Delhi High Court: While upholding the decision of Trial Court, Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, JJ., reiterated that dying declaration of a person by itself, maybe sufficient to find the accused guilty and if the statement is reliable and credible, it does not even need corroboration.
Convict preferred the present appeal against the decision of lower court arising out of an FIR registered under Sections 302, 304B, 498A, 34, 174A of Penal Code, 1860 against the four accused, namely Rohtash, Santosh, Sumit and Jitender.
Appellant Sumit – accused 3 was found guilty of commission of offence of murder under Section 302 IPC. Other accused persons were acquitted of the offence for which they were charged.
Deceased and her sister were married to both sons of the accused Rohtash and few days after the marriage, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in- law and the husband of the deceased started abusing and beating both the sisters and even damaged the articles given in the marriage. Later both the sisters were beaten and removed from the matrimonial house and the child aged 15-16 days was also snatched from the deceased. Though the child was given back to the mother after police intervention.
After a few days, the accused and other relatives settled the matter and took the sisters to the matrimonial home, where they were both beaten again. After a few days, while the accused Sumit was quarrelling with and beating the deceased, he poured kerosene on her, and she was set on fire. Later the neighbours doused the fire and took her to the hospital.
To the Executive Magistrate, deceased in her statement alleged that she was tortured for the demand of car and two fridges by all the accused persons and her husband had set her ablaze in the presence of other accused persons.
In view of the above-stated background,
Charges were framed against the accused persons, but they all pleaded ‘not guilty’.
Eye Witness (PW-3) sister of the deceased deposed about the incident and about the physical and mental torture to which the deceased was subjected by the accused persons.
High Court stated that the trial court had acquitted the accused including the appellant in relation to the offence under Section 398A and 304B of the Penal Code, 1860.
In Court’s opinion, the testimony of the deceased’s sister was corroborated by the Dying Declaration of the deceased.
Supreme Court in the decision of Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay, AIR 1958 SC 22, held that the dying declaration of a person by itself, may be sufficient to find the accused guilty and if the statement is reliable and credible, it does not even need corroboration.
Bench found that the dying declaration of the deceased was very clear in the present matter.
What did she state?
She stated that yesterday i.e. 14.09.2012, in the night at about 10/10:30 P.M., her husband Sumit @ Vicky, her father in law – Rohtash, her mother in law – Santosh and brother in law – Jitender @ Tinku were all at home and her husband Sumit caught held of her hand and took her to the terrace and her husband poured kerosene oil on her and lit the matchstick in the presence of the other persons/ accused and put her on fire. Her elder sister was also on the terrace at that time, and she was shouting “bachao bachao”. However, nobody came to help her and they all went down. That is when her elder brother in law – Pradeep came to the terrace and with his help and the help of the neighbours, her brother in law Pradeep took her to the hospital. She stated that the accused used to demand dowry and harassed her for the same. They had demanded a car and two fridges in dowry and after her marriage she was being harassed for dowry. She stated that her husband – Sumit, mother in law – Santosh, father in law – Rohtash, and brother in law – Jitender @ Tinku were responsible for her condition.
Deceased’s statement on the aspect of the manner and cause of her death inspired the confidence of its voluntariness, truthfulness and correctness, and was also sufficiently corroborated by testimony of PW-3 and other evidence brought on record.
Hence, Trial Court’s decision was upheld as the finding of the appellant’s guilt in the commission of the offence under Section 300 IPC and was correctly convicted under Section 302 IPC.
Appeal was dismissed in view of the above decision. [Sumit v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4551, decided on 30-9-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Appellant: Siddharth Yadav, Advocate
For the Respondent: APP for the State