HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has held that the cases of bride-burning fall in the category of “rarest of rare cases” and also deserve the death sentence. Even the Supreme Court has observed that crimes against women are no ordinary crimes committed in a fit of anger or for property but are social crimes disrupting the entire social fabric and, therefore, call for harsh punishment, it has recalled.
A division bench of the High Court, comprising Justice P V Sanjay Kumar and Justice M Seetharama Murti, was dismissing an appeal filed by accused number one (A1) against the judgment passed by the first additional district and sessions judge, Rangareddy district-cum-metropolitan sessions judge, Cyberabad convicting the appellant/A1 alone of the charge under Section 304-B of IPC (dowry death) in relation to the death of his wife, while acquitting him along with his mother (A2) of the charge under Section 302 (punishment for murder).
The state did not prefer an appeal against his acquittal under Section 302 of IPC. The appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment for the offence under Section 304-B IPC.
The case of the prosecution was that the deceased, wife of A1, said in her dying declaration that her husband had poured kerosene on her and set her on fire, and that he used to quarrel with her daily demanding ` 1 lakh in cash and a bike. At the time he set her on fire, her mother-in-law (A2) was present, she said. The magistrate obtained her right leg big toe’s impression on her dying declaration as her hands were burnt. She was conscious and coherent before and during the course of making the statement.
The sessions court had framed two charges against A1 and A2. The first charge says that both had caused the death of the woman within seven years of her marriage, by subjecting her to cruelty in connection with dowry demand and a motorcycle, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 304-B of IPC. The second charge was that the accused, during the night hours, committed the murder of the woman by pouring kerosene on her and setting her ablaze at home, thereby committing an offence under Section 302 of IPC.
The accused denied the charges and preferred to be tried. The trial court finally sentenced the husband to life imprisonment. Aggrieved, he (A1) moved the High Court.
The counsel for the appellant contended that his client (A1) was entitled to acquittal by reason of benefit of doubt since the prosecution failed to prove that the woman had met with her death at the hands of her husband. He said the dying declaration may have been concocted as the woman was unconscious at that time.
Not convinced with the submission of the appellant’s counsel, the bench noted that neither the magistrate nor the duty doctor had reason to speak falsehoods against A1. The exercise undertaken by the competent magistrate in recording the dying declaration cannot be discarded lightly. The evidence of the magistrate and the duty doctor was highly trustworthy and believable and, therefore, the dying declaration commanded utmost credibility, the bench observed.
Relying upon a judgment of the apex court in the case of Satya Narayan Tiwari vs State of Uttar Pradesh, the bench said that the present case warranted the highest punishment under Section 304-B of IPC. While dismissing the appeal, the bench said that the prosecution proved beyond doubt that the appellant (A1) was guilty of the offence under Section 304-B of IPC and that the circumstances of the case warranted imposition of life imprisonment upon him.