By – Sonali Singh
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||DEEN DAYAL & ORS. VS STATE OF UP|
|CITATIONS||CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 67 OF 2006 AIR 2009 SC 1238|
|DATE OF JUDGEMENT||7 JANUARY 2009|
|APPELLANT||DEEN DAYAL AMAR SINGH SMT. SUKHRANI|
|RESPOMDANT||STATE OF UP|
|BENCHES OF JUDGES||LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA J. AFTAB ALAM|
|STATUTES||SEC 304 B OF IPC SEC 302 OF IPC DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT,1961 SEC 113A OF INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT 1872|
Dowry death has become one of evil in Indian society, where the girl and her parents are forced to give money, jewellery, and property as ‘dahej’ to the groom’s family.
As per the judgement held by the supreme court on 11th October 2006, it has been noted that the demand for dowry has increased at a fast rate in the last few years. Many cases related to dowry is being put before the court, where the husband and his family members are threatening, harassing, and killing them if the demand for dowry is not fulfilled.
Nowadays scientific research and medical evidence have proved to be a crucial area in establishing the exact cause of deaths and proving unnatural death.
The case DEEN DAYAL & ORS. The VS STATE OF UP is a criminal appeal no. 67 of January 2006.
This case is in a relation to the judgement that has been passed by Allahabad high court in the year 2009, which deals with the dowry death due to head injury.
A further appeal was made in the supreme court as Allahabad high court reversed the judgement holding the accused liable for dowry death.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
As this case is regarding dowry death, so it is very important to understand the word “soon before her death” in a very relative and flexible sense.
In the related case victims’ parents stated that because of the nonfulfillment of the continuous demand of dowry by the accused, they have killed my daughter. But as per the statement of the accused the case came up with the accident where the deceased slipped into the well and died due to head injury and there was no demand for dowry in the marriage.
FACTS OF THE CASE
- The victim Asha Devi was married to the appellant, Amar singh in June 1997.
- On 6 September 1998 after 15 months of marriage she died.
- At the time of her death, she was living with her husband and in laws.
- Her dead body was found in a well which was on 400 paces distance from the appellant’s house. When her dead body was taken out, then she was dead.
- As per the appellants statement, Asha Devi had gone to fetch water from the well and she might have slipped and accidently fell into the well while pulling the rope.
- Asha’s body was taken to the hospital for postmortem, and as per the medical report there was a swelling of 3*3cm in front upper part of nose and 5*5cm swelling mark on top and middle of head.
- Her left parietal head bone was fractured and there was no blood in brain. Blood clotting was also found in nose, and 2 ounce of watery fluid in stomach.
- As per the report death was caused due to coma from getting severe head injury which was possibly caused by some blunt weapon.
- Medical evidence has corroborated that the deceased was thrown into the water when she was dead or was dying and stopped breathing because of the absence of water in the lungs and windpipe.
- Dr. Dubey later came up with statement that as the well was 60-70 ft. deep, so the deceased must have smashed her head against the wall in the well as went into coma, as the well was covered by the woods.
- Evidence has recorded that Asha Devi died under the circumstances that were not only far from normal but also plainly indicated homicide.
- The deceased father stated that at the time of his daughter’s wedding he gave dowry according to his capacity, but the bridegrooms side were no satisfied, they always use to demand rs.10000 and a gold chain. When my son went to take my daughter back, they also demanded dowry from my son.
- The appellants also use to abuse and beat my daughter for the sake of dowry and use to tell my daughter that they will arrange a second marriage for their son.
- Asha Devi was put to cruelty and harassment due to the non-fulfillment of dowry demanded and this was the proximate cause of her death.
ISSUE RAISED IN THE CASE
Whether or not the harassment and cruelty meted by the victim in connection with dowry demand was soon before her death and the proximate cause of death?
ARGUMENTS OF APPELLANT
- It was argued that death was accidental because of falling into well and getting severe head injury.
- It was further stated by three of the appellants that there was no demand of dowry in the marriage and engagement.
- Asha Devi might have hit her head against the wall while falling into the well, before hitting water surface.
ARGUMENTS OF THE RESPONDENT
- They argued that the dead body has been thrown into the well after the death because of the unfulfillment of the dowry.
- As per the medical evidence, the death has been caused due to the coma because of head injury, which is possibly caused by some blunt weapon, he also further added that no water is found in the lungs and windpipe.
- It was also further stated that if there was water in the well then, those injuries could not possibly have been caused.
- The victims father stated that the appellants use to demand rs.10000 and a gold chain from his son when he went to take his sister back after marriage.
- The appellant used to beat and abuse my daughter for the sake of dowry and threatened her that if the demand for dowry is not fulfilled, they will look for another marriage of their son.
Many laws have been enacted by the Indian government for the prohibition of dowry.
One of such acts is the DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT 1961, which was constituted for the prohibition of the practices for dowry but even after the enactment of several rules and legislations the dowry practice continued in the society.
To stop the dowry death, sec 304 B has been inserted by the parliament in IPC. Before the enactment of sec304B, the cases related to dowry were dealt with under sec 302 and sec 306 of IPC 1860, which covers murder and suicide.
Dowry death has been defined under sec 304B of the IPC 1860 as if the death of a woman is caused within the 7 yrs. of marriage by burning, bodily injury or any of the unnatural circumstances and if she was subjected to harassment and cruelty by any of the family members regarding the demand for dowry, such death will be considered as dowry death.
As per the given section, punishment for dowry death is imprisonment of a minimum of 7 years which could extend to a lifetime.
Some of the essentials proving dowry death are:
- The cause of death must be due to burns, bodily injury and because of unnatural circumstances.
- Death must be caused within 7 years of marriage.
- The cruelty and harassment must be in regard with demand of dowry.
- The woman must have been harassed by her husband and family members soon before death.
As per the established essentials, the accused will be presumed to have committed the crime as per section 113B of the INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872.
When the question is whether someone has committed the dowry death of a girl and it is shown that soon before her death such woman has been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or about, any demand for dowry, the Court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.
The supreme court in this case also relied on the meaning of the term “soon before her death” and it was held that the death of the deceased has been caused by severe head injuries and no water is found in the windpipe and lungs, so she did not die of drowning and as per the facts present in the case, an accident is not possible.
They were tried for killing Asha Devi, wife of appellant no.3 for non-fulfilment of their demand for dowry and were charged under sections 498-A and 304-B, alternatively section 302 of the Penal Code. After the trial, they were acquitted of the charges by the 4th Additional Session Judge, vide judgment and order dated April 30, 2001, in Sessions Trial no.740 of 1998. Against the judgment of acquittal passed by the trial court, the State of U.P. preferred an appeal before the High Court that was registered as Govt. Appeal no.2998 of 2001. A Division Bench of the High Court found and held that in the face of prosecution evidence the conclusion arrived at by the trial court was wholly untenable. Accordingly, the High Court allowed the appeal, set aside the Judgment of acquittal passed by the trial court and by judgment and order dated September 21, 2005, convicted all the three appellants under sections 498-A and 304-B of the Penal Code and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and ten years respectively for the two offences subject to the direction that the two sentences would run concurrently. The judgment and order passed by the High Court are brought under appeal to this court by the three appellants.
The accused were shown to have been dissatisfied by the amount of dowry given by the deceased’s parents and cruelty has been proved. The court relied upon the medical evidence and held the accused guilty of dowry death.
Dowry is evil in society which has become one of the vast reasons for taking the lives of innocent women. Many women commit suicide because of threats, many are harassed and killed by the groom’s family or his family members on the unfulfillment of the demand for dowry.
As we have seen in the present case that medical evidence had a great role in proving dowry death as they ensure that justice is delivered.
Many times, cases of dowry death are presented as a case of accidental death which results in the acquittal of the accused. Here medical evidence helps in establishing the fact of unnatural death before the court.