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Deepak Vs. State of Chhattisgarh - (Supreme Court) (05 Jan 2017)

Presumption under Section 306 of IPC operates only when there was cruelty or harassment, soon before committal of suicide



The Appellant had been convicted for the offences under Sections 302 read with 34, 304-B, 306 and 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The First Additional Sessions Judge, had convicted the Appellant under Sections 498-A and 304-B of the IPC and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year with fine of Rs. 1000/-, with default stipulation under Section 498-A of IPC and life imprisonment with fine of Rs. 5,000/- with default stipulation under Section 304B of the IPC. The High Court converted the conviction of the Appellant under Section 304-B of the IPC to one under Section 306 of the IPC.

The Appellant got married on 5th February, 1993. In the intervening night of 5th March, 1995, the wife of the Appellant was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room. The Appellant was prosecuted under the aforesaid section and convicted. The submission of Appellant is that, a conviction under Section 498-A of the IPC does not necessarily lead to an inference of the commission of an offence under Section 306 of the IPC unless, it is established that alleged cruel treatment which is said to have resulted in the death of the deceased, was meted out soon before the death. In the case of Bakshish Ram and Anr. v. State of Punjab, present Court observed that "the prosecution is obliged to show that soon before the occurrence, there was cruelty or harassment and only in that case presumption operates".

In the present case, there is a conviction under Section 498-A of IPC, which means that there was cruel treatment to the wife by the husband but there is no credible evidence that, there was cruelty meted out to her soon before her death, so as to make the cruelty cause of her death. It is possible that, the deceased decided to end her life because she was in a depressed state of mind as is apparent from the letter produced in evidence.

Regarding offence under Section 498-A of IPC, the conviction and sentence awarded by the trial Court as affirmed by the High Court is upheld. Since, there is no direct cogent and credible evidence to link the actions of the Appellant to the death of the deceased "soon before the death" as required under Section 306 of IPC, Supreme Court considered it appropriate to acquit the Appellant under Section 306 of IPC. The Appellant is therefore directed to be released forthwith, if already served out the sentence under Section 498-A of the IPC. Bail bonds of the Appellant shall stand discharged. The appeal disposed off.

Relevant : Bakshish Ram and Anr. v. State of Punjab, MANU/SC/0243/2013: 2013 (3) R.C.R. (Criminal) 924 : 2013 (2)


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