High Court Round UpLegal RoundUp

TOP STORY OF THE MONTH 


Marital Rape

Split Verdict on Criminalisation of Marital Rape| Can a Husband be labelled as a rapist? Does MRE provide impunity to offender? One says ‘Yes’, other says ‘No’

In a split verdict the Division Bench of Rajiv Shakdher and C. Hari Shankar, JJ., laid down their opinion on “Should a husband be held criminally liable for raping his wife who is not under 18 years of age?”

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Allahabad High Court


Employees State Insurance Act

Whether ‘Printing Press’ is a manufacturing process under Employees State Insurance Act?

Stating that the word ‘manufacturing process’ has been expansively defined under the Factories Act even to include Printing Press activity as a manufacturing process whereas in common parlance Printing Press cannot be termed as a ‘manufacturing process’, Pankaj Bhatia, J., held that, the term ‘manufacturing process’ was added to the ESI Act after the 1989 Amendment, hence, there would be no application of the said term prior to the said amendment.

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Abetment of Suicide

Biggest jolt for any married woman that her husband is being shared by some other lady or he is going to marry some other lady: Court dismisses discharge application of husband accused of abetting suicide of wife

Rahul Chaturvedi, J., noted that a lady soon after coming to know that her husband got married in clandestine way with some other lady, committed suicide.

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Loudspeaker

Use of loudspeaker in mosque is not a fundamental right

The Division Bench of Vivek Kumar Birla and Vikas Budhwar, JJ., held that the law has been settled, that use of loudspeaker from mosque is not a fundamental right.

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Maintenance

If wife sells out some property, in order to maintain her children, would that mean the wife will not have opportunity to claim maintenance under S. 125 CrPC?

Brij Raj Singh, J., while discussing the matter with regard to providing maintenance to a wife, noted that the Court below had made observations on being influenced by factual aspects which were not proved.

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Duty of father to maintain child, daughter entitled to seek maintenance from father

Brij Raj Singh, J., expressed that, a father is legally bound to maintain his child according to the status and lifestyle.

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Taj Mahal

Judges by experience and training not equipped to pronounce any verdict on non-justiciable issues: Sealed 22 rooms at Taj Mahal to stay locked

In a matter wherein the petitioner sought commissioning of a study so that the history of Taj Mahal could be explored, and controversy be put to rest, the Division Bench of Devendra Upadhyaya and Subhash Vidyarthi, JJ., held that the as to which subject should be studied or researched or which topic of a particular area or discipline are not issues where this Court can be said to be possessed of any judicially manageable standards to adjudicate upon.

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Divorce

If divorce is declared in one go and Fatwa is issued, Is muslim wife entitled to maintenance under S. 125 CrPC?

Brij Raj Singh, J., while addressing a maintenance case, observed that if a wife proves that she is unable to maintain herself, she will be entitled to maintenance.

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Sexual Assault

Junior of a practicing advocate alleges to have been subjected to sexual assault: Will All HC grant him bail?

In an alleged sexual assault case, Samit Gopal, J., noted that allegations of sexual assault were against a practicing lawyer by a junior in his office.

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Andhra Pradesh High Court


[Doctrine of Separability] AP HC discussed the enforceability of arbitration clause embedded in an unstamped charter party/agreement

“The doctrine of separability treats an agreement to arbitrate contained within a contract as an independent agreement that is deemed to be separable from the main contract. The doctrine preserves the validity and enforceability of the arbitration clause in a contract, even when the primary contract is found to be invalid and unenforceable, providing autonomy to the arbitration clause. The UNCITRAL Model law on International Commercial Arbitration, 1985, Article 16[1], integrates the doctrine of separability as an arbitration clause which forms part of a contract shall be treated as an agreement independent of the other terms of the contract.”

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Bombay High Court


News Items

Article on a rift between police officers published in newspaper: Will the reporter be punished under S. 505 IPC?

In a matter wherein, a journalist sought to quash proceedings against him for publishing news items regarding the rift between the officers of the police departments, the Division Bench of Prasanna B. Varale and S.M. Modak, JJ., expressed that:

“If we will say that any news article pertaining to two Sections of any Department will fall within the purview of Section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code, in that case, we are interpreting the provisions of Section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code too far and it is not expected by legislatures.”

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Dying Declaration

Dying declaration is by itself sufficient to convict an accused of accusation levelled against him provided dying declaration is found to be voluntary, truthful and hence, could inspire confidence of Court

While addressing a matter with regard to a husband setting ablaze his wifethe Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Milind N. Jadhav, JJ., made an observation with respect to dying declaration that,

It is by itself sufficient to convict an accused for the accusation levelled against him provided the dying declaration is found to be voluntary, truthful and hence, could inspire the confidence of the court.

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Medical Test

Bom HC provides succor to a girl who was declared “male” in medical test, Directs State to consider her for post in Police department

The Division Bench of Revati Mohite Dere and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., directs the State Government of Maharashtra, to consider a woman who was declared as “male” in her medical test for the non-constabulary post in the police department.

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Section 377 Penal Code, 1860

Would kissing on lips and touching private parts of a minor be an offence under S. 377 Penal Code, 1860?

Anuja Prabhudessai, J., observed that touching private parts and kissing on the lips of a minor would not constitute to be an offence under Section 377 of Penal Code, 1860.

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Cruelty

Can filing of divorce petition by husband be an act of ‘Cruelty’?

Vibha Kankanwadi, J., held that, if a husband files a divorce petition that cannot be taken as an act of cruelty.

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Maintenance to in-laws

Can Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Tribunal direct the daughter-in-law to pay maintenance to her in-laws?

The Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and Revati Mohite Dere, JJ., observed that the daughter-in-law cannot be directed by the  Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Tribunal to pay maintenance to her in-laws.

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Bonafide Passenger

If a passenger carries a season ticket on local train but fails to provide an identity card, would he be not covered under ‘Bonafide Passenger’?

While partly allowing the appeal wherein a passenger sustained injuries in an untoward incident, Sandeep K. Shinde, J., expressed that, Railway Claim Tribunal, shall proceed to grant compensation to the appellants in terms of Rule 3 of the Rules, 1990, after verifying the medical evidence produced by the appellant in support of his claim.

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Calcutta High Court


Spot Memos

None of the proceedings initiated by the department shown to have been taken to the logical end; spot memos cannot be enforced

The Court was unclear about the fact that why different wings of the very same department have been issuing notices and summons to the appellants without taking any of the earlier proceedings to the logical end.

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Ocular Testimony

In case of discrepancy between ocular and medical evidence, ocular testimony shall prevail; Conviction set aside entitling benefit of doubt

Bibek Chaudhury, J. allowed an appeal which was filed assailing the judgment and order of conviction passed by the Trial Court for committing offence under Section 324 of the Penal Code, 1860 and consequence sentence of imprisonment for a term of one year with fine.

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Vital Facts

Vital facts overlooked by the Trial Court; Conviction set aside under Essential Commodities Act, 1955

Moushumi Bhattacharya, J. allowed an appeal which was filed assailing the impugned judgment passed under section 7 (1) (a) (ii), of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and paragraph 12 of the West Bengal Kerosene Control Order, 1968. The appellant was convicted under the aforesaid provisions with fine and simple imprisonment.

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Bail

Bail granted to NDPS accused with 100% speech and hearing impairment

The Division Bench of Kesang Doma Bhutia and Moushumi Bhattacharya, JJ. allowed a bail application of the petitioner suffering from 100% speech and hearing impairment under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 under Section 21(C) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

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Income Tax

Not providing an opportunity to file a reply to the show-cause notice violation of principle of natural justice; Case remanded back to the Assessing Officer for fresh assessment

Md. Nizamuddin, J. allowed a petition which was filed challenging the impugned assessment order under Section 147 read with Section 144B of the Income Tax Act, 1961 relating to assessment year 2013-2014 on the ground of violation of principle of natural justice by not providing the petitioner with an opportunity to file a reply to the show-cause-notice.

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Conviction

Abscondence of an accused by itself does not establish his guilt; Conviction and sentence for punishment of murder set aside

The Division Bench of Joymalya Bagchi and Ananya Bandyopadhyay, JJ. allowed an appeal which was directed against the judgment and order convicting the appellant for commission of offence punishable under Sections 302 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay fine.

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Chhattisgarh High Court


Irretrievable breakdown of Marriage

Chh HC dissolves marriage on appeal filed by husband against trial court order

Sanjay S. Agrawal, J., reversed the judgment of the trial court and granted divorce in an application filed by the husband, while granting Rs 15 lakhs permanent alimony to the wife.

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Excise Act

Confiscation order can only be challenged when it reaches its finality and the statute does not give any space to challenge any other order except the final one

Goutam Bhaduri, J., allowed the petition and directed the vehicle to be released on certain conditions.

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Negative Equality

Art. 14 of the Constitution does not envisage negative equality; Grant of study leave to employees under probation, cannot be a ground for claiming negative parity in the teeth of R. 42 (5) of Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 2010

A Division Bench of Arup Kumar Goswami CJ. and Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant J. dismissed the appeal and remarked that quality cannot be claimed in illegality.

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Appellate Tribunal

Whether the power exercised by the single-member Appellate Tribunal of STAT formed under MV Act would be valid under RERA and within jurisdiction?

The Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and Sanjay S Agarwal, JJ. directed that the State shall ensure that the Appellate Tribunal shall be made functional so that the grievance of the public at large who are affected are redressed.

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Cruelty

Would pledge of ornaments kept for marriage of a daughter and use for self without knowledge of husband would amount to cruelty?

In a matter pertaining to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Goutam Bhaduri and N.K. Chandravanshi, JJ., expressed that, if a spouse by her own conduct, without caring about the future of the daughter, parts with ornaments which were meant for the marriage, it will be within the ambit of mental cruelty done by the wife.

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Delhi High Court


Shared Household

Visits of sundry family members to matrimonial home, without permanency or intention to treat premises as a shared household: Would it render family members as members of shared household?

Prateek Jalan, J., addressed the issue of whether visits of sundry family members to the matrimonial home, without permanency or the intention to treat the premises as a shared household, would render them members of the “shared household.

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Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

Husband and wife, two pillars of family, if one gets weak or breaks, whole house crashes down

In a matter of dissolution of marriage, the Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ and Jasmeet Singh, J., expressed that husband and wife together can deal with any situation, if one gets weak or breaks, the whole crashes down.

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Judicial Functions

How an Additional Rent Controller did not exhibit a great degree of temperance in discharge of judicial functions

Hari Shankar, J., expressed that, Unwarranted and needless hypersensitivity is not expected of Judicial Officers, who are expected, at all times to maintain composure and poise, befitting the office they hold.

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Negotiable Instruments Act

When no offence is attributable to Company, it is not possible to attach liability on Managing Director by deeming provisions of S. 141 of the NI Act

Asha Menon, J., held that if no offence is attributed to the company, its Directors and other persons responsible for the conduct of its business cannot be saddled with any liability.

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Trademark Infringement

Infringement of Starbucks trademark FRAPPUCCINO | Del HC awards Rs 2 lakh in damages and 9 lakh costs

In a matter wherein Starbucks trademark ‘frappuccino’ was being infringed, Jyoti Singh, J., while observing that, FRAPPUCCINO trademarks have acquired formidable reputation and goodwill in India, awarded Starbuck Rupees 2 lakhs damages and 9 lakh costs.

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Titles of films are capable of being recognised under trademark law? Read Del HC’s decision in light of film ‘SHOLAY’

Prathiba M. Singh, J., expressed that, the word ‘SHOLAY’, is the title of an iconic film, and consequently, as a mark having been associated with the film, cannot be held to be devoid of protection

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[Trademark Battle] Karim’s v. Kareem’s | Kareem’s related to or associated with Delhi’s iconic Karim’s restaurant?

Prathiba M. Singh, J., has restrained Kareem Dhanani from opening any further restaurants under the marks “KARIM/KARIM’S/KAREEM/KAREEM’S” or any other marks which are identical or deceptively similar to the Plaintiff’s marks “KARIM/KARIM’S/KAREEM” till the next date of hearing.

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Section 304B Penal Code, 1860

Injuries found on person of deceased who was more than 6 months pregnant, but MM ignored postmortem report: Will onus be on husband to offer an explanation under S. 104 Evidence Act?

Asha Menon, J., while setting aside the conclusion of the Metropolitan Magistrate and upholding the intervention by Sessions Court expressed that, injuries were found on the person of the deceased who was more than 6 months pregnant during her residence with her husband, hence the onus will be on him under Section 104 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to offer an explanation.

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Marital Rape

Explainer | Would striking down ‘Marital Rape Exception’ create a New Offence?

In the Split verdict on Criminalisation of Marital Rape Exception (MRE), the Division Bench of Delhi High Court pronounced a 393-Pages Judgment, wherein the Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C. Hari Shankar while disagreeing with each other on various issues, very significantly pointed out the issue if  “NEW OFFENCE”.

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Extradition

When does petitioner’s concern of lack of disclosure of evidence require court’s intervention?

Chandra Dhari Singh, J., while addressing a matter, expressed that,

Under Principles of Natural Justice, it is settled law that (a) where at the stage where an authority is merely required to form an opinion as to whether an enquiry should be held into allegations or contraventions, it is not required to give to the notice details of nature of evidence and documents, and (b) where a hearing for determination of guilt is to be held de novo, without any reference to any preliminary enquiry report, then the report need not be disclosed to the party affected.

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Post-Decisional Hearing

MeitY directed to provide original copy of blocking order and post-decisional hearing to owner and creator of website ‘Dowry Calculator’

The Division Bench of Manmohan and Dinesh Kumar Sharma, JJ., in a matter with regard to blocking of a website ‘Dowry Calculator’, directed the MeitY committee to give a copy of the order to the creator of the website.

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Ration Delivery Scheme

Delhi HC strikes down Delhi Government’s Doorstep Ration Delivery Scheme | Lieutenant Governor expressed his difference of opinion

The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, ACJ and Jasmeet Singh, J., held that, the Delhi Government’s Mukhya Matri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana cannot be implemented and rolled out by the GNCTD since the LG expressed his difference of opinion.

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Society

Can an occupant deprived of his demarcated car parking in a Society registered under Delhi Cooperative Societies Act occupied by unauthorized occupants approach the Court?

The Division Bench of Mukta Gupta and Neena Bansal Krishna, JJ., observed that Court cannot assume the duties of the Administrator or the Executive Committee to address the day-to-day grievances.

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Condonation of Delay

Whether merely writing letters or making representations would give a sufficient cause or ground to a party to seek condonation of delay?

Stating that mere writing of a letter of representation cannot furnish an adequate explanation for the delay, Jyoti Singh, J., expressed that, it is a settled principle of law that in writ jurisdiction, the Court would not ordinarily assist those who are lethargic and indolent.

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Landlord-Tenant

Once tenant starts paying rent, can he/she turn around and challenge title of landlord?

In a matter with regard to the grant of leave to defend, Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that, the tenant cannot merely make allegations that the landlord has other premises without producing some material to substantiate the same.

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Custom Duty

Import without custom duty, lower Court issued summons order, but Delhi HC sets aside: Read 5 reasons why impugned order was bad in law

Chandra Dhari Singh, J., while setting aside the order of lower Court in a case concerning Customs Act, laid down five reasons why the impugned order was bad in law.

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Maintenance

Whether right to claim maintenance under Domestic Violence Act and S. 125 CrPC are mutually exclusive?

Asha Menon, J., observed that, the right to claim maintenance under the Domestic Violence Act and those under Section 125 CrPC are not mutually exclusive i.e. the aggrieved person can seek interim maintenance before the Magistrate while also seeking permanent maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

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Gauhati High Court


Can a husband escape from his liability to pay maintenance to his wife by signing an agreement to the contrary?

While addressing a matter with regard to maintenance of wife, Rumi Kumari Phukan, J., expressed that, the statutory right of a wife of maintenance cannot be bartered, done away with or negatived by the husband by setting up an agreement to the contrary.

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Gujarat High Court


Gratuity

If there is a delay in payment of gratuity, whether interest on delayed gratuity will be mandatory or discretionary?

Biren Vaishnav, J., reiterated that, interest on delayed payment of gratuity is mandatory and not discretionary

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Convict

Admission of co-accused cannot be sole base to convict any person; application dismissed

B.N. Karia, J. rejected an application under Section 397 read with Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, wherein the applicant-State has requested to quash and set aside the order and stay the implementation of the said order till hearing and final disposal of the present application.

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Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

Appeal dismissed on grounds of meagre amount; Order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal upheld

Sandeep N. Bhatt, J. dismissed an appeal preferred by the Insurance Company being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by which the Tribunal has awarded Rs.65,200/- with 7.5% interest p.a. from the date of the claim petition.

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Himachal Pradesh High Court


Section 125 CrPC

The findings in a proceeding under S. 125 CrPC cannot be binding on matrimonial Court while dealing with an application for divorce on the ground of res judicata

Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. remarked, “there has been no matrimonial relationship between the parties for the last nearly two decades, which in itself establishes that the parties are not in a position to live together any longer.”

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Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court


Freedom of Speech and Expression

Statement that Kashmir is under occupation of armed forces and people of Kashmir reduced to slaves, will be protected under Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression?

Stating that, the intention of a person can be gathered from the words spoken or written or other expressions, Sanjay Dhar, J., expressed that,

Expression of outrage at the negligence and inhuman attitude of the security forces, police and establishment would come within the ambit of freedom of expression of an individual which includes freedom to criticize the Government of the day which is permissible under law but the same may not be the position if an individual questions the fact of a State being a part of the Country by using the expression ‘occupation of military or the people being slaves etc.

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Bail

63-year-old woman aided her 65-year-old husband to commit rape on a minor girl: Can she be granted bail?

Sanjay Dhar, J., expressed that, in the cases involving offences of serious nature falling under IPC or POCSO Act, where the victim happens to be a minor child, the Court has to be alive to the need for protecting the victims and the witnesses and it is the duty of the Court to ensure that victim and witnesses, in such serious matters, are made to feel secure while deposing before the Court.

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Karnataka High Court


Lok Adalat

Kar HC issues general directions in matters relating to compromise before the Lok Adalat which are challenged by way of writ petitions

Suraj Govindaraj, J., allowed the petition and quashed the compromise decree in the original suit filed before Principal Senior Civil Judge at Hubballi in the Lok-Adalat proceedings.

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Arbitration

Whether Arbitration involving third parties leading to other proceedings would be arbitrable?

B.M. Shyam Prasad, J., held that there cannot be a complete adjudication of the petitioner’s rights unless the third parties are also heard.

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Maintenance

Granting or non-granting interim maintenance is not punishing any litigant; Kar HC observes Proviso to S. 125 of CrPC provides discretion to court to order interim maintenance during pendency of proceedings

M Nagaprasanna, J., dismissed the petition and refused to grant prayer as the case is at a pre matured stage and is not the right time to post the matter for examination.

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Juvenile Justice Act

In the absence of any declaration that the child is deserted by his biological or adoptive parents or guardians; no offence can be made out under S. 80 JJ Act

Hemant Chandangoudar, J., allowed the petition and quashed the impugned proceedings initiated against alleged offence under Section 80 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

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Work From Home

Work From Home under Maternity Benefit Act can be availed only if nature of work assigned to women is possible for them to work from home

Noting that the nature of work assigned to a woman cannot be carried from home, R Devdas, J., held that, as per Section 5(5) of the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 work from home after availing the maternity benefit could be given only in a case where the nature of work assigned to the women is such that it is possible for her to work from home.

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Industrial Disputes Act

Labour Court has no jurisdiction to first decide the workmen’s entitlement and then proceed to compute the benefit so adjudicated; Labour Court’s power like that of the Executing Court’s power

K.S. Mudagal, J., allowed the petition and set aside the impugned award awarding compensation as well as the silver medal allowance without considering the question of maintainability of the petition under Section 33C(2) of the I.D. Act.

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Indian Nursing Council

No objection from the Indian Nursing Council is not required for the purpose of University granting recognition or approval for the GNM Course

P Krishna Bhat, J. disposed of the application with a direction to KSNC and State to consider the applications of petitioners which were filed in the year 2019 and take a final decision on the same.

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Negotiable Instruments Act

A 138 NI complaint filed was barred by limitation but such issue was raised for the first time before the Appellate Court and not Trial Court

HP Sandesh J. dismissed the petition and upheld the judgment by the Appellate Court and further directed the complainant to file necessary application to condone the delay.

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POCSO

Teacher aged 55 years harassed a student on separate occasions, booked under POCSO, released on bail

H.P. Sandesh, J. allowed the petition and granted bail to the petitioner in connection with a crime registered in  Magadi Police Station, Ramanagara District, for the offence punishable under Sections 8 and 12 of the POCSO Act.

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GST Act

Whether on coming into force of GST Act a Municipal Corporation can levy advertisement tax/fee?

The Court observed that in the entire transaction of GST, the petitioners are only a collecting agency who collects the GST payable on the service rendered and deposits the same with the authorities, the incidence of tax, i.e., GST being on the services rendered or goods supplied, the obligation of payment being on the person availing the service and or receiving the goods.

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Kerala High Court


Suicide

Person tries to commit suicide after being subjected to severe mental stress, which is a punishable offence: Is there any provision which can save her from penal provision?

Expressing that, Criminal prosecution followed by conviction and imposing substantive sentences and fines on those convicted of suicidal behaviours are believed to constitute an affront to human dignity, K. Haripal, J., pointed out that a large section of the society considers that suicidal behaviour is typically a symptom of psychiatric illness or an act of psychological distress, suggesting that the person requires assistance in his personal and psychological life, not punishment with imprisonment or fine.

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Maternity Benefits

Do employers have a responsibility to ensure that delivering and raising a child, shall not be detrimental to female officer’s career?

Addressing a matter wherein maternity benefits were not being allowed to female officersRaja Vijayaraghavan V, JJ., expressed that the employer is to take all steps possible to ensure that they are sympathetic to the cause of the female officer so that she can achieve her potential in the workplace and the time spent by her to deliver and raise her child shall not be detrimental to her career or her prospects.

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Floods

Persons who violate directions of Corporation, as mandated by law, against deposit of garbage into canals, shall be taken to task under fullest warrant of law

Expressing that, as much as this Court does not desire to control the management of the drains or the flood mitigating systems of the city on regular basis, it is forced to do so because of the large-scale inundation witnessedDevan Ramachandran, J., held that it is necessary that citizens understand their duty to ensure that canals are fenced and maintained well and kept free of debris, which otherwise would challenge the lives of many other affected by the flooding.

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Educational Loan

Can low CIBIL Score of a co-borrower be a reason for denial of an education loan?

In a case wherein, due to low CIBIL Score education loan was denied, N. Nagaresh, J., directed for reconsideration of loan applications, disregarding the low Credit Score of the co-obligants.

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Right of Press

Right of Press to report truthfully and faithfully | Press shall NOT indulge in sensationalism

Stating that, though the Press has a duty to inform the public, the Division Bench of Devan Ramachandran and Sophy Thomas, JJ., observed that, it is the well-accepted thumb rule that the Press shall not indulge in sensationalism; or in speculating upon the guilt or otherwise of any accused or other individual; or to create an opinion about the comportment or character of a person involved in the Trial; and not to embellish, by impelling or sponsoring an opinion they seek.

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Promise to Marry

Whether promise to marry made to married women is legally enforceable?

In a bail matter,P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J., noted the position of law that, a promise to marry made to married women is not legally enforceable, the offence of rape is not attracted.

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Political Rallies

Can organisers of political rallies be responsible for provocative slogans raised by any of the participants during such rallies?

P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J., observed that, if a member of a rally raises provocative slogans, the persons who organize the rally is also responsible.

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Madras High Court


Legal Entity

Mother Nature is a living being having legal entity? Madras HC answers

Stating that the past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory, S. Srimathy, J., expressed that it is the right time to declare/confer juristic status to the “Mother Nature”.

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Right to Worship

Whether constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion enshrined in Art. 25(1) of the Constitution of India extends even to rites and ceremonies associated with a religion?

Expressing that, the right of worship guaranteed under the Constitution to be respected by all concerned and devotees cannot be denied their right to worship under any circumstances, S.M. Subramaniam, J., held that every devotee has got a right to enter into the temple and worship Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal in the way he likes without affecting the rights of other devotees/worshippers and temple activities.

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Negotiable Instruments Act

Obligation of Thumb Impression and Signature, both, for a Pro-Note under Negotiable Instruments Act: Mandatory or Not?

Teekaa Raman, J., observed that there is no mandatory provision under the Negotiable Instruments Act that both the signature and thumb impression has to be obtained for a pro-note and the lower Appellate Judge has totally misguided and misused the provision of the Negotiable Instruments Act, regarding the burden of proof and not even followed basic rudimentary of Section 20 of the Negotiable instruments Act.

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Public Employments

Can appointments be claimed as a matter of absolute right?

S.M. Subramaniam, J., observed that, equal opportunities in public employment is the Constitutional mandate.

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Madhya Pradesh High Court


Retiral Dues

Illicit deduction of amount from the retiral dues; Directions issued to refund the amount

Sushrut Arvind Dharmadhikari, J. allowed a writ petition which was filed assailing the legality, validity and propriety of the order dated 1-8-2018 whereby the excess amount of Rs.81,239/- has been sought to be recovered from the gratuity payable to him.

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Section 311 CrPC

Permission to change statement before Court would be dangerous for legal system and it may be also misused of S. 311 of CrPC; application for restatement after 2 years dismissed

Anil Verma, J. dismissed a criminal revision filed against the impugned order whereby an application preferred by the applicant/prosecutrix under Section 311 of CrPC was been dismissed.

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Civil Suit

Application under S. 151 of CPC maintainable despite the fact that order allowing the application under Or. 7 R. 11 of CPC is appealable; Trial Court directed to restore civil suit

Dwarka Dhish Bansal, J. allowed a civil revision under Section 115 of CPC against the order rejecting the application filed under Section 151 of CPC holding that the same was not maintainable.

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Bail

Not entitled to keep the amount of compensation paid to the State government in the event of a false rape case; Court allows bail

Vivek Agarwal, J. deciding a second bail application filed by the applicant in connection with Crime under Sections 376, 376(2)(N), 506 of IPC and Sections 3,4,5J(ii), 5L POCSO Act and Sections 3(1)(w)(II), 3(1)(w)(II), 3(II)(V) of SC/ST Act directed the Trial Court to ask the prosecutrix to refund the compensation amount paid by the State.

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Police Protection

Major Couple entitled to police protection in event of any future threats from parents; Permission granted to approach police commissioner directly

Vivek Rusia, J. decided on a petition which was filed seeking police protection.

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Termination of Pregnancy

Victim of rape allowed to terminate 13-week pregnancy; Direction issued to District Hospital for immediate action

Vivek Rusia, J. allowed an appeal which was filed seeking permission/ direction for termination of pregnancy.

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Principles of Natural Justice

Order by Trial Court violative of principles of natural justice; IO to be given opportunity to be heard

Atul Sreedharan, J. allowed a petition which was filed aggrieved by the order where after deciding a criminal case, the Additional Sessions Judge passed an order asking the Superintendent of Police to take action against the petitioner, who was the Investigating Officer of the case.

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Meghalaya High Court


Piling up Garbage

With serious menace of garbage piling up in one of the major towns, State administration seeks only to play the fiddle; matter receives the urgent attention at the highest quarters

The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ. and W. Diengdoh, J. took up a petition on a matter pertaining to the piling-up of garbage in the town of Jowai. The petition was filed on 12-04-2022 complaining of household waste and general garbage not being collected in the Jowai urban township area from 04-02-2022. The Court had served the respondents served immediately and informed that the matter will appear a week hence for a preliminary hearing and appropriate directions on 20-04-2022.

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Orissa High Court


Exercise of power involving Application under Or. 1 R. 10 of CPC is completely different from Exercise of Power under Or. 21 Rules 97, 99 & 101 of CPC; Scope of latter is much wider

“…there exist two decrees passed by two different courts at the instance of third party and the other at the instance of the Plaintiff- Petitioner involved here in the Execution Proceeding.”

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Section 37 IT Act

The reasonableness of the expenditure had to be adjudged from the point of view of the businessman; Applied the test of commercial expediency

A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar CJ and R. K. Pattanaik J. dismissed the appeal filed by the assessee and upheld AO’s decision to disallow part of the payment towards commission.

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Food License

Any person selling article or food without a license would be punishable under S. 16 (I)(a)(ii) PFA Act as per S. 7(iii) PFA Act

Muralidhar CJ dismissed the revision petition and set aside the conviction decision of the Trial Court which was later affirmed by the Appellate Court.

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POCSO

Proceedings of the High Court cannot be held hostage to the whims of the investigating agency; granted bail to a CCL

V Narasingh, J. disposed of the bail application and restrained the Court to not grant any further adjournments and released the petitioner on bail.

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Industrial Disputes Act

It is not mandatory for Central Government to make a reference to a dispute which is of national importance to a National Tribunal in view of S. 7-B r/w S 10 (1-A) ID Act

A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar, CJ and R.K. Pattanaik J. dismissed the petition and upheld the judgment by CGIT, Bhubaneshwar declining the prayer of the Petitioner as regards the maintainability of the dispute before it.

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Contract

It is only when a purchase order is placed that a ‘contract’ would be entered into and only then arbitration clause would become part thereof

Muralidhar, CJ. dismissed the petition, declined the appointment of arbitrator and left it open to the petitioners to avail other remedies as may be available to them in accordance with law.

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Patna High Court


Negotiable Instruments Act

Can an order of interim compensation under S. 143-A NI Act, be enforced as ‘public demand’ under Bihar & Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act, 1914?

The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ and S. Kumar J., held that an order of payment of interim compensation under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 can be enforced under the Bihar & Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act, 1914 as ‘public demand’.

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Punjab and Haryana High Court


Protection of Life and Liberty

State’s respect for individual independent choices has to be held high

“Courts’ responsibility to uphold the principles of constitutional morality, there exists a parallel duty to not infringe upon the personal relationship between two free willed adults.”

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Abetment of Suicide

Abetment of suicide by wife and mother-in-law of deceased?

Vikas Bahl, J., granted bail to mother-in-law and wife alleged to have incited husband to commit suicide.

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Maintenance Tribunal

If a person is aged below 58 years, Can Maintenance Tribunal invoke jurisdiction under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act?

Arun Monga, J., held that the Maintenance Tribunal has no jurisdiction under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 if a person is aged below 58 years old.

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Mental Cruelty

If a husband stops talking to the wife, would that cause mental cruelty?

In a matter with regard to mental cruelty, the Division Bench of Ritu Bahri and Ashok Kumar Verma, JJ., observed that, even if the husband and wife were staying together and the husband stopped talking to the wife, it would cause mental cruelty and a spouse staying away by sending vulgar and defamatory letters or notices by initiating a number of judicial proceedings could make the life of other spouse miserable.

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Sedition

Can an act of dissent be labeled as sedition?

Expressing that, in a democratic set-up, there always would be voices of dissent and opinions against rules and protest against actions, Vinod S. Bhardwaj, J., observed that, some protests may have aggression but still an act of dissent would not be ordinarily labeled as sedition.

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Rajasthan High Court


Remedy

Writ Petition not maintainable due to having an alternative and efficacious remedy under S. 17 of the SARFAESI Act

Mahendar Kumar Goyal, J. dismissed the writ petition in view of availability of alternative remedy to the petitioners under the provisions of the SARFAESI Act. 

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Sikkim High Court


Penetrative Sexual Assault

Trial Courts should exhibit sensitivity to the plight of a child victim but they cannot go overboard and stonewall steps that are mandatory to be complied with when analysing and interpreting evidence given by  witnesses; Sentence of rape accused modified

The Division Bench of Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Rai Pradhan, JJ. partly allowed an appeal which was filed by the appellant who aged about 40 years, was accused of having committed the offence of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, as defined under Section 5(m) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, on the victim, aged about 10 years. Trial Court on consideration of the evidence on record convicted the Appellant of the offence under Section 5(m) punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012 by the impugned Judgment and Order on Sentence, both dated 11- 11-2020, and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of 40 years and to pay fine of Rs 30,000/- (Rupees thirty thousand) only, with a default clause of imprisonment of 5 years.

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Telangana High Court


Police Negligence

Tel HC remarks several writ petitions are filed complaining about police negligence and delays during investigation; Such issues cannot be decided by invoking jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution

“…The appropriate and efficacious remedy available to the petitioner, if she is aggrieved by the action/inaction of the Investigating Officer is to file a private complaint against the said officer before the competent Court.”

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Contempt of Court

‘slap- say sorry-forget cannot be accepted’; An apology can neither be a defence nor a justification for an act which tantamount to Contempt of Court

A Division Bench of P Naveen Rao and M G Priyadarshini, JJ. dismissed the petition and held that contempt has taken place and no apology must be given.

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Uttaranchal High Court


POCSO

Minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the statement of a prosecutrix should not be a ground for throwing out an otherwise reliable prosecution case; appeal dismissed in POCSO matter

Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, J. dismissed a criminal appeal which was filed from jail assailing the judgment and order whereby the Trial Court had convicted and sentenced the appellant on the counts of Sections 376, 377, 506 Penal Code and Section 6 of POCSO Act.

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Juvenile Justice Act

Child in conflict with law cannot be allowed anticipatory bail as JJ Act does not make any provision for the same; Application dismissed

Ravindra Maithani, J. dismissed an application for anticipatory bail in regards to an ongoing trial under Sections 376, 323, 504, and 506 Penal Code, 1860. The previous anticipatory bail application of the applicant had been rejected by the Fast Track Court/Special Judge, POCSO/Additional Sessions Judge, Dehradun on the ground that since the applicant is a child in conflict with the law (“CIL”) and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (“the Act”) does not make any provision for anticipatory bail, the application cannot be allowed.

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Intra-Court Appeal

Adequate opportunity of filing counter-affidavit should be afforded to State; intra-Court appeal allowed

The Division Bench of S.K. Mishra, ACJ and A.K. Verma, J. allowed an intra-Court appeal wherein the State has assailed the order passed by the Single Judge whereby the Writ Petition of the writ petitioners-respondents herein was allowed supposedly on the concession made by the government pleader.

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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Vikas Bahl, J., granted bail to mother-in-law and wife alleged to have incited husband to commit suicide.

Regular bail for the petitioners was sought in an FIR under Sections 306 and 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 (Section 506 IPC has been added later on).

Petitioners’ counsel submitted that the petitioner-Babita was the mother-in-law of the deceased Vipan and petitioner-Anjali was the wife of the said Vipan and both the petitioners have been in custody.

In the present case, neither there was any suicide note, nor any dying declaration and the present FIR had been registered at the instance of the father of the deceased and a perusal of the FIR would show that no offence under Section 306 IPC was made out.

It was argued that the said Vipan had committed suicide on 22nd September, 2021, whereas Anjali-petitioner had left the matrimonial house on 15th September, 2021.

State Counsel as well as counsel for the complainant, opposed the present petitions for regular bails and submitted that petitioner-Anjali had not left her matrimonial house by her own consent, was in fact had been taken forcibly from there.

Analysis, Law and Decision

The Bench stated that this Court’s decision in State of Punjab v. Kamaljit Kaur, 2008 (2) RCR (Criminal) 562, would show that the said case was also a case under Section 306 IPC in which two persons i.e., husband of the accused and their son had committed suicide and there was a suicide note to the effect that Kamaljit Kaur, wife of the deceased was a lady of bd character and had illicit relations with three persons and in the suicide note, it was stated that action should be taken against such a woman.

In the above case, after considering the provisions of Sections 306 and 107 of Cr.P.C., it was observed by the Sessions Court as well as by this Court that even in a case where the wife is alleged of being a woman of easy virtue, then also, it cannot be said that she has instigated or aided the commission of suicide and had observed that in case the husband was feeling harassed or mentally disturbed due to the alleged illicit relationship of his wife, then the harassment and mental disturbance would not constitute the offence of abetment.

High Court noted that the petitioners were in custody since 12-10-2021 and the challan had already been present and there was total of 21 prosecution witnesses, none of whom were examined, hence the trial was likely to take some time.

Court also stated that in the present case, whether an offence under Section 306 IPC was made out or not, would be a debatable issue, which will be finally adjudicated during the course of the trial.

Hence, the petitioners were ordered to be released on bail and in addition to this Court stated that if any act was done by the petitioners to threaten or influence the complainant or any other witnesses, then it would be open to the State to move an application for cancellation of bail. [Babita v. State of Haryana, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 1087, decided on 13-5-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Ajay Kumar Dahiya, Advocate for the petitioner.

Mr. Amit Aggarwal, DAG, Haryana.

Mr. Gautam Kumar, Advocate for the complainant.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Division Bench of M.S. Sonal and Pushpa V. Ganediwala, JJ., quashed the charges of abetment of suicide and other offences under IPC against the applicants, on finding that no purpose would be served in continuing criminal proceedings against them.

In the present matter, applicants sought quashing of FIR registered for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 306, 323, 504 and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860. This Court issued notice and directed that though the investigation shall be carried on, no charge sheet shall be filed without obtaining leave of this Court.

Applicants 1 to 3 are the relatives of the applicant-husband. Allegations against these applicants was that the said persons were supporting the applicant husband. There were absolutely no specific allegations against the said applicants about their role in the abetment of suicide by the deceased.

Mother of the deceased on whose complaint crime came to be registered now stated that she had lodged the report under rage without giving proper thought to the factual situation.

In the FIR, it was alleged that the applicant-husband of the deceased was having extramarital affair with some other girl, due to which the deceased was undergoing physical and mental harassment at the hands of her husband and relatives, which culminated in her suicide.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court in view of the nature of allegations called upon the police investigation papers/charge sheet.

Report of psychological testing revealed that the deceased was under the treatment of psychiatrists and was also admitted to hospital as she was under mental trauma and attempted suicide on the death of her father as she had an anxiety as to how her single mother would repay bank loan so also arrange finance for her marriage and maintain her brother.

Mother of the deceased also conceded that the mental condition of the deceased was not stable. It appeared that the deceased was not mentally fit to withstand the shock of the illicit relations of her husband with some other girl.

The mother of the deceased now stated that due to her vulnerable mental condition on the death of her daughter she lodged the report and now she does not want to prosecute further against the applicants.

In the Supreme Court decision of Pinakin Mahipatray Rawal v. State of Gujarat, (2013) 10 SCC 48, it was held that mere extramarital relationship, without anything more cannot be treated as sufficient to invoke the provisions of Section 306 IPC.

In view of the decisions of Supreme Court in Joseph Shine v. Union of India(2019) 3 SCC 39, B.S Joshi v. State of Haryana, (2003) 4 SCC 576, and a few other decisions, it was held that the interest of justice would demand that no purpose would be served in continuing the criminal proceedings against the applicants.

In Court’s opinion, no case was made out to proceed applicants and the offences punishable under Sections 306, 498-A, 323, 504 and 506 IPC were quashed and set aside. [Baburao v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 5460, decided on 13-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr Anil S. Mardikar, Senior Advocate assisted by Mr Ved R. Deshpande for applicants in both applications.

Mrs M.A. Barabde, APP for State in both applications.

Mr Palash Mohta, Adv (appointed) for non-applicant no.3 in (APL 846/19 and complainant in APL 1168/21)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a 14-year-old had committed suicide after his PTI Teacher had allegedly “harassed and insulted him in the presence of everyone”, the bench of SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ has held that the suicide note suggested that it was a rhetoric document, penned down by an immature mind and that it was the hypersensitive temperament of the deceased which led him to take such an extraordinary step. The Court said that the action of the teacher, otherwise would not ordinarily induce a similarly circumstanced student to commit suicide.

The Court explained that,

“A simple act of reprimand of a student for his behaviour or indiscipline by a teacher, who is under moral obligations to inculcate the good qualities of a human being in a student would definitely not amount to instigation or intentionally aid to the commission of a suicide by a student.”

What was the case about?

  • The FIR Stated that the boy, a class 9 student, was under deep mental pressure because the appellant (the GEO, PTI Sir) had harassed and insulted him in the presence of everyone and he was not willing to go to school on 25.04.2018 but was persuaded to go to school by his parents.
  • The boy was informed that the parents have been called to school next day and this brought him under further severe pressure and tension.
  • In the FIR and as also the statement of the complainant recorded by the police, no reasons or cause for the appellant to harass and insult the victim were spelled out nor there are any details with respect to any action on the part of the appellant by which the deceased boy might have felt being harassed and insulted.
  • The PT Teacher, apart from imparting Physical Training to the students, was also charged with the duty of maintaining discipline in the school which included keeping a watch upon students and oversee that they are attending the classes instead of bunking the same and moving around in the school premises without permission.
  • It was alleged that the boy generally used to bunk his classes and was warned by the appellant and other school staff a number of times.
  • On 14 19.04.2018, he was caught by the appellant bunking classes and moving around the school campus without any cause or permission and a warning was given to him.
  • On 25.04.2018, he was caught bunking classes and again the appellant issued him a warning and on account of persistent act of bunking classes, reported the same to the Principal of the School, who informed the parents of the boy to come to the school.
  • The boy committed suicide on 26.04.2018.

What did the Supreme Court say?

Abetment of suicide

What is required to constitute an alleged abetment of suicide under Section 306 IPC is there must be an allegation of either direct or indirect act of incitement to the commission of offence of suicide and mere allegations of harassment of the deceased by another person would not be sufficient in itself, unless, there are allegations of such actions on the part of the accused which compelled the commission of suicide.

Further, if the person committing suicide is hypersensitive and the allegations attributed to the accused is otherwise not ordinarily expected to induce a similarly situated person to take the extreme step of committing suicide, it would be unsafe to hold the accused guilty of abetment of suicide. Thus, what is required is an examination of every case on its own facts and circumstances and keeping in consideration the surrounding circumstances as well, which may have bearing on the alleged action of the accused and the psyche of the deceased.

Can reprimand by teacher amount to abetment of suicide?

The disciplinary measures adopted by a teacher or other authorities of a school, reprimanding a student for his indiscipline would not tantamount to provoking a student to commit suicide, unless there are repeated specific allegations of harassment and insult deliberately without any justifiable cause or reason.

“‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ an old saying may have lost its relevance in present days and Corporal punishment to the child is not recognised by law but that does not mean that a teacher or school authorities have to shut their eyes to any indiscipline act of a student. It is not only a moral duty of a teacher but one of the legally assigned duty under Section 24 (e) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 to hold regular meetings with the parents and guardians and apprise them about the regularity in attendance, ability to learn, progress made in learning and any other act or relevant information about the child.”

Hence, if, a student is simply reprimanded by a teacher for an act of indiscipline and bringing the continued act of indiscipline to the notice of Principal of the institution who conveyed to the parents of the student for the purposes of school discipline and correcting a child, any student who is very emotional or sentimental commits suicide, the said teacher cannot be held liable for the same and charged and tried for the offence of abetment of suicide under section 306 IPC.

Absence of any specific allegation or material on record

  • In the absence of any material on record even, prima-facie, in the FIR or statement of the complainant, pointing out any such circumstances showing any such act or intention that he intended to bring about the suicide of his student, it would be absurd to even think that the appellant had any intention to place the deceased in such circumstances that there was no option available to him except to commit suicide.
  • In the absence of any specific allegation and material of definite nature, not imaginary or inferential one, it would be travesty of justice, to ask the appellant-accused to face the trial. A criminal trial is not exactly a pleasant experience and the appellant who is a teacher would certainly suffer great prejudice, if he has to face prosecution on absurd allegations of irrelevant nature.

Rhetoric Suicide note

It was a note consisting of three pages with following written on each separate paper :-

01st page – ‘MY ALL THINGS GOES TO MY DEAR BRO KAIRN EVEN MY LOVE BYE BUDDY & SORRY’

02nd page – ‘NEEDED JUSTICE’

03rd page – ‘THANKS GEO (PTI) OF MY SCHOOL’

The Court noticed that the suicide note was rhetoric document, penned down by an immature mind.

“A reading of the same also suggests the hypersensitive temperament of the deceased which led him to take such an extraordinary step, as the alleged reprimand by the accused, who was his teacher, otherwise would not ordinarily induce a similarly circumstanced student to commit suicide.”

[Geo Varghese v. State of Rajasthan,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 873, decided on 05.10.2021]

____________________________________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For appellant: Advocate Abhishek Gupta

For respondents: Advocates Dr. Manish Singhvi and Aditya Kumar Chaudhary


*Judgment by: Justice Krishna Murari

Know Thy Judge| Justice Krishna Murari

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of R. Subhash Reddy* and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has held that without positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, no one can be convicted for offence under Section 306, IPC.

“To proceed against any person for the offence under Section 306 IPC it requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to commit suicide, seeing no option and that act must have been intended to push the deceased into such a position that he committed suicide.”

The ruling came in a case where the deceased had consumed poison in from of the house of the appellant. Except the statement that the deceased was in relation with the appellant, there was no material at all to show that appellant was maintaining any relation with the deceased.

In fact, the statement of the SI disclosed that the deceased was stalking the appellant and was continuously calling her and proposing that she should marry him with a threat that he will die otherwise. The appellant, along with her father, had made a complaint about the same.

Having regard to such material placed on record and in absence of any material within the meaning of Section 107 of IPC, the Court held that there was absolutely no basis to proceed against the appellant for the alleged offence under Section 306 IPC.

“It would be travesty of justice to compel the appellant to face a criminal trial without any credible material whatsoever.”

Some important rulings

Chitresh Kumar Chopra v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), (2009) 16 SCC 605

There should be an intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the accused. Each person’s suicidability pattern is different from the other and each person has his own idea of self-esteem and self-respect. Further, is impossible to lay down any straightjacket formula dealing with the cases of suicide and each case has to be decided on the basis of its own facts and circumstances.

Amalendu Pal @ Jhantu v. State of West Bengal, (2010) 1 SCC 707

In cases of alleged abetment of suicide there must be proof of direct or indirect acts of incitement to the commission of suicide. Merely on the allegation of harassment without there being any positive action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the accused which led or compelled the person to commit suicide, conviction in terms of Section 306 IPC is not sustainable.

In order to bring a case within the purview of Section 306 IPC there must be a case of suicide and in the commission of the said offence, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigation or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide.

[Kanchan Sharma v. State of UP, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 737, decided on 17.09.2021]

__________________________________________________

Counsels:

Advocate Sanchit Garga, for the appellant

Advocate Aviral Saxena, for the State


*Judgment by: Justice R. Subhash Reddy

Know Thy Judge| Justice R. Subhash Reddy

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of M.R. Shah and Aniruddha Bose, JJ., while addressing a matter noted that,

Abetment by a person is when a person instigates another to do something. Instigation can be inferred where the accused had, by his acts or omission created such circumstances that the deceased was left with no other option except to commit suicide.

Aggrieved with the Madras High Court’s decision by which the Court had dismissed the appeal preferred by the appellant and confirmed the trial court’s decision convicting the accused of the offence under Section 306 Penal Code, 1860, appellant approached the Supreme Court.

Background

Appellant was married to the deceased 25 years prior to the occurrence. On the day of occurrence, there was some quarrel between the deceased–wife of the appellant. Thereafter both the appellant and the deceased consumed pesticide.

However, the appellant survived but his wife died.

A complaint was filed against the appellant stating that he was having intimacy with the other woman and therefore the couple used to quarrel.

It was alleged against the accused that he had committed the offence under Section 306 IPC and on the conclusion of the investigation, a charge sheet was filed against the appellant accused of the offence under Section 306 IPC.

High Court had confirmed the conviction for the offence under Section 306 IPC.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Appellant was convicted for the offence under Section 306 IPC.

Allegation that the appellant-accused was having an illicit relationship with another woman was not established and proved by the prosecution.

In light of the facts and circumstances of the case, Bench considered whether can it be said that the appellant accused had committed an offence under Section 306 IPC for which he had been convicted?

Abetment of Suicide

 “…in a case where if any person instigates other person to commit suicide and as a result of such instigation the other person commits suicide, the person causing the instigation is liable to be punished for the offence under Section 306 IPC for abetting the commission of suicide.”

 In view of the above, to bring a case within the provision of Section 306 IPC, there must be a case of suicide and in the commission of the said offence, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigating or by doing a certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide.

In the Supreme Court decision of Amalendu Pal v. State of West Bengal, (2010) 1 SCC 707, it was observed that mere harassment without any positive action on the part of the accused proximate to the time of occurrence which led to the suicide would not amount to an offence under Section 306 IPC.

In the present matter, no material was recorded that indicated abetment or appellant’s active role to instigate the deceased to facilitate the commission of suicide. On the contrary, in the instant case, the appellant himself tried to commit suicide and consumed pesticide.

Hence, in Court’s opinion, both the High Court and Trial Court committed an error in convicting the accused for the offence under Section 306 IPC.

Therefore, in view of the above discussion, the present appeal succeeded and the appellant was released on bail. [Velladurai v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 715, decided on 14-09-2021]

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: While dealing with the intriguing question regarding criminal liability of a debtor of abetment of suicide where the creditor has committed suicide on being prompted by debtor’s refusal to repay the loan amount, Rajnesh Oswal, J., answered in negative. The Bench stated,

“Though the different persons may react or respond to a particular situation differently but this court is of the considered opinion that mere refusal to repay the loan cannot in any way can be considered to be an act of abetment to drive the deceased to commit suicide.”

The instant petition had been filed under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the challan arising out of FIR registered for offences under Section 306 of the RPC, which was pending before the Trial Court and also the order dated 12-03-2011, by virtue of which the charge for commission of offence under Section 306 had been framed against the petitioner.

Factual Matrix

The facts of the case were such that one, Ghan Shyam had seriously injured himself by stabbing himself in the chest and died en route while being taken to the hospital. On inquest, the police found that the deceased, aged 35-36 years, was a street vendor and his mother-in-law i.e the petitioner was also in the same business.

The deceased had allegedly given Rs. 73,000 as loan to his mother-in-law for the sake of her business and was himself indebted to many people. He used to be harassed by his lenders to clear his debts. On 07-12-2009, the deceased demanded the petitioner to return the money and it led to verbal altercation between the deceased and the petitioner and the deceased said that if the petitioner did not clear her dues towards him, he would kill himself, as he was being harassed by the debtors. On this, the petitioner expressed her incapability to return the money as she had no money to return. The said incident prompted the deceased to take the extreme step by inflicting injury with knife in the chest.

Contentions Raised by the Petitioner

After the completion of the investigation, challan was filed and the same was pending before the Additional Sessions Judge. The Trial Court framed the charges for commission of offences under Section 306 RPC against the petitioner and the same was challenged by the petitioner on the ground that the impugned FIR had been registered after the delay of almost a year from the death of the deceased. It was further submitted by the petitioner that there was not even an iota of evidence on record that the petitioner at any point of time abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased, as such, the proceedings pending before the Trial Court were nothing but an abuse of process of law.

Opinion and Analysis

From the bare perusal of the allegations in the challan as well as the charges framed against the petitioner, it was evident that the deceased committed suicide when the petitioner refused to return the amount of Rs. 73,000 which she had taken from the deceased Ghan Shyam, who happens to be her son-in-law.

Opining that in order to charge a person for commission of offences under Section 306 RPC, there must be evidence on record that the accused abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased, the Bench examined the definition of abetment as defined by Section 107 of the RPC, which reads as under:-

“107. Abetment of a thing – A person abets the doing of a thing, who: First – Instigates any person to do that thing; or Secondly – Engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or 5 CRMC No. 92/2013 Thirdly – Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.”

 In Swamy Prahaladdas v. State of M.P., 1995 Supp. (3) SCC 438, the appellant was charged for an offence under Section 306 I.P.C. on the ground that the appellant during the quarrel is said to have remarked the deceased to go and die. The Supreme Court was of the view that mere words uttered by the accused to the deceased to go and die were not even prima facie enough to instigate the deceased to commit suicide. Similarly, in Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 7 SCC 781, the accused therein assigned some work to his employee and further the said employee was called at odd hours and even on holidays to get the work done and the said accused had stopped his salary for one month and also threatening that his increment would be stopped. The Supreme Court held that the same cannot be held to be an offence under Section 306 of the IPC and the FIR for commission of the offences under Section 306 of the IPC was quashed by the Supreme Court.

Accordingly, the Bench was of the view that one can be charged for the offence of abetment only when he instigates any person to do that thing or intentionally or engages with one or more other person in conspiracy for the doing of that thing or intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the doing of that thing. The allegation against the petitioner was that she refused to return the money to the deceased, as a result of which he committed suicide. Opining that in order to constitute an offence of abetment, the act committed by the accused must be of such nature so that the deceased must be left with no other option but to take extreme step of ending his life, the Bench stated that mere refusal by the petitioner to repay the loan would not in any way be considered to be an act of abetment to drive the deceased to commit suicide.

Decision

Viewed thus, the held that the ingredients of offence under Section 306 of the RPC were absolutely lacking in the instant case and the Trial Court had not considered this vital aspect of the case. Hence, the impugned order was set aside, the petitioner was discharged for commission of offences under Section 306 RPC and the challan was dismissed.[Gauri Devi v. State of J&K, CRMC No. 92 of 2013, decided on 13-08-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: Mr Basit M. Keng, Advocate

For the UT of J&K: Mr Aseem Sawhney, AAG

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of V.K. Jadhav and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., held that,

Mere dishonour of cheque and refusal to pay remaining balance amount involved in the transaction does not amount to abetment to commit suicide.

Factual Scenario

Dnyanoba Shinde (deceased) was the father of first informant. Deceased had agreed to purchase a plot from the applicant and had given the earnest money in 3 installments.

The said transaction came to be cancelled for want of clearance from the town planning department. Late Dnyanoba Shinde requested the applicant to repay the earnest money. Part of the amount of earnest money was paid to Late Dnyanoba Shinde. For the remaining balance amount, the applicant had issued the cheque.

Further, it was alleged that the applicant avoided making payment of balance amount and the cheque given by the appellant was dishonoured.

Due to the avoidance of making the above-stated payment, the mental condition of the father of the first informant was disturbed.

Suicide

Eventually the deceased left the house and committed suicide by hanging and on the suicide note the name of the applicant and others were mentioned making them responsible for suicide.

Applicant has approached this Court for quashing of the FIR and consequent filing of charge sheet filed against him.

Analysis

According to the provisions of Section 306 of the Penal Code, 1860 in order to bring a case of suicide, the person who is said to have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an active role by an act of instigating or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide.

“…instigation can be inferred where the accused had, by his acts or omission created such circumstances that the deceased was left with no option except to commit suicide.”

Further, it was noted that the allegation levelled against the applicant in no way suggested that there was an active role on the part of the applicant, which led to the suicidal death of the deceased.

Bench stated that the prosecution case was based upon the suicide note, wherein the name of the applicant was figured. There was a big question mark on the genuineness of the suicidal note.

During the investigation it was disclosed that one Sopan Nagorao Mandale resident of Rahul Nagar, Latur had written that note and handed over to the deceased. Thus, it was clear that the very foundation of the prosecution case was shaky.

Therefore, allowing the criminal proceedings against the applicant to continue would be an abuse of the process of the Court and the ends of justice require that the proceedings ought to be quashed.

The saving of the High Court’s inherent powers, both in civil and criminal matters, is designed to achieve a salutary public purpose which is that a court proceeding ought not to be permitted to degenerate into a weapon of harassment or persecution.

Concluding the matter, Court stated that there was no propriety to continue the criminal proceedings against the applicant and put him on trial. [Balaji v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 1597, decided on 5-08-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. N.D. Kendre, Advocate for the Applicant

Ms. Preeti V. Diggikar, A.P.P. for Respondent No.1 / State Mr. S.S. Panale, Advocate for Respondent No.2

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh-I, J., while discussing abetment of suicide, stated that:

“…if some act either of omission or commission results in instigation to the victim to commit suicide, that act would also be treated to be an abetment.”

Factual Background of a Woman Subjected to Torture in demand of Dowry

Informant stated that his daughter was married with accused-applicant 1 in accordance with the Hindu rites and as per demands, dowry was provided. At the time of marriage, the applicant 1 (husband), applicant 2, Om Prakash Mishra (father-in-law), applicant 3, Rakesh Mishra, (brother-in-law) started demanding four-wheeler as additional dowry because of which ‘Bidai’ of his daughter could be done.

After a lot of persuasion, the Gauna was performed and when her daughter (deceased) went to her matrimonial home, all the accused-applicants started making taunts that marriage was performed for very cheap, further it was made clear to the deceased that unless the amount asked for is fulfilled, it would be difficult for her to live in matrimonial home peacefully.

Mental and Physical Harassment

Victim was harassed mentally and physically on various occasions, she was pressurized to give her jewellery to which she refused and was beaten up by banging her head against the wall and subjected to filthy language and threat of divorce.

Victim’s husband used to increase the volume of the T.V and close the door of the house so that screaming or weeping of the deceased would not go out, even the family members of the accused-applicant 1 used to call the victim and harass her on the phone.

Accused-Applicant 1 later, dropped the deceased near the house of the informant retaining the jewellery at his home and further filed for divorce.

Suicide

Later it was stated that, since the informant’s daughter used stay disturbed mentally because of the case having been filed against her and having received notices from the Court, she used to say that despite having been tortured, she could not get any case registered against the persons of her sasural and was passing time with her child in her parents’ home and even then, she was not being allowed to remain peacefully and in these circumstances after getting fed-up, on 23-10-2017 she committed suicide by hanging herself by a stole from the ceiling fan, for which the accused- applicants are responsible.

Analysis of the Bench

The above-stated circumstances could be treated to have been driven the deceased to commit suicide which could have taken to fall in the category of abetting the commission of suicide by the deceased.

Court expressed that:

Merely because the deceased died at the parent’s house, is being hammered as the main argument on the part of the applicant, to be the reason why abetment to commit suicide should not be taken to be established in this case even prima-facie.

Bench relied upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Guru Charan Singh v. State of Punjab, (2020) 10 SCC 200, wherein it was held that in order to give finding of abetment under Section 107, which is necessary to sustain the conviction of abetment of suicide under Section 306 IPC, it must be established that the accused instigated a person either by an act of omission or commission or by persistent cruelty or harassment.

Circumstances or atmosphere in the matrimonial home without the instigation of suicide being established in someway are not enough to sustain the conviction on abetment of suicide.

 Conclusion

In the instant case, Court noted that it came on record that various litigations had been thrust upon the deceased from the side of the accused-applicants which might have generated a situation in which deceased found no way out but to commit suicide.

Bench stated that it may tour out to be not finally proved that the applicants were involved in the commission of this offence but in proceedings under Section 482 CrPC:

this Court cannot give finding in this regard as the evidence, which is likely to be recorded before the trial court, the said evidence would be appreciated by the said court then only finding can be returned on this point.

While dismissing the application, Court held that if the applicants appear and surrender before the Court below within 30 days and apply for bail, then the bail application would be considered and decided in view of the law laid down by this Court in Amrawati v. State of U.P.,2004 (57) ALR 290, as well as a judgment passed by Supreme Court in Lal Kamlendra Pratap Singh v State of U.P., (2009) 4 SCC 437.

In case, the applicants do not appear before the Court below within 30 days period, coercive action shall be taken against them. [Kranti Mishra v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 81, decided on 22-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Counsel for Applicant: Shailesh Kumar Shukla, Rajiv Lochan Shukla

Counsel for Opposite Party: G.A., Akhilesh Kumar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: K.R. Shriram, J., dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the respondent-accused were acquitted of the offences under Section 498-A (husband or relative of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and Section 306 (abetment of suicide) read with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Penal Code.

The case of the prosecution was that prior to date of incident, the accused (husband and in-laws of the deceased), in furtherance of their common intention, subjected the deceased to cruelty and abetted a suicide. The accused were chargesheeted and tried for the offences under Sections 498-A and 306 read with Section 34 IPC. However, they were acquitted of all the charges by the trial court. Aggrieved thereby, the State filed the instant appeal.

Regarding the offence under Section 498-A, the High Court observed: “Law on what would amount to an offence under Section 498-A, has been well discussed in catena of judgments. It is settled law that under Section 498-A IPC, every cruelty is not an offence. The cruelty must be of such a degree as contemplated by this Section, i.e. it must be willful conduct of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb, and health of the woman.” It was noted by the Court that the allegations made against the accused regarding demand of money, ill-treatment due to inability to cook, cruelty due to not conceiving, were general allegations and no details were mentioned. In such circumstances, it was held that the allegations under Section 498-A were not proved.

Coming to the offence under Section 306, the High Court noted that this was a case of abetment by instigation. It was observed: “In order to constitute ‘abetment by instigation’ there must be a direct incitement to do the culpable act.” After referring to a catena of decisions on the subject and considering the facts of the instant case, the Court stated: “It is nobody’s case that the accused intended Aarifa to commit suicide. A fatal impulse or an ill-fated thought of the deceased, however unfortunate and touchy it may be, cannot fray the fabric of the provision contained in Section 306 IPC. In short, it is not what the deceased ‘felt’, but what the accused ‘intended’ by their act which is more important in this context.”

In light of what has been mentioned above, the High Court concluded that the opinion of the trial court could not be held to be illegal or improper or contrary to law. The order of acquittal, in Court’s view, required no interference. [State of Maharashtra v. Nabab Mohammad Shaikh, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 290, decided on 04-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: K.K. Sonawane, J., allowed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for committing the offence of cruelty to women punishable under Section 498-A IPC and for abetment of suicide punishable under Section 306 IPC. 

The appellant was the sister-in-law of the deceased. The prosecution case was that the deceased was tortured by her for the demand of dowry. One fateful day, the deceased was rushed to the Government Hospital with severe burn injuries. The deceased ultimately succumbed to her injuries. It was alleged that the deceased was abused and beaten up by the appellant for not fulfilling the dowry demand. It was alleged further that on the day of the incident, the appellant had poured kerosene on the deceased and set her ablaze. 

Notably, in her initial statements, including the one given to the Special Executive Magistrate, the deceased stated that she sustained the burns accidentally due to a sudden blaze of the stove. However, later, the deceased changed her statement and said that the appellant poured kerosene on her and put her on fire. 

At the commencement of the trial, the trial court framed charges against the appellant for the offence of cruelty to women punishable under Section 498-A and for the offence of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC. In the alternative, the charge was also framed for the commission of the offence of abetment of suicide punishable under Section 306 and for the offence of dowry death punishable under Section 304-B IPC. At the conclusion of the trial, the appellant was acquitted of the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 304-B. However, the trial court convicted her for the offence punishable under Section 498-A and Section 306. 

The High Court gave anxious consideration to the arguments advanced by P.F. Patni, Advocate representing the appellant, and A.A. Jagatkar, APP appearing for the State. 

Delving into the oral and circumstantial evidence adduced on record and the factual score of the matter, the Court found it painful to subscribe to the findings of conviction of the appellant recorded by the trial court. The Court noted that there were no allegations on behalf of the prosecution that owing to maltreatment/cruelty, the deceased committed suicide. In contrast, the prosecution came forward with specific allegations that the death of the deceased was homicidal and the appellant was responsible for her death. In the alternative, the prosecution alleged that it was an offense of dowry death punishable under Section 304-B IPC. But, the trial Court acquitted the appellant on both these counts and proceeded to convict her under Sections 306 and 498-A IPC. 

Albeit, the trial Court held the appellant guilty for the offence punishable under Section 306 on the allegation that the deceased committed suicide by pouring kerosene and set herself ablaze. The trial court drew the adverse inference of self-immolation of deceased on the basis of attending circumstances found prevailing over on the scene of occurrence. 

The High Court was of the opinion that the observations of the trial court for the conclusion of suicidal death appear to be rest on a figment of imagination, surmises and conjuncture. It was noted that the trial court on its own proceeded to substitute a new story of suicidal death, totally different from one propounded on behalf of the prosecution in this matter. 

Placing reliance on Bhagirath v. State of M.P., (1976) 1 SCC 20 and Sohrab v. State of M.P., (1972) 3 SCC 751, the Court observed: “It is to be born in mind that law does not permit such endeavour on the part of learned trial Court to reconstruct a new theory of its own from the residual part of evidence of prosecution and convict the accused on that basis.”

In such circumstances, the opinion of the Court was that it would be fallacious to fasten the guilt on the accused for offence under Section 306 IPC under the pretext of the suicidal death of the deceased. Resultantly, the conviction of the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 306 was set aside and quashed.

Also, considering the entire record, the High Court held that the conclusion drawn by the trial court about the cruelty meted out to the deceased were erroneous, imperfect and perverse. Therefore, the appellant’s conviction under Section 498-A IPC was also set aside. [Rekha v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 7218, decided on 19-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: K.R. Shriram, J., dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby it had acquitted of the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 306, 201 read with Section 34 Penal Code, 1860.

The accused were the in-laws of the deceased. The complainant (father of the deceased)and harassed her due to the non-fulfilment of their demand. Further, it was alleged that subsequent to the harassment, the accused persons murder the deceased. However, during the trial, the charge of murder against the accused persons was altered to that of the abetment of suicide. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court acquitted all the accused. Aggrieved thereby, the State approached the High Court in the instant appeal.

The High Court considered the findings of the trial court and held that the offence under Section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) was not established as the demand of money, such as alleged by the complainant, could not be proved by the prosecution.

Coming to the charge under Section 306 (abetment of suicide), the High Court, relying on Sanju v. State of M.P., (2002) 5 SCC 371, explained: “Here is the case of abetment by instigation. The word ‘instigate’ means to goad or urge or forward or to provoke, incite, or encourage to do an untoward act which that person would have otherwise not done. It is also well settled that in order to amount to abetment, there must be mens rea. Without knowledge or intention, there can be no abetment and the knowledge and intention must relate to the act said to be abetted, i.e., suicide, in this case. In order to constitute ‘abetment by instigation’, there must be a direct incitement to do the culpable act. The word ‘instigate’ denotes incitement or urging to do some drastic or unadvisable action or to stimulate or incite. Presence of mens rea, therefore, is the necessary concomitant of instigation.”

It was noted that in the instant case, “There is no evidence to suggest or indicate that the accused knew or had reason to believe that deceased would commit suicide. Even if any acts or words uttered by the accused or their conduct are sufficient to demean or humiliate the deceased and even to drive the deceased to suicide, such acts will not amount to instigation or abetment of commission of suicide, unless it is established that the accused intended by their acts that the deceased must commit suicide. It is not enough if the acts of the accused cause persuasion in the mind of the deceased to commit suicide.”

The offence under Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) was also held to be not proved. Therefore, the order of the trial court was upheld and the instant appeal was dismissed. [State of Maharashtra v. Vijay Maruti Bombale, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 5985, decided on 19-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bhakru, J. dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Penal Code.

H.S. Sharma, Advocate for the appellant, submitted that the appellant could not be held guilty under Section 498-A as the trial court had found that there was no material to establish that the accused or his family members had demanded any dowry. Per contra, Amit Gupta, APP, supported the order of the trial court.

The High Court noted that though the allegations of demand of dowry against the appellant were not proved, the allegations that the appellant used to beat the deceased (his wife) were well substantiated by the evidence on record. It was noted further that a note written in the handwriting of the deceased was the principal piece of evidence on which the appellant’s conviction was based. A plain reading of the note indicated that the appellant was not happy with the deceased giving birth to a female child, and she feared for her and her daughter’s life.

Admittedly, the appellant was habitual of consuming ganja that led to quarrels between him and the deceased. It was also evident that the appellant used to beat the deceased. The High Court observed: “The contention that the appellant could not be convicted under Section 498-(a) IPC as the trial court had not accepted the allegation of demand of dowry, is unsustainable. Clause (a) of Section 498-A IPC refers to offensive conduct of nature so as to drive a woman to commit suicide. It is not necessary that such offensive conduct is in connection with the demanded dowry. The note was written by the deceased clearly indicates that the conduct of the appellant had led her to fear for her life and that of her girl child. She had eventually taken her own life.”

Further, it was held that the contention that the appellant could not be held guilty under Section 306 IPC was also unmerited. Reference was made to Section 113-A (presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman) of the Evidence Act. The Court observed: “There is a statutory presumption that if an accused is found guilty of the offence of cruelty under Section 498-A IPC and the wife of the appellant has committed suicide within seven years of her marriage, it would be presumed that the appellant was guilty of abetting the commission of suicide. The presumption is a rebuttable presumption and it was open for the appellant to lead evidence to rebut the same. However, the appellant has failed to do so. The appellant led no evidence to dispel the said presumption.”

In such view of the matter, the appeal was dismissed. [Rohit Gupta v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10670, decided on 21-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Brijesh Sethi, J. rejected a bail application filed under Section 348 read with Section 482 CrPC, in a very shocking and nerve-wracking incident and held that,

“Child of tender age should be handled very carefully and he/she needs to be protected from every kind of hurt whether physical or mental.”

The instant matter pertains to the fact that ‘X’ was the only daughter of the complainant who was studying in Class VII. Daughter of the complainant had been asking the complainant to change her school for last three months for which the complainant had asked her the reason and ‘X’ stated that “the atmosphere in the school is not good”, Complainant assured her daughter that she would change her school soon after the session ends.

On 30-11-2018, the daughter of the complainant came weeping from school and in the evening told the complainant that she will not go to school the next day, therefore she stayed home on 1-12-2018. Complainant being an Advocate by profession went to the Court around 1 p.m. on that day and asked ‘X’ to take help from her grandmother who lived nearby.

In the evening of the same day, as stated above, Complainant came early from work and knocked on the door repeatedly but the same was not opened after which she took the help of her neighbours and saw that her daughter (‘X’) was hanging with the ceiling fan.

In the above view of facts, Investigation Officer recorded the complainant’s statement. Case of the prosecution is that, at the time when the dead body was being moved, the doctor at the hospital noticed something written by pen on both hands and palms of the deceased. Following was written on one palm of the deceased:

“meri maut ki khabar school tak jarur pahuchana”.

Some persons and children from the neighbourhood told the petitioner that her daughter was being abused and tortured by class teacher Arti Singh and Biology Teacher Ritika. The daughter of the complainant was found running to the toilet to commit suicide but was stopped by classmates. She had said goodbye to all and also told that she would not come to this school again and she would commit suicide at home. These facts were told to the complainant by classmates of her daughter and neighbourhood children.

At the place of suicide, one notebook was also found lying on the bed which contained a suicide note and the same runs as follows:-

“Vo teachers app ko ja bhi Bola di vo sab jhute ha, mujhe pata ha app sab unki hi batt mano ja, that is why am committing sueside, please rona mat pls bye. That is why maa ajj school nahi gauya buye, mujha 6 class ka batcho na fasaya ha, ya mari pouri class to pata ha, because of my class teacher Arti Ma’am and Ritika Ma’am, bye I love you all last time for me 3:30 bye”

“Mummy and Nani I hate tears bye app jasi family har kisiko mila, mummy rona mat or nahi ko bhi mat rona dena app donoka eyes ma asu acha nahi lagaga, bye mummy bye bye nani I am going to die bye”

Apart from the above suicide note, some words were also written on right and left palms and left hand of the deceased which are as follows:-

On the right palm, the following sentence was written:-

“I love U Mummy and Nani”

On the left hand, the following sentence was written:-

“Jai Shri Krishna I am coming, Last 4:00 Bye”

On the left palm, following words were written:-

“mara suside ki khabar school tak zarur pahuchana, bye word.”

Counsel for the petitioner, Rashid Azam, submitted that the complainant has concocted a false story to falsely implicate the petitioner. The only thing, the petitioner can remember is that one of the students from her class namely Parth Uttam has been in a lot of indulgence with the deceased child to which the applicant had scolded Parth Uttam to concentrate on his studies.

He further submitted that, the act of abetment of suicide cannot be read in isolation and has to be read with Section 107 of Penal Code, 1860 which carries the wisdom to distinguish what constitutes instigation and what does not. It is further submitted that the suicide note was planted later on by the complainant in order to implicate the petitioner.

Neelam Sharma, APP for the State, submitted that, photographs and suicide note of deceased clearly indicate that the school teachers particularly the petitioner abetted in committing suicide by the deceased. Deceased has categorically mentioned the name of the petitioner in the suicide note and there is no reason to disbelieve the version of the deceased it being a dying declaration. In order to elicit the truth, custodial interrogation of the petitioner would be necessary.

Decision of the Court

On careful perusal of the suicide note, photographs pertaining to the words written on the right and left palms and left hand of the deceased child and statement of witnesses recorded under Section 161 CrPC, the bench dismissed the anticipatory bail application.

Court noted that, deceased child specifically mentioned the words in her suicide note “because of my class teacher Arti Ma’am and Ritika Ma’am”. This clearly indicates that something wrong must have happened with the deceased in the school/class.

Mental condition of the deceased child and her frustration due to the behaviour of the teachers can also be judged from the message wherein she has written that “mara suside ki khabar school tak zarur pahuchana, bye word”.

The material recorded, prima facie reveals that the deceased was compelled to take such a drastic step because of deep mental pain/ hurt caused by the alleged misbehaviour and hostile treatment extended to the deceased by the petitioner. It is highly improbable that a child of tender age would implicate her teacher falsely and without any reason.

In the opinion of the Court prima facie, there are serious and direct allegations of abetment of suicide against the petitioner which are difficult to ignore.

Thus, keeping in mind the nature of offence, statement of witnesses appearing on record and particularly, the apprehension expressed by the State about the likelihood of the witnesses being influenced and evidence being tampered with, this Court is not inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner. [Ritika v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10573, decided on 16-10-2019]

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: R. Narayana Pisharadi, J. allowed a petition filed by bank official praying for quashing proceedings initiated against him for abetting suicide of a student who had applied for an education loan to the bank where he was working, holding that there was no mens rea involved on his part.

In the present case, a student named Sruthi, from a financially backward family approached a bank several times for education loan. The bank rejected her applications for education loan and in despair, she committed suicide. Later, two bank officers (manager and the deputy manager of the bank) had to face prosecution for abetting her suicide by rejecting her application for loan and it was also stated by the father of the deceased that when the deceased was brought to the hospital she told him that she met the petitioner before the accident and the petitioner told her that if her loan was not sanctioned then she had no option other than dying. The brother (respondent) of the deceased gave the first information statement to the police and the case was registered under Section 306 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). After investigation, a final report was filed by the police under Section 306 IPC read with Section 34 of IPC. The concerned Magistrate committed the case to the Court of Session. The petitioner approached this Court to quash all the proceedings in the instant case under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

Learned counsels on behalf of the petitioners, S. Sreekumar, P. Paulochan Antony, M.A. Mohammed Siraj, P. Martin Jose, P. Prijith and Thomas P. Kuruvill, submitted that even if allegations raised against the petitioner in the final report were true, no offence was committed under Section 306 IPC as there was no direct nexus between the rejection of the application of loan by the petitioner and the suicide committed by the deceased. There was no proximity of time between the alleged act committed and the act of the victim. Non-sanctioning of education loan by the petitioner to the deceased could not be considered as facilitation of commission of suicide on their part as there was no malicious intention or instigation. Further, according to the copy of norms, loan application had to be disposed of within fifteen days but the deceased committed suicide without even waiting for the fate of her loan application. Lastly, no material was produced by the prosecution to prove that the petitioner told the deceased to commit suicide

Learned counsel on behalf of the respondent S. Manu, and Public Prosecutor M.N. Maya, contented that allegations in the final report along with the materials produced by the prosecution showed that the petitioner had abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased.  

The Court opined that the prosecution had not made any prima facie case against the petitioner for committing an offence punishable under Section 306 IPC and continuance of the proceedings against the petitioners would be an abuse of process of the Court. The Court also observed that even according to the prosecution case, only when the deceased told the first petitioner that in case the loan was not sanctioned she would have no option other than to die, that the first petitioner told her to go and do so. Thus, the remark regarding death was initially made not by the first petitioner, but by the deceased. The fact that the first petitioner had retorted to the deceased in such a manner in such a situation, in a fit of anger or emotion or at the spur of the moment, did not lead to an inference that he had instigated the deceased to commit suicide. Reliance in this regard was placed on Pawan Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (2017) 7 SCC 780. Thus, all proceedings against the petitioners were quashed.[Harikrishnan v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1767, decided on 10-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed a criminal revision petition filed against the order of the trial court whereby charge under Section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) IPC was framed against the petitioner.

Petitioner was married to the deceased who committed suicide on the very next day of their first marriage anniversary. FIR under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 498-A was registered against the petitioner at the behest of the mother of the deceased. An alleged suicide note was found which was verified to be written in the handwriting of the deceased. The trial court discharged the petitioner of the offence under Section 306 holding that the said suicide note exonerated him as it states that the deceased was taking the steps voluntarily. However, it was found that the allegations levelled by the mother and brothers of the deceased that the petitioner maltreated the deceased and committed physical and mental cruelty were specific and therefore framed a charge under Section 498-A against him.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve contended that as the trial court found insufficient material to proceed under Section 306, on the same analogy, there was insufficient material to even frame a charge under Section 498-A.

Relying on the Supreme Court decisions in Girdhar Shankar Tawade v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 5 SCC 177 and Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618, the High Court reiterated that charges under Sections 306 and 498-A IPC are independent of each other and acquittal of one does not lead to acquittal of the other. It was observed: “Though, there may be an overlap with regard to cruelty being meted out to the deceased in both the Sections, however, the degree of cruelty to constitute abetment under Section 306 IPC would be of higher than the degree of harassment and cruelty to constitute an offence under Section 498-A IPC. It cannot be held that because petitioner has been discharged of an offence under Section 306 IPC, it would automatically lead to a discharge of the offence under Section 498-A IPC.”

In the present case, it was found that there was sufficient material on record to give rise to grave suspicion against the petitioner for framing a charge under Section 498- IPC. Thus, finding no infirmity in the impugned order, the petition was accordingly dismissed.[Kaushal Kishore v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8713, decided on 28-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This Appeal was preferred before the Bench of S.K. Awasthi. J., under Section 14-A(1) of the SC/ST (PA) Act, 1989, read with Section 397 of Criminal Procedure Code assailing order passed by Special Judge (SC/ST Act) where charges against appellant were framed for commission of offence under Section 306 read with Section 34 of Penal Code,1860 and Section 3(2)(v) of the Act.

Facts of the case were such that appellant was alleged for abetting the suicide of deceased who in his dying declaration stated appellant to have harassed him and made him work overtime. Ajay Bagadiya, counsel on behalf of appellant contended that so as to allege for offence of abetment of suicide the instigation by accused should have some proximate link with the factum of suicide. Also, no other employee or the deceased had ever complaint against appellant and no evidence showing excessive work given to deceased was shown.

High Court was of the view that allegation of misbehaviour and giving of excessive work after the office hours could not be equated into abetting the deceased to commit suicide. Due to the fact that only one person was accused in this case charge framed with the aid of Section 34 was not required. Further, the Court observed that if the behaviour of higher officials was unbearable then the employee had other options rather than to commit suicide. Therefore, the appellant cannot be held liable for abetment to suicide and the impugned order was set aside. [Satendra Jha v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 468, dated 06-03-2019]

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Bench of Arvind Singh Chandel, J., while addressing an instant revision being preferred against the charges framed under Sections 306 and 201 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 stated that, “The word “instigate” means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do an act.”

Factual matrix of the case is that, marriage between Applicant 1 (husband) and the deceased was solemnized on 06-12-2013 and on the intervening night, deceased committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance. Allegations against the applicants (Applicant 1-Husband, Applicant 2 & 4- Elder brother and Sister-in-Law of Applicant 1 and Applicant 3-Mother-in-Law) were that they were harassing deceased physically and mentally. Trial Court had framed charges under Section 306 and 201/ read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 against the applicants.

S.C. Verma and Harshvardhan Parganiha, Advocates representing the applicants submitted that the Additional Sessions Judge committed manifest illegality in framing charges against the applicants. As per the prosecution story, deceased committed suicide due to excess sexual act by her husband with her and there was an illicit relationship of Applicant 1 with Applicant 4. On the basis of the stated facts no offence is made out under Sections 306 and 201 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860.

Sangharsh Pandey, Deputy Government Advocate, submitted that there is sufficient material available for presuming that applicants have committed the offence and there is no illegality on the impugned order.

The Court on considering the facts and circumstances of the case, stated that “for making liable for an offence punishable under Section 306 of Penal Code, 1860 it is the duty of prosecution to establish that such person has committed “abetment of suicide”, it is necessary for the determination of the act of the accused to see that his act falls under any of the three ingredients mentioned under Section 107 of Penal Code, 1860.

Reference was made to several decisions of the Supreme Court in, Ramesh Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2001) 9 SCC 618, Gangula Mohan Reddy v. State of A.P., (2010) 1 SCC 750; in which it was stated that “Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing.”

Therefore, the High Court while concluding its decision stated that the spot map shows that the deceased was living separately along with her husband/Applicant 1 in a room situated on the first floor of her matrimonial house, which negates the allegation of her not being allowed to talk at her maternal house without the phone on being speaker. Along with the stated the other allegations against the applicant also if considered for the sake of arguments to be true, they do not stand to be covered under the word “instigation” as defined under Section 107 of Penal Code, 1860.

The revision was allowed by the High Court and accordingly on no material being available for framing of charge against the applicant they were discharged from the charges. [Devanand Chandwani v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 19, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Dr G. Jayachandran, J., dismissed a criminal appeal filed by the accused who was convicted by the trial court for the offence of ‘abetment of suicide’ punishable under Section 306 IPC.

As per the prosecution, the accused, a married man was very close to the deceased who committed suicide. He lived opposite to the house of the deceased and had close intimacy with her. He made sexual relations with the deceased and impregnated her. On coming to know about the pregnancy, the deceased went to the accused and asked her to marry him. After this, as per the mother of the deceased (a prosecution witness), the accused refused to marry her while blaming her character for the pregnancy and also scolded her to die. Subsequently, the deceased consumed Vasmol 33 hair oil which resulted in her death.

The appellant contended that the conviction against him was not proper as there was no evidence against him to prove abetment and attract ingredients of Section 306. It was also contended that there was no independent witness to prove the alleged intimacy between him and the deceased. It was also submitted that two of the independent witnesses turned hostile.

On perusal of the record and totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court was of the view that the judgment of conviction passed by the trial court could not be interfered with. As per the Court, in the case at hand, the sequence of events placed by the prosecution were cogent and corroborate to each other. In such a case, the Court held, the hostility of two of the prosecution witnesses (PWs 8 and 9) in no way dent the prosecution case, nor the close relationship between other prosecution witnesses throw any doubt upon its case. Consequently, the appeal was dismissed. [Dravidamani v. State (UT of Puducherry), 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 557, decided on 21-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Himachal Pradesh: While deciding a criminal appeal preferred by the appellant-State challenging the judgment of the Trial Court, whereby the accused were acquitted for the offence punishable under Sections 498-A, 306 and 404 read with Section 34 of IPC, a two-Judge Bench of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. and Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. held that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond shadow of reasonable doubt and declined to interfere with the impugned judgment.

The respondents were accused of abetting the suicide of the deceased. Learned Additional Advocate General argued that the proof required under Section 498-A is not strict proof, but only preponderance of probabilities are required to be established. He further argued that the statements of the witnesses clearly established the guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court, after perusing the arguments and the evidence, held that the prosecution failed to prove that cruel treatment was given to the deceased and under these circumstances the presumption that it was a dowry death within seven years of marriage does not arise at all. The fact of deceased’s being taken to hospital by the accused immediately on consuming medicines proved the good conduct of the accused persons. In the given circumstances, the appeal was held sans merit and was accordingly dismissed. [State of Himachal Pradesh v. Ashwani Kumar, 2017 SCC OnLine HP 1311, decided on September 1, 2017]