N.D. Nanjappa VS State of Karnataka

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL  NO.747 OF 1999

N.D. NANJAPPA                                                     Appellant (s)

VERSUS

STATE OF KARNATAKA                                                Respondent(s)

O R D E R

This     appeal   is   preferred   against   the   judgment   of   the   High

Court  of  Karnataka.   The   appellant  was  charged  for  the  offence  under

Section 306 and 498-A of IPC.   The Sessions Court found him guilty of

offences   under   Sections   306   and   498-A   IPC   and   was   sentenced   to

undergo imprisonment for a period of 5 years and 3 years respectively.

The  High Court confirmed  the    conviction and sentence  passed  by  the

Sessions   Court.     It   is   against   the   same,   the   present   appeal   was

preferred.

Brief facts are as follows :-

The appellant was married to the deceased  Kanthi @ Revathi

and   they   had   a   daughter.     The   marriage   was  celebrated   on   1.6.1983.

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The marital life continued happily for some period, and thereafter it ran

into rough weather. It was alleged  that the appellant had an affair with

one Ammu-PW 16.  The prosecution case is that on 29.8.1985 at about

1.30 p.m. the deceased  Revathi was working in the filed along with one

other   person.     The   prosecution   alleged   that   at   about   1.30   p.m.   she

jumped   into   the   tank   situated   in   the   paddy   field.     PW   13   who   was

passing  nearby,   saw  the   deceased   Revathi  drowning  but   he   could   not

rescue.     Body   of   Revathi   was   taken   out   of   the   tank   and   was   sent   to

nearby Public Health Centre at Suntikoppa. The doctor in-charge of the

PHC  informed  the  police.    PW-24   the   Sub-inspector  registered   a case.

He  held  an inquest  of the  dead-body  on the  next  day.   He  also visited

the place of occurrence and prepared a ‘Mahazar’.  During the course of

the  preparation of the  ‘Mahazar’ the  Inspector  found  a pair of chappal

on the bank of the tank.   Thereafter he filed a complaint.  On the side

of the prosecution 24 witnesses were examined.

The   learned   Sessions   Judge   found   that   the     deceased

Revathi   was   being   ill-treated   by   her   husband-appellant   and   she   had

committed suicide and therefore, the appellant was guilty of the offence

as charged against him.  From the judgment of the Sessions Court it is

clear that the theory of suicide was upheld on the basis of the ‘Mahazar’

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prepared   by   PW-24   and   the   recovery   of   chappal   from   the   side   of   the

tank.   It was also taken  note  of by the  Sessions Court that there  were

no   visible   signs   of   somebody   slipping   into   the   tank   and   for   these

reasons the  Court held that it was a case  of   suicide.    The prosecution

did not adduce any other evidence to prove that it was a case of suicide.

The   three   other   witnesses   who   were   alleged   to   have   reached   the   spot

immediately   after  the   incident   were   not   examined   by   the   prosecution.

Had these witnesses been examined they would have thrown some light

as   to   whether   it   was   suicide   or   not.     The   presumption   drawn   on   the

basis   of   the   presence   of   chappal   on   the   side   of   the   tank   that   it   was

suicide, is not on sound reasoning. If somebody wants to wash the foot,

normally  the   chappal  would   be   kept   by   the   side   of   the   tank   and   only

after removing the chappal one  would touch the water.  The absence  of

slippery   marks   also   cannot   be   a   valid   reason   for   coming   to   the

conclusion that it was a case of suicide.   It is true that the prosecution

had produced  series  of letters allegedly  written by the  deceased  to the

appellant   to   prove   that   she   was  being   ill-treated   by   her   husband   and

that her  life  was miserable.    Even  if it is accepted  that the  contents of

the letters are true, that would only prove that she was being ill-treated

by   her   husband   and   if  it  was  an   accidental   death   the   appellant   could

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not have been  found guilty of the offence under Section 498-A or 306 of

IPC.     The   incident   had   happened   at   1.30   p.m.   in   the   broad   day   light

which   would   also   may   not   advance   the   theory   of   the   prosecution   of

suicidal death.

In   our   view,   these   facts   were   not   correctly   considered   and

appreciated  by  the  Sessions Court as well as   the  High Court and the

only evidence  in this case  adduced  by the  prosecution is not sufficient

to   hold   that   the   appellant   had   committed   the   offence   under   Section

498-A   and   306   of   IPC.     The   circumstantial   evidence   relied   on   by   the

prosecution   is   not   conclusive   in   nature   and   for   this     sole   reason   we

allow  the   appeal   and   the   conviction   and   sentence   entered   against  the

appellant on both counts is set aside.  The appellant is on bail. His bail

bond is discharged. He shall be released forthwith.

…………………………..J.

(K.G. BALAKRISHNAN)

…………………………..J.

(S.B. SINHA)

…….,……………………J.

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(P.P. NAOLEKAR)

NEW DELHI;

19TH JANUARY, 2006.

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ITEM NO.103                    COURT NO.3                     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). 747 OF 1999

N.D. NANJAPPA                                               Appellant (s)

VERSUS

STATE OF KARNATAKA                                          Respondent(s)

(With appln(s) for exemption from filing O.T.)

Date: 19/01/2006  This Appeal was called on for hearing today.

CORAM :

HON’BLE  MR. JUSTICE K.G. BALAKRISHNAN

HON’BLE  MR. JUSTICE S.B. SINHA

HON’BLE  MR. JUSTICE P.P. NAOLEKAR

For Appellant(s)                                   Mr.M.G.Kumar, Adv.

Mrs.Rajani K.Prasad, Adv.

For Mr. Tara Chandra Sharma,Adv.

For Respondent(s)                            Mr.Siddhartha Dave, Adv.

For Mr. Sanjay R. Hegde,Adv.

UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following

O R D E R

The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed order.



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