Puja Kumari v. State of Bihar
In the Patna High Court
C.A. (SJ) 57/2015
Before Justice Birendra Kumar
Decided on May 29, 2017
Relevancy of the case: Appeal for setting aside conviction in a case involving sexually explicit pictures and abetment to suicide
Statutes and Provisions Involved
- The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 67, 67A, 84B)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 306, 120B, 354, 323)
Relevant Facts of the Case
- The informant, who was the brother of the victim stated in the first information report that the victim had committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling in the morning hours.
- It was alleged that the victim was being sexually harassed by appellant no. 2.
- The appellant no. 2 with the help of appellant no. 1 and the acquitted accused is alleged to have taken some objectionable and sexual coloured photographs and video recordings of the victim.
- The appellant used the recording and images captured to pressurize the victim to marry appellant no. 2. Further, they threatened to murder her and her brother if she failed to do so.
- On one occasion, when appellant no. 2 displayed objectionable behaviour with the victim, the informant protested it. However, the informant was then assaulted by the appellant and others. The informant was also threatened with murder.
- The appellants were convicted under Section 306 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by the trial court, which acquitted four other accused.
- The present case is an appeal against the same pleading that the ground on which they were convicted was used by the trial court to acquit others. They also pleaded that there was no evidence for the conspiracy for abetment to suicide.
Prominent Arguments by the Advocates
- The petitioner’s counsel submitted that this was a case of a love affair between the appellant and the informant’s sister and that her death could be a case of an honour killing and not a suicide.
Opinion of the Bench
- The Court was of the view that the death was a suicide. In none of the photographs, the deceased was protesting, so it could not be said that they were taken under duress. As they were taken one and a half years before her death, her death was not proximate with the taking of these photographs.
- Subsequent allegations of harassment were not corroborated with evidence from witnesses or the suicide note. There was a lack of evidence against the appellants. It was stated that the deceased might have been a hypersensitive person reacting to different acts. The trial court failed to appreciate complete evidence.
- Further, the Court observed that there was no evidence for criminal conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 either, therefore conviction under both section 306 and 120B of IPC is set aside.
- Both appeals allowed.