IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal No(s). 231/2010
STATE OF HARYANA Respondent(s)
O R D E R
This appeal by the appellant is directed against the
judgment of the High Court, whereby his conviction under
Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) has
been upheld but the sentence has been reduced from 10
years to 7 years. The accused and his mother were
charged for having committing a murder under Section
304B, IPC. The Trial Court convicted both of them and
sentenced them to undergo 10 years life imprisonment. On
appeal being filed, the High Court converted the sentence
of the mother-in-law to one under Section 498A, IPC and
reduced the sentence to the period of incarceration
already undergone. The conviction of the appellant under
Section 304B, IPC was upheld but the sentence was reduced
to seven years.
The undisputed facts are that the deceased – Kamlesh
was married to the appellant – Satyavart on 21.01.1991.
Unfortunately, Kamlesh committed suicide in the night
intervening 31.12.1993 and 01.01.1994 that was well
within seven years of marriage.
The evidence of the alleged demand of dowry consists
of the statements of the father (PW4), the brother (PW5)
and the mother (PW6). The father states that about 1
year after the marriage when he went to meet his
daughter, she told him that she had been troubled by her
mother-in-law for bringing insufficient dowry. He
further states that his daughter gave birth to a son on
14.08.1993 and a messenger, probably some barber, was
sent from the house of her in-laws to inform him about
the birth of a grand child. This messenger also informed
him that the accused had demanded 41 pairs of clothing
for ladies, two head-covering for ladies and one scooter
as Chhuchhak i.e. gifts to be given by the family of the
mother who has given birth to a male child. The father
states that he gave all the articles except a scooter.
The brother of Kamlesh (PW5) had taken the articles and
on return he informed him that the mother-in-law of
Kamlesh was unhappy because the scooter had not been
provided and the clothes were of poor quality.
After about one month, Kamlesh came to stay at her
parental home. Some days later, the appellant � accused
took his wife back and then he had asked the prosecution
witness as to why the scooter had not been given in
Chuchhak . As far as the statement of this witness is
concerned, the first demand of dowry is not by the
present accused but by the mother-in-law. The second
demand was conveyed through a messenger which is more in
the nature of hearsay.
We shall deal with the statement of the brother at
the later stage but the only relevant evidence as far as
the witness is concerned is the alleged statement made by
the accused to the witness as to why the scooter had not
been given in Chhuchhak . The witness was confronted with
the statement under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), wherein it is not recorded that
when the accused came to take his daughter and he had
made such a demand to this witness. In fact, this
witness admits that he had not made such a statement to
The statement of the brother of Kamlesh is similar to
that of the father with regard to the demand of Chhuchhak
being raised. He states that on 05.09.1993, he had given
the clothes to the in-laws of his sister but not the
scooter. On 01.12.1993, he had brought his sister from
her matrimonial home to the parental home and at that
time his sister told him that the accused were still
demanding the scooter. He further states that on
15.12.1993 the appellant took away his sister back to her
matrimonial home. He again visited his sister�s
matrimonial home and there she told him that either the
parents should provide a scooter else the accused would
kill her. In cross-examination, this witness states that
at the time when he handed over the articles of
Chhuchhak , the occasion was celebrated in a big way and
he was dancing and taking meals with the family of her
sister�s in-laws. As far as the mother is concerned, her
statement is similar. The main evidence is that of the
Another aspect which has been urged by learned
counsel for the appellant is that the family members of
the deceased had attended her cremation and made no
complaint at that stage and it is only after three days
of her death, the complaint was lodged. As far as the
demand of dowry immediately after the marriage is
concerned, there is virtually no evidence whatsoever.
Even if the evidence of the statement of the father is
taken into consideration, there is a long difference of
time between the said demand and the incident which is
also three years later.
Even if the statements of the prosecution witnesses
are accepted to be correct, what turns out is that on the
occasion of the birth of the son, the demand for
Chhuchhak was made which included clothes and scooter.
The issue that arises is whether such a demand can be
said to be a demand which can be considered a demand for
dowry. To bring an offence within the ambit of Section
304B, IPC, it is only a demand of dowry which will be
relevant. The witnesses themselves have well referred to
the demand for Chhuchhak and not for dowry.
The custom of Chhuchhak, as we infer from the
evidence, appears to be a custom of the family of the new
mother, who gives birth to a son, giving items of
clothing etc. to the family of her in-laws. This
practice is not a healthy practice. Such customs must
be spurned by a society. However, while deciding a
criminal case under Section 304B, IPC, the Court has to
strictly consider the letter of the law. One of the
essential ingredients of Section 304B, IPC is that there
should be a demand for dowry followed by an unnatural
death. In the present case, according to the prosecution
witnesses, what was demanded was Chhuchhak . This demand
was made in connection with the birth of the male child
and not in connection with the marriage and therefore it
cannot be called a demand for dowry.
Another aspect that gives benefit to the present
appellant is that the mother of the appellant who was
equally complicit as him in all the demands has been held
guilty only under Section 498A, IPC by the High Court and
has been acquitted of the charge under Section 304B, IPC.
On the same set of evidence against both the accused, we
do not understand how the High Court took two different
views. We have referred to the witnesses in detail and
they have ascribed a bigger role to the mother-in-law
than to the husband. Even in the letter of the deceased,
the daughter had made a complaint that her mother-in-law
and sister-in-law were troubling her but her husband was
ok with her.
Taking all these factors into consideration, we are
of the considered view that the conviction of the
appellant under Section 304B, IPC cannot be upheld and
his conviction is converted into section 498A, IPC. It
is stated that he has already undergone 2 � years of
imprisonment which is sufficient to meet the ends of
justice. The criminal appeal is allowed. Bail bonds
September 19, 2019.
ITEM NO.118 COURT NO.13 SECTION II-B
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Criminal Appeal No(s). 231/2010
THE STATE OF HARYANA Respondent(s)
Date : 19-09-2019 This appeal was called on for hearing today.
CORAM : HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE DEEPAK GUPTA
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ANIRUDDHA BOSE
For Appellant(s) Mr. Ansar Ahmad Chaudhary, AOR
For Respondent(s) Mr. Raj Singh Rana, Adv.
Mr. Pankaj Kumar Singh, Adv.
Mr. Sidhinath Singh Sengar, Adv.
Mr. Sanjeet Paliwal, Adv.
For Mr. Vishwa Pal Singh, AOR
UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following O R D E R
The criminal appeal is allowed in terms of the signed order.
Bail bonds stand discharged.
Pending application, if any, stands disposed of.
(MEENAKSHI KOHLI) (RENU KAPOOR)
COURT MASTER COURT MASTER
[Signed order is placed on the file]