LE Correspondent

New Delhi, May 14, 2022: Confirming the conviction of the appellant-husband (accused) under Section 498A of the IPC, the Supreme Court has observed that the evidence of a deceased wife with respect to cruelty could be admissible in a trial for a charge u/s 498A in some circumstances. However, certain necessary pre-conditions exist which must be met before the evidence is admitted.

Emphasizing on the necessary conditions, the Larger Bench of Justice N.V. Ramana , Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli stated, “The first condition is that her cause of death must come into question in the matter.” The Bench also added, “The second condition is that the prosecution will have to show that the evidence that is sought to be admitted with respect to Section 498A of the IPC must also relate to the circumstances of the transaction of the death.”

The factual matrix of the case was that the appellant-husband was married to the deceased-wife. It was alleged that the appellant and his family members use to torture the deceased in want of dowry and she attempted suicide but was recovered. Subsequently  mediation took place and accordingly settlement was reached, however, it was alleged that the deceased was subject to perpetual harassment and eventually committed suicide at her place. Thereafter when a case was made against the appellant and his family members, the Trial Court, convicted the accused person under Section 304B and 498A of the IPC. The present appeal by way of special leave was directed against the judgment passed by the Kerala High Court whereby the appellant was acquitted under Section 304 B but his conviction under Section 498A was confirmed.

Observing that the evidence of the deceased wife with respect to cruelty could be admissible in a trial for a charge under Section 498A of IPC under Section 32 (1) of the Evidence Act provided aforementioned prerequisites are fulfilled, the Bench overruled its judgments in Gananath Pattnaik v. State Of Orissa, Inderpal v. State of MP , Bairon Singh Vs. State Of M.P, and Kantilal Martaji Pandor v. State of Gujarat wherein it has been held that the evidence of the deceased cannot be admitted under Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act to prove the charge under Section 498A of the IPC only because the accused stands acquitted of the charge relating to the death of the deceased.

In view of the aforesaid observations, the Court opined that in the present case it was not even necessary to consider the proposition as to whether the statement of the deceased can be admitted under Article 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act , as the other evidence on record vividly proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, the Top Court refused  to interfere with the impugned judgment passed by the High Court. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. 

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