Section 498A of IPC- General Allegations in FIR don’t Establish Offence- Supreme Court

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April 29, 2019

Case name: Jagdishraj Khatta v. State of Himachal Pradesh

The present appeal assails order passed by the Division Bench of High Court of Himachal Pradesh while reversing the Lower Court’s order convicted the appellant­accused for offences under Sections 498A and 306 of the IPC i.e. abetment to suicide.

The case of the prosecution is that within seven years of the deceased’s marriage with the appellant, the deceased used the appellant’s gun to kill herself. Subsequently, the deceased’s relatives lodged FIR against the appellant alleging that appellant drove the deceased to commit suicide as he continuously subjected her to cruelty.

The Trial Court acquitted appellant of all the charges. However, the High Court in appeal convicted the appellant by relying on a letter which was allegedly sent by the deceased to her relatives.

Aggrieved by High Court’s order, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.

Bench’s Verdict

In appeal, the Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court refused to agree with the reasoning of the High Court in relying on the testimonies of the relatives of the deceased and noted that the allegations in the FIR were extremely general in nature and same were never raised by the family of the deceased when they were present at the time of preparation of the inquest report or to the investigating officer.

Noting the facts of the case, the Court also noted that the allegation of cruelty meted out by the appellant against the deceased appears for the first time at the time of filing the FIR, after a delay of nearly one and a half days.

In view of the aforesaid, the Apex Court was of the view that in such circumstances, a reliance on the general oral testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, without any supporting evidence, would be misplaced.

It was also opined by the Court that reliance on the instances testified to by the witnesses would not be appropriate as the said incidents had taken place much before the deceased’s death and could not be treated as conduct which drove the deceased to commit suicide.

Hence, in view of the aforesaid observations the Supreme Court set aside the High Court’s order and acquitted the appellant for charges under Section 498A and Section 306 of IPC.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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