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Ingredients of Section 498 A IPC should be proved beyond reasonable doubt for conviction: Supreme Court of India

The ingredients of Section 498­A IPC have to be proved against the accused by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt to upheld conviction. This was held in the case of  Nimay Sah v. State of Jharkhand, [Criminal Appeal No.211 of 2011], by Hon’ble Justice N.V. Ramana in the Supreme Court of India.

The deceased in the present case was married to the accused. She was harassed for the demand of dowry of Rs.10000 by the accused persons. Devendra Shah who is the complainant and father of the deceased went to her matrimonial home to pacify the in-laws and assured them of the payment of the said amount. Eventually, when the harassment did not stop, the complainant sent his son, to the deceased’s matrimonial home who brought her back to her parental home. The day on which the event happened, the accused husband went to the deceased’s parental home and took her for a morning walk. When confronted about the whereabouts of the deceased, he said that the deceased was attending the call of nature and would be back soon. He left thereafter. When the deceased did not return after an hour, the complainant started searching for her and she was ultimately found dead, near the canal with strangulation marks on her neck. An FIR was registered against the accused persons under Section 304B read with Section 109 IPC.

The Trial Court relying upon the submissions of the prosecution convicted the accused persons under Sections, 304, 498, and 34 IPC. the accused person appealed before the High Court. The High Court on analysis of evidence found it to be consistent and corroborative, thereby, confirmed the judgment and order of conviction passed by the trial Court. On an appeal filed by the original accused before the Supreme Court, the counsel for the appellants submitted that the prosecution story comprises vague allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence. The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent state stressed the fact of concurrent conviction and argued that there existed sufficient evidence to prove the culpability of the appellant-accused.

The Court observed that apart from these vague allegations, no specific instance of hostile attitude or persistent demands of dowry have been pointed out by any of these witnesses. Additionally, the brother of the deceased has admitted in his cross-examination that the deceased used to write him letters from her matrimonial place and none of them mention any harassment on account of the demand of dowry. Thus the ingredients of Section 498 IPC have not been proved against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, there is nothing on record to convict the appellant­accused for the charge under Section 498­A IPC. 

The order passed by the High Court was set aside and the appellant-accused was acquitted of all charges.

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