16 Sep 2023 7:35 AM GMT
The Jharkhand High recently held that not providing proper medical aid to one's wife to enforce the demand of dowry would come within the definition of cruelty as enunciated under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Holding thus, a bench of Justice Ambuj Nath upheld the conviction of accused Sanjay Kumar Rai finding him guilty of committing cruelty as defined under Section 498A...
The Jharkhand High recently held that not providing proper medical aid to one's wife to enforce the demand of dowry would come within the definition of cruelty as enunciated under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
Holding thus, a bench of Justice Ambuj Nath upheld the conviction of accused Sanjay Kumar Rai finding him guilty of committing cruelty as defined under Section 498A IPC against his wife.
The cases before the Court
The Court was essentially dealing with three criminal revision pleas, the first of which [Cr. Revision No.191/2011] had been filed by the original petitioner/Neelam Devi (victim), who was later substituted by her father Ram Kripal Singh, on her death.
In this plea, the acquittal order (passed in December 2010) of opposite party No.2 Sulochana Devi, opposite party No.3 Manju Devi and opposite party No.4 Anju Devi by the Magistrate Court under Sections 498A/34 of the IPC and 3 / 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act had been challenged.
The second plea [Cr. Revision No. 557 of 2012] had been filed by the Husband of the informant (Neelam Devi) namely Sanjay Kumar Rai challenging his under Section 498A of the IPC.
The third plea [Cr. Revision No. 780 of 2012] was moved by the father of the informant challenging the acquittal of the Victim’s brother-in-law (Bhageshwar Roy) under Section 498A of IPC.
The prosecution’s case
The prosecution case was instituted on the basis of a written report of the informant Neelam Devi, alleging therein that she got married to the petitioner Sanjay Kumar Rai in June 2006 and in the absence of her husband, her in-laws used to torture her.
She also alleged that when she reported the matter to her husband, he demanded a car and subsequently, she was driven away from her matrimonial home. Thereafter, they came to her house and forced her to sign on blank papers
Importantly, it was her consistent stand that she was tortured on account of dowry demand and subsequently, when she was diagnosed with cancer, her husband refused to get her treated on the ground that her father had not given sufficient dowry for her treatment.
Ram Kripal Singh (PW4), the father of the informant, corroborated the statement of the informant Neelam Devi regarding dowry demand. Three other PWs, who are neighbours of PW4, also stated that the informant was tortured by the accused persons to enforce the demand of dowry.
High Court’s observations
Perusing the evidence, oral testimonies of the witnesses and the facts of the case, the Court, at the outset, observed that general and omnibus statements regarding torture had been made against the opposite parties/in-laws of the victim [Sulochana Devi, Manju Devi and Anju Devi in Cr. Revision No.191/2011)].
The Court also noted that the informant did not sustain any injury at the hands of these opposite parties and hence, the prosecution failed to show by means of any cogent evidence as to when and how the informant was tortured. Their acquittal by the magistrate court was accordingly upheld by the HC.
As far as the judgment of the acquittal of Bhageshwar Roy passed by the Appellate Court was concerned, the Court noted that general and vague allegations were made against him regarding the torture and hence, the Court upheld his acquittal as well.
As far as the allegation of not providing medical aid to the victim/informant by her husband (Sanjay Kumar Rai) was concerned, the Court concluded that the Trial Court, as well as the Appellate Court, were right in concluding his guilt under Section 498A of IPC for subjecting his wife Neelam Devi to cruelty to enforce the demand of dowry.
Accordingly, his conviction was upheld and his revision plea was dismissed.
Case title - Ram Kripal Singh vs. The State of Jharkhand and others along with connected revision petitions
LL Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Jha) 43
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment