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Failure Of Prosecution To Prove Dowry Demand: Supreme Court Quashes Charges Against Accused

Phulel Singh V/S State Of Haryana, [Criminal Appeal No. 396 Of 2010] 

The Supreme Court quashed all the charges against the accused for failure of the prosecution to prove dowry demand. 

The three judges bench of Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha And Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra noted that the deceased received burn injuries on 5th November 1991 but the dying declaration came to be recorded on 8th November 1991 after an application was made by the relatives of the deceased to the SDM, Ludhiana.  

It was further noted that there is a grave doubt as to whether the dying declaration recorded by Shri Sadhu Singh, Executive Magistrate was a voluntary one or tutored. 

The bench also noted that Dr. Jasmeet Singh Dhir has stated that the history recorded by him while admitting the deceased, was narrated by the deceased herself. He has further stated that the deceased had also narrated that her husband had extinguished fire by pouring water on her.

In the totality of the circumstances, it cannot be said that the dying declaration is free from doubt. 

“The most glaring aspect that is required to be considered is that the High Court itself has disbelieved the dying declaration insofar as Jora Singh, father-in-law of the deceased is concerned. We fail to understand as to how the same dying declaration could have been made basis for conviction of the appellant when the same was disbelieved insofar as another accused is concerned”, the court said. 

The marriage between the deceased and the appellant was solemnized in March, 1987, and they were blessed with a girl and a boy. It is the prosecution case that the appellant used to harass the deceased on account of insufficiency of dowry. 

The appellant submitted that the reliance placed on the dying declaration is totally unsustainable. 

He contended that the very first information given by the deceased herself to the doctor while admitting to the hospital, would show that the deceased had put up kerosene on herself and set herself on fire. He submitted that as a matter of fact, it is the appellant who had tried to extinguish the fire.

The prosecution submitted that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. He further submitted that the dying declaration is recorded by the Executive Magistrate.

The court observed that insofar as harassment with regard to non-fulfillment of demand of dowry is concerned, except the vague allegation, there is nothing in their evidence to support the prosecution case. 

The bench viewed that there is no evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased was harassed on account of non-fulfillment of demand of dowry. 

Therefore the court found that the case under Section 304-B of IPC is not made out by the prosecution. 

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