17 June 2024


High Court of Chhattisgarh

Kamal Birha Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh




In absence of evidence of harassment or cruelty on victim, charge of dowry death cannot be established

The appeal is directed against judgment passed by Second Additional Sessions Judge, in Session Trial wherein the said Court convicted the Appellant for commission of offence under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for ten years.

In the present case, name of the deceased/victim is Uma Bai. She was married with the appellant on 03.3.1996 and died on 08.4.1996. The place of incident is Indira Nagar, Ward No. 4, Dongargarh. It is alleged that the appellant committed cruelty against the deceased in connection with demand of dowry that is why report was lodged and the matter was investigated. The appellant was charge sheeted and convicted.

Case of the prosecution is based on presumption that it is a case of suicide. In a dowry death, either the death is homicidal or suicidal. Accidental death would not come under the purview of dowry death. If the death is suicidal and the same is independent act of the deceased, then the appellant is not required to explain such death. For requiring the explanation of the Appellant, it has to be established that the death is caused due to active act of the appellant and for that mens rea has to be proved. Every death within seven years of the marriage is not dowry death. Mere demand of dowry is not dowry death. Mere demand of dowry is not sufficient to term as dowry death. Crucial point is whether the deceased was subjected to cruelty on account of non-fulfillment of demand which lead the death of the deceased.

From the entire evidence, it is not clear as to what kind of harassment was done by the appellant. There is no evidence of physical violence on the part of the appellant. There is no proof of active act from the part of the appellant which may be termed as harassment or cruelty. The harassment has to be with definite object namely to coerce the woman or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand. Mere demand as stated by the witnesses would by itself is not sufficient to bring home the guilt. Therefore, in absence of evidence of harassment or cruelty, charges of dowry death is not established against the appellant as per the factual position of the present case. The finding should be on the basis of objective assessment, but that is not the case here. Therefore, finding recorded by the trial Court is not sustainable.

Accordingly, the appeal is allowed. Conviction and sentence passed by the trial Court is set aside. The appellant is acquitted of the charges under Section 304B IPC. The appellant is reported to be on bail. His bail bonds shall remain operative for a further period of six months from today in terms of Section 437A of the CrPC.

Tags : Dowry death Conviction Legality

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