The Supreme Court while allowing appeals held that a conviction under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code is not sustainable when the marriage is found to be null and void.

The Court relied upon the judgment in the case of Shivcharan Lal Verma v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2007) 15 SCC 369 in this matter.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath said, “Undisputedly, the marriage between the appellant No.1 and PW-1 has been found to be null and void. As such the conviction under Section 498-A IPC would not be sustainable in view of the judgment of this Court in the case Shivcharan Lal Verma's case supra. So far as the conviction under Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is concerned, the learned trial Judge by an elaborate reasoning, arrived at after appreciation of evidence, has found that the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.”

The Bench further said that the High Court could have set aside the order of acquittal only if the findings as recorded by the Trial Court were perverse or impossible.

Senior Advocate S. Nagamuthu represented the appellants while Advocate Joseph Aristotle S. represented the State of Tamil Nadu and Advocate Vinod Khanna represented the wife.

In this case, appeals challenged the judgment passed by the Madras High Court thereby partly allowing the appeal filed by the State and the case filed by the wife. After the marriage between the appellant and respondent, disputes arose between them and they started residing separately.

The wife filed a complaint before the Deputy Superintendent of Police and after investigation, the charge sheet came to be filed for the offences punishable under Section 498-A IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 against the four accused, i.e., the husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and brother-in-law. At the conclusion of the trial, the Trial Judge acquitted all the accused persons. However, the High Court thereafter convicted the accused.

The Supreme Court in the above regard observed, “We do not notice any perversity in the approach adopted by the learned trial Judge. The view taken by the trial Court also cannot said to be impossible.”

The Court further asserted that the High Court ought not to have interfered with the well-reasoned judgment of the Trial Judge. The Apex Court, therefore, quashed and set aside the judgment of the High Court and affirmed the judgment of the Trial Court.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeals and acquitted the accused of the charges.

Cause Title- P.Sivakumar & Ors. v. State Rep. By The Deputy Superintendent of Police Etc.

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