Supreme Court of India
State Of U.P vs Damodar & Anr on 6 May, 2015Bench: Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Uday Umesh Lalit
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.714 OF 2009
State of U.P. …. Appellant
Damodar & Anr. …. Respondents
O R D E R
Uday Umesh Lalit, J.
1. This appeal by special leave challenges the order dated 07.09.2006
passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Govt. Appeal No.
2923 of 2003 rejecting leave to appeal preferred by the appellant against
the judgment and order of acquittal dated 24.03.2003 passed by the
Additional Sessions Judge, Court No.8, Azamgarh in Sessions Trial No.484 of
2. According to the prosecution, marriage between the deceased Sunita
and Respondent No.1 was solemnized in the year 1988 while her gona was
performed in 1992 whereafter she started living in her matrimonial home.
Her father Laldev had given dowry and gifts in the marriage according to
his capacity but could not fulfil the demand for a gold chain and ring,
because of which her husband i.e. Respondent No.1 and his family members
were harassing Sunita.
3. On 01.09.1994 in the early hours a dhebri i.e. lamp is said to have
fallen on the mattress on which Sunita was sleeping. She caught fire and
was completely burnt. The fact that she was so burnt at 4.00 am was seen
by neighbour PW4 Bachhi Devi. According to the witness Sunita’s brother
in law came to her place asking for a torch stating that Sunita had
suffered burns. The witness went to the house of Respondent No.1 and found
Sunita in burnt condition. Sunita then stated to the witness “jo hona tha
4. Sunita was taken to Primary Health Centre, Azamgarh where PW6 Dr. Om
Prakash Shrivastava treated her at 7.00 AM and found that she had suffered
100 per cent burns. Since her condition was serious she was referred to
Sadar Hospital but Sunita died while she was being taken to that Hospital.
5. Around 3.00 PM on that day her brother-in-law went to the parental
house of Sunita in a jeep and told PW1 Tara Devi, her mother that the
condition of Sunita was serious and insisted that she accompany them. PW1
Tara Devi along with her sister-in-law PW2 Reena Devi accompanied them.
They found Sunita in completely burnt condition. It is the case of the
prosecution that the in-laws of Sunita obtained thumb impression of PW1
Tara Devi forcibly on a piece of paper and thereafter cremated Sunita.
6. Laldev, father of Sunita at the relevant time was working in Mumbai.
He received information through a telegram and came home. He approached
the police station but no action was taken. Subsequently Laldev sent an
application on 09.09.1994 to the SSP, Azamgarh stating full details
whereupon the case was registered on 20.10.1994 against the respondents.
After conducting investigation the charge sheet was filed and charges were
framed against the respondents under Sections 498A and 304B IPC.
7. The trial court after considering the material on record found that
the prosecution had failed to establish that the death of Sunita had
occurred in unnatural manner. It referred to the fact that PW4 Bachhi Devi
had gone to the house of Respondent No.1 at 4.00 AM and had found that
mattress was burning and Sunita was lying at some distance. She also found
smell of kerosene oil emitting from the bed. It was held that the
possibility could not be ruled out that the death of Sunita had occurred as
a result of a lamp having fallen on the mattress. The trial court further
relied upon the fact that the parents of deceased Sunita were informed and
that the cremation had taken place after their consent. Though PW1 Tara
Devi had stated that her signatures were obtained on a piece of paper
forcibly, the trial court concluded that the death occurred as a result of
falling of a lamp on the mattress and acquitted the respondents of the
charges leveled against them.
8. The appellant- State sought leave to appeal against the aforesaid
judgment and order of acquittal, by preferring Government Appeal No.2923 of
2003, which was rejected by the High Court vide its order dated
07.12.2006. The order passed by the High Court is quoted below:
“We have heard learned A.G.A. for the State appellant and perused the
impugned judgment. The deceased Sunita died of burn injuries. Her
cremation was made in presence of her parents. A delayed F.I.R. was lodged
with the allegation that there was demand of dowry and she was done to
death. The trial court appears to have considered all the facts and
circumstances of the case emerging from the record.
In above view of the matter, we do not find any force in the prayer to
grant the leave to appeal.
The leave to appeal is rejected.”
9. The aforesaid order of the High Court is under challenge in the
present appeal. Appearing for the State Mr. Pramod Swarup, learned senior
Advocate invited our attention to the relevant material and evidence on
record and submitted that the assessment made by the trial court was
completely incorrect and that the High Court ought to have independently
assessed the evidence. In his submission, the order of the High Court was
very cryptic. Learned counsel appearing for the respondents supported
the view taken by the High Court.
10. In our considered view the approach of the High Court in the instant
case was completely incorrect. The order does not indicate that it
considered the evidence led by the prosecution. To say the least, it
appears improbable that a person as a result of falling of a lamp on the
mattress could be reduced to the status of 100 per cent burns. Even if he
was asleep, the normal reaction of such person and the other inmates of the
house would be to douse the fire. Therefore the matter had to be
considered whether the death occurred in suspicious circumstances or not.
The statement “jo hona tha ho gaya” attributed to Sunita is not indicative
that whatever happened was a pure accident. We are conscious that the
appeal itself was of the year of 2003 and left to ourselves, we would have
gone into the matter and considered the merits. However, leave to appeal
having been dismissed without even issuing notice to the other side,
screening of the material and consideration of rival submissions at the
appellate stage stood completely denied.
In the circumstances we set aside the order passed by the High Court and
remit the matter to the High Court, which may be considered afresh. We
request the High Court to dispose of the same as expeditiously as possible.
We may not be taken to have expressed any opinion on merits of the
The appeal stands allowed in these terms.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
………………………..J. (Uday Umesh Lalit)
May 06, 2015
ITEM NO.1D COURT NO.11 SECTION II
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Criminal Appeal No(s). 714/2009
STATE OF U.P. Appellant(s)
DAMODAR & ANR. Respondent(s)
Date : 06/05/2015 This appeal was called on for pronouncement of
For Appellant(s) Mr. Pramod Swarup, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Sandeep Singh, Adv.
Mr. Anuvrat Sharma, Adv.
Ms. Alka Sinha, Adv.
For Respondent(s) Mr. Mukesh Kr. Sharma, Adv.
Mr. Rameshwar Prasad Goyal, Adv.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit pronounced the non-reportable
judgment of the Bench comprising Hon’ble Mr. Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose
and His Lordship.
The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed non-reportable judgment.
(R.NATARAJAN) (SNEH LATA SHARMA)
Court Master Court Master