26 May 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

Wasim Vs. State NCT of Delhi

MANU/SC/0923/2019

18.07.2019

Criminal

Wilful conduct which is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide is necessary for conviction under Section 498A of IPC

In facts of present case, FIR was registered on the statement of PW-11, the mother of the deceased. A charge sheet was filed. Later, charges were framed against the Appellant under Section 498A and 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). 23 witnesses were examined by the prosecution and several documents relied upon to prove the guilt of the Appellant.

The Trial Court convicted the Appellant under Section 498A and 306 of IPC. The appeal filed by the Appellant was partly allowed by the High Court. The Appellant was acquitted for the offence under Section 306 of IPC. The conviction and sentence under Section 498A of IPC was upheld by the High Court. Hence, present appeal.

Conviction under Section 498A of IPC is for subjecting a woman to cruelty. Cruelty is explained as any wilful conduct which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health. Harassment of a woman by unlawful demand of dowry also partakes the character of 'Cruelty'. It is clear from a plain reading of Section 498A of IPC that, conviction for an offence under Section 498A of IPC can be for wilful conduct which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide OR for dowry demand.

Section 306 of IPC provides for punishment with imprisonment that may extend to ten years. There should be clear mens rea to commit the offence for conviction under Section 306 of IPC. It also requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and this act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that, he/she committed suicide.

To attract the ingredients of abetment, the intention of the Accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide is necessary. Any wilful conduct which is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide is sufficient for conviction under Section 498A of IPC. In present case, the High Court recorded a categorical finding that, neither mental nor physical cruelty on the part of the Appellant was proved. Therefore, the conviction under Section 498A of IPC is not for wilful conduct that, drove the deceased to commit suicide. The High Court held that, though there was no demand of dowry soon before the death, the prosecution proved dowry demand by the Appellant immediately after the marriage.

The High Court ought not to have convicted the Appellant under Section 498A of IPC for demand of dowry without a detailed discussion of the evidence on record, especially when the trial Court found that, there is no material on record to show that, there was any demand of dowry. The High Court did not refer to such findings of the Trial Court and record reasons for its disapproval. The judgment of the High Court is set aside. The appeal is allowed.

Tags : Conviction Legality Dowry demand Proof

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