Harassment alone cannot constitute abetment or instigation (for suicide). Husband & in-laws exonerated in ipc306 ipc34. Raj HC


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//// Suffice it to state that for the offence of abetment to suicide if it is the case of the prosecution that the victim was instigated to commit suicide on account of being troubled then harassment has to be to such an extent that she was left with no option other than to kill herself, the test of proximity between the date when the victim took the extreme step and trouble inducing incitement to do the act has to be established. Harassment by itself cannot constitute abetment or instigation. Instigation means active stimulus.

In the instant case, none has established. The conviction of the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 306/34 IPC thus cannot be sustained. ///

This case once again proves that jail sentence IF ANY in a 498a cases is ONLY when the wife is DEAD and even there IF the abetment is NOT proven, then husband and family are exonerated from the suicide per se

Rajasthan High Court – Jodhpur

Bhagirath And Ors vs State on 6 February, 2019

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR RAJASTHAN AT JODHPUR S.B.

Criminal Appeal No. 898/2015

  1. Bhagirath S/o Bhau Ram by caste Jat
  2. Bhau Ram S/o Hanuwata Ram, by caste Jat
  3. Smt.Shanti Devi W/o Bhau Ram, by caste Jat All Resident of Bodwa, P.S.Kuchera, district Nagaur. —-Appellants

Versus State of Rajasthan —-Respondent

For Appellant(s) : Mr.Nishant Bora with Ms.Chhavi Kalla

For Respondent(s) : Mr.O.P.Rathi, PP

HON’BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE PRADEEP NANDRAJOG

Judgment 06/02/2019

  1. Heard learned counsel for the parties.
  2. Bhagirath and his parents Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi have been convicted for offences punishable under Sections 306/34, 498-A/34 and 201 IPC. For the offence of abetment to commit suicide they have been sentenced to undergo SI for a period of seven years and to pay fine in sum of ?5000/-, in default to undergo SI for six months. For the offence punishable under Section 498A/34 IPC they have been sentenced to undergo SI for two years and pay fine in sum of ?2000/-, in default to undergo SI for three months. For the offence punishable under Section 201 IPC they have been sentenced to undergo SI for one year and pay fine in sum of ?1000/-, in default to undergo SI for one month. All sentences have been directed to run concurrently.
  3. Bhagirath has already undergone a sentence of 6 years 8 months and 17 days as on 24.1.2019. His parents have undergone a sentence of 11 months and are on bail. Bhagirath is still in jail.
  4. It is the case of the prosecution that Bhagirath’s wife named Santosh committed suicide in her matrimonial house on 6.5.2012. Since it is not in dispute that Santosh poured kerosene oil on herself and set herself on fire resulting in extensive burn injuries and due to shock caused thereby she died, I note only such evidence which would be relevant to sustain the charge for having abetted Santosh’s suicide. Abetment being in the form of instigation by demanding dowry that Santosh was left with no alternative but to end her life.
  5. For the offence punishable under Section 201 IPC, I note that there is evidence of the place where victim set herself on fire was tampered with, in that, using cow-dung and mud an attempt was made to re-plaster the place.
  6. I note the testimony of the parents and relatives of Santosh on the issue of dowry demand and harassment.
  7. PW-2 Mohan Ram, a cousin of Santosh deposed that marriage of Santosh was solemnized eight years back. She joined company of her husband after two years of the marriage. After a year or two of joining her husband in her matrimonial house, his sister was troubled on account of dowry. Two children were born to Santosh. On the 4th of the month when his sister died the ceremony of the maternal-uncle of the girl to give gifts to her was held and for which his sister had come to the parental house. On the 5th his sister returned to her matrimonial house.
  8. The next witness is PW-6 Chhoti Devi, the mother of Santosh. She deposed that her daughter was married to Bhagirath and at the time of the marriage dowry was given in sum of ?2.25 lacs as also jewellery. Immediately after the marriage dowry demands were raised. ?3 lacs and a motor-cycle were demanded. On 4th her daughter had come to parental house for the ceremony of “Mayara”. Santosh told her that two days prior her in-laws had broken her mobile phone. Santosh returned to her matrimonial house on the 5th.
  9. PW-8 Ram Kishore, another cousin of Santosh deposed that after the marriage his sister was harassed on account of dowry demand. A motor-cycle and ?1 lac were demanded.
  10. PW-12 Budharam, the father of Santosh deposed that his daughter was married eight years back and at the time of marriage he gave ?2 lacs and jewellery. The in-laws demanded a motor-cycle and ?3 lacs. She was harassed for said reason. On 4 th his daughter had come to their house for the ceremony of “Mayara”.
  11. PW-17 Ramlal, the brother of Santosh also deposed that his sister was married eight years back and joined company of her husband after two years of the marriage. On account of demand of a motor-cycle and ?75,000/- his sister was being harassed by her in-laws.
  12. PW-20 Punaram, a cousin of Santosh also deposed that Santosh was married 7-8 years ago and joined company of her husband after two years. On account of dowry demand of ?75,000/- his sister used to be troubled by her in-laws. After the ceremony of “Mayara” his sister returned to the house of her in- laws on 5th and died on the 6th.
  13. PW-24 Leela Devi, a relative of Santosh deposed that Santosh was troubled by her in-laws and used to complain her that reason thereof was her parents giving less dowry.
  14. From a perusal of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses it emerges that witnesses have spoken in the plural i.e. in-laws demanding dowry without specifying whether it was the husband or the mother-in-law or the father-in-law.
  15. Relevant would it be to highlight that apart from there being a consistent stand that a motor cycle was demanded, the money demand varies between ?75,000/- to ?3 lacs. The witnesses have not stated the day or even the month when the dowry was demanded and on this aspect the learned Judge convicting the appellants has held that it would be difficult for the witnesses to remember the dates when dowry was demanded.
  16. Suffice it to state that for the offence of abetment to suicide if it is the case of the prosecution that the victim was instigated to commit suicide on account of being troubled then harassment has to be to such an extent that she was left with no option other than to kill herself, the test of proximity between the date when the victim took the extreme step and trouble inducing incitement to do the act has to be established. Harassment by itself cannot constitute abetment or instigation. Instigation means active stimulus.
  17. In the instant case, none has established. The conviction of the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 306/34 IPC thus cannot be sustained.
  18. Learned counsel for the appellants does not dispute the offence concerning plastering of place of the crime using cow-dung and mud and the presence of the appellants in the house. Effectively, the conviction of the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 201 IPC is not challenged.
  19. No serious attempt has been made to question the conviction of the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 498A/34 IPC but the prayer made is that both parents Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi be sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the period which they have already undergone, which is 11 months. As regards Bhagirath, he has already undergone a sentence much beyond two years.
  20. The appeal is disposed of acquitting the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 306/34 IPC.
  21. The appellants are convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 498A/34 IPC and 201 IPC. For both offences I inflict sentence of imprisonment for the period already undergone by both parents Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi. Sentence of two years imposed upon Bhagirath is maintained. He has already undergone a sentence much beyond two years.
  22. Bhau Ram and Shanti Devi have been admitted to bail. Their bail bonds and surety bonds are therefore discharged.
  23. Bhagirath is directed to be set free forthwith, if not required in any other case.

(PRADEEP NANDRAJOG),CJ

5-Parmar/-

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