Sec 498A & 306 IPC: Incidents which happened much before wife's death can't be treated as conduct which drove her to suicide

Jagdishraj Khatta Vs State of Himachal Pradesh

Supreme Court

26/04/2019

CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos. 539-­540 OF 2008

About/from the judgment:

The Supreme Court has observed that the incidents which had taken place between husband and wife much before latter's death by suicide could not be treated as the conduct which drove her to commit suicide.

 

Jagdishraj Khatta, was convicted by the Himachal Pradesh High Court under Sections 498A and 306 of the Indian Penal Code, by overturning the acquittal recorded by the Trial Court. Khatta was convicted by the High Court relying on (1) the testimonies of the relatives of the deceased that the accused husband acted in a cruel manner against the deceased in front of her relatives, and (2) the letter allegedly written by the deceased around the time of her death to her parents.

 

The court observed that the incidents narrated by the relatives had taken place much before the deceased's death. It said:

"As the High Court itself indicated somewhat contradictorily, 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."

 

The High Court had also observed that all those incidents had taken place much before the commission of the suicide by the deceased and, therefore, they cannot be treated as the immediate cause of provocation for the deceased to take the extreme step.

 

As regards the reliance placed on letter, the bench agreed with the accused contention that the letter has not been proved to have been written by the deceased and is surrounded by suspicious circumstances. The fact that the deceased had never written any other letter to her family after her marriage but had rather been in touch with her relatives through the telephone further strengthens the case of the appellant, the bench added.

 

Setting aside the High Court judgment, the bench restored the Trial Court order of acquittal.

Read the Judgment

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