Court:ORISSA HIGH COURT
Bench: JUSTICE S.K. Sahoo
STATE OF ODISHA Vs. KUMUDA CHANDRA CHINARA & ORS. On 8 January 2018
Sections 304B, 498A, 34 — Appeal against acquittal — Dowry death — Cruelty — Common intention — No direct evidence on record to show respondents were subjecting deceased to cruelty demanding dowry — No mention regarding this in letters written by deceased — Trial Court committed no illegality in acquitting respondents of all charges.
Heard Mr. Prem Kumar Patnaik, learned Addl. Govt. Advocate appearing for the appellant and Mr. Partha Sarathi Nayak, learned Counsel for the respondents.
2. This GCRLA petition under Section 378 of Cr.P.C. has been filed by the State of Odisha challenging the impugned judgment and order dated 19.12.2006 of the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Angul in Criminal Trial (Sessions) No. 323 of 2003/73 of 2003 in acquitting the respondents of the charges under Sections 498-A/304-B/34 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
3. The prosecution case, in short, is that the deceased Mitarani was the daughter of the informant who married the respondent No. 1 Kumuda Chandra Chinara (since dead) in the month of May 2001 and the respondent Nos. 2 and 3 namely Dhaneswar Chinara and Shantilata Chinara were the parents of the respondent No. 1 respectively and respondent No. 4 Khani @ Laxmipriya Chinara was the sister of the respondent No. 1. It is the prosecution case that at the time of marriage, there was demand of dowry which was fulfilled but during Panchayat election which was held in the month of February 2002, there was further demand of cash of Rs. 20,000 (twenty thousand only) which was not complied with by the informant for which the deceased was subjected to physical and mental torture by the respondents. It is further stated that on 22.5.2003 intimation was given to the informant that the deceased had expired and accordingly, the informant and his family members proceeded to the house of the respondents and found the dead body of the deceased.
4. On the basis of the first information report lodged by before the Inspector Incharge of Chhendipada Police Station, Chhendipada P.S. Case No. 54 of 2003 was registered and after completion of investigation, charge sheet was submitted under Sections 498-A/304-B/34 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
5. During course of trial, the prosecution examined twelve witnesses.
6. The learned Trial Court after analyzing the evidence on record has come to hold that as per the medical evidence, the deceased died due to asphyxia and the ligature mark was there around the neck suggesting that the ligature mark was ante-mortem in nature and the medical officer found no other external injury on the dead body of the deceased. The learned Trial Court discussed the evidence of P.W.1 who is the informant in the case and came to hold that the informant has admitted to have not mentioned in the First Information Report that gold and silver ornaments and cash of Rs. 41,000 were given to the respondent No. 2 Dhaneswar Chinara as per his demand and he has further admitted not to have stated to the Investigating Officer that two months after the marriage, the respondents asked the deceased to get Rs. 20,000 from him which was discussed before him by the deceased. The learned Trial Court discussed the evidence of P.W.2 Subas Chandra Prusty and has come to hold that there are contradictions in the evidence of P.W.2 relating to demand of cash of Rs. 41,000 along with household articles and demand of Rs. 20,000 by the respondents towards dowry. The learned Trial Court discussed the evidence of P.W.3 Basanta Kumar Prusty and came to hold that there is no mention in Exts.5 and 6, the letters which were stated to have been written by the deceased that the accused persons were assaulting the deceased demanding dowry rather it is mentioned about the miserable financial condition of the respondents.
7. After analyzing the evidence on record, the learned Trial Court has held that the marriage between the respondent No. 1 and the deceased was solemnized on 1.5.2001 and the Panchayat election in which the respondent No. 1 was contesting was held in the month of February 2002 and the deceased was expired on 22.5.2003 and the dispute arose only when the demand of Rs. 20,000 to meet the election expenses was not complied with. It was further held that there is no direct evidence on record to show that the respondents were subjecting the deceased to cruelty demanding dowry. The learned Trial Court has further held that since there is no mention in the two letters stated to have been written by the deceased that the accused persons were subjecting her to cruelty demanding dowry or cash of Rs. 20,000 , it cannot be said that the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection with demand of dowry soon before her death. The learned Trial Court further came to hold that there is no material on record to come to a definite conclusion that respondent No. 1 demanded Rs. 20,000 as alleged by the prosecution, was towards consideration of his marriage with the deceased and there is no evidence on record to show that due to wilful conduct of the respondents, the deceased was forced to commit suicide.
8. Law is well settled that the power of the High Court to appreciate the evidence in appeal against acquittal is extensive and as wide as the power of the Trial Court but the order of acquittal should not be interfered with merely because a different view is possible unless the order is unreasonable and perverse. It is permissible when it is proved that the accused was acquitted ignoring the material evidence available on record. In exceptional cases only where there are compelling circumstances and the judgment under appeal is found to be manifestly erroneous, the Appellate Court can interfere with the order of acquittal. The Court has to remember that the innocence of the accused is further reestablished by the judgment of the acquittal passed by the learned Trial Court. If two views are reasonably possible, the Appellate Court should not disturb the acquittal order.
9. In view of the materials available on record and the reasoning assigned by the learned Trial Court in acquitting the respondents of all the charges, it cannot be said that the learned Trial Court has committed any illegality or there is any perversity in the impugned judgment. I find no substantial and compelling reasons to interfere with the impugned judgment.
Accordingly, the GCRLA petition stands dismissed.