Criminal Appeal Nos. 1422 and 1423 of 2009. Case: Prem Kumar Gulati Vs State of Haryana. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberCriminal Appeal Nos. 1422 and 1423 of 2009
JudgesM. Yusuf Eqbal and Pinaki Chandra Ghose, JJ.
IssueEvidence Act - Section 32; Indian Penal Code (IPC) - Sections 34, 302, 498A; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - Sections 161, 319
Judgement DateSeptember 23, 2014
CourtSupreme Court (India)


M. Yusuf Eqbal, J.

  1. These appeals are directed against judgment and order dated 06.09.2008 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in Criminal Appeal No. 342-DB of 2006, whereby the High Court dismissed the appeal of the accused persons and upheld the judgment dated 25.04.2006 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Bhiwani (Haryana) in Sessions Case No. 8 RBT of 18.3.2004, inflicting sentence with rigorous imprisonment for life Under Section 302/498-A read with Section 34, Indian Penal Code and imposed fine with default clause.

  2. The facts leading to the prosecution story are that on 16.1.1995, Rajni-deceased was married with Mahender Singh alias Mahender Gulati and out of this wedlock, three children were born. Both the Appellants, namely Mahender Gulati and Prem Kumar Gulati (brother in-law (jeth) of deceased) are the brothers. The prosecution case is that on receipt of V.T. message on 10.12.2003, ASI Ram Singh rushed to PGIMS, Rohtak with regard to admission of Rajni in burnt condition. After obtaining Doctor's certificate regarding fitness of the victim to give statement, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Rohtak recorded her statement (dying declaration) to the effect that on 9.12.2003, at around 9.30/10.00 P.M. the accused persons being her husband, Jeth and Jethani poured kerosene oil on her and set ablaze. It is also stated in her dying declaration that her husband had illicit relation with his Bhabi Bimla (since deceased), with the result she used to pick up quarrel with him. Her husband gave her beatings under the influence of intoxication. None made attempt to extinguish fire.

  3. On the basis of the above dying declaration a case was registered and the investigation agency swung into action. Statements of witnesses were accordingly recorded Under Section 161, Code of Criminal Procedure The Investigating Officer investigated the spot and prepared rough site plan with correct marginal notes and took into possession burnt clothes of Rajni, ash of burnt clothes, one kerosene lamp after converting the same into sealed parcel. On the night of 12.12.2003, message was received from PGIMS, Rohtak that Rajini had died as a result of burn injuries. Post mortem report was obtained, site plan was sketched and FSL report was obtained. After completion of investigation, only accused Mahender Singh alias Mahender Gulati was arraigned to stand trial Under Sections 302/498A, Indian Penal Code by Police, whereas Prem Kumar Gulati and Smt. Bimla alias Nirmla were summoned to face trial along with other accused Mahender, as additional accused, by invoking the provisions of Section 319, Code of Criminal Procedure

  4. In order to substantiate the charges, the prosecution examined nine witnesses. According to Dr. Ravi Kanta (PW-1), who conducted post mortem examination, burn injuries were approximately 50% and cause of death of Rajni was due to ante mortem burns, which were sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. According to Dr. Naresh Kumar Kardwal (PW-3), who medico-legally examined the deceased, found superficial deep burns all over the body except back, hip, lower leg, left hand and forearm. He stated that possibility of burn injuries in this case by fall of kerosene oil on the head cannot be ruled out. Agyapal (PW-7), father of the deceased, stated that accused person started harassing his daughter three months after marriage for want of dowry although sufficient dowry was given. Ultimately, she was shunted out from the matrimonial abode and her husband filed a divorce petition. Later, the matter was resolved on the apology being tendered and assurance given by the accused persons before the panchayat on 1.12.1996. Ironically she fell prey to recurrence and was turned out from the matrimonial house in the year 1997. His daughter divulged about the illicit relations between her husband and sister-in-law. Again accused persons were apologized before the Panchayat on the assurance given by them. In 2001, a criminal case was filed, which was also compromised with the intervention of panchayat. Against willingness of his daughter, he persuaded and sent her daughter back to the matrimonial house through panchayat. He further highlighted that about one week prior to the occurrence, his daughter informed him telephonically about harassment and requested him to take her to parental house. Thereafter, on 10.12.2003 at around 5.00 A.M. a telephonic message, was received and he along with his wife and son rushed to the hospital, where the victim disclosed that accused Prem and Bimla caught hold of her and her husband Mahender poured kerosene oil and set her on fire. PW8, brother of Rajni, supported the version of his father PW7.

  5. Accused denied all the charges and in defence accused Mahender Singh stated that at the time of occurrence he was present on the ground floor and was working at flour mill. His wife and children were on the first floor. After hearing cries of children, he went upstairs on the first floor and saw that his wife was having burn injuries accidentally due to falling of a lamp upon her in the kitchen. Complaint against his brother and bhabhi, who were residing separately, was filed at the instance of her parents. The accused examined deceased's eight years' old daughter Kumari Manshu (DW-1), who deposed that she heard cries of her mother in the kitchen. She came out and told that she had caught fire due to falling of burning lamp on her as glass of the lamp got broken after falling upon her. The Child called her father, who was on the ground floor in the flour mill at that time. Her father and neighbours extinguished fire and took her mother to the hospital. Upon this, trial court has opined that the child has been tutored as...

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