“Charge Establishes Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”; Section 306 IPC Conviction Affirmed by High Court

An appeal against the sessions court’s decision to find the appellant guilty of the alternative charge under Section 306 IPC and to sentence him to seven years in prison was denied by the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The accused was found guilty under Section 306 IPC for abetting the commission of suicide, and the prosecution was able to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, the court ruled, citing evidence of physical violence, injuries, and the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s death.

Quick Facts:

A case for the offence under Section 304-B IPC was filed against the accused and his parents, and the case was investigated, after the accused’s third wife passed away under suspicious circumstances. This information was based on a report provided by the deceased’s parents. After getting married, the accused and the deceased enjoyed a happy marriage for a while, during which time the accused and his parents started abusing the deceased physically and mentally in an effort to extract more dowry. The deceased’s father made some initial adjustments, but he later admitted that he was unable to comply with the accused’s demands. The deceased hanged herself to death because she was dissatisfied with her life.

The accused was found guilty under Section 306 IPC by the sessions court after the police brought charges under Section 304-B read with 34 IPC. As a result, the accused appealed the decision in the current filing.

Arguments

In his appearance on behalf of the petitioner, learned counsel argued that the deceased committed suicide by hanging herself and that accused No. 1 did not, in accordance with Section 36 IPC, aid or abet the deceased in her suicide. It is further argued that because the accused’s father had given the deceased’s father money when his second daughter was married, there was no possibility that the accused or his parents would have demanded more money from the deceased.

It is argued that even at the time of their marriage, the deceased’s father lacked the financial means to make any payments to the accused. Furthermore, it is argued that the prosecution failed to prove the elements of Section 306 IPC and that there was no evidence to support its allegations that the accused had cruelly driven the deceased to commit suicide.

In his appearance on behalf of the Respondent, the learned counsel argued that the evidence on file is more than sufficient to find the accused guilty under Section 306 IPC. It also seems that, at the time the conviction under Section 306 IPC was recorded, there was no need to record any conviction under Section 498-A IPC, and there was no order under Section 498-A IPC at all clearing the accused. Furthermore, it is argued that because Section 306 IPC includes the elements of Section 498-A IPC, the accused’s conviction under that section is sufficient.

Observations

The court noted that under Section 498-A IPC, cruelty is defined as any deliberate behavior that poses a serious risk to a married woman’s life, limb, or health or that is likely to drive her to commit suicide. It is also evident from the report filed by the deceased’s father that the accused beat the deceased and physically abused her. The prosecution was able to prove, thanks to the evidence and the post-mortem report, that the deceased had three injuries a few days before she passed away, that the deceased and the accused shared a residence, and that those injuries were consistent with the incidents mentioned by the deceased’s father.

As a result, the prosecution was successful in establishing in court that the deceased had been the victim of physical abuse.

The court also noted that the evidence in the file would demonstrate that the deceased experienced physical abuse while with the accused and that she committed suicide by hanging herself there after living with them for seven years. Thus, it permits this Court to infer, pursuant to Section 113-A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, that A-1 encouraged the suicide.

The accused was the deceased’s spouse, and as such, the court ruled that the accused lacked a reasonable explanation for the injuries that were discovered on the deceased’s person. The accused was not permitted to offer a reasonable explanation for the deceased’s injuries. The prosecution’s case under Section 306 IPC against the accused was deemed proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the court.

Criminal Appeal No.828 OF 2009

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