Supreme Court of India
Ananda Bapu Punde @ Koli vs Balasaheb Anna Koli & Ors on 9 March, 2017Author: ….…………………….J.

Bench: Adarsh Kumar Goel, Uday Umesh Lalit





Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1. Respondent Nos.1 and 2, husband and mother-in-law of one Poonam were
tried for having committed her murder within 7 years of marriage with the
Respondent No.1. According to the prosecution, at about 8:00 a.m. on
11.06.2002 a message was received by PW 3 Ananda-father of Poonam that she
was missing since previous night, whereafter the father, mother and other
persons from the family reached the house of Respondent Nos.1 and 2. On
12.06.2002, the body of Poonam was found in a well. This led to the
lodging of FIR Ext.164 by PW 3 Ananda. The Inquest panchanama Ext.13 showed
that no injuries were found on the neck, throat or other parts of the body
of said Poonam. According to Post mortem report Ext.14 the cause of death
was asphyxia due to drowning. After due investigation, charge-sheet was
filed and charges were framed against Respondent Nos.1 and 2 and father of
Respondent No.1 (who died during the pendency of the trial) for the
offences punishable under Sections 498A, 304B, 306 and 302 read with
Section 34 IPC by the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Ichalkaranji in
Sessions Case No.6 of 2005.

2. In support of its case, the prosecution principally relied upon the
evidence of PW 3 Ananda-father, PW 4 Sarjerao-brother and PW 5 Shalan-
mother of the deceased Poonam. According to their testimony, the marriage
had taken place on 05.05.1996 and the couple was blessed with a daughter
and a son; that two to three years after the marriage the accused started
demanding Rs.50,000/-, refrigerator, sofa set and five tolas of gold by way
of dowry and since these demands were not fulfilled, the in-laws of Poonam
were harassing her physically and mentally. It was further stated that
Respondent No.1 had illicit relation with another lady.

3. The trial court by its judgment and order dated 28.06.2012 acquitted
Respondent Nos.1 and 2 of all the charges leveled against them. According
to the trial court the death was as a result of drowning and since there
were no marks of any physical injury on the body, the case that Poonam was
done to death earlier and thereafter her body was thrown into the well,
could not be accepted. As regards demands for dowry and cruelty in respect
thereof, the trial court found that the prosecution had completely failed
to prove these aspects. It was observed that PWs 3, 4 and 5 had not
supported the case of prosecution on material aspects and were in fact
declared hostile. The trial court thus observed that none of the charges
leveled by the prosecution were substantiated by evidence on record.

4. Being aggrieved, Criminal Appeal No.787 of 2013 was preferred by the
appellant i.e. PW 3 Ananda challenging the judgment of acquittal. The High
Court after going through the matter was in agreement with the assessment
made by the trial court and by its Order dated 13.09.2013 dismissed said
Criminal Appeal.

5. This appeal by special leave seeks to challenge the judgments of
acquittal rendered by the trial court and the High Court.

We have heard the learned counsel and gone through the record.

7. Inquest panchanama Ext.13 and post mortem report Ext.14 show that
there were no marks of injury on the body and that the deceased had died as
a result of drowning. Thus, the theory that Poonam was done to death
earlier and thereafter her body was thrown into the well, was rightly not
accepted by the Courts below. As regards demands for dowry the evidence
unfolded through the family members of the deceased namely PWs 3, 4 and 5
is completely sketchy and does not establish the case at all. All these
three witnesses were declared hostile. Even according to their testimony
the couple lived happily for two to three years and was blessed with two
children. Nothing has been established on record as to the demands for
dowry and regarding harassment or cruelty. PW 3 Ananda went on to state
that two days prior to the incident Poonam had seen Respondent No.1 in a
compromising position with another lady. This part was rightly not
accepted by the Courts below as amounting to cruelty or harassment enough
to bring the case under Section 306 of IPC.

8. In the circumstances the Courts below were completely justified in
acquitting the Respondent Nos.1 and 2 of the charges leveled against them.
We find no error in their judgments and therefore dismiss the present

(Adarsh Kumar Goel)

(Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi,
March 09, 2017


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