NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK
Keesari Madhav Reddy v State of A.P. – Citation: (2011) 2 SCC 790 – Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 – Sections 3, 4 and 6; Indian Penal Code – Sections 34, 302, 304B and 498A
The father of the deceased at the time of her marriage with accused husband had agreed to pay Rs. 80,000/- towards dowry and also supply articles worth Rs. 6000/- but at the time of the pooja held at the house of the accused, he paid Rs. 40,000/- and promised to pay the balance amount after the accused and the deceased had lived happily and peacefully for about one month. The accused were, however, not happy with this arrangement and they told the deceased to bring the balance amount and for that purpose would beat and abuse her. Even though father of the deceased spent money on accused husband’s operation for appendicitis and after his discharge from the hospital he took his wife with him to the matrimonial home, but the demands for the balance amount of dowry etc. were renewed by the accused sometime in the year 1999. It appeared however that the demands for dowry still continued and the deceased and the couple had an on-off relationship with each other over a period of time.
On the 19th April, 2000, when the parents of the deceased met her she stated that she had been administered a beating by the accused and that she was not being provided any food by them, on persuasion the husband even promised that they would not harass the deceased any further. Though the same day, the accused husband asked for Rs. 2,000/- to purchase a table fan upon which the father promised to give it to him later. Though, on the 20th of April, 2000 at about 8:00 am the deceased came running out of her matrimonial home with burn injuries raising a hue and cry and fell down finally succumbed to injuries in a hospital.
In this dying declaration, the deceased clearly stated that her husband was always abusing her and that she had been set afire by him. The dying declaration was made as per given procedure had been recorded after the doctor had given a certificate of fitness. It is true that there is no reference whatsoever to the fact that kerosene oil had been poured on her but we have absolutely no reason to doubt the statement made by the deceased and recorded by a Magistrate. We also see that insofar as in-laws were concerned she clearly did not say anything about their involvement with the burning incident on the 20th of April, 2000.
The SC finally held the accused husband convicted under S. 302 IPC and awarded him a life sentence under that provision. Though, the acquittal of in-laws was maintained.