Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: In absence of convincing evidence for sustaining the conviction of the appellants (in-laws), Sadhana S. Jadhav, J. reversed the trial court’s judgment whereby they were convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498-A (cruelty to woman) IPC.

Ujawala (deceased) was married to Pravin, son of the appellants. She had disclosed to her parents that she was happy with Pravin, but was ill-treated and harassed by her in-laws. On 06-04-1995, she immolated herself. Pravin extinguished the fire and took her to the hospital, but she succumbed to burn injuries. Appellant’s conviction rested on the dying declaration made by Ujwala where she categorically stated that the appellants quarreled with her and abused her for no reason, and therefore being fed up, she immolated herself.

Shekhar A. Ingawale, Advocate represented the appellants. Per contra, Pallavi Dabholkar, Assistant Public Prosecutor appeared for the State.

The High Court noted some pertinent facts: (i) There was a doubt as to endorsement  of the Doctor that Ujawala was in a fit condition to give the statement; (ii) as per the record, Ujwala sustained 100% burn injuries on both hands, in spite of that a clear thumb impression was obtained on her statement; (iii) the statement was snot read-over to Ujwala; (iv) Ujwala’s father was present at the time of recording of her statement  and even countersigned it. Such and other facts, in the Court’s opinion, spelled a doubt on the veracity of Ujwala’s dying declaration.

The Court additionally noted that options were open to Ujwala. She was working in a factory, was economically independent and her husband was supportive. In such a view, it was held that no conviction could be recorded solely on the basis of the dying declaration. The appeal was thus allowed. [Nana Dhondiram Lad v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 605, decided on 15-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed a petition filed against the judgment of Revisional Court whereby petitioner’s / complainant’s in-laws were discharged of the offences under  Sections 498-A and 34 IPC.

In 2013, petitioner had filed an FIR against her husband and in-laws alleging harassment. It was alleged that her husband used to come late and beat the petitioner and when she complained to her in-laws, they behaved in the same manner. She was thrown out of the matrimonial house and was threatened not to enter again.

Anuj Kr Ranjan, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that there was sufficient material on record to substantiate framing of charge under Section 498-A. Per contra, Kishan N. Rana, Advocate for in-laws submitted that allegations against them were bald and even the investigation did not ravel any incriminating material.

After perusing the FIR, it was noted by the High Court that “in one breath, the petitioner named all the family members without specific role ascribed to any one of them.”Though instances were mentioned vis-a-vis her mother-in-law and brother of father-in-law, however, no specifics about date, time or place were given. Omnibus allegations were made which according to the Court did not justify framing a charge under Section 498-A as “for a change to be framed, the evidence gathered by the prosecution should not only give rise to suspicion but there should be grave suspicion that the accused have committed the offence.” Consequently, the petition was dismissed. It may be noted that in the present case, a charge was framed against the husband who was facing trial. [Anju v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6865, dated 04-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of Mangesh S. Patil, J. dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of Additional Sessions Judge rejecting petitioner’s application under Section 319 CrPC for adding husband and in-laws of the deceased co-accused.

Petitioner was the father of the deceased– Sumitra. Sumitra was found murdered with a bullet injury on her head. An FIR was lodged and criminal law was set into motion. It was alleged that Sumitra came to know about the illicit relationship between her sister-in-law and brother-in-law Vilas as a consequence of which he murdered Sumitra. At the conclusion of the investigation, Vilas was chargesheeted in the crime. The petitioner was examined as the first witness. It was thereafter, that he submitted an application under Section 319 CrPC to array Sumitra’s husband and in-laws as co-accused. The application was rejected by the trial Judge. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner was before the High Court.

K.H. Surve, Advocate for the husband and in-laws submitted that petitioner moved the application without any basis relying on whatever material was collected by the Investigating Officer.

The High Court stated, “power under Section 319 is to be invoked under special circumstances where during the course of trial some additional evidence comes on record which reveals involvement of some more persons in commission of the crime.” Referring to Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab, (2014) 3 SCC 92, the Court observed that power under Section 319 can be exercised by trial court at any stage of the trial provided there is some “evidence” which is interpreted to mean material brought before the court during the trial. Material collected by IO during inquiry can be utilised to corroborate such evidence. In the present case, no such additional material or evidence came on record during the trial so as to reveal complicity of husband and in-laws in the crime. Resultantly, the petition was dismissed. [Vishwambhar v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 9, dated 03-01-2019]