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Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja And Etc. vs State Of U.P.

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|31 March, 2004

JUDGMENT / ORDER

ORDER K.N. Ojha, J.
1. Both these connected revisions have been preferred against the orders dated 23-11-1998 and 21-8-1999 passed by 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sant Ravidas Nagar, (Bhadohi) in Sessions Trial No. 336 of 1998, State v. Hemant Kumar Taneja. By impugned order dated 23-11-1998 the learned 1st Additional Sessions Judge held that there was sufficient evidence to presume that the accused Hemant Kumar Taneja committed offence under Sections 498A, 304B IPC and Section 3/4 Dowry" Prohibition Act and 30-11-1998 was fixed for framing charges under these sections.
2. By impugned order dated 21-8-1999 subsequently the accused Hemant Kumar Taneja was discharged from these offences and it was held that in view of the report of the handwriting expert given in respect of suicide notes left by deceased Smt. Indira Taneja, her husband accused Hemant Kumar Taneja is not liable and he was completely exonerated from the charge.
3. Heard Sri V. P. Srivastava, learned counsel for the accused Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja and Sri D. S. Misra, learned counsel for the complainant Raje Bhasin, the learned AGA and have gone through the record.
4. According to prosecution Raje Bhasin lodged FIR at police station Bhadohi, district Sant Ravidas Nagar on 22-5-1998 at 11.15 P.M. against Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja under Sections 498A, 304B IPC and Section 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act bearing Crime No. 189 of 1998 containing the fact that he is resident of Lucknow. His younger sister Indira was married to accused, who was employed as Medical Officer in M.B.S. Hospital, Bhadohi, and used to live in the same campus. The marriage was solemnized on 10-10-1997. Though all necessary household effects were given in the marriage, but the accused insisted for purchase of a plot and used to demand money for it. The demand being not satisfied the accused used to cause physical and mental harassment to his sister Indira. Sometimes he used to beat her. When the matter became serious, information was given by Indira to him and his mother on 15-5-1998. The mother of the deceased went from Lucknow to Bhadohi to solve the problem and stayed there till 18-5-1998. During this period the accused used to misbehave with the deceased. Seeing the ill treatment and harassment by the accused the complainant's mother requested the accused to send Indira for some time to Lucknow, but it was not permitted and demand was repeatedly made for some money so that the land was to be purchased. His mother went back to Lucknow on 18-5-1998. In the noon of 22-5-1998 information was given to him that Indira had died. Immediately thereafter the complainant and his family members started in a car for Bhadohi. Indira had told that the accused was a man of bad character and he had illicit relations with other girls. When complainant reached Bhadohi, he found that his sister had died.
5. After the FIR was lodged at the police station investigation started and statement of Raje Bhasin, Sanjay Bhasin, brothers of the deceased, Sharad Pradhan, brother-in-law of the deceased, Smt. Kamal Bhasin, mother of the deceased, Supriti Arora, elder sister of the deceased, Ravi Arora, husband of Supriti Arora, Smt. Mohita Bhasin, wife of the brother of the deceased and Smt. Rinki Bhasin wife of another brother of the deceased, were recorded under Section 161, Cr.P.C. Copies of these statements are Annexures-6 to 14. Postmortem examination was done on the dead body of Indira Taneja, who was aged about 26 years, in mortuary of District Hospital, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Bhadohi on 23-5-1998. Ligature mark was present on the upper part of neck. In the opinion of the doctor death was caused due to asphyxia. Due to hanging viscera was preserved. In the opinion of the doctor the death had taken place 1 or 1 1/2 days before.
6. When Investigating officer reached the spot he recovered two suicide notes also, which were written in the handwriting of Smt. Indira Taneja that she herself was responsible for her death and her husband and family members of her husband were not responsible. In her suicide notes she had written about the properties, which were given to her husband by her mother and brothers. In suicide notes she had written that she loved the accused from the core of her heart but the accused could never understand her love. She had also written that she hoped that her death would make the accused believe that she really loved him. Both the suicide notes were of the same day when the occurrence took place on 22-5-1998.
7. After the charge sheet was submitted argument on charge was heard by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge and order was passed on 23-11-1998 that there was sufficient prima-facie evidence to frame charge under Sections 498A, 304B IPC and 3/4, Dowry Prohibition Act and date was fixed for framing charge.
8. Aggrieved there from the accused preferred Criminal Revision No. 1997 of 1998 Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja v. State of U.P. before this Court and an order was passed by this Court on 3-12-1998 that the trial Court, had observed that suicide note and letters were sent for opinion to the handwriting expert. Under these circumstances no charge would be framed against the accused till receipt of the report of handwriting expert. The report of the handwriting expert was received in which it was opined that/writing of the specimen letter and suicide notes were under one and the same handwriting. Thus the handwriting expert confirmed that the suicide notes were written by Smt. Indira Taneja.
9. After hearing the parties the 1st Additional Sessions Judge passed order on 21-8-1999 that in view of suicide notes Indira Taneja committed suicide and accused was not responsible for it. It was also held that there was no mention of any harassment or exercise of any cruelty in respect of dowry, therefore, the accused was entitled for being discharged from the charges under Sections 498A, 304B IPC and 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. Against the order of discharge passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge dated 21-8-1999 the complainant Raje Bhasin has preferred this revision before this Court.
10. Since the accused was discharged by subsequent order dated 21-8-1999 passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi), therefore, while advancing argument the learned counsel for the accused made statement before this Court on 23-2-2004 that in view of the subsequent order of discharge dated 21-8-1999 Criminal Revision No. 1997 of 1998 preferred by the accused against the order dated 23-11-1998 has become infructuous, therefore, the revision was not pressed. Consequently the Criminal Revision No. 1997 of 1998 Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja v. State of U. P. was dismissed as not pressed.
11. The question before this Court is whether the opinion of the handwriting expert in respect of suicide notes is sufficient to conclude the matter. Since according to the handwriting expert the suicide notes were written by Indira Taneja in which she did not make the accused liable for her suicide, therefore, whether the accused is entitled for discharge, as has been expressed in the impugned order dated 21-8-1999 passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi) or the charge is to be framed against the accused and prosecution should be given opportunity to prove that demand for dowry was made by the accused, cruelty was exercised and harassment was caused, to Smt. Indira Taneja by the accused and these circumstances resulted into her unnatural death inside the house, of the accused within seven years of her marriage or the accused abetted the commission of the suicide.
12. It has been submitted by the learned AGA that the report submitted by the hand-writing expert opining that it is in the handwriting of the deceased Smt. Taneja is still to be proved and cross-examination is to be made on it. Besides it the expert has given his opinion only to the extent that handwriting on the suicide notes tallies with the admitted handwriting of Smt. Indira Taneja but it does not mean that no undue influence was exercised on her for writing the suicide notes or she wrote them due to her own free will. It is still subject matter of evidence and prosecution should be given opportunity to show that suicide notes even if written by the deceased are not expression of her own free will.
13. The learned counsel for the complainant has submitted that the suicide notes are silent about the reason for committing suicide and prosecution has to adduce evidence in respect of those circumstances, which compelled Smt. Taneja to commit suicide within one year of her marriage at the residence of her husband. The prosecution has to adduce evidence that the demand of the accused was for money so that he could purchase a plot and when the demand was not being satisfied, he used to harass and insult her and also exercised cruelty on her. Thus he abetted the commission of the suicide and her death took place in unnatural circumstances inside the house of her husband, who is accused in this case. It is further submitted that it is not unnatural or impossible if a lady, who has been subjected to cruelty by her husband parts with her life but at the same time she does not want to create problem for her husband. This is the reason, that the reason of committing suicide has not been mentioned in the suicide notes and the prosecution should be given opportunity to show that demand for money for purchase of plot was made by the accused. It is also submitted that further opportunity be given to the prosecution to adduce evidence about the character and conduct of the accused and his insulting and harassing behaviour with the deceased, which compelled and abetted her to commit suicide and no finding can be given on these points merely on the basis of the suicide notes."
14. The learned counsel for the complainant Raje Bhasin has also submitted that when the death of Indira Taneja: took inside the house of the accused, he did not inform this fact to brothers and mother of the deceased on telephone at Lucknow. He gave information at the police station and it was the police, which informed on telephone that death of Smt. Indira Taneja had taken place at the residence of her husband. It was further submitted that as soon as the information was received on telephone, brothers, mother and other family members of the complainant rushed to Bhadohi from Lucknow in a car and as soon as they reached in Bhadohi and ascertained that dead body of Indira Taneja was lying, the FIR was lodged in the same night at 11.15 P.M.. If the brothers and mother of the deceased would not have been certain about the cruel conduct of the accused, delay would have been caused in lodging the FIR. It was also submitted that one of the reasons for committing suicide was lack of character of the accused. The mother of the deceased under Section 161, Cr.P.C. stated that when she had gone to the residence of the accused to persuade him and to make the relations of her daughter and the accused cordial, one day when a piece of ice, which was taken from fridge fell down on the table the accused used insulting language. When mother of the deceased lived at the residence of the accused from 15-5-1998 to 18-5-1998 she saw and felt that behaviour of the accused with the deceased was insulting, harassing, cruel and full of hatred, which gave birth in the mind of the deceased that the accused hated her and there was no room of love in his heart and she had no option but to commit suicide.
15. The witness Sanjay Bhasin in his statement under Section 161, Cr.P.C. stated that the accused had killed his first wife and divorced his second wife and Smt. Indira Taneja was his third wife. He also stated that whenever the accused went outside the house, he used to lock Smt. Indira Taneja inside the house. He further stated that the persons living in the neighbourhood told that he used to beat her and her cry was always heard by the neighbourers. Once she was badly beaten by the accused, she went to railway station for going to Lucknow to the residence of her mother then the, accused went there and brought her back from the railway station to his house.
16. Statement of Sharad Pradhan was recorded under Section 161, Cr.P.C. in which he stated that scratches on the neck and ear of the deceased were found. It is alleged that it shows that a dispute had occurred between the accused and the deceased prior to the occurrence.
17. Smt. Kamal Bhasin, mother of the deceased, in her statement under Section 161, Cr.P.C. stated that her husband was Advocate, who was no more alive. At the time of marriage of Indira Taneja she wanted to give the car of her husband to the accused, but he refused to take it as it was old one. She made arrangement and a new Maruti car was given but two months after the marriage the accused started to say that the car was given to Smt. Indira Taneja and he was given nothing in the marriage. According to learned counsel for the complainant all these circumstances including demand for dowry as well as cruel, insulting and harassing behaviour of the accused compelled Indira Taneja to commit suicide inside the house of her husband, which amount to the commission of offence under Section 304-B as well 306, IPC as he did not only demand for dowry and exercised cruelty but his conduct also compelled and abetted her to commit suicide inside the house of her husband.
18. Learned counsel for the accused has submitted that the marriage was solemnized on the basis of advertisement, hence there arises no question of dowry. There is no mention of exercise of cruelty, insult or harassment of the deceased by the accused and if it would have been really so while parting with her life she must have mentioned it in her suicide note. It may be mentioned here that in a case of dowry death or abetment to suicide, suicide note is not the only evidence. Suicide note is written only when a person has to die. Previous conduct of the accused is also material. Even though there is no mention of exercise of cruelty in the suicide note but if prosecution says that demand for money for purchase of a plot was made and it being not satisfied the accused started to insult the deceased and always harassed her compelling her to commit suicide. This fact is to be ascertained, as to whether really the accused is innocent or the deceased deliberately omitted to specifically mention the reason of her suicide in the suicide note because she did not want her husband to be prosecuted and punished. This fact can be ascertained only when the parties are given opportunity to adduce evidence, which can be done when the charges are framed.
19. In these circumstances it is a case in which charges should be framed and parties should be given opportunity to adduce evidence. There are three types of charges :
I. The demand for dowry being not satisfied, the accused harassed the deceased, exercised cruelty on her, hence the death of Smt. Indira Taneja took place inside the house of her husband in unnatural circumstances within one year of the, marriage.
II. From the statement of witnesses under Section 161, Cr.P.C. allegation is that the accused lacked character, his conduct and behaviour with the deceased was insulting, harassing and cruel one and thus he abetted to the commission of suicide.
III. Demand for dowry was made and thus offence under Section 3/4, Dowry Prohibition Act was committed.
20. Therefore, in the opinion of this Court the trial Court has to frame three charges, first under Section 304B of IPC, second under Section 306, IPC and the third under Section 3/4, Dowry Prohibition Act.
21. Section 227 of Cr.P.C. contemplates that "if upon consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith, and after hearing the submissions of the accused and the prosecution in this behalf, the Judge considers that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused and record his reasons for so doing."
22. Section 228 of Cr.P.C. contemplates that (1) If, after such consideration and hearing as aforesaid, the Judge is of opinion that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence which --
(a) is not exclusively triable by the Court of Session, he may, frame a charge against the accused and, by order, transfer the case for trial to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, and thereupon the Chief Judicial Magistrate shall try the offence in accordance with the procedure for the trial of warrant-cases instituted on a police report.
(b) is exclusively triable by the Court, he shall frame in writing a charge against the accused.
(2) Where the Judge frames any charge under Clause (b) of Sub-section (1), the charge shall be read and explained to the accused, and the accused shall be asked whether he pleads guilty of the offence charged or claims to be tried.
23. Thus after hearing the learned counsel for the parties and considering the document this Court is of the opinion that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed above mentioned offence, hence he is liable to be charged there under.
24. The 1st Additional Sessions Judge has passed order dated 21-8-1999 discharging the accused from the offence alleged to have been committed by him, which is not in accordance with law. At this stage it is not necessary that there should be sufficient evidence, which is likely to prove the charge, only prima-facie evidence is sufficient from which it may be presumed that the accused would have committed offence. Therefore the order dated 21-8-1999 discharging the accused from the charges mentioned above deserves to be set aside.
24-A. Learned trial Court has relied on 1995 SCC 817 (sic) in which it is held that an accused should not be convicted on mere suicide note. The ruling is in respect of final judgment in the trial and not in respect of framing charges. Hon'ble the Apex Court has held in 2000 Cri LJ 944 : (AIR 2000 SC 665), State of M.P. v. S. B. Johari that "it is settled law that at the stage of framing the charge the Court has to prima-facie consider whether there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The Court is not required to appreciate the evidence and arrive at the conclusion that the materials produced are sufficient or not, for convicting the accused. If the Court is satisfied that a prima-facie case is made out for proceeding further then a charge has to be framed." The Court may peruse the record for limited purposes to appreciate evidence prima-facie as to whether offence has been committed but it is not required to marshal with a view to decide the reliability thereof, as is held in State of Bihar v. Ramesh Singh, AIR 1977 SC 2018, Union of India v. Praffulla Kumar Samal, AIR 1979 SC 366, Superintendent of Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, West Bengal v. Anil Kumar Bhunja, AIR 1980 SC 52. In these rulings it was held that at the stage of Sections 227 and 228 of Cr.P.C. the Court is required only to evaluate the materials and documents with a view to find out if the facts emerging there from taken on their face value discloses the existence of all the ingredients constituting the alleged offence. In 2001 Cri LJ 712: (AIR 2001 SC 556) Ram Kumar Laharia v. State of M.P. Hon'ble the Apex Court has held that it is not open for the Court to weigh or assess the evidence at the stage of framing of charge. Thus in this case at the stage of framing of charge when report of handwriting expert has been received on suicide note, it is not the stage to conclude that no offence was committed and deprive the prosecution from adducing evidence.
25. Criminal Revision No. 1997 of 1998, Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja v. State of U.P. is dismissed as not pressed.
26. Criminal Revision No. 1747 of 1999, Raje Bhasin v. State of U.P. and one other is allowed and the impugned order dated 21-8-1999 passed by the learned 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi) discharging the accused is set aside and the order dated 23-11-1998 is modified accordingly.
27. It would be significant to mention that observation made by this Court in the instant order is on basis of prima-facie consideration of the facts, evidence and circumstances of the case. The trial Court will not be influenced by it while deciding the trial finally.
28. Let record of the Court below along with judgment of this Court be sent back to the Court of 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi), who will frame charges against the accused as mentioned above and will proceed to decide the case in accordance with law expeditiously.
The parties are directed to appear in the Court of 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi) on 29-5-2004.
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Title

Dr. Hemant Kumar Taneja And Etc. vs State Of U.P.

Court

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

JudgmentDate
31 March, 2004
Judges
  • K Ojha