may also make a reference to Section 4 of the Evidence

Act, which defines the phrase ‘may presume’ used in Section 113-A, which

reads as under :-

“Shall Presume – whenever it is directed by this Act that the
Court shall presume a fact, it shall regard such fact as
proved, unless and until it is disproved.”

36. The above definition of the words ‘may presume’ makes it clear that

whenever the act provides that the Court may presume a fact, the said fact is to

be regarded as proved, unless and until it is disproved.

37. Admittedly, in the case at hands, the evidence clearly establishes the

offence of cruelty or harassment caused to the deceased and thus the foundation

for the presumption exists. Admittedly the appellants have led no evidence to

rebut the presumption.

38. Thus, in the facts and circumstances of the case, it can be safely

concluded that the Courts below committed no illegality in holding that the

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accused-appellants abetted the suicide of the deceased. The matter can be

viewed from another angle. The prosecution was successful in establishing the

charge under Section 498-A of cruelty against the appellants from which a

reasonable inference can be drawn that the deceased committed suicide by

consuming pesticides. The deceased was in the custody of the appellant and

died within the four walls of her matrimonial home under suspicious

circumstances.

39. A two-Judge Bench of this Court, in the case of Ramesh Vithal Patil Vs.

State of Karnataka & Ors.3 in almost identical facts and circumstances, has

observed in paragraph 26 of the judgment as under:-

“Moreover, admittedly the deceased committed suicide
within a period of seven years from the date of her
marriage. Section 113-A of the Evidence Act is, therefore,
clearly attracted to this case. Presumption contemplated
therein must spring in action. This provision was
introduced by Criminal Law Second Amendment Act, 1983
to resolve the difficulty of proof where married women are
forced to commit suicide but incriminating evidence is
difficult to get as it is usually available within the four
walls of the matrimonial home.

In this case, the prosecution has led evidence to establish
cruelty and harassment caused to the deceased which is
rightly taken into account by the High Court. Thus, the
foundation for the presumption exists. The appellant,
however, has led no evidence to rebut the presumption.

Therefore, it can be safely concluded in the facts of this
case that the appellant abetted the suicide of the
deceased.”

3 (2014) 11 SCC 516

20

40. Reference may also to be made to the following observations of this

Court in the case of Satish Shetty Vs. State of Karnataka4 :-

“Once the prosecution succeeds in establishing the
component of cruelty leading to conviction under Section
498 A, in our view only in a rare case, the Court can refuse
to invoke the presumption of abetment, if other requirements
of Section 113-A of the Evidence Act stand satisfied. This
proposition is amply supported by the view taken by the
three-Judge Bench of this Court in the case of K.Prema
S.Rao & Anr. Vs. Yadla Srinivasa Rao & Ors.5.”

41. In the case of K. Prema S. Rao (Supra), this Court while holding that in

view of Section 215 Cr.PC ommission to frame charge under Section 306 IPC

has not resulted in any failure of justice and thus, there was no necessity to

remit the matter to the Trail Court for framing the charge under Section 306 IPC

and direct a retrial for that charge. It further went on to observe as under:-

“The same facts found in cruel treatment of his wife, make
out a case against him under Section 306 IPC of having
abetted commission of suicide by the wife. The appellant was
charged for an offence of higher degree causing “dowry
death” under Section 304B which is punishable with
minimum sentence of seven years rigorous imprisonment
and maximum for life. Presumption under Section 113A of
the Evidence Act could also be raised against him on same
facts constituting offence of cruelty under Section 498A,
IPC.”
(Emphasis applied)

4 (2016) 12 SCC 759
5 (2003)1 SCC 217

21

42. The reliance placed by learned counsel for the appellants on the judgment

of this Court rendered by a two-Judge Bench in the case of Gurjit Singh Vs.

State of Punjab6 is totally mis-founded, as the case is distinguishable on facts.

In the said case, this Court found that though the prosecution was successful in

proving the case under Section 498A of the IPC but the prosecution had failed

to prove that the cruelty was of such a nature which left no choice to the

deceased than to commit suicide. It was found that the prosecution has failed to

place on record any evidence to establish beyond reasonable doubt that any act

or omission of the accused instigated the deceased to commit suicide. There is

no material on record to show that immediately prior to the deceased

committing suicide there was a cruelty meted out to the deceased by the accused

due to which the deceased had no other option than to commit the suicide. It

may be relevant to extract the following observations made in the judgment :-

“37. Another aspect that needs consideration is that the
cases wherein this Court has held that the conviction
under Section 306 of the IPC was tenable though charge
was only under Section 304B of the IPC, it was found the
charge specifically stated that the deceased was driven to
commit suicide on account of cruelty meted out to the
deceased. However, in the present case, the charge reads
thus:

“That you all on 28.9.94 in the area of Village Bohan, the
death of Jaswinder Kaur wife of you, Gurjit Singh and
daughterinlaw of you, Gurdial Singh and Mohinder Kaur
and sisterinlaw of Ranjit Kaur, was caused otherwise than
under normal circumstances, you all being her relatives,
6 (2020) 14 SCC 264

22
within a period of seven years of her marriage subjected
her to cruelty and harassment for all in connection with
demand for dowry and thereby committed an offence of
dowry death punishable under section 304Bof the Indian
Penal Code, and within my cognizance.”

38. It would thus be seen, that the charge does not state
that the deceased was driven to commit suicide on account
of the harassment meted out to the deceased. It also does
not mention that the accused had abetted in commission of
suicide by the deceased. In that view of the matter, we are of
the considered view that the cases wherein conversion is
held to be permissible are clearly distinguishable.”

43. On the contrary, in the case at hands, the following charge was framed

against the accused-appellants vide order dated 29.05.2000 by the Trial Court :-

CHARGES

I, Mr. A.C. Modi, Vadodara District Additional Sessions
Judge, hereby frame charges against both of you the
accused that,

The marriage of the accused no. 1 took place with
Taheraben and therefore Taheraben and both accused
resided together. The accused no. 1 used to undertake milk
business, the accused no. 1 asked regularly Taheraben to
brin an amount of Rs.25,000/- from her father, for the
purchase of milk. But as Taheraben had the idea of
financial condition of her father, she could not fulfill the
demand. Due to this, the accused no.1 used to time and
again beat up Taheraben. Meanwhile the accused no.2 being
the mother-in-law of Taheraben, she used to remark that
Taheraben was not doing household work in a proper
manner, is not cooking food properly and thereby in such a
manner the accused no. 1 was wrongly incited by the
accused no 2 and thus Taheraben was beaten. In this
manner, you both the accused, within a span of eight
months of marriage, casued mental and physical harassment

23
to Taheraben, made her life worse, created a situation
whereby she wished for death and due to your such
behaviour, left with no other option, in order to end her life
on 14/12/1997 from 17:00 hours to 17:30 hours, Taheraben
consumed pesticide at Medhad village, thereby committed
suidcide and hence she died.

In this manner, you both the accused have abetted the
suicide of Taheraben and thereby have committed the crime
under Sections 306, 498-A and 114 of the IPC.

I hereby declare to held judicial proceedings against you as
for the same.”

44. Thus, it would be seen that not only a specific charge was framed against

the accused-appellants, on one hand, the defence failed to adduce any evidence

to rebut the presumption under Section 113-A and on the other hand the

prosecution was successful in establishing the evidence that the deceased was

left with no choice than to commit suicide. A reference may be made to the

oral testimony of PW-3, the uncle of the deceased, the relevant part of his

examination-in-chief is extracted here under:-

“After marriage Tahera went to reside at her matrimonial
house. At the matrimonial house of Tahera resided her
husband Gumansinh, father-in-law, mother-in-law and
sister-in-law named Madhu. The marriage life of Tahera
went properly for a period of two or two and half months of
marriage. Gumansinh was suspicious by nature. He did not
let Tahera go alone anywhere. He would go with Tahera due
to his suspicious nature. He did not let her talk with anyone
and would do inquiry as to such things. He would ask
Tahera to bring Rs.25,000 from her father as he wished to
purchase buffaloes and do business of milk. Tahera would
state that his father has a tea stall and there was debt on

24
him, how could he give money! Thus, as the amount was not
given, Gumansinh used to beat Tahera, quarrel with her and
thereby physically and mentally harass her. The mother-in-

law of Tahera would state that, Tahera did not cook well,
she did not do work properly. The mother-in-law of Tahera
would instigate the husband of Tahera and thus she would
create a quarrel between them. I used to go to the house of
my brother Mustufa regularly for my business purpose. At
that place Tahera told these things time and again, these
were told to me by brother and sister-in-law. Tahera had
come to meet me for 5-7 times and she also told me these
things……………………………………………….……………”

“On Monday, Mustufa talked with me that, from Medadh
that Tahera and her mother-in- law arrived at his house.
The mother-in-law of Tahera asked that they be given
buffaloes while purchasing them from Isamil. Or else an
amount of Rs.5000 be given. But Tahera’s mother denied
doing this. They further stated that, the father-in-law of
Tahera was going to Ajmer and thus an amount of Rs.500 be
given. This amount of Rs.500 was given to Dariyaben the
mother-in-law of Tahera. He further stated on the phone
that the harassment is going on increasing now. Due to
which Tahera had asked that uncle be informed that she
cannot take it anymore, the harassment is going on and thus
she should be taken.

On the second day, my mother Sakina, my wife Rashida and
I i.e., we three persons, went to Medhad in three wheeler
tempo. We meet the mother-in-law of Tahera at that place.
The mother-in-law of Tahera told me that, son of her elder
brother was to be operated and he has to go to hospital. We
asked her to send Tahera with us and she replied that the
father-in-law of Tahera was to go to Ajmer due to which she
should be returned. Thereafter I brought Tahera to my house
at Bhoj. Tahera remained at my house for a period of 2-3
days and Tahera told me that even now she is harassed.
Even now Gumansinh is seeking the amount and he is
beating her. Moreover, her mother-in-law is even stating
that Tahera is not cooking well and that she does not do
work properly. Thus, her mother-in-law would in some other
manner start a quarrel with her and make Gumansinh beat

25
her. Tahera told me that, she will not be able to keep up with
it, if this goes on and that she will not return. The father–
in-law of Tahera was to go to Ajmer and therefore we told
Tahera that these sorrowful days will pass, thereby sent her
to her matrimonial house. I told her that, I will not send her
if further harassment would be kept. I explained her this
thing and sent her to her matrimonial house.

She was dropped to her matrimonial house at Medadh by
my son and other two persons in the Tempo. Thereafter on
that very night at 11:00 to 11:30 hours, Fatmaben being the
mother-in-law of Tahera and vikram being the son-in-law of
Fatmaben along with another one man arrived at my house.
They told me that Tahera consumed poison and therefore
has expired. I told these people to inform this to her father
Mustufa, thereafter I searched for a vehicle and went to
inform this thing to my brother Mustufa at Fertilizernagar. I
also informed this to my other brother Usman who resided
at Tandalja and also informed this to others. I told my
brother to inform this to all and went to the house of my
brother Musfufa. I informed him that Tahera has expired in
her matrimonial house as she consumed poison……….

……………………………………………………………………..”

45. The testimony of this witness was unshaken during cross-examination

and nothing contrary could be elicited from him, and thus we find no fault with

the Trial Court and the Appellate Court placing reliance on the evidence in

drawing the presumption under Section 113-A particularly, when there was no

material brought on record by the defence to disprove the facts.

46. Both the Trial Court as well as the High Court have threadbare considered

the evidence and have recorded cogent reasons to come to the conclusion that

26
the prosecution has been successful in proving the case against the appellants

beyond reasonable doubt.

47. Having gone through the relevant facts and the reasonings recorded by

the Trial Court and affirmed by the High Court, we are not persuaded to take a

different view. Thus, we find no reason to interfere with the impugned

judgment. The appeals are, therefore, dismissed.

….………………………..J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

……………………………..J.

(KRISHNA MURARI)

NEW DELHI;

03RD SEPTEMBER, 2021

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