Cruelty punishable under 498a: Delhi high Court

In order to succeed in charge under Section 498-A IPC,
the prosecution was required to prove that the appellants had
subjected deceased Lovely to cruelty, as defined in the
explanation to the Section. It is not every cruelty which is
punishable under Section 498-A of IPC. The cruelty, as
defined in the explanation to 498-A of IPC, is altogether
different from the cruelty, which can be subject matter of
proceedings, under the provisions of Hindu Marriage Act.
The cruelty, so as to attract penal provisions, contained in
Section 498-A of IPC, has necessarily to be a willful conduct
which is of such a nature that it is likely to drive a woman to
commit suicide or cause grievous injury or danger to her life
or health. The use of the expression „willful‟ in the
explanation to Section 498-A of IPC indicates that the
conduct attributed to the accused, in order to be culpable,
needs to be deliberate, aimed at causing injury to the health
of the woman or bringing misery to her. If the accused knows
or is reasonable expected to know that his conduct is likely to
cause injury to the life, limb or health of the aggrieved woman
or if his conduct is of such a nature, that causing injury to
the life, limb or health can be a natural consequence for the
woman, who is recipient of such a conduct, it will attract
criminal liability on the part of the husband or his relative, as
the case may be. Everyone is presumed to intend the natural
consequences of his act and such a presumption must
necessarily be drawn even if there is no intention to cause
any injury or harm to the woman. Whether the conduct in
question is likely to drive the woman to cause injury to her
life, limb or health, will depend upon a number of factors
such as social and economic status of the parties, the level of
awareness of the aggrieved woman, her temperament, state of
her health, physical as well as mental and how she is likely to
perceive such a behavior. If a woman is harassed with a view
to coerce her or any of her relatives to meet any unlawful
demand for any property or valuable security, it will also
constitute cruelty, as defined in the explanation to Section
498-A of IPC. Of course, the expression „cruelty‟ would take in
its ambit mental cruelty as well as physical torture of the
woman. If the conduct of the accused with a woman is likely
to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that her
living with the husband will be harmful and injurious to her
life and safety, such a conduct would attract criminal
liability, envisaged in Section 498-A of IPC.
11. If the woman has harassed on account of her failure or
the failure of her relatives to meet an unlawful demand for
property or valuable security, that also constitutes cruelty,
within the meaning of Section 498-A of IPC. The expression
„harassment‟ has not been defined in Section 498-A of IPC,
but its dictionary meaning is to subject someone to
continuous vexatious attacks, questions, demands or other
unpleasantness, etc. But, it is not harassment of every nature
which is punishable under Section 498-A of IPC. In order to
attract criminal liability, there should be torture physical or
mental, by positive acts. Such acts should be aimed at
persuading or compelling the woman or her relatives to meet
an unlawful demand of any property or valuable security or it
should be actuated by the failure of the woman or her relative
to meet such a demand.
* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
+ Crl.A.No.339-41/2005
% Reserved on: 23rd February, 2010
Date of Decision: 02nd March, 2010
# HANS RAJ SHARMA & ORS. ….. Appellant
! Through: Mr. A.K. Srivastava, Adv.
versus
$ STATE GOVT. OF N.C.T. OF DELHI ….. Respondent
^ Through: Mr.Jaideep Malik, APP
* CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE V.K. JAIN
1. Whether the Reporters of local papers
may be allowed to see the judgment? Yes
2. To be referred to the Reporter or not? Yes
3. Whether the judgment should be
reported in the Digest? Yes
: V.K. JAIN, J.
1. This is an appeal against the Judgment dated 14th
March, 2005 and Order on Sentence dated 16th March, 2005,
whereby the appellants alongwith Naresh Kumar Sharma,
son of the appellants Hans Raj Sharma and Satya Devi and
elder brother of the appellant Suresh Kumar Sharma were
convicted under Section 498-A & 304-B of IPC read with
Section 34 thereof and were sentenced to undergo RI for one
year each and to pay fine of Rs.500/- each or to undergo RI
for 15 days each under Section 498-A/34 IPC and were
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 2 of 27
further sentenced to undergo RI for 7 years each and to pay
fine of Rs.1000/- each or to undergo RI for 30 days each in
default under Section 304-B/34 IPC. The sentences were
directed to run concurrently.
2. The convict Naresh Kumar Sharma has been released
from jail after his having undergone the sentence awarded to
him. He has already withdrawn the appeal filed by him on the
ground that having undergone the sentence, he did not want
to pursue it further.
3. In the night of 1st May, 1997 deceased Lovely was
brought dead to St. Stephen Hospital, Tis Hazari, Delhi at
about 10.45 pm, by her husband Naresh. The dead body had
scar marks of injury on her neck. On receipt of information
in this regard, SI Vijay Singh went to St. Stephen Hospital
and called SDM Kotwali. The statement of brother and
mother of the deceased was recorded by the SDM. In his
statement to SDM, Subhash Chand, brother of the deceased,
stated that Lovely was married on 18th January, 1995. He
further stated that at the time of marriage, there was no
demand of dowry and necessary items had been given to the
in-laws of Lovely, without any pressure or demand. He
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 3 of 27
alleged that in March, 1995, Lovely came to his house and
informed that her husband Naresh had to purchase a shop at
Lawrence Road. She further informed that Naresh was a
heavy drinker and used to beat her. He also claimed that
sometimes Naresh had beaten Lovely in front of his mother as
also before him under influence of liquor. He further alleged
that on 1st May, 1997, at about 11.00 am, Lovely came to
Madangiri and stated that her husband Naresh Kumar,
mother-in-law, father-in-law and son-in-law were harassing
her and demanding Rs.50,000/-. He told Lovely that he
would meet Naresh next day. Lovely, thereupon, returned to
the house of her in-laws at about 7.00 pm on the same day.
On 2nd May, 1997, at about 5.00 am, he received a telephonic
message from an unknown person informing him that Lovely
had expired. Subhash expressed suspicion that father-inlaw,
mother-in-law, husband and brother-in-law of Lovely
had killed her. Smt. Subhadra Devi, mother of the deceased,
in her statement to the SDM stated that at the time of
marriage, there was no demand of dowry though necessary
items were given willingly. She also expressed her full
agreement with the statement given by her son Subhash and
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 4 of 27
sought legal action against the father-in-law, mother-in-law,
brother-in-law and husband of the Lovely. FIR was registered
on the basis of the aforesaid statement, recorded by the SDM.
4. Subash Chand, brother of the deceased came in the
witness Box as PW-1 and stated that after marriage, there
was no demand of dowry for about two months, but
thereafter her sister was harassed by the appellants, who
demanded more dowry of cash amounting to Rs.1 lakh on the
pretext that Naresh had to purchase a shop. He further
stated that Naresh used to beat his sister, after taking drinks,
at the instance of other accused persons, as his sister did not
bring the required amount of dowry. He claimed that twothree
times, Naresh had beaten his sister at his residence
when she came there to meet them. At that time, he was
under influence of liquor. He further stated that on 1st May,
1997, Lovely came to their house at about 11.00 am and told
him that her husband and in-laws had sent her to bring
Rs.50,000/- since they had to purchase a shop, but he could
not give that amount as he was not able to arrange it. He
asked his sister to return to her matrimonial home and
assured that he would arrange the money on the next day
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 5 of 27
and would talk to her in-laws. Thereafter, his sister returned
home. He also stated that her sister was harassed and
tortured mentally and physically by all the accused persons
for not bringing the dowry and cash amount.
5. PW-5 Smt. Kamlesh is the neighbour of the appellants.
She has stated that she had been residing in this very
building for the last about 40 years and had been seeing the
appellants since birth. She further stated that she had never
seen them to quarrelling with and beating Lovely at any point
of time.
6. PW-6 Subhadra Devi is the mother of deceased. She has
stated that at the time of marriage of Lovely, there was no
demand of dowry by the accused persons, but, after two
months of marriage, they started harassing her daughter for
dowry and demanded Rs.1 lakh for purchasing a shop. She
could not arrange this amount, though her son Subhash gave
Rs.10,000/- three times, through her daughter Lovely. She
further stated that Naresh used to take liquor and give
beating to Lovely and on two occasions, he gave beating to
her at their house. She alleged that Naresh had also tried to
strangulate her daughter on these occasions. She further
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 6 of 27
stated that on the date of occurrence, her daughter came to
their house at about 11.00 am-12.00 noon and told her that
the accused were demanding Rs.50,000/- in cash. She
advised her to go back and assured her that Subhash would
come to her house and would ask accused persons to mend
their ways. Though her daughter was not willing to go at her
matrimonial home, apprehending that she would be killed by
them, she returned on the advice and assurance given by her.
7. PW-9 Kuldeep Kumar is the cousin of the deceased. He
stated that relation between Lovely and accused persons were
normal for about 5-6 months. Thereafter, he was informed by
his aunt that the in-laws of Lovely harassing her and
demanding money for purchasing a shop. He further stated
that 1½ years ago, when he was present there, Naresh came
their under influence of liquor, quarrelled with Lovely and
tried to strangulate her.
8. In their statement under Section 313 of Cr.P.C., the
appellants denied the allegations against them and stated
that Lovely used to remain depressed since she did not have
an issue after marriage.
9. DW-1 Shambhu Dayal Shama claims to be the
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 7 of 27
neighbour of the appellants and has stated that Lovely used
to be perturbed, as she was not having a child. DW-2
Phoolwati is also a neighbour of the appellants. She has
corroborated the testimony of DW-1 and has stated that
Lovely used to remain depressed as she was not having a
child. DW-3 Daulat Ram claims to have purchased land
measuring 100 sq. yards from the appellant Satya Devi and
claims to have paid Rs.30,000/- to her in January, 1996.
DW-4 Baldev Chand has stated that he had purchased the
land measuring 100 sq. yards from Satya Devi in 1996.
10. In order to succeed in charge under Section 498-A IPC,
the prosecution was required to prove that the appellants had
subjected deceased Lovely to cruelty, as defined in the
explanation to the Section. It is not every cruelty which is
punishable under Section 498-A of IPC. The cruelty, as
defined in the explanation to 498-A of IPC, is altogether
different from the cruelty, which can be subject matter of
proceedings, under the provisions of Hindu Marriage Act.
The cruelty, so as to attract penal provisions, contained in
Section 498-A of IPC, has necessarily to be a willful conduct
which is of such a nature that it is likely to drive a woman to
commit suicide or cause grievous injury or danger to her life
or health. The use of the expression „willful‟ in the
explanation to Section 498-A of IPC indicates that the
conduct attributed to the accused, in order to be culpable,
needs to be deliberate, aimed at causing injury to the health
of the woman or bringing misery to her. If the accused knows
or is reasonable expected to know that his conduct is likely to
cause injury to the life, limb or health of the aggrieved woman
or if his conduct is of such a nature, that causing injury to
the life, limb or health can be a natural consequence for the
woman, who is recipient of such a conduct, it will attract
criminal liability on the part of the husband or his relative, as
the case may be. Everyone is presumed to intend the natural
consequences of his act and such a presumption must
necessarily be drawn even if there is no intention to cause
any injury or harm to the woman. Whether the conduct in
question is likely to drive the woman to cause injury to her
life, limb or health, will depend upon a number of factors
such as social and economic status of the parties, the level of
awareness of the aggrieved woman, her temperament, state of
her health, physical as well as mental and how she is likely to
perceive such a behavior. If a woman is harassed with a view
to coerce her or any of her relatives to meet any unlawful
demand for any property or valuable security, it will also
constitute cruelty, as defined in the explanation to Section
498-A of IPC. Of course, the expression „cruelty‟ would take in
its ambit mental cruelty as well as physical torture of the
woman. If the conduct of the accused with a woman is likely
to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that her
living with the husband will be harmful and injurious to her
life and safety, such a conduct would attract criminal
liability, envisaged in Section 498-A of IPC.
11. If the woman has harassed on account of her failure or
the failure of her relatives to meet an unlawful demand for
property or valuable security, that also constitutes cruelty,
within the meaning of Section 498-A of IPC. The expression
„harassment‟ has not been defined in Section 498-A of IPC,
but its dictionary meaning is to subject someone to
continuous vexatious attacks, questions, demands or other
unpleasantness, etc. But, it is not harassment of every nature
which is punishable under Section 498-A of IPC. In order to
attract criminal liability, there should be torture physical or
mental, by positive acts. Such acts should be aimed at
persuading or compelling the woman or her relatives to meet
an unlawful demand of any property or valuable security or it
should be actuated by the failure of the woman or her relative
to meet such a demand.
12. Coming to the charge under Section 304-B of IPC, before
a person can be convicted under this Section, which deals
with what is described as „dowry death‟, the prosecution must
necessarily prove the following ingredients:-
i. The death of a woman must have been caused by burn
or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal
circumstance;
ii. Such death must have occurred within seven years of
her marriage;
iii. Soon before her death, the woman must have been
subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or by
relatives of her husband;
iv. Such cruelty or harassment must be for or in
connection with demand for dowry;
v. Such cruelty or harassment is when to have been
meted out to the woman soon before her death.
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 11 of 27
13. The term „dowry‟ has not been defined in Section 304-B
of IPC, but, since this expression has been defined in Section
2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, it is required to be given the same
meaning for the purpose of under Section 304-B IPC as held
by Hon‟ble Supreme Court in Satvir Singh & Ors. Vs. State
of Punjab and Anr. 2001 (4) Crimes 45.
14. Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act defines dowry as
under:
“2. Definition of ‘dowry’.- In this Act, “dowry” means
any property or valuable security given or agreed to be
given either directly or indirectly-
(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the
marriage, or
(b) by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any
other person, to either party to the marriage or to any
other person,
at or before 3[or any time after the marriage] 4[in
connection with the marriage of the said parties, but
does not include] dower or mahr in the case or persons
to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.”
15. A careful analysis of the above-referred definition would
show that dowry would include that property or valuable
security which is actually given or which is agreed to be
given, in relation to the marriage of person in question. The
property or valuable security may be given or may be agreed
to be given before marriage or at the time of marriage or at
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 12 of 27
any time after the marriage, so long as it is connected with
the marriage. But, there has to be a link between the property
given or agreed to be given and the marriage. If at any time
before or at the time of or even during marriage, the parents
of a woman or any other person related or connected to her
agree to give some cash, valuable security or property to her
husband or in-laws after marriage, that also would be
covered within the definition of dowry as the agreement or
promise in such a case would be attributable to the marriage
or proposed marriage and if there is demand for any cash
property, valuable security etc. which is promised, but not
given, it would constitute demand for dowry. If the husband
of the girl or any other person related or connected to him,
demands something from the girl or her parents or any other
person related to or connected with her, saying that the
article being demanded by them was expected to be given or
ought to have been given in marriage, that also, to my mind,
would constitute demand of dowry because even though such
an article may not have been agreed or promised to be given
by the girl or her family members, it might have been in the
contemplation of the boy and/or his family members, on
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 13 of 27
account of the expectation that such an article would be
given at the time of marriage. Therefore, such demand would
be considered to be a demand in connection with the
marriage though made after the marriage has been
solemnized. Even demand of articles such as T.V., fridge,
jewellery, clothes, furniture, etc. which usually are given or
expected in marriages in our country, would, considering the
objective sought to be achieved by incorporating Section 304-
B in Indian Penal Code and enacting Dowry Prohibition Act,
1961 fall within the purview of Section 304-B of IPC. In fact,
in Pawan Kr. & Ors. Vs. State of Haryana AIR 1998 SC 958,
the Hon‟ble Supreme Court has specifically held demand of
T.V., Fridge, etc. though not agreed to be given or promised or
even demanded prior to or at the time of marriage, to be a
demand for dowry for the purpose of Section 304-B of IPC. If
cash or some property, etc. is demanded by the boy or his
family members, after marriage, saying that they were
expecting such cash, property, etc. to be given in marriage,
and the girl, or her parents or any other person related or
connected to her promise to fulfil such a demand, that also
may fall within the purview of dowry, as the promise though
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 14 of 27
made after marriage, would nevertheless be referrable to the
marriage, having been made with a view to preserve the
marriage. But, if the demand is made after marriage and it is
in respect of a property or valuable security, which was not
demanded, was not expected to be given and also was not in
contemplation at any time up to solemnization of marriage,
demand of such cash, property or valuable security, etc.
cannot be said to be in connection with the marriage and,
therefore, would not constitute demand of dowry.
16. In Satvir Singh (supra) while dealing with this issue,
the Hon‟ble Supreme Court, inter alia, observed as under:
“Thus, there are three occasions related
to dowry. One is before the marriage,
second is at the time of marriage and the
third is “at any time” after the marriage.
The third occasion may appear to be an
unending period. But the crucial words
are “in connection with the marriage of
the said parties”. This means that giving
or agreeing to give any property or
valuable security on any of the above
three stages should have been in
connection with the marriage of the
parties. There can be many other
instances for payment of money or giving
property as between the spouses. For
example, some customary payments in
connection with birth of a child or other
ceremonies are prevalent in different
societies. Such payments are not
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 15 of 27
enveloped within the ambit of “dowry”.
Hence the dowry mentioned in Section
304B should be any property or valuable
security given or agreed to be given in
connection with the marriage.”
17. In Appasaheb and Anr. Vs. State of Maharashtra, AIR
2007 SC 763, the Hon‟ble Supreme Court observed as under:
“In view of the aforesaid definition of the
word “dowry” any property or valuable
security should be given or agreed to be
given either directly or indirectly at or
before or any time after the marriage and
in connection with the marriage of the
said parties. Therefore, the giving or
taking of property or valuable security
must have some connection with the
marriage of the parties and a correlation
between the giving or taking of property
or valuable security with the marriage of
the parties is essential. Being a penal
provision it has to be strictly construed.
Dowry is a fairly well known social
custom or practice in India. It is well
settled principle of interpretation of
Statute that if the Act is passed with
reference to a particular trade, business
or transaction and words are used which
everybody conversant with that trade,
business or transaction knows or
understands to have a particular
meaning in it, then the words are to be
construed as having that particular
meaning……..A demand for money on
account of some financial stringency or
for meeting some urgent domestic
expenses or for purchasing manure
cannot be termed as a demand for dowry
as the said word is normally understood.
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 16 of 27
The evidence adduced by the prosecution
does not, therefore, show that any
demand for “dowry” as defined in Section
2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act was made
by the appellants as what was allegedly
asked for was some money for meeting
domestic expenses and for purchasing
manure.”
18. Demand for something which has not been agreed to be
given at any time before or at the time of marriage and which
is not in the contemplation of the boy and/or his family
members and which is neither expected by them to be given
in the marriage, nor which is an article of the nature usually
given in a marriage, cannot be said to be connected with the
marriage. The use of the expression „in connection with the
marriage of the said parties‟ leaves no room for the
interpretation that any and everything demanded after
marriage, without anything more, would constitute demand
of dowry. Such an interpretation would render the
expression „in connection with the marriage of the said
parties‟ totally redundant and, therefore, cannot be said to be
have been intended by the Legislature. It is settled
proposition of law that penal statutes need to be strictly
construed and even if two views in the matter are reasonably
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 17 of 27
possible, the interpretation, which would favour the accused,
needs to be given by the Courts. No doubt, Section 304-B of
IPC is a social legislation aimed at preventing dowry deaths
which is a social evil that needs to be eradicated at any cost.
It is also difficult to deny that in our society there are
demands other than those covered under the definition of
dowry are made after the marriage and such demands do
result in subjecting the girl to cruelty and/or harassment if
she or her parents or relative are unable to fulfil the demand.
Such a demand, if followed by cruelty or harassment would
constitute offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC.
But, it is difficult to accept that the demands which are not at
all referrable to the marriage, would also constitute dowry
demand punishable under Section 304-B of IPC in case the
woman is subjected to cruelty or harassment for or in
connection with such a demand. The remedy, to my mind,
lies in the Legislature stepping in and making even such
demands subject matter of offence punishable under Section
304-B of IPC.
19. The first allegation against the appellants, which has
come in the deposition of PW-4 Subhash Chand, is that
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 18 of 27
Naresh, husband of the deceased Lovely, used to give
beatings to her at their instance, because she did not bring
the amount of Rs.1 lakh demanded from her for purchasing a
shop for Naresh. A perusal of the statement made by
Subhash Chand before the SDM would show that he did not
say before the SDM that Naresh used to beat his sister at the
instance or instigation of the appellants. Though Subhash
claimed before the SDM that Naresh used to beat his sister,
he did not say that Naresh used to do so at the instance of or
when instigated by the appellants. PW-6 Subhadra Devi,
mother of the deceased, also did not say either before the
SDM or when she was examined during trial that Naresh
used to beat Lovely at the instance of the appellants though
she did say that Naresh used to take liquor and give beatings
to her daughter Lovely. Subhash does not say that his sister
has told him at any point of time that the appellants used to
instigate Naresh to give beating to her. Subhash does not
claim that the appellants, at any point of time, instigated
Naresh, in his presence, to give beating to his sister Lovely.
PW-6 Subhadra also does not say that Lovely had complaind
to her that the appellants used to instigate Naresh to beat her
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 19 of 27
or that she used to be beaten by Naresh at their instance. In
fact, it has come in the deposition of not only PW-4 Subhash,
but also in the deposition of his mother and his cousin
Kuldeep Kumar that Naresh not only gave beatings to Lovely
but also tried to strangulate her at the house of her parents
in their presence and that while beating Lovely at the house
of her parents, Naresh used to be under influence of liquor.
The appellants were never present at the time of these
incidents. This indicates that Naresh used to beat Lovely of
his own and not on being instigated by any of the appellants.
Therefore, this part of the deposition of Subhash, where he
claimed that Naresh used to beat Lovely at the instance of the
appellants, appears to be an improvement and after thought
and, therefore, cannot be believed. Thus, there is no evidence
to prove any role of any of the appellants in beating of
deceased Lovely at the hands of her husband Naresh.
20. The only other evidence, which has come against the
appellants during trial, is that they used to ask deceased
Lovely to bring money from her parents, so that Naresh could
buy a shot at Lawrence Road. In his statement to the SDM
made soon after death of Lovely, PW-4 Subhash did not say
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 20 of 27
that prior to 1.5.1997 any of the appellants had asked Lovely
to bring money from her brother or mother for purchase of a
shop for Naresh at Lawrence Road, though he alleged that his
sister had come to his house in March, 1995 and had stated
that Naresh had to purchase a shop at Lawrence Road. Even
PW-4 Subhadra Devi did not impute any demand of money to
the appellants though she agreed with the statement given to
SDM by Subhash.
21. In their deposition in the Court, neither Subhash nor
his mother Subhadra Devi claimed that any of the appellants
had asked Lovely in their presence to bring money for
purchase of a shop for Naresh at Lawrence Road. Neither of
them says that any such demand was made directly to them
by any of the three appellants before this Court. Neither of
them claimed, even during trial, that Lovely had told them,
prior to 1st May 1997, that the appellants also were
demanding Rs.1 lakh, for purchasing a shop for Naresh. PW-
9 Kuldeep Kumar has no personal knowledge of the alleged
demand and nor does he claim that Lovely had complained to
her about any such demand on the part of the appellants.
Since PW-4 and PW-6 did not witness any demand of money
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 21 of 27
for purchase of a shop for Naresh and there is no evidence of
deceased Lovely having complained to them at any time
before 1st May, 1997 about demand of money by any of the
appellants, the inevitable conclusion is that there is no
evidence of any demand of money by the appellants at any
point of time prior to 1st May, 1997.
I find it rather difficult to accept that Lovely was sent to
her house not by her husband Naresh alone, but also by the
appellants, to bring a sum of Rs.50,000/- from them for
purchase of a shop. The case of the prosecution is that the
shop was to be purchased for Naresh. Therefore, primarily, it
will be Naresh alone who would pressurize his wife to bring
money from her brother/mother so that he was in a position
to purchase a shop at Lawrence Road. This is not the case of
the prosecution that the shop at Lawrence Road was
proposed to be purchased for the benefit of the entire family
and not for Naresh alone.
22. In Kans Raj vs. State of Punjab and others AIR 2000
SC 2324 the Hon‟ble Supreme Court , inter alia, observed as
under:-
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 22 of 27
“In cases where such accusations are
made, the overt acts attributed to persons
other than husband are required to be
proved beyond reasonable doubt. By
mere conjectures and implications such
relations cannot be held guilty for the
offence relating to dowry deaths. A
tendency has, however, developed for
roping in all relations of the in-laws of the
deceased wives in the matters of dowry
deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely
to affect the case of the prosecution even
against the real culprits. In their over
enthusiasm and anxiety to seek
conviction for maximum people, the
parents of the deceased have been found
to be making efforts for involving other
relations which ultimately weaken the
case of the prosecution even against the
real accused as appears to have
happened in the instant case.”
23. There is growing tendency these days to take revenge
from the husband, by implicating all his family members, by
making allegations of general nature against all of them,
though the husband alone may be responsible for the cruelty
inflicted to the woman. The Courts, therefore, need to
carefully analyze the evidence and need to separate the chaff
from the grain, so as to arrive at a just and fair conclusion.
24. Another noteworthy circumstance here is that according
to Subhash when his sister came to him on 1st May, 1997
and conveyed the demand of Naresh and the appellants for
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 23 of 27
Rs.50,00/-, he assured her that he would arrange the money
by next day and would come to her matrimonial home. If that
was so, there could normally have been no reason for the
appellants to react negatively after Lovely returned to the
matrimonial home. If Lovely was assured by her brother that
the demand of her husband and in-laws would be fulfilled by
next day, she would naturally have conveyed this to her
husband and in-laws and if that be so, they would be rather
happy and would at least wait till next day for the promise
made by the brother of Lovely to be fulfilled. In that case,
there could have been no reason for them to say anything
adverse to Lovely on that day and consequently there would
be no provocation for Lovely to commit suicide on that very
day.
25. In the present case, even if I believe the deposition of
PW-4 and PW-6 to the effect that on 1st May, 1997 deceased
Lovely had come to their house and informed them that she
had been sent by all the accused, including the appellants to
bring Rs.50,000/- for purchasing a shop for her husband
Naresh at Lawrence Road, such a demand will not amount to
a demand of dowry within the meaning of Section 304-B IPC.
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 24 of 27
Thus, the Hon‟ble Supreme Court did not accept
demand made from the girl and her parents for money to
meet domestic expenses and purchase of manure to be
demand of dowry. Demand for money to purchase a shop,
which, admittedly was never demanded or promised prior to,
at the time of or after marriage of Lovely with Naresh, which
was not expected when Naresh was married to Lovely and
which was not even in contemplation of Naresh or his family
members, it not being something usually given or expected in
marriage, also cannot be said to be something demanded in
connection with marriage. Consequently, it would not
constitute demand for dowry.
26. Assuming that the demand of Rs.50,000/- in order to
purchase shop for Naresh constitutes demand of dowry
within the meaning of Section 304-B IPC, the appellants are
still not liable to be convicted either under Section 304-B or
under Section 498-A IPC, since there is no evidence of any of
the appellants having subjected deceased Lovely to any kind
of cruelty or harassment for or in connection with demand of
Rs.50,000/- for purchase of a shop. There is no allegation
that any of the appellants had subjected deceased Lovely to
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 25 of 27
any kind of physical or mental cruelty. There is no allegation
of any of the appellants mal-treating, torturing or taunting
the deceased for not bringing Rs.50,000/- from her family for
purchase of a shop for her husband. As noted earlier, the
prosecution has failed to prove that the husband of the
deceased used to give beatings to her at the instigation of the
appellants. There is no other allegation constituting any kind
of harassment or cruelty on the part of any of the appellants.
27. In fact, in the circumstances of a given case, even
persistent demand may amount to cruelty within the
meaning of Section 498-A of IPC and in case, the demand is
in relation to dowry, it may also amount to cruelty and/or
harassment also for the purpose of Section 304-B thereof.
When there is a demand made to a woman or someone
related to her, the person to whom the demand is made, will
either meet the demand in which case there would be no
occasion for its repetition, or he may either express his
inability to meet the demand or may promise to meet it, but
may not be able to honour his promise. If, despite inability of
the woman or his relative, as the case may be, to meet it,
there is persistent repetition of the demand it is bound to
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 26 of 27
cause mental agony and misery to the aggrieved woman and
such persistent demands by themselves have the potential of
driving the woman to cause injury to her life, limb or health.
But, in this case, there is no evidence even of persistent
demand of Rs.50,000/- on the part of the appellants. The
only evidence against them, if believed, is of sending Lovely to
the house of her parents on 1st May, 1997 to bring
Rs.50,000/- from them for purchase of a shop for her
husband. The prosecution has failed to establish any such
demand on the part of the appellants at any time prior to 1st
May, 1997. One solitary instance of asking the deceased to
bring Rs.50,000/- from her parents on 1st May, 1997 even if
true will not constitute dowry death punishable under
Section 304-B of IPC or cruelty or harassment punishable
under Section 498-A thereof, when it is not followed by any
cruelty or harassment, as defined in Section 498-A of IPC.
28. It is true that a young woman has lost her life in the
house of the appellants. But, then it was for the prosecution
to prove that she committed suicide on account of a cruelty
or harassment meted out to her by the appellants in
connection with demand for dowry. The case of the appellants
Crl.A.No.339-41/2005 Page 27 of 27
is that the deceased Lovely committed suicide as she was
unable to have a child after marriage. PW-4 Subhash, brother
of the deceased, has specifically admitted in his crossexamination
that Lovely was not physically fit to bear a child
and there was some deficiency in Lovely as well as in her
husband and both of them were taking treatment to overcome
these deficiencies. Be that as it may, the prosecution has
miserably failed to establish the charges attributed to the
appellants, beyond reasonable doubt.
For the reasons given in the preceding paragraphs, all
the three appellants are hereby acquitted. The file of the Trial
Court be sent back alongwith a copy of the judgment.
(V.K.JAIN)
JUDGE
MARCH 2, 2010
BG/