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Jharkhand High Court: Anil Kumar Choudhary, J. dismissed an interlocutory application praying for grant of special leave under Section 378 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 against a judgment passed by Judicial Magistrate, Deoghar on the grounds of discrepancy in evidence and absence of perversity in the judgment.  

The appellant-complainant alleged that her husband (private respondent 2), after the birth of their daughter, physically and mentally tortured her to extract a sum of Rs 2,00,000 as dowry despite receiving Rs 7,50,000 at the time of their marriage. It was further alleged that he threw hot water at the appellant-complainant, after which she was treated at a hospital. The assault allegedly extended to the forceful acquirement of pieces of jewellery worth Rs 85,000. Witnesses were examined from both sides.  The complainant witnesses (hereinafter, CW) claimed that matrimonial disputes arose after two years of marriage. However, none could provide any specific date, day or year with regard to claims of assault nor could they provide medical records for treatment at the hospitals after the assault. Furthermore, there were contradictions in the testimony of CW 4. The defence witnesses, however, unanimously claimed that the appellant-complainant was rude and disliked staying in her paternal house.  Taking into account the testimonies, evidence and noting the contradiction in complainant’s testimony and the complaint, the trial court acquitted private respondent 2. Wife filed an appeal against this order of acquittal.

The complainant-appellant was represented by  Khalida Haya Rashmi who submitted a three-fold argument. Firstly, the court failed to study evidence, facts, and circumstances in its entirety such as that of dismissal of private respondent 2’s petition to dissolve the marriage by a family court. Secondly, the judgment by the trial court was perverse inasmuch as it failed to recognize appellant-complainant’s attempts to restitute her family life which caused a delay in filing of the case. Lastly, the discrepancy in evidence was a minor one, hence, cannot be solely relied upon to rule. The defense represented by the Public Prosecutor concurred with the observation of the trial court on the discrepancy in evidence and inordinate delay in lodging of FIR. Further, it was submitted that the lack of evidence for the offence in the present case was the right ground for acquittal.                                               

The Court concurred with the defense’s contentions holding that discrepancy in testimony and evidences do not clearly demarcate any specificity with regard to the duration or manner of cruelty. Further, relying on Rupali Devi v. State of U.P, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 493 where it was held that “Even if the acts of physical cruelty committed in the matrimonial house may have ceased and such acts do not occur at the parental home, there can be no doubt that the mental trauma and the psychological distress caused by the acts of the husband including verbal exchanges, if any, that had compelled that wife to leave the matrimonial home and take shelter with her parents would continue to persist at the parental home’. 

Thus, the Court dismissed the contention of ignoring discrepancy in evidence. Also, the Court holds that since no proceedings under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act were brought about, therefore, no such proceedings can be referred to as precedents. The Court found no illegality or perversity as claimed against the trial court Judgment; rather, termed it as reasonable and plausible. Hence, the appeal was dismissed. [Meena Devi v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 769, decided on 13-06-2019]