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Indian Penal Code

Indian Penal Code

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Published by Dishant D. Tuteja
Project topic on the Indian Penal Code 1860.
Project topic on the Indian Penal Code 1860.

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Published by: Dishant D. Tuteja on Oct 13, 2013
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02/23/2014

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BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CASE :-
The accused/ appellant Lichhamadevi was charged under Section 302 Indian Penal Code for  burning her daughter-in-law Pushpa. The case being triable only by Court of Session( As per Schedule I of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973), the Sessions Court of Jaipur acquittedLichhamadevi. Upon appeal by the State, the High Court of Jaipur reversed the order of Lower Court and sentenced her to death. The matter then went to the Hon’ble SupremeCourt of India unser Article 134(1)(a) of the Constitution of India against the judgment of Rajasthan High Court given on 20
th
November 1983.
FACTS OF THE CASE:-
1.
Pushpa was the daughter of Sita Ram (PW 9). She was married to Jagdish Prasad s/o Smt.Lichhamadevi (the accused). It is said that the relations between Pushpa and her mother-in-law (the appellant) had become strained on account of unsatisfied dowry demand.Overbearing mother-in-law appears to be the master of the house. She used to harass Pushpaquite often To avoid harassment, Pushpa left her husband's house and remained with her  parents. About 4-5 days before the unfortunate incident she returned from her parents houseto her-in law's house.
2.
On 29 January 1977, at about 4-5 p.m. Pushpa was cleaning utensils on the roof of thehouse. It is said that the appellant lifted one pan and struck over the forehead of Pushpacausing injury and expressing at the same time that she felt like burning her alive. In thesame night at about 8 O'clock the neighbours saw the flames coming out of tin-shed whichwas used as kitchen of the house. On 29 January, 1977 she was found with flames in thekitchen. Upon hearing her pathetic cries, the neighbours rushed. None of her relatives of thedeceased rushed towards the kitchen to save the deceased.
3.
 Neighbours also heard a cry 'bachao' 'bachao'. Bhanwarlal (PW 3) who was the nextneighbour shouted and attracted others who all rushed and found that the doors of thekitchen were closed with an iron chain fastened from outside. Fums and fire were billowingout of the kitchen. Din Dayal (PW 4), Lalit Kishore (PW 5) and Sushil Kumar (PW 6) triedto enter the room. One of them removed the iron chain and opened the door. They found awoman in flames. They took her outside and found that she was Pushpa. She needed urgent1
Lichhamadevi V. State Of Rajasthan, AIR 1988 SC 1785
 
medical attention. They called the Lichhamadevi (accused/ appellant) and Jagdish but theyrefused to associate themselves. Thereupon, Lalit Kishore took Pushpa to Swami Man SinghHospital and got her admitted in an emergency ward.
4.
Dr. Goel (PW 1), who admitted Pushpa in the hospital found that Pushpa was in a criticalcondition. The Doctor advised that she needed blood transfusion. Lalit Kishore returnedhome and conveyed to the inmates what the Doctor said. The accused/appellant came outwith her barbaric attitude and appears to have told Jagdish not to arrange blood to Pushpa.Pushpa breathed her last at about 10 a.m. on the next day.
5.
Pushpa, before her death was, said to have stated at about 5.30 a.m. that her mother-in-law poured kerosene on her and set fire. It was recorded as Ex. P.52 by Sop Singh (PW 14) andattested by two other witnesses. Similar statements were also alleged to have been made byPushpa to her father and to Dr. Goel.
6.
Dr. Goel conducted the post-mortem examination and found the following injuries on the person of the deceased : 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree superficial burns with line of redness and blackening of Skin, signing of the fairs, peeling of the superficial skin involving scalp, face, both upper extremities, neck, chest front, and back of chest, abdomen, back both lower extevities. According to the Doctor, all the burns were ante-mortem in nature. He has opinedthat the cause of death was severe burns, which were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
ISSUES BEFORE THE COURT:-
1.Whether the appeal of Lichhamadevi (accused/ appellant) be allowed and the decision of the Hon'ble High Court of Rajasthan be set aside?2.If the appeal is disallowed what should be the sentence of imprisonment?
CHARGES:-
The Sessions Court of Jaipur tried Lichhamadevi (accused/ appellant) for the offense under Section 302 Indian Penal Code, 1860 for the murder of Pushpa, her daughter-in-law. Madan,the elder brother-in-law of the deceased was alleged by Lichhamadevi (accused/appellant) tohave committed the murder of Puspha and was also seen by the neighbours behind the2
Lichhamadevi V. State Of Rajasthan, AIR 1988 SC 1785
 
kitchen and running down stairs at the time when Pushpa was in flames inside. The Police,however, did not prosecute him. Jagdish the husband of Pushpa, was a silent spectator for allthe dastardly attack on his wife. He had not even the courtesy to take his wife to thehospital. He did not even make arrangement for securing blood when Pushpa was strugglingfor life. He positively dissociated himself as if he had nothing to do with Pushpa. His tacitunderstanding with those who have perpetrated the crime is so apparent that it could nothave been ignored. Yet he was not charge-sheeted. Therefore, only Lichhamadevi was prosecuted for the offense under section 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The occurrence being of the year 1977, the only charge of the Indian Penal Code under which the accused/appellant could be prosecuted was Section 302 I.P.C. and not under  Section 304B (Dowry Death) as the said provision relating to ‘Dowry Death’ was added tothe Code only in 1986 by virtue of Amendment Act of 1986. After the insertion of Section304B in the code, all murders of brides and perprated by her husband or in-laws whichwere earlier covered under Section 302 are now covered under Section 304B.
EVIDENCE LED BY THE PROSECUTION :-
1.Medical Evidence:-
PW1, Dr. Goel treated Pushpa when she was taken to the Swami Man Singh Hospital byLalit Kishore, PW5. The Doctor found that she was in critical condition.Thereafter thedoctor conducted the post-mortem and found the following injuries on the person of deceased :-
1st, 2nd and 3rd degree superficial burns with line of redness and blackening of Skin,signing of the fairs, peeling of the superficial skin involving scalp, face, both upper extremities, neck, chest front, and back of chest, abdomen, back both lower extremities.
According to the Doctor, all the burns were ante-mortem in nature. He has opined that thecause of death was severe burns, which were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature tocause death.
2.Statements of the Prosecution Witnesses :-
3
Lichhamadevi V. State Of Rajasthan, AIR 1988 SC 1785

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