Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that:
“Courts must not close its eyes to the fact that it is the victim who knocks the doors of the Court and seeks justice must not left high and dry with the feeling that the accused have escaped due to the perfunctory/faulty/defective investigation.”
Instant petition as directed against the decision of Additional Sessions Judge that discharged the respondent 4 and 5 for the offences under Sections 306/34 of the Penal Code, 1860.
Petitioners are the parents of the deceased who was married to respondent 3. The deceased was found hanging by the neck from the ceiling fan in her matrimonial house within two and a half years of her marriage.
Statements before the SDM
Petitioner 1 i.e. the mother of the deceased stated that the deceased was not happy in her marriage and her mother-in-law and sister-in-law were responsible for the suicide. Though the deceased’s father said that he did not have any grievances or any complaints against any persons and that no one was responsible for the death of the deceased.
No FIR was registered against respondent 4 and 5.
After about 10 months of the death of the deceased, an FIR was registered under Sections 306/34 IPC.
Additional Sessions Judge found that the statements of parents before the SDM did not bear any stamp and that they were also not signed by the petitioners. Prima Facie no material was found to proceed against the accused persons for charges under Sections 306/34 IPC, hence the accused were discharged.
Though the Additional Sessions Judge found investigational lapses that required due probe and further directed for a copy of the order to be sent to the Screening Committee for appropriate action.
The above-said order has been challenged in the present petition.
Analysis, Law and Decision
“…charge-sheet in the instant case bleeds of wounds inflicted by the Police.”
No explanation on why FIR was registered after 10 months of the death
Bench noted that the investigation was oriented in order to give a closure report. And filing of FIR after ten months of the incident was contrary to law.
Petitioner 1 stated that the respondent 4 and 5 demanded dowry, hence there was no reason, whatsoever, not to lodge an FIR for an offence under Section 304B IPC.
It was also stated that IO told the petitioners to give statements as per his will and suggestions and threatened her. Petitioner 1’s letter to the Commissioner of police revealed that IO was forcing the parents of the deceased to enter into a compromise with the respondents.
To construe an offence under Section 304 B i.e. dowry death, the death of the women could have been caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with, any demand for dowry.
Ingredients for constituting Section 304 B were made out but surprisingly no FIR was registered.
In the instant matter, the death occurred within 7 years of marriage and allegations of dowry death were also present against the respondent 4 and 5. Deceased died by committing suicide.
Bench expressed that unfortunately neither the Magistrate nor the ASJ orders a further investigation after commenting on glaring loopholes with the investigation.
Sufficient material on record was placed stating that the deceased was subjected to cruelty/harassment with the demand of dowry by respondent 4 and 5 and hence presumption under Section 113(b) of the Indian Evidence Act will apply.
It is well settled that where there has been negligence on the part of the investigating agencies or omissions either negligently or with a design to favour the accused, then it becomes the obligation of the Court to ensure that proper investigation is carried out.
In the present matter, investigation was conducted in an extremely shoddy manner.
High Court elaborating more on the present matter stated that the ASJ while passing the impugned judgment on noticing the glaring inconsistencies should have ordered for further investigation.
Hence, impugned Judgment was set aside. High Court directed police to conduct an investigation on the basis of petitioners’ statements and the same to be conducted by a different investigation officer. [Saroj Bhola v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1497, decided on 05-04-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioners: Chanan Parwani, Advocate
For the Respondents: Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State and respondent 2
Charanjeet Singh, Advocate for respondents 3 to 6