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Section 498A in The Indian Penal Code
Section 304B in The Indian Penal Code
Section 34 in The Indian Penal Code
the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
The Indian Penal Code

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Delhi District Court
State vs 1. Mr.Sona Ram Son Of Mr.Nimba Ram, on 27 August, 2010
Author: Ms. Nivedita Sharma
           IN THE COURT OF MS. NIVEDITA ANIL SHARMA

          ADDITIONAL SESSIONS JUDGE -01, WEST, DELHI

Sessions Case Number : 96 of 2009.
Unique Case ID Number : 02401R0207222009.
State versus 1. Mr.Sona Ram son of Mr.Nimba Ram,
             Resident of Village Sadra, Tehsil Bali,
             District Pali (Rajasthan).
             2.Ms.Havli Devi @ Sawli Devi wife of Mr.Nimba Ram,
             Resident of Village Sadra, Tehsil Bali,
             District Pali (Rajasthan).

FIR Number 332 of 2008.
Police Station Patel Nagar.
Under sections 498A/304B /34 of the Indian Penal Code.

Date of filing of the charge sheet before the : 14.05.2009.
Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate
Date of receipt of file after committal : 15.09.2009.
Arguments concluded on : 27.08.2010.
Date of judgment : 27.08.2010.

Appearances: Mr. Vinod Kumar Sharma, Additional Public
                          Prosecutor for the State.
                          Both the accused on bail with counsel, Mr.V.K.Shukla,
                          Mr.Nagender Singh and Mr.C.B.Dubey.
                          Mr.Sachin Mishra, counsel for the complainant.

JUDGMENT

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

FIR 332 of 2008, Police Station Patel Nagar, Under Sections 498A/304B/34 IPC -:: 1 of 55::-

1. At the outset, it may be mentioned that this case which is a dowry death case has been disposed off expeditiously within one year of its committal considering the gravity of the nature of the alleged offence.

ALLEGATIONS

2. Mr.Sona Rama nd Ms.Havli Devi @ Sawli Devi, both the accused persons, have been charge sheeted by Police Station Patel Nagar, Delhi for the offence under sections 498A/304B/34 of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as the IPC) on the allegations that in between 12.05.2006 to 07.08.2008 at Village Shadada, District Pali, Rajasthan and T-627A, Baljeet Nagar, Delhi, both the accused persons in furtherance of their common intention subjected Ms.Geeta (deceased wife of accused Mr.Sona Ram) to cruelty in connection with demand of dowry and she had died an unnatural death by hanging herself within seven years of her marriage on 07.08.2009 at T-627A, Baljeet Nagar, Delhi due to cruelty in connection with demand of dowry.

CHARGESHEET AND COMMITTAL

3. After completion of the investigation, the charge sheet was filed before the Court of the learned Metropolitan Magistrate on 14.05.2009 and after its committal, the case was assigned to this Court by learned Sessions Judge, Delhi vide order dated 15.09.2009.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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CHARGE

4. After hearing arguments, charge for offence under sections 498A/304 B/34 of the IPC was framed against both the accused persons on 04.11.2009 to which all the accused persons pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

PROSECUTION WITNESSES

5. In order to prove its case, the prosecution has examined as many as 16 witnesses. ASI Rishi Pal, the duty officer who has recorded the formal FIR in the case and DD No.31A, has been examined as PW1; Mr.Thana Ram, the father of the deceased and the complainant, as PW2; Ms.Tulshi, the mother of the deceased, as PW3; Mr.Pramod Kumar, SDM, who conducted the inquest, as PW4; HC Madan Lal, the MHC (M), as PW5; Mr.Jagdish, neighbour of the father of the deceased, as PW6; Mr.Phula Ram, hwo has identified the body of the deceased, as PW7; Ms.Nano Devi, grand mother of the deceased, as PW8; Mr.Sunil Kumar, photographer who had taken the photographs of the spot, as PW9; HC Murli Singh, the police witness who took the body of Ms.Aarti for post mortem and is a witness of investigation, as PW10; Inspector M.S.Shekhawat, who on receipt of directions/endorsement from the SDM on the statement of Mr.Thana Ram, directed the duty officer to register the case, as SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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PW11; ASI Azad Singh, who prepared the report of the scene of crime, as PW11(wrongly numbered as PW11 again); ASI Arjun Singh, the Investigation Officer, as PW12; Ct.Kesa Ram, witness of formal arrest of accused Ms.Sawli Devi, as PW12 (wrongly numbered as PW12 again); Dr.Sandeep Seotra, who conducted the post mortem on the body of the deceased, as PW13; Inspector Joginder Singh, the second Investigation Officer, as PW14.

6. On the statement dated 02.03.2010 of the Additional Public Prosecutor, PWs Ms.Manisha and Mr.Pooran Chand, were dropped from the list of witnesses as their evidence was of repetitive nature. On the statement dated 20.03.2010 of the Additional Public Prosecutor, PW Mr.Kika Ram Parmar was dropped from the list of witnesses as his evidence was hearsay and he was the relative of the accused. On the statement dated 06.05.2010 of the Additional Public Prosecutor, PWs ASI Ram Lal and Ct.Thana Ram, were dropped from the list of witnesses as their evidence was not relevant.

STATEMENTS OF THE ACCUSED AND THEIR DEFENCE

7. In their respective statements under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to as the Cr.P.C.) recorded on 17.05.2010, both the accused have controverted and rebutted the entire evidence against them submitting that they are innocent and SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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have been falsely implicated in this case. The marriage between accused Mr.Sona Ram and deceased Ms.Geeta is admitted. They have stated that Ms.Geeta was found missing in June, 2008 and they lodged the missing report about it. She was not harassed by them. She send a legal notice to accused Mr.Sona Ram. They have denied that Ms.Geeta committed suicide due to the harassment by them. They did not know when her father had informed the police as they were not in Delhi at the time of the incident.

8. Both the accused persons have preferred to lead evidence in their defence and have examined Mr.Jasraj, distant neighbour of the accused as DW1; Mr.Arvind, Ahlmad, who produced the file of case FIR Number 350 of 2009 Police Station Patel Nagar under section 308 of the IPC State versus Thana Ram etc., as DW2; Mr.Mahesh Kumar Chauhan, Oath Commissioner, as DW3; and Mr.Kika Ram, mediator in the marriage of accused Mr.Sona Ram and deceased Ms.Geeta, as DW4 in their defence.

ARGUMENTS

9. I have heard arguments at length. I have also given my conscious thought and prolonged consideration to the material on record, relevant provisions of law and the precedents on the point.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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10.The Additional Public Prosecutor for the State has requested for convicting the accused submitting that the prosecution has been able to bring home the charge against all the accused persons by examining its witnesses whose testimonies are corroborative and reliable. The counsel for the complainant has also filed written submissions which have been carefully perused.

11.The counsel for the accused, on the other hand, has requested for their acquittal submitting that there is nothing incriminating on the record against them. The prosecution has failed to bring home the charge against the accused persons. The counsel for both the accused persons has also filed written submissions which have been carefully perused.

DISCUSSION, ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS

12.The question is how to test the veracity of the prosecution story especially when it has some variations in the evidence. Mere variance of the prosecution story with the evidence, in all cases, should not lead to the conclusion inevitably to reject the prosecution story. Efforts should be made to find the truth , this is the very object for which the courts are created. To search it out, the Courts have been removing chaff from the grain. It has to disperse the SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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suspicious cloud and dust out the smear as all these things clog the very truth. So long chaff, cloud and dust remains, the criminals are clothed with this protective layer to receive the benefit of doubt. So it is a solemn duty of the Courts, not to merely conclude and leave the case the moment suspicions are created. It is the onerous duty of the Court within permissible limit to find out the truth. It means, on the other hand no innocent man should be punished but on the other hand to see no person committing an offence should get scot-free. If in spite of such effort suspicion is not dissolved, it remains writ at large, benefit of doubt has to be created to the accused. For this, one has to comprehend the totality of facts and the circumstances as spelled out through the evidence, depending on the facts of each case by testing the credibility of the witnesses, of course after excluding that parts of the evidence which are vague and uncertain. There is no mathematical formula through which the truthfulness of the prosecution or a defence case could be concretized .It would depend upon the evidence of each case including the manner of deposition and his demeans, clarity, corroboration of witnesses and overall, the conscience of a Judge evoked by the evidence on record. So the Courts have to proceed further and make genuine efforts within judicial sphere to search out the truth and not stop at the threshold of creation of doubt to confer benefit of doubt.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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13.It may be observed here that it is a general handicap attached to all eye witnesses, if they fail to speak with precision their evidence would be assailed as vague and evasive, on the contrary if the speak to all events very well and correctly their evidence becomes vulnerable to be attacked as tutored. Both approaches are dogmatic and fraught with lack of pragmatism. The testimony of a witness should be viewed with broad angles. It should not be weighed in golden scales, but with cogent standards. In a particular case an eyewitness may be able to narrate the incident with all details without mistake if the occurrence had made an imprint on the canvas of his mind in the sequence in which it occurred. He may be a person whose capacity for absorption and retention of events is stronger than another person. It should be remembered that what he witness was not something that happens usually but a very exceptional one so far as he is concerned. If he reproduces it in the same sequence as it registered in his mind, the testimony cannot be dubbed as artificial on that score alone. Similar observations have also been made by the Supreme Court in the judgment reported as Bhag Singh and Oths. v. State of Punjab , 1997 VII AD SC 507.

14.When an eye witness is examined at length it is quite possible for him to make some discrepancies. No true witness can possibly escape from making some discrepant details. Perhaps an untrue SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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witness who is well tutored can successfully made his testimony totally non-discrepant. But Courts should bear in mind that it is only when discrepancies in evidence of witness are so incompatible with the credibility of his version that the Court is justified in jettisoning his evidence. But too serious a view to be adopted on mere variations falling in the narration of incident (either as between the evidence of two witnesses or as between two statements of the same witness) is an unrealistic approach for judicial scrutiny.

15.Under this sphere, I now proceed to test the submissions of both the sides.

BLEMISHES WHICH ARE FATAL

16.However, I find that there are several overwhelming inconsistencies and blemishes and glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses which remain unexplained by the prosecution and these blemishes are fatal to the prosecution version as they strike at the root of the case. The prosecution story does not inspire confidence and is not worthy of credence.

17.I find that the prosecution has miserably failed to bring home the charge against the accused for plurality of reasons, elaborated below.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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PROSECUTION STORY

18.The prosecution story unveils with the lodging of DD No.31A dated 07.08.2008, Ex.PW1/A, wherein it is reported at 6.18 pm in the evening from mobile number 9818022137 that a girl has hung herself (phansi laga li) and the DD was marked to ASI Arjun Singh, PW12, and he reached at House no.627, Baljeet Nagar along with Ct. Murli Singh, PW10. He saw that the dead body of a lady is lying on the first floor and came to know her name as Ms.Geeta and that she was married two years before the incident. He informed SDM Patel Nagar, PW4 who reached the spot. He inspected the site. Crime team was also called at the spot. Before arrival of the Crime team dead body was sent to mortuary through PW10. ASI Arjun Singh had informed the husband of lady and her in laws through telephone and wireless message was sent to the concerned Police Station. Husband of deceased had reached in Delhi along with many other family members. He informed the SDM and reached before the SDM along with accused Mr.Sona Ram and the parents of deceased. On 07.08.2008, when he inspected the room, he found the chunni, Ex.P1, which was lying on the bed which was seized vide seizure memo, Ex.PW10/A. Pulenda of chunni was handed over to MHCM who made entry in register number 19, Ex.PW5/A. On SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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09.08.2008, the statement of Mr.Thana Ram, Ex.PW2/A, was recorded by SDM. Inquest proceedings were conducted by SDM who handed over the inquest papers to the doctor Sandeep Seotra, PW13 who conducted the post mortem on the dead body of Geeta vide post mortem report, Ex.PW13/A. After the post mortem, the dead body of deceased was handed to the guardian of the deceased vide receipt Ex.PW12/A. The SDM handed the statement of Mr.Thana Ram to ASI Arjun Singh who produced the same before the SHO, PW11 who directed the duty officer to registered a case and FIR, Ex.PW1/B was lodged. Thereafter, further investigation of this case was marked to Insp.Joginder Singh, PW14. On 09.08.2008, after registration of the FIR, Inspector Joginder Singh prepared the site plan, Ex.PW14/A, at the instance of Ms.Tulsi Devi, PW3 and recorded the statements of the witnesses and collected the documents i.e. Roznamcha Aam, Police Station Sadadi, Ex.PW14/B; Missing Person Report, Ex.PW14/C; Statement of Ms.Geeta Rani, Ex.PW14/D; Application for closing the search, Ex.PW14/E. On 20.10.2008, Mr.Thana Ram produced the wedding card and ohotograph of marriage which were seized vide seizure memo, Ex.Pw2/G. Photograph is Ex.PW2/A and the wedding card is Ex.PW2/H. Accused Mr.Sona Ram was arrested on 09.08.2008 vide arrest memo Ex.Pw12/A, his personal search was conducted vide personal search memo Ex.PW2/M. Accused Ms.Havli Devi who SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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was granted anticipatory bail was formally arrested on 25.11.2008 vide arrest memo Ex.PW12/A and thereafter released on bail.

19.The police witnesses have deposed regarding the investigation conducted and the documents prepared. The public witnesses have deposed regarding the facts of the case.

EVIDENCE OF PARENTS OF THE DECEASED

20.It can be seen from the judicial record that PWs 2 and 3, the parents of the deceased have not only made improvements in their statements, especially with regard to the alleged harassment of the deceased, but the same also apparently are an after thought also. Further, the improvements made in their testimonies are still vague and unspecific as neither any dates are mentioned nor any details are furnished which makes their version unreliable.

21.PW2 has deposed in his examination in chief that after one year of the marriage both the accused persons started harassing his daughter and used to taunt her on the issue of dowry. They gave mental torture for dowry. "Weh meri ladki ko nicha dikhana chahte the tatha uske charitr per bhi iljham lagate the." He had asked Mr.Tikka Ram to settle the issue and he assured that he would make both the SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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accused persons understand. On 15.08.2007 when he had gone to the house of the in laws of Ms.Geeta, she told him about the harassment and taunts by the accused persons. In May,2008 Ms.Geeta had gone to Bijapur Temple and as there was delay in her return, she was beaten by accused Mr.Sona Ram. In May, 2008 Ms.Geeta and accused Mr.Sona Ram had visited his house and a hot exchange of words had taken place between them on which accused Mr.Sona Ram had beaten Ms.Geeta in the presence of his family members. In June, 2008 his daughter left the house of the accused due to beating and mal-treatment and she came to Delhi and stayed at the house of Mr.Tulsha Ram. She did not visit his house due to fear that she may not be sent back to her in laws' house by him and his wife. His daughter reached his house on 02.07.2008 at his native village Shaishli and told about the harassment by the accused for dowry. She told him that she had sent a legal notice to the accused which was withdrawn due to pressure of villagers. From Shaishli, they took his daughter to Delhi on 26.07.2008 and she started living with them. On 07.08.2008, when he had gone to his shop, his daughter Ms.Manisha telephoned him and informed that "Geeta ne faanshi laga lee". His daughter, Ms.Geeta, had committed suicide at his residence due to the continuous torture by the accused persons for dowry.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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22.In his cross examination, PW2 has deposed that it was decided in a big panchayat of Meghwal community (to which he and the accused belong) that thee shall not be any child marriage or marriage with dowry in their community. He had given one almirah in the marriage. On 25.06.2008 accused Mr.Sona Ram had telephoned him and informed that Ms.Geeta had gone somewhere without informing him and his family members. On 28.06.2008 he had gone to Police Station Shadri after knowing that a missing person report has been lodged about his daughter by his son in law in which he had made suspicion of the elopement of Ms.Geeta with Mr.Tulsha Ram. PW2 had given in writing that he did not know the whereabouts of his daughter and he shall search for her. Similar statement was also made by his wife. He along with the IO had gone to the residence of Mr.Tulsha Ram and found both Mr.Tulsha Ram and his daughter not being there. IO also talked to Mr.Tulsha Ram who told him that Ms.Geeta was not with him. Ms.Geeta reached his native village Saisli on 02.07.2008 and told him that she had gone from the house of Mr.Sona Ram to Mr.Tulsha Ram. Thereafter, he went with his daughter to the Police Station where their statements were recorded. He had scolded his daughter for leaving her matrimonial home and going with Mr.Tulsha Ram. His daughter did not tell anything about being disturbed due to dowry harassment either to me or to any of my family members and she used to remain quiet.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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23.PW3 has deposed that after one year of marriage, the accused persons started harassing her daughter for dowry. One month prior to her death, she had come to her house and she asked for fridge, almirah and TV as the accused were demanding them and PW3 did not have enough money, she purchased only an almirah. Her daughter had visited her house in 2007 about one year prior to her death and told her that "Sona Ram weh uski Maa Shaawli Devi use pareshaan karte hai or vaishya (prostitute) kehte hai tatha kehte hai ghar se bhaag ja". She also told that her dadiya sasur, Mr.Ram Lal, told her that if she will disclose anything to her parents then he will commit suicide. Her daughter left the house of the accused due to harassment and came to the house of Mr.Jagdish, her Jija, and also stayed at the house of Mr.Tulsha Ram due to the fear of her parents that she may be sent back to her matrimonial home. After three days, she visited the house of her parents and told her that she was turned out from the house by the accused persons after beating her. Her daughter was also beaten up by the accused Mr.Sona Ram about one month prior to her death.

24.In her cross examination, PW3 has deposed that accused Mr.Sona Ram had not named anybody with who Ms.Geeta was having an affair. Aas long as her daughter stayed with Mr.Tulsha Ram neither SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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she nor Mr.Tulsha Ram informed or contacted her or her family. It was decided in Panchayat of Meghwal community that no member will either give or will receive dowry.

25.However, I find that the veracity of the testimony deposed by PW2 is shattered by his own cross examination as well as the evidence of PW3.

26.On one hand PW2 has deposed in his examination in chief that his daughter had told him about the accused persons treating her with cruelty for dowry while in his cross examination, he has categorically deposed that his daughter did not tell anything about being disturbed due to dowry harassment either to him or to any of my family members and she used to remain quiet. This fact indicates that PW2 was actually aware about the treatment of the deceased by the accused persons, whether it was good or cruel.

27.It is also clear from the evidence of both PWs 2 and 3 that in Meghwal community to which both the sides belong, it has been decided that there shall be no give and take of dowry and they practice the same in totality. In such a situation, it does not appear to SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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be believable that any dowry was given by the parents of the deceased or demanded by the accused.

28.Further, it is also clear from the testimonies of both PWs 2 and 3 that there was no dowry at the time of marriage as they have not deposed even an iota of evidence regarding the same.

29.Further, there is several contradictions coming forth in the evidence as PWs 2 and 3. PW2 has deposed that he had given an almirah in the marriage while PW3 has deposed that one month prior to the death of Ms.Geeta, she had given her an almirah. PW2 has deposed that mentioned about Ms.Geeta going to Bijapur Temple in May, 2008 and later beaten by accused Mr.Sona Ram while there is no such deposition by PW3. PW2 has deposed that his daughter had left the house of accused due to beating and mal-treatment while PW3 has deposed that left the house of the accused due to harassment. PW2 has deposed that his daughter came to Delhi and stayed in the house of Mr.Tulsha Ram while PW3 has deposed that her daughter came to the house of Mr.Jagdish, her Jija, and also stayed at the house of Mr.Tulsha Ram. PW2 has deposed that in May, 2008 when his daughter and accused had come to his house, the accused had beaten her but there is no such deposition by PW3.

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PW2 has deposed that Mr.Tulsha Ram had told the IO that Ms.Geeta was not with him but there is no such deposition by PW3. PW2 has deposed that his son in law had named Mr.Tulsha Ram in the elopement of Ms.Geeta while there is no such deposition by PW3. PW3 has deposed that her daughter had told her that her dadiya sasur Mr.Ram Lal told her that if she will disclose anything to her parents then he will commit suicide but there is no such deposition by PW2. PW2 has deposed that his daughter had left the house of the accused while PW3 has deposed that her daughter was turned out from the house by the accused persons after beating her.

30.The prosecution has not been able to explain any of the above contradictions between the evidence of the parents of the deceased and these contradictions indicate the possibility of manipulation of the case against the accused persons.

31.PW2 has deposed that he had scolded his daughter for leaving the matrimonial home and going with Mr.Tulsha Ram after these facts came to his knowledge while there is no such deposition by PW3.

32.Therefore, I am of the considered opinion that reliance cannot be placed upon the evidence of PWs 2 and 3.

SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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SANCITY OF THE STATEMENT OF PW2 TO THE SDM

33.PW2 has deposed that he made complaint, Ex.PW2/A (on 09.08.2008). The fact that PW2 was very much available at his residence on the date of death of the deceased i.e.07.08.2008 when the SDM had come to the spot but PW2 made his statement only after two days i.e. 09.08.2008 clearly shows that the statement must have been made after due deliberation and guidance from others and it shows that there has been a consultation after which the accused have been implicated. No explanation is coming forth from the prosecution as to why PW2 did not make his statement to the SDM at the earliest opportunity i.e. on 07.08.2008 itself and in the circumstances, the possibility of manipulation cannot be completely ruled out. No justification or explanation is coming forth from PW2 or the prosecution regarding the same.

34.Even otherwise, it is clear on perusal of Ex.PW2/A that the allegations are very vague and unspecific and without any details which also casts a doubt on the veracity of the allegations.

35.Most importantly, the evidence of PW4, the SDM, cannot be ignored when he has not deposed anywhere that the parents were SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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upset or not in a proper frame of mind when the statements were recorded.

36.Therefore, I am of the considered opinion that there is nothing to show that the SDM did not conduct the inquest proceedings properly or that he did not record the statements of the parents of the deceased properly. There is apparently no ulterior motive attached to his proceedings which shows that the same are flawless.

EVIDENCE OF PW6, MR. JAGDISH

37.PW6 has deposed that two or three months prior to the death of Ms.Geeta, Mr.Thana Ram had visited his house and asked for Rs.5,000/- as he had to give the money to his daughter to fulfil the demand of dowry of her in laws as they were harassing her. In his cross examination, he has deposed that he had given Rs.5,000/- to Mr.Thana Ram as loan and he had not given this money in his presence to the accused persons. PW6 has also made improvement from his statement under section 161 of the Cr.P.C., that Ms.Geeta had visited him and told him that mother of accused Mr.Sona Ram is demanding Rs.5,000/-.

38.However, the evidence of PW6 is not reliable as neither PW2 nor PW3, the parents of the deceased have deposed anywhere in their evidence that PW2 had taken a loan of Rs.5,000/- for giving to SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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accused as dowry. It appears that he has been planted to fill the lacunae in the prosecution story left by PWs 2 and 3.
EVIDENCE OF PW8

39.Ms.Nano Devi, grand mother of the deceased has been examined as PW8 by the prosecution. She has deposed that she is not aware as to when Ms.Geeta was married and with whom she was married. The marriage took place two and a half years ago. The IO had not taken her statement nor did he make any enquiry from him and if he has written anything in her statement it on his own and she did not make any statement. IO had taken statement of Ms.Manisha only. There was no talk in their household with Ms.Geeta as to whether she had gone to Mr.Tulsha Ram or not. Ms.Geeta was taken from the fan by which she was hanging and Ms.Manisha had untied the knot of her chunni and she had taken her in my lap. At that time she was alive and neighbours had tried to call a doctor and she had died 20 minutes after being brought down from the fan.

40.If the statement of PW8 was not recorded by the IO, then there is little sanctity of her evidence before the Court as there is nothing available on the record to ascertain the veracity of her testimony.

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41.If the deceased was alive when she was brought down from the fan, then why she was not immediately taken to a doctor has not been explained by the prosecution. If a doctor was called, then why the prosecution has not disclosed his name and made him a witness. PW2 has admitted scolding the deceased for leaving her matrimonial home and going with Mr.Tulsha Ram. These facts indicate that there was no intention of the parental family of the deceased to save her.

MR.TULSHA RAM OR ACCUSED, WHO IS RESPONSIBLE

42.In the present case, Mr.Thana Ram, father of the deceased Ms.Geeta has levelled allegations against both the accused persons namely Mr.Sona Ram and Ms.Havli Devi @ Sawli Devi of treating his daughter with cruelty for dowry and being responsible for her death.

43.However, I find that in case FIR Number 350 of 2009 Police Station Patel Nagar under section 308 of the IPC State versus Thana Ram etc., Mr.Thana Ram has also levelled allegations of Mr.Tulsha Ram being responsible for Ms.Geeta's death. In his disclosure statement, Ex.DW2/A1 which forms part of file, Ex.DW2/A, Mr.Thana Ram as an accused has stated that Mr.Tulsha Ram is SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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responsible for the death of his daughter and she had died due to him. The relevant record has been produced by DW2 which remains uncontroverted by the prosecution.

44.The contention of the prosecution that the accused are responsible for the death of Ms.Geeta is not believable in view of contradictory stands of Mr.Thana Ram as, on one hand, he has alleged that the accused are responsible for the death of his daughter while on the other hand he has also alleged that Mr.Tulsha Ram is responsible for her death.

POST MORTEM REPORT

45.The post mortem report, Ex.PW13/A, shows that the cause of death is asphyxia due to constricting force over the neck produced by ante mortem ligature hanging. Manner of death is suicidal.

46.This report along with the opinion of the doctor about the cause of death indicates that there has no foul play and Ms.Geeta had committed suicide.

DOWRY DEMAND

47.PWs 2 and 3 have although deposed in their examination in chief that there were demands for dowry from the accused but no reliance SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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can be placed on their evidence. Neither PW2 nor the prosecution have furnished any explanation regarding the making of the statement by PW2 to the SDM and regarding the improvement made in his evidence regarding the alleged harassment of his daughter by her in laws.

48.It is also admitted by the parents of the deceased that in their community i.e. Meghwal community it has been decided that there shall be no give and take of dowry. If any demand was made, then why the parents of the deceased did not make any complaint to the Meghwal community or the Government authorities has not been explained by PWs 2 and 3. They have neither given any dates of the alleged demand of dowry and the amounts demanded nor whether the demands were met. Both have not mentioned a word about the demand of Rs.5,000/- in their statements to the SDM and this clearly appears to be a planned move and an after thought. They have also not disclosed any date when the deceased was allegedly beaten by accused.

49.Further, it appears to be unbelievable that the accused would not demand dowry before, at the time of marriage or after the marriage and they would wait for one year before making any demand for dowry.

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50.All these facts in totality indicate that there was neither any demand for dowry by the accused nor Rs.5,000/- nor was Ms.Geeta beaten by the accused.

TEMPERAMENT OF THE DECEASED

51.It is borne out from the judicial record that the deceased was involved with Mr.Tulsha Ram. After leaving her matrimonial home, instead of going to her parental home, she preferred to go to Mr.Tulsha Ram. It was only when accused Mr.Sona Ram lodged a missing report expressing doubt on Mr.Tulsha Ram that Ms.Geeta surfaced and appeared before the police of Rajasthan. When there was a possibility of Mr.Tulsha Ram being implicated in the criminal case of missing of Ms.Geeta from her matrimonial home, she had appeared. Before that she did not also make any complaint against the accused persons of their treating her with cruelty for dowry.

52.Further, it is also clear from the evidence of DW3 that Mr.Tulsha Ram and Ms.Geeta had come to him for getting their affidavit of marriage solemnized between them attested from him. He even attested the affidavit and fixed their photographs in his register with their names and addresses mentioned and the same are in his handwriting. The prosecution has attempted to show in his cross SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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examination that the register is manipulated but nothing material has come forth. It is clear that both Mr.Tulsha Ram and Ms.Geeta had come for getting their affidavit of marriage attested.

53.DW4 who is related to both the sides and was a mediator of the marriage was dropped from the list of witnesses by the prosecution. Thereafter he was examined by the accused in their defence and he has deposed that accused Mr.Sona Ram had telephoned him on 25.06.2008 and told him that Ms.Geeta had left his house and he had serious doubts that she had eloped with Mr.Tulsa Ram and this part of his testimony remains uncontroverted.

54.It appears that Ms.Geeta was a head strong woman who would be adamant so much so that she went and stayed with a man who was not her husband after leaving her matrimonial home. This indicates her arrogance as well as stubbornness and her casual or indifferent attitude towards her marital family.

NO COMPLAINT DURING LIFETIME OF DECEASED

55.It is also clear from the evidence of the prosecution witnesses especially PWs 2 and 3 that they had not made any complaint against the accused during the lifetime of the deceased. This fact also indicates that the accused and the deceased did not have any SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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major or minor disputes otherwise, the parents of the deceased or her relatives would have made complaint against the accused.

56.As regards the notice sent by the deceased to the accused, this fact is admitted by the accused persons in their respective statements under section 313 of the Cr.P.C. However, DW3 who is the advocate who had issued the notice was not examined in this regard by the prosecution.

57.As regards the complaints made to the Chief Minister and other authorities, it may be mentioned the same is also during the period while Ms.Geeta was living with Mr.Tulsha Ram and the possibility of manipulation cannot be completely ruled out as she was apparently under his influence and control.

58.It may also be mentioned here that that there is no expert evidence of the handwriting expert that the letters and notice were actually signed by the deceased and therefore, the possibility of their manipulation cannot be completely ruled out.

WITNESSES NOT EXAMINED SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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59.The prosecution has failed to examine several material witnesses who could have thrown light on the material facts of the case.

60.Ms.Manisha, sister of the deceased, although was cited as a prosecution was dropped as the prosecution found her evidence to be of repetitive nature. As per the evidence of PW 8, Ms.Nano Devi, grand mother of the deceased, the decased Ms.Geeta was taken down from the fan from which she was hanging and Ms.Manisha had untied the knot of her chunni. At that time, Ms.Geeta was alive and neighbours had tried to call a doctor and she had died 20 minutes after being brought down from the fan.

61.In such a situation, Ms.Manisha would have been the best person to depose about the last words of Ms.Geeta and the reason, if any, told be Ms.Geeta to her for committing suicide.

62.Mr.Pooran Chand, although was cited as a prosecution was dropped as the prosecution found her evidence to be of repetitive nature. Even his evidence could have thrown light on the true facts.

63.Mr.Jagdish, brother in law of PW3, to whom Ms.Geeta had gone after leaving her matrimonial home (as deposed by PW3) has also not been produced nor examined by the prosecution. He could have SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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deposed about the immediate reason for Ms.Geeta leaving her matrimonial home.

64.Mr.Ram Lal, dadiya sasur of the deceased, has also not been cited nor produced nor examined by the prosecution. PW3 has deposed that Ms.Geeta told her that her dadiya sasur, Mr.Ram Lal, told her that if she will disclose anything to her parents then he will commit suicide. Mr.Ram Lal could have also been an important witness to tell about the true facts of the matrimonial life of the deceased with the accused.

65.Mr.Tulsha Ram, to whom the deceased had gone after leaving her matrimonial home has also neither been cited nor produced nor examined by the prosecution. He could have been the best person to depose about the exact reason for the deceased being out of her matrimonial home.

66.The neighbours of the deceased at her matrimonial home have not been associated in the investigation and none of these neighbours have been cited as a witness by the prosecution nor produced nor examined.

67.The independent persons from the public who were available at the spot, during the investigation, at the time of arrest of the accused, SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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etc. have not been associated in the investigation. They have also not been cited as a witness by the prosecution nor produced nor examined.

68.All these facts in totality give a fatal blow to the prosecution story.

MENS REA / MOTIVE

69.Next, in order to prove the charge under sections 498-A/304-B/34 of the IPC, the intention of the offender is the main consideration and the circumstances in which the alleged offence is committed have to be examined.

70.Regarding the motive of crime, it may be observed that in a case based on circumstantial evidence, the existence of motive assumed significance though the absence of motive does not necessarily discredit the prosecution case, if the case stands otherwise established by other conclusive circumstances and the chain of circumstantial evidence is so complete and is consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and inconsistent with the hypothesis of his innocence.

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71.The motive has to be gathered from the surrounding circumstances and such evidence should from one of the links to the chain of circumstantial evidence. The proof of motive would only strengthen the prosecution case and fortify the court in its ultimate conclusion but in the absence of any connecting evidence or link which would be sufficient in itself from the face of it, the accused cannot be convicted. Motives of men are often subjective, submerged and unnameable to easy proof that courts have to go without clear evidence thereon if other clinching evidence exists. A motive is indicated to heighten the probability that the offence was committed by the person who was impelled by the motive but if the crime is alleged to have been committed for a particular motive, it is relevant to inquire whether the pattern of the crime fits in which the alleged motive.

72.In the present case there is sufficient evidence on record to show that the accused did not have any motive to commit the offence. A witness is normally to be considered independent unless he or she springs from sources which are likely to be tainted and that usually means unless the witness has cause, such as enmity against the accused, to wish to implicate him falsely. Ordinarily a close relation would be the last to screen the real culprit and falsely implicate an innocent person. It is true, when feelings run high and there is SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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personal cause for enmity, that there is a tendency to drag in an innocent person against whom a witness has a grudge along with the guilty, but foundation must be laid for such a criticism and the mere fact of relationship far from being a foundation is often a sure guarantee of truth. However, there can be no sweeping generalization. Each case must be judged on its own facts. These observations are only made to combat what is so often put forward in cases as a general rule of prudence. There is no such general rule. Each case must be limited to and be governed by its own facts.

73.In the present case, a story has been projected that the deceased was treated with cruelty for dowry and the accused have caused her unnatural death within seven years of her marriage. However, I find that there is no evidence to prove the claim of the prosecution. In fact, the post mortem report, show that it is a case of suicide and there is no foul play. These facts indicate that the story projected by the prosecution appears to be false. There was apparently no demand for dowry, no ill treatment of the deceased and consequently there was no reason for causing the death of the deceased.

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74.Therefore, I am of the considered opinion that the prosecution has failed to show the mens rea on part of the accused in commission of the alleged offence.

DEFENCE OF THE ACCUSED PERSONS

75.The accused persons have projected that there is no practice of dowry in the Meghwal community and this fact is also admitted by PWs 2 and 3.

76.Both the DWs 1 and 2, have deposed on the same lines, as elaborated above, and there is nothing material in their lengthy cross examination.

77.Both the DWs did not care to make any complaint of the alleged false implication of the accused persons by the police to the senior police officers, Court or any other Government authority nor moved any application before the IO or the Court to make them a witness.

78.These facts however do not wash away their evidence as the claim of the defence also is proved in their evidence.

SECTION 498-A IPC SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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79.In order to succeed in charge under section 498-A of the IPC, the prosecution was required to prove that the accused had subjected deceased to cruelty, as defined in the explanation to the section. It is not every cruelty which is punishable under section 498-A of the IPC. The cruelty, so as to attract penal provisions, contained in section 498-A of IPC, has necessarily to be a willful conduct which is of such a nature that it is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grievous injury or danger to her life or health. The use of the expression "willful" in the explanation to section 498-A of IPC indicates that the conduct attributed to the accused, in order to be culpable, needs to be deliberate, aimed at causing injury to the health of the woman or bringing misery to her. If the accused knows or is reasonable expected to know that his conduct is likely to cause injury to the life, limb or health of the aggrieved woman or if his conduct is of such a nature, that causing injury to the life, limb or health can be a natural consequence for the woman, who is recipient of such a conduct, it will attract criminal liability on the part of the husband or his relative, as the case may be. Everyone is presumed to intend the natural consequences of his act and such a presumption must necessarily be drawn even if there is no intention to cause any injury or harm to the woman. Whether the conduct in question is likely to drive the woman to cause injury to her life, limb or health, will depend upon a number of factors such as social and economic SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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status of the parties, the level of awareness of the aggrieved woman, her temperament, state of her health, physical as well as mental and how she is likely to perceive such a behavior. If a woman is harassed with a view to coerce her or any of her relatives to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security, it will also constitute cruelty, as defined in the explanation to Section 498- A of IPC. Of course, the expression "cruelty" would take in its ambit mental cruelty as well as physical torture of the woman. If the conduct of the accused with a woman is likely to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that her living with the husband will be harmful and injurious to her life and safety, such a conduct would attract criminal liability, envisaged in Section 498-A of IPC.

80.If the woman has harassed on account of her failure or the failure of her relatives to meet an unlawful demand for property or valuable security, that also constitutes cruelty, within the meaning of Section 498-A of IPC. The expression "harassment" has not been defined in Section 498-A of IPC, but its dictionary meaning is to subject someone to continuous vexatious attacks, questions, demands or other unpleasantness, etc. But, it is not harassment of every nature which is punishable under section 498-A of IPC. In order to attract criminal liability, there should be torture physical or mental, by positive acts. Such acts should be aimed at persuading or compelling SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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the woman or her relatives to meet an unlawful demand of any property or valuable security or it should be actuated by the failure of the woman or her relative to meet such a demand.

81.In the present case under consideration, neither the dates of the alleged cruelty have been spelt out nor the manner in which the same has been committed is elaborated nor it is explained which accused has committed which cruelty. The allegations are vague and unspecific and reliance cannot be placed on the same. More so, in view of the evidence of the parents and grand mother of the deceased there does not appear to be any cruelty or any demand in connection with the marriage.

SECTION 304-B

82.Coming to the charge under Section 304-B of IPC, before a person can be convicted under this Section, which deals with what is described as "dowry death", the prosecution must necessarily prove the following ingredients:-

i. The death of a woman must have been caused by burn or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstance;
ii. Such death must have occurred within seven years of her marriage;

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iii. Soon before her death, the woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or by relatives of her husband;
iv. Such cruelty or harassment must be for or in connection with demand for dowry;
v. Such cruelty or harassment is when to have been meted out to the woman soon before her death.

83.The term "dowry" has not been defined in Section 304-B of IPC, but, since this expression has been defined in Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, it is required to be given the same meaning for the purpose of under Section 304-B IPC as held by Hon'ble Supreme Court in Satvir Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab and Anr. 2001 (4) Crimes 45. Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act defines dowry as under:

"Definition of 'dowry'.- In this Act, "dowry" means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly- (a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or (b) by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before 3 or any time after the marriage 4in connection with the marriage of the SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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said parties, but does not include dower or mahr in the case or persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies."

84.Dowry would include that property or valuable security which is actually given or which is agreed to be given, in relation to the marriage of person in question. The property or valuable security may be given or may be agreed to be given before marriage or at the time of marriage or at any time after the marriage, so long as it is connected with the marriage. But, there has to be a link between the property given or agreed to be given and the marriage. If at any time before or at the time of or even during marriage, the parents of a woman or any other person related or connected to her agree to give some cash, valuable security or property to her husband or in-laws after marriage, that also would be covered within the definition of dowry as the agreement or promise in such a case would be attributable to the marriage or proposed marriage and if there is demand for any cash property, valuable security etc. which is promised, but not given, it would constitute demand for dowry. If the husband of the girl or any other person related or connected to him, demands something from the girl or her parents or any other person related to or connected with her, saying that the article being demanded by them was expected to be given or ought to have been SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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given in marriage, that also, to my mind, would constitute demand of dowry because even though such an article may not have been agreed or promised to be given by the girl or her family members, it might have been in the contemplation of the boy and/or his family members, on account of the expectation that such an article would be given at the time of marriage. Therefore, such demand would be considered to be a demand in connection with the marriage though made after the marriage has been solemnized. Even demand of articles such as T.V., fridge, jewellery, clothes, furniture, etc. which usually are given or expected in marriages in our country, would, considering the objective sought to be achieved by incorporating Section 304-B in Indian Penal Code and enacting Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 fall within the purview of Section 304-B of IPC. In fact, in Pawan Kr. & Ors. Vs. State of Haryana AIR 1998 SC 958, the Hon"ble Supreme Court has specifically held demand of T.V., Fridge, etc. though not agreed to be given or promised or even demanded prior to or at the time of marriage, to be a demand for dowry for the purpose of Section 304-B of IPC. If cash or some property, etc. is demanded by the boy or his family members, after marriage, saying that they were expecting such cash, property, etc. to be given in marriage, and the girl, or her parents or any other person related or connected to her promise to fulfil such a demand, that also may fall within the purview of dowry, as the promise SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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though made after marriage, would nevertheless be referrable to the marriage, having been made with a view to preserve the marriage. But, if the demand is made after marriage and it is in respect of a property or valuable security, which was not demanded, was not expected to be given and also was not in contemplation at any time up to solemnization of marriage, demand of such cash, property or valuable security, etc. cannot be said to be in connection with the marriage and, therefore, would not constitute demand of dowry.

85.In Satvir Singh (supra) while dealing with this issue, the Hon"ble Supreme Court, inter alia, observed as under:

"Thus, there are three occasions related to dowry. One is before the marriage, second is at the time of marriage and the third is "at any time" after the marriage.

The third occasion may appear to be an unending period. But the crucial words are "in connection with the marriage of the said parties". This means that giving or agreeing to give any property or valuable security on any of the above three stages should have been in connection with the marriage of the parties. There can be many other instances for payment of money or giving property as between the spouses. For example, some customary payments in connection with birth of a child or other ceremonies are prevalent in different SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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societies. Such payments are not enveloped within the ambit of "dowry".
Hence the dowry mentioned in Section 304B should be any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given in connection with the marriage."

86.In Appasaheb and Anr. Vs. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2007 SC 763, the Hon"ble Supreme Court observed as under:

"In view of the aforesaid definition of the word "dowry" any property or valuable security should be given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly at or before or any time after the marriage and in connection with the marriage of the said parties. Therefore, the giving or taking of property or valuable security must have some connection with the marriage of the parties and a correlation between the giving or taking of property or valuable security with the marriage of the parties is essential. Being a penal provision it has to be strictly construed.

Dowry is a fairly well known social custom or practice in India. It is well settled principle of interpretation of Statute that if the Act is passed with reference to a particular trade, business or transaction and words are used which everybody conversant with that trade, business or transaction knows or understands to have a particular SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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meaning in it, then the words are to be construed as having that particular meaning........A demand for money on account of some financial stringency or for meeting some urgent domestic expenses or for purchasing manure cannot be termed as a demand for dowry as the said word is normally understood.
The evidence adduced by the prosecution does not, therefore, show that any demand for "dowry" as defined in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act was made by the appellants as what was allegedly asked for was some money for meeting domestic expenses and for purchasing manure."

87.It is clear from the evidence of the prosecution witnesses that the deceased has committed suicide but it cannot be related to any dowry related harassment by the accused persons as apparently there is no proximity or link between her death and the alleged mis- conduct by the accused persons.

88.It is clear from the record, especially the evidence of the prosecution witnesses that there was neither any demand by the accused persons for dowry at the time of the marriage of the deceased with accused Mr.Ajay Kumar nor there was any demand SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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for dowry subsequently. There is no harassment or cruelty by the accused persons in connection with the demand of dowry. Although the deceased has died in unnatural circumstances by hanging but it is apparently not due to any harassment for dowry or cruelty by the accused persons. This case is neither covered by section 498-A IPC nor section 304-B IPC and not even section 306 IPC.

89.It is a provenfact by PWs 2 and 3 that there was no dowry demand at the time of marriage of the deceased with accused Mr.Sona Ram and there was no demand even thereafter. It is also clear from their evidence that the relationship between the deceased and her in laws were cordial and accused were not troubling her. It does not appeal to reason that after such a long period of marriage, the harassment of the deceased for dowry would commence.

DOWRY DEATH-PROXIMITY TEST

90.There does not appear to be any proximity or live reason between the death of the deceased and any overt act of the accused, as is clear from the evidence of PWs 2 and 3. It is elaborated in their evidence that the deceased went to the house of Mr.Tulsha Ram and this fact shows that the deceased was indeed headstrong that she went against the wishes of her marital family.

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91.The Indian Penal Code and the Dowry Prohibition Act are both remedial and penal statutes. As such Courts are expected to construe the provisions in a way that the purpose is fulfilled through and within the limits of language employed in the statute. If a case is established then the Courts are to be stringent in dealing with the culprits. The Courts while taking a stringent view and despite the obligation of the Legislature enactment a success have also to keep in mind that the charge should be made out.

92.The main ingredients to be proved for establishing a case under section 304-B IPC are (i) unnatural death of a woman within seven years of her marriage and (ii) she being subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband, in connection with any demand of dowry.

93.The words "it is shown" occurring in section 304-B are of significance for the reason that the initial burden of proving that circumstances envisaged by section 304-B do exist on the prosecution. This being shown or established, the question of presumption under section 113-B of the Evidence Act would arise. In other words, to draw a presumption under section 113-B of the SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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Evidence Act the necessary ingredient that it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection with the demand of dowry has to be proved. Only when these facts are proved then by virtue of the deeming provision of section 304-B, the Court shall presume that the husband or any relative of the husband had caused dowry death. Though cruelty at any time after the marriage may cause depression in the mind of the victim, the cruelty and harassment envisaged by section 304-B is to be soon before the death of a woman.

94.The Courts are to scrutinize the evidence carefully because cases are not rare in which occasionally there is a demand and then the atmosphere become calm and quiet and then again there is demand. Where a wife dies in the house of her husband within a short span of seven years of her marriage, it is of considerable difficulty to assess the precise circumstances in which the incident occurred because ordinarily independent witnesses are not available as the torture and harassment is confined to the four walls of the house. However, the Courts are to be vigilant to scrutinize the evidence regarding the harassment and torture carefully if the witnesses are the relatives of the deceased and relations between them and her in laws are strained for any reason whatever it might be. Urge for living is a natural phenomenon in mankind. A person would not embrace death unless SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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there is some psychological trouble or mental agony or such circumstances that the person committing suicide may think that life he or she is living is more miserable than the pangs and agony of death. The power of tolerance would vary from person to person . Some persons try to make the life easy by tolerance while others even on petty points bring an end to their life. (Reliance can be placed upon the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court reported as Gurditta Singh v. The State of Rajasthan, 1992 Cri.L.J.309).

95.The importance of proximity test is both for the proof of an offence of dowry death as well as for raising a presumption under section 113-B of the Evidence Act. The expression "soon before her death" used in the substantive section 304-B IPC and section 113-B Evidence Act is pregnant with the idea of proximity test. No definite period has been indicated and the expression "soon before" used in section 114, Illustration (a) of the Act is relevant. The determination of the period which can come within the term "soon before" is left to be determined by the Courts, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Suffice, however, to indicate that the expression "soon before" would normally imply that the interval should not be too much between the concerned cruelty or harassment and the death in question. There must be existence of a proximate and live link between the effect of cruelty based on SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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dowry demand and the concerned death. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb mental equilibrium of the woman concerned, it would be of no consequence.

96.It is well settled by several judgments that mere suspicion cannot be a substitute for proof of guilt. In the case reported as State of Punjab v. Bhajan Singh and Ors., AIR 1975 SC 258, it was observed by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India as under :-

''The circumstances of this case undoubtedly create suspicion against the accused. Suspicion, by itself, however strong it may be, is not sufficient to take the place of proof and warrant a finding of guilt of the accused.''

97.In another case reported as Kali Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh, AIR 1973 SC 2773, it was observed by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India as under:-

Another golden thread which runs through the web of the administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favorable to the accused should be adopted. This principle has a special relevance in SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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cases wherein the guilt of the accused is sought to be established by circumstantial evidence. Rule has accordingly been laid down that unless the evidence adduced in the case is consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and is inconsistent with that of this innocence, the court should refrain from recording a finding of guilt of the accused. It is also an accepted rule that in case the court entertains reasonable doubt regarding the guilt of the accused, the accused must have benefit of that doubt........
It needs all the same to be reemphasized that if a reasonable doubt arises regarding the guilt of the accused, the benefit of that cannot be withheld from the accused. The courts would not be justified in withholding that benefit because the acquittal might have an impact upon the law and order situation or create adverse reaction in society or amongst those members of the society who believe the accused to be guilty. The guilt of the accused has to be adjudged not by the fact that a vast number of people believe him to be guilty but whether his guilt has been established by the evidence brought on record. Indeed, the courts have hardly any other yardstick or material to adjudge the guilt of the person arraigned as accused..

98.In another case reported as AIR 1973 SC 2622, it was observed by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India as under :-

''Certainly it is a primary principle that the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before the court can convict and the mental distinction SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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between "may be" and "must be" is long and divides vague conjectures from sure consideration.''

99.Further more, in another case reported as Mousam Singha Roy & Ors. v. State of West Bengal, 2003 (3) JCC 1358, it was observed by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India as under :-

''Before we conclude, we must place on record the fact that we are not unaware of the degree of agony and frustration that may be caused to the society in general and the families of the victims in particular, by the fact that a heinous crime like this goes unpunished, but then the law does not permit the courts to punish the accused on the basis of moral conviction or on suspicion alone. The burden of proof in a criminal trial never shifts, and it is always the burden of the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of acceptable evidence. In a similar circumstance this Court in the case of "Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh Vs State of Punjab (AIR 1957 SC 637) stated thus : It is no doubt a matter of regret that a foul cold- blooded and cruel murder should go unpunished.

There may also be an element of truth in the prosecution story against the accused. Considered as a whole, the prosecution story may be true; but between 'may be true' and 'must be true' there is inevitably a long distance to travel and the whole of this distance must be covered by the prosecution by legal, reliable and unimpeachable evidence before an accused can be convicted.'' SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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100.It is also a settled principle of criminal jurisprudence that the more serious the offence, the stricter the degree of proof, since a higher degree of assurance is required to convict the accused.

101.In the present case under consideration, when there is no evidence that there was any demand of dowry prior to the marriage and regarding the demand thereof subsequent to the marriage, the two witnesses, PWs 2 and 3, had improved their version in the Court from what they had deposed before the Police and the SDM, and therefore the prosecution case is not established. More importantly, there is nothing on the record which could show that there was any cruelty in connection with demand of dowry. It is also clear that the parents of the deceased had not made any complaint against the accused during the life time of the deceased. All these facts also indicate that the accused and the deceased did not have any disputes. The accused has neither treated the deceased with cruelty for dowry nor are responsible for her death in any manner.

102.It cannot be ignored that the deceased had been living in her father's house since 02.07.2008 when she came to the native village Shaishli after leaving her matrimonial home in June, 2008. She came with her father to Delhi on 26.07.2008 and was living there SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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since then. She committed suicide in her father's house on 07.08.2008 i.e. a little after one month of her stay with her father and about two months of her leaving her matrimonial home. Apparently there was no contact between the deceased and the accused since 02.07.2008 nor there was any overt act of the accused abetting her suicide. There does not appear to be any proximity between the death of the deceased and act of the accused persons. There is no proximate and live link between the effect of cruelty based on dowry demand and the concerned death. The alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb mental equilibrium of the deceased and it would be of no consequence.

103.Applying the law enunciated in the above referred judgments, I am of the considered opinion that the prosecution has not been able to establish the role of the accused in the commission of the alleged crime.

104.I find on perusal of the evidence of PW13, Dr.Sandeep Seotra, that it is a case of suicide by the deceased.

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105.However, there is nothing on the record which could show that it is due to the conduct of the accused that the deceased took the extreme step of committing suicide.

FINAL FINDING

106.All the above overwhelming discrepancies and glaring blemishes in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses are too significant to be ignored and are fatal to the prosecution case and are sufficient for throwing out the case of the prosecution as they strike at the root of the substantive allegations as against the accused. These blemishes shatter the veracity of the prosecution case, thereby throwing a shadow of doubt on the prosecution story.

107.I am of the considered view that the above discrepancies occurring in the deposition of various witnesses are not usual and natural and strike at the root of the matter and are fatal for the prosecution, thereby throwing a shadow of doubt on the prosecution story and shatter its veracity. All the above discrepancies, contradictions and blemishes in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses are to significant to be ignored and appear to be fatal and are sufficient for throwing out the case of the prosecution as they strike at the root of the substantive allegations as against the accused.

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108.The evidence of the prosecution witnesses does not appear to be reliable. The prosecution story does not inspire confidence and is not worthy of credence. The role of the accused as the culprit in the prosecution story has not been proved.

109.The prosecution has to prove its case beyond all shadow of doubt on its own strengths and cannot take advantage of the weakness, if any, of the defence. An accused is presumed to be innocent till proved guilty. It cannot be ignored that the greater the crime, the stronger is the proof required and fouler the crime, higher the proof. The prosecution has failed to establish any circumstance which could point a finger of doubt towards the accused persons and their role in the commission of the alleged offence. If there are two views coming forth in the prosecution case, the one which is favourable to the accused is required to be taken. The prosecution has failed to fully satisfy the requirements of section 113-B of the Evidence Act and sections 498-A and 304-B of the IPC.

110.It is clear from the above discussion and analysis that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the charge against the accused for the offence under sections 498-A/304-B/34 of the IPC SC 96 of 2009 Unique Case ID Number: 02401R0207222009 State versus Sona Ram & Anr.

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that in between 12.05.2006 to 07.08.2008 at Village Shadada, District Pali, Rajasthan and T-627A, Baljeet Nagar, Delhi, both the accused persons in furtherance of their common intention subjected Ms.Geeta (deceased wife of accused Mr.Sona Ram) to cruelty in connection with demand of dowry and she had died an unnatural death by hanging herself within seven years of her marriage on 07.08.2009 at T-627A, Baljeet Nagar, Delhi due to cruelty in connection with demand of dowry.

111.The prosecution story does not inspire confidence and is not worthy of credence, especially in view of the above elaborated glaring contradictions and overwhelming inconsistencies.

112.The conscience of this Court is completely satisfied that the prosecution has miserably failed to bring home the charge against all the accused persons. Accordingly, Mr.Sona Ram and Ms.Havli Devi @ Sawli Devi, both the accused persons, are hereby given the benefit of doubt and are acquitted of the charge.

113.Compliance of section 437-A of the Cr.P.C. is made in the order sheet.

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114.File be consigned to record room.

Announced in the open Court (NIVEDITA ANIL SHARMA) on this 27th day of August, 2010. ASJ-01, West, Delhi.

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