Delay in lodging FIR in matrimonial offences has to be dealt with sympathetically; SC [Read Judgment]

Delay in lodging FIR in matrimonial offences has to be dealt with sympathetically; SC [Read Judgment]


Once the prosecution succeeds in establishing the component of cruelty leading to conviction under Section 498A, in our view only in a rare case, the Court can refuse to invoke the presumption of abetment, if other requirements of Section 113A of the Evidence Act stand satisfied, the Court said.


The Supreme Court in Satish Shetty vs. State of Karnataka has observed that, factum of delay in lodging FIR in Section 498-A cases has to be dealt with sympathetically keeping in mind the mental condition of the close relations of the victim.

Division Bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh dismissed the appeal against conviction under Section 498-A and 306 of the Indian Penal Code, filed by a Husband observing that he failed to rebut the presumptions raised against him under Section 113A of the Evidence Act. The bench added that, once the prosecution succeeds in establishing the component of cruelty leading to conviction under Section 498A, in our view only in a rare case, the Court can refuse to invoke the presumption of abetment, if other requirements of Section 113A of the Evidence Act stand satisfied.

FAILED TO REBUT PRESUMPTIONS

Upholding the judgment of the High Court, the Bench said “The High Court found the later explanations unacceptable and the initial explanation that the deceased committed suicide because she was not permitted to go to her mother’s place does not inspire confidence and has rightly been rejected by the High Court. Only for such a trivial matter, a hale and hearty young woman having a ten months old son and a pregnancy of twenty weeks is not at all expected to take her life. The appellant not only gave absolutely no explanation for the injuries on the person of the deceased, rather he chose to conceal them by keeping mum. Clearly the appellant failed to rebut the presumptions raised against him under Section 113A of the Evidence Act. Having gone through the relevant facts and the reasoning of the trial court we are not persuaded to take a different view.”

DELAY IN LODGING FIR TO BE DEALT SYMPATHETICALLY

Criticising the Trial Court finding acquitting the accused taking into account delay in filing of FIR, the Court said “When the deceased died leaving a son of ten months old the mother of the deceased had many other things to worry for, including cremation of the dead body and in such circumstances the High Court was justified in criticizing the trial court for its hyper technical approach in blaming the mother of the deceased for lodging a delayed complaint. It will be useful to remember that delay in lodging the FIR or complaint is not fatal in all cases. The Court must show some sensitivity in cases of present nature where the victim’s closest relation - mother is a poor helpless lady. Even a well to do person may suffer a state of mental confusion when struck by such a tragedy. The prosecution in such cases is likely to be delayed further if the deceased has left behind children. The issues relating to their safety and custody often require higher priority. Occurrences of the present nature require lodging of criminal case against persons who are already in the category of relation by virtue of matrimonial ties through the deceased and it is not always easy to take a decision whether to lodge a criminal case against a relation or not. Hence in such cases the factum of delay has to be dealt with sympathetically keeping in mind the mental condition of the close relations of the victim. The trial court miserably failed on this count too.”

Read the Judgment here.