Court:ANDHRA PRADESH HIGH COURT
Bench: JUSTICE D.S.R. Varma
SHAIK CHINA BUDA Vs. STATE OF A.P. On
Section 498-A — Cruelty : No Corroboration in Evidence of P.Ws. 1 to 4 on Material Aspects : All Co-accused Acquitted of Offence under Sections 304-B and 498-A, I.P.C. : No Specific Evidence Against A1 for Offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. : Appellant A1 Entitled to Benefit of Doubt — Conviction and sentence against appellant for offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. set aside.
1. This appeal is filed against the judgment of conviction and sentence passed by the Sessions Judge, Guntur in S.C. No. 645 of 1994 dated 11.5.1995 wherein the appellant-A1 was convicted for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a period of two years and to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- in default to undergo S.I. for a period of three weeks.
2. Charges under Sections 304-B and 498-A, I.P.C. have been framed against six accused and the Trial Court acquitted all the accused for the offence under Section 304-B, I.P.C. and also acquitted A2 to A6 for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. whereas A1 has been convicted for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. and sentence as stated above was imposed.
3. The case of the prosecution is as follows :
A1 being the son of A2 and A3 married the deceased on 9.5.1993 and a sum of Rs. 25,000/- towards dowry and 15 sovereigns of gold jewellery was given at the time of marriage and that after marriage A1 to A6 started harassing the deceased by beating her and some times by not giving food in order to get more dowry from the parents of the deceased and the deceased when visited the house of her parents one month after her marriage informed about the said harassment at the hands of the accused including the appellant. The deceased was, however, sent back to her in-laws place. As the accused continued the harassment demanding more money, the deceased informed her parents about the same. On this, the father of the deceased (P.W. 1) gave Rs. 2,000/- and sent the deceased again to the house of A-1. After lapse of four months the deceased was again sent back to her parents’ house for getting more money. The deceased informed her father that not only the accused harassed her but also A2 attempted to commit rape on her. Ultimately, the deceased not able to bear with the harassment made by the accused committed suicide by consuming pesticide in the cotton fields belonging to P.W. 5 on 27.10.1993. Upon coming to know about the death of the deceased, P.W. 1, P.W. 2, P.W. 3 along with others came to the place of offence and found the deceased dead and thereafter lodged a report on 28.10.1993 at 5.45 p.m. which was registered as Cr. No. 28 of 1993 for the offences under Sections 304-B and 498-A, I.P.C.
4. The prosecution in order to prove its case had examined 12 witnesses in all and got marked Exhibits P1 to P18. The Trial Court after appreciating the evidence and perusing the records convicted the accused and sentenced him as adverted to.
5. The learned Counsel for the appellant Mr. E.L. Bhagirath Rao submits that the allegations made by the prosecution are general in nature against all the accused and there is no specific allegation against A1 and since all the accused were acquitted for the offence under Section 304-B, I.P.C. and A2 to A6 were acquitted for the offence under Section 409-A, I.P.C., the same reasoning should have been made applicable to the appellant also.
6. The crucial witnesses are P.Ws. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9. In the light of the arguments putforth by the Counsel, it is necessary to examine the evidence of above witnesses. P.W. 1, father of the deceased, deposed that the marriage of the deceased with A-1 was performed on 9.5.1993 and at the time of marriage he gave Rs. 25,000/- and 15 sovereigns of gold and sare worth of Rs. 15,000/-. A1, A2 and A3 are jointly living in one house. He visited the house of the accused and at that time the deceased complained that all the accused were beating her and abusing her for not bringing more dowry and one month thereafter when he visited the house of the accused the deceased again complained that all the accused were still ill-treating her for additional dowry and, therefore, he brought back the deceased to his house and sent her again after few days giving Rs. 2,000/-. It is his further evidence that after four months after the marriage, the deceased again complained that A2 attempted to commit rape on her. It is also his evidence that he received intimation on 27.10.1993 at about 11 a.m. about the death of the deceased and immediately he rushed to the house of the accused along with his family and found the deceased lying dead. P.W. 1 further deposes that the neck of the deceased was swollen and he came to know that the deceased died by consuming poison and that he issued a telegram to his brother, P.W. 3, and after his arrival on 28.10.1993 a complaint was lodged with the police. It is stated in cross-examination that the complaint was scribed by P.W. 3 and that he specifically stated that A1 had liking for the deceased and that there were efforts for compromise on 28.10.1993. Except this evidence nothing is stated as against A1.
7. In fact as already noticed it was his specific case that A1 had liking for the deceased and the entire accusation is that the deceased was being harassed for additional dowry. In other words the cruelty that was meted out to the deceased was only for additional dowry.
8. P.W. 2 mother of the deceased also speaks in the same lines but she stated that before going to the police station they went to Sathenapally to meet an Advocate. This fact was not spoken to by P.W. 1. P.W. 3 has no knowledge about the incident but his role was limited to the extent of preparing Ex. P1. Curiously, this witness denies the suggestion that they consulted an Advocate before going to police station. So, this piece of evidence runs contrary to the evidence of P.W. 2 and nothing specific was spoken to by this witness against appellant. P.W. 4, who is former Sarpanch of the village, deposed that the deceased revealed him about the ill-treatment by the accused for additional dowry and, therefore, he advised the parents of the deceased to give some more money to the in-laws of the deceased. P.W. 9 doctor who conducted autopsy over the dead body of the deceased opined that the deceased died due to organophosphate insecticide poison and he further opined with regard to the swelling of the neck and that the poisonous substance which was consumed was corrosive in nature and it causes internal inflammation and, therefore, there will be inflammation of larynx and also there will be external swelling corresponding to internal inflammation. Therefore, as per the opinion of the doctor it is proved that the deceased died due to consumption of poisonous pesticide.
9. As could be seen from the evidence of P.Ws. 1 to 4 nothing specific was spoken to against A1-appellant all through their evidence and also in Ex. P1 report. The blanket averment was that all the six accused harassed the deceased demanding more dowry but it was categorically admitted by P.W. 1 that A1 was liking the deceased.
10. The evidence of P.W. 3 that they have not consulted an Advocate at Sathenapally before giving report Ex. P1 to the police was not corroborated by P.W. 2.
11. In such circumstances, it is unsafe to believe the contents of Ex. P1 because there is every likelihood of improvement when once an Advocate was consulted before giving Ex. P1 report. The report shall be given to the police with full description of the offence without any consultations and confabulations, much less with a person like an Advocate. However, P.W. 1 did not speak about this fact.
12. Therefore, there is any amount of inconsistency on this aspect. It is pertinent to note that P.W. 4, who is said to be an independent witness, while speaking about the harassment specifically stated that he had advised the parents of the deceased to give some more money in order to pacify the accused, but this fact was not spoken to by P.Ws. 1 and 2. In ordinary course the evidence of P.W. 1 and P.W. 2, who are interested witnesses, has to be corroborated by evidence of an independent witness. But in this case P.Ws. 1 and 2 did not corroborate the specific instance, which was spoken to by P.W. 4. This would only indicate that P.W. 4 was planted in order to make the case of the prosecution more effective but in fact it is not so. By and large, there is no corroboration in the evidence of P.Ws. 1 to 4 on material aspects and the evidence of these witnesses is full of inconsistencies. That apart, all the accused were also acquitted of the offence under Section 304-B, I.P.C and A2 to A6 were acquitted of the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C.
13. In my view when there is no specific evidence against A1 for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C., there is no justification for the Trial Court to convict the appellant alone for the said offence. Accordingly, he is entitled to the benefit of doubt.
14. For the foregoing discussion, I am of the view that the prosecution failed to establish the case against appellant for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. beyond all reasonable doubt and the Trial Court erred in appreciating the evidence on record in convicting the appellant for the said offence.
15. In the result, the appeal is allowed and the conviction and sentence recorded against the appellant for the offence under Section 498-A, I.P.C. is set aside. The fine amount paid by the appellant shall be refunded to the appellant. The bail bonds shall stand cancelled.