07 Jul 2121

The object behind the Expression ”in connection with the marriage” under Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is everything which is offending at any time i.e. before or after marriage but not so customary - Bombay High Court

Case : Shri Sharad Ashok Thange v. The State of Maharashtra Criminal Appeal No. 135 of 2014 with Criminal Appeal No.134 of 2014

Court : Bombay High Court

Bench : Justice V. K. Jadhav

Decided on : 07 Jul 2121

Relevant Statutes

Sections 304-B and Section 498 A of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 113-B of Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. A case has been reported at Shevgan Police Station, Ahmednagar about the death of Kalindi Sharad Thange due to burns in her matrimonial house on 15.09.2012. On 16.09.2012, the father of the deceased named Raosaheb Kondiba Dukale filed a F.I.R and stated that the Accused no.1 (Sharad Thange) was married to the deceased on 29.01.2012 and she was treated well for one month after the marriage. But afterwards, she was subjected to cruelty on the account of non-fulfilment of the demand of the dowry of Rs. 50, 000 for purchasing a motorcycle.

2. Further, on 13.09.2012, The Complainant invited all the accused in his house for Dhonde Feast where the accused demanded a one Tola gold ring which the complainant was not able to fulfil due to his poor condition but he promised the ring will be given. While they were leaving, the deceased Kalindi was crying. On the next day i.e. on 15.09.2012, the deceased Kalindi informed her brother named Dada Dukle and she said as the ring was not given so he assaulted her and subjected her to cruelty. At 3:00 p.m. The Sarpanch of the Village informed Dada Dukle that his sister Kalindi died due to burns in the house of the accused.

3. Later, her father, mother and other relatives rushed to the house of the accused and found she was totally in burnt condition and lying in the house of the accused. He stated that due to non-fulfilment of the demand, Kalindi had committed suicide. On the basis of the complaint, the case was registered under Section 304-B, 498-A, 323, 504 r/w 34 of Indian Penal code, 1860 and the accused came to be arrested.

4. The learned additional session framed the charges under the above provisions and convicted all the accused by order dated 26. 2.2014 under Section 304- B and 498-A of Indian Penal code, 1860. The Original accused no.1  (Sharad Thange) preferred an appeal and the second appeal was preferred by the accused no.2 and 3 (Ashok Thange and Bhimbai thange) against the order dated 26.2.2014.

The Issue of the Case

Whether the incident covered under the ambit of term “Dowry” or all the Accused are liable under Section 304-B and Section 498-A of Indian Penal code, 1860?

The Observations of the Court

1. The Honourable Bombay High Court observed the ingredients of the Section 304-B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and referred one of the judgments i.e. Ashok Kumar vs State of Haryana (2011) 12 SCC 350, It was held that the object behind the Expression” in connection with the marriage” is everything which is offending at any time i.e. before or after marriage but not so customary. 

2. The Honourable Bombay High Court observed that the demand of Rs. 50,000 for purchasing the motorcycle is not for the purpose of business or even it is not required by the appellant as he was already having the motorcycle prior to the marriage. The demand of the dowry was made after one month of marriage, an irresistible inference can be drawn that the particular demand is connected with the marriage which constituted dowry demand. 

3. The Honourable Bombay High Court referred another judgment i.e. Satvir Singh vs. State of Punjab (2001) 8 SCC 633, it was held that Customary payments related to the birth of a child or other ceremonies not covered under the ambit of term ‘Dowry’, the demand of the gold ring, it does not fall under term “Dowry” as it covers under the Customary Payment. 

4. The Honourable Bombay High Court observed that there is a proximate link between the cruelty and demand of the dowry and the death of the deceased i.e. on 15.09.2012 and which positively indicates that soon before her death, the deceased was subject to the cruelty by the accused. The Honourable High Court observed that the allegations were made against the accused no. 1 only as the deceased kalindi was subjected to cruelty due to non-fulfilment of the demand by the subsequent event which was at Dhonde festival, Where he was not given a gold ring. By this, the Honourable High Court extended the benefit of the doubt to the appellants –Ashok Bhaurao Thange and Bhimabai Ashok Thange.

5. The Honourable Bombay High Court observed that accused no 1 could not rebut the presumption under Section 113 –B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 as all the ingredients of the Section 304-B was fulfilled, and also the explanation given the accused no .1 of accidental burns appears to be false. There was evidence by Dr. Pardeshi that indicated that there was no possibility of accidental burns and it was also observed that the deceased died due to burns in her matrimonial home and it was otherwise than under normal circumstances at 3:00 p.m. 

6. Lastly, The Honourable High Court considered some of the factors for deciding the quantum of punishment. Like the age of the accused no.1 at the time of the alleged incident, The Deceased died in a very short period of time or there was no evidence about the presence of the accused no.1 at the time of the incident or he failed to protect her. 

The Decision Held by the Court

1. Criminal Appeal no. 135 of 2014 and Criminal Appeal no. 134 of 2014 are allowed.The impugned order passed by the additional Session Judge dated 26.2.2014 is modified and Accused no.1 (Sharad  Thange) was convicted under Section 304-B of Indian Penal code, 1860 and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of 10 years and fine of Rs, 5000 and in case of default of fine, A rigorous imprisonment of 6 months will be given instead of imprisonment for life.

2. The Accused No.1 (Sharad Thange) was also convicted under Section 498-A of Indian Penal code, 1860 and sentenced with an imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of Rs, 5000 and in default in payment of fine, 6 months of rigorous imprisonment were confirmed. Both the sentences shall run concurrently.

3. The Accused no 1. (Sharad Thange) is also entitled to the set off from the date directed by the Trial Court. The Impugned order passed by the learned Additional Session Judge dated 26.2.2014  to the extent of original accused no .2 (Ashok Bhaurao Thange) and the original Accused no .3 Bhimabai w/o of Ashok Thange is set aside and quashed and hereby acquitted. All the Accused are directed to execute a personal bond of Rs. 15000 each with one surety to appear before the Higher Court.

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