Pawan Kumar V. State of H.P
(High Court Of Himachal Pradesh)
Case Citation: Criminal Miscellaneous Petition (Main) No. 142/2010
Bench: HON’BLE JUSTICE SURINDER SINGH J.
The landmark judgment of Pawan Kumar v State of Himachal Pradesh, has perfectly displayed the plight of women in India. It correctly depicts how the rights, individuality, and the issues related to women have turned a blind eye. There comes a time in every girl’s life living in this country, when she is made to feel and believe that her life is not worth living. The circumstances sometimes become so unbearable that it compels the girl involved to risk and take her life, by committing suicide. The constant eve-teasing by the accused pushed the victim to take such a drastic step.
This decision passed by the Supreme Court of India paved the way for making the rights of women in the country stronger and more protective. Man centric society and other elements lead to the illusion of women being unequal to men and the practices used to implement these thoughts are still extensively existent all over India. This prompts the idea of male chauvinism or the evident dominance of men over women. The primary aspect spoken about is that of harassment by a method of eve-teasing and threatening. These, at last, contribute as components prompting cruelty against women which can in several instances add up to abetment of self-destruction.
Facts of the case:
The case is the painful story of a young girl named Shalu, who unfortunately fell in love with the accused. Blinded by love, she decided to elope with the accused.
The accused was booked under sections 363(2), 366(3) and 376(4) of the Indian Penal Code and was acquitted for the same.
By this the accused felt betrayed and thus started threatening the girl. The accused indulged in eve teasing by showing obscene gestures to the girl on a routine basis, blaming the victim for his prosecution. The accused created a situation that was unbearable and insufferable for the victim. This situation ultimately compelled the victim to commit suicide by pouring kerosene on her body and setting herself ablaze. The victim succumbed to her injuries after her dying declaration was recorded during the course of investigation.
The appellant accused was subsequently charged under Section 306 of the IPC for Abetment of Suicide of the deceased. The Trial Court acquitted the accused and did not consider the statements given by the witnesses and the parents of the deceased and the dying declaration given by the deceased was ruled out as invalid. The reason given by the trial Judge was that the deceased was not in a position to speak and there was no medical certificate appended as regards her fitness.
In contradiction, the High Court considered the testimony given by the witnesses and also gave due credence to the dying declaration by not giving too much importance to the medical condition prior to the victim’s death.
The Appellate Court was of the opinion that the High Court was correct in reversing the findings of the Trial Court and admitted the dying declaration of the deceased. The Appellate Court stated that there was indeed an aspect of abetment of suicide in this present case. The reason for the same being the cruelty imposed on the deceased by the accused.
The Court ruled that threatening and harassing by way of eve teasing amounts to abetment of suicide. Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India was also discussed in this case by the Appellant Court. The Court stated that a woman has her own space as a man does and that a civilized society has no room for male chauvinism.
The High Court in this case has rightly exercised its jurisdiction and the Appellate Court abided by the same. Consequently, the appeal was dismissed and the appellate accused was convicted for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.
The nature of jurisdiction of the high court while exercising its power as an appellant court on reversing the judgement of acquittal of that of conviction.
Whether Dying declaration to serve as reliable source of evidence or not?
The ambit and scope of section-306 of IPC.
The Supreme Court has taken a firm stand regarding the rights of women. The fact that the deceased had 80% burns, or the Medico-Legal Certificate questioning the ability of the deceased to provide a dying declaration, did not hamper the process of delivery of justice. The Court has established the fact that justice cannot be evaded by taking the benefit of the loopholes of the law. This shows that the judicial system of our country has come to a way wherein every element of the case is analyzed in its entirety.
Petitioner has been arrested in FIR No. 27 of 2010 dated 9.2.2010, under Sections 354 and 506 Indian Penal Code read with Section 3(1) (10) (11) (12) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989. The Petitioner herein was the Incharge of the Hostel situated at Salogra, run by the N.G.O. under the head and style of “Bhartiya Janjatiya Hostel”, where some of the inmates were admitted from Jharkhand and some from Himachal Pradesh belonging to Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes. The petitioner is alleged to have outraged their modesty being the members of such caste.
According to the learned Additional Advocate General, challan is complete and his likely to be filed in the Court. Police are also stated to have verified about the permanent address and landed property of the Petitioner and it is informed that the Petitioner has a house and landed property at Haridwar.
Given the above situation, the continued custodial interrogation of the Petitioner, in my opinion, is not required. Therefore, the Petitioner is ordered to be enlarged on bail on his furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs. 10,000/- with two sureties in the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Solan. Out of the two sureties, one shall be the local surety and this bail shall be subject to the conditions that the Petitioner:
(a) shall report to the Dy. S.P. Narbir Rathore on 23.3.2010 at 11 a.m. and shall keep on reporting once in a week to the said Investigating Officer as directed by him till the challan is presented in the court and thereafter present himself in the Court as and when required;
(b) Shall not terrorize prosecution witnesses in any manner; and
(c) Shall not make any inducement or promise to any person acquainted with the facts and circumstances of this case to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the court or the Police officer.
Needless to say, in case he commits any breach of any of the conditions above, the liberty of bail shall be canceled. Any observation, made hereinabove is strictly for the disposal of this bail petition and shall not mean any expression on the merits of the case. Let an authenticated copy of this order be sent to the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Solan forthwith for his information and necessary action at his end. The urgent copies of this order are supplied to the counsel for the Petitioner, as per rules. The application stands disposed of.
The decision can be observed as an impeccable one, especially in line with rights of woman of this country. Years of patriarchy, gender indifferences and other factors, have contributed to woman always being oppressed and considered beneath to that of men. Violence against women in simple terms means any act of gender-based violence. This leads to physical, mental and psychological agony or harm to women and is inclusive of a whole range of acts that deprives a woman of her liberty, dignity and the right to a peaceful life. Essentially gender based violence is a manifestation of gender inequity and inequality and a supposed subordinate social status assigned to women in society. Consequences of these acts are devastating and horrid and can have short term and long-term effects on a woman’s physical health and mental well-being.
Therefore this kind of judgment brings a ray of fresh hope to the women who have been suffering from time immemorial. It is step forward towards protecting the dignity of the women. One aspect the decision focuses on is woman’s right to her personal space and that she enjoys the same as that a man would as under Article 14, which provides for right to equality and Article 15, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex. This also relates to the fundamental concept of gender sensitivity and equal rights and that justice is to be equally possessed by both men and women. Act of eve teasing does deprive a woman of having equal rights as that of her male counterpart as he has no freedom, dignity and peace taken away as what a woman gets taken away from her life. Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides us with a right to life with human dignity. This right also includes the right to proper and comfortable livelihood. When a woman is eve teased or forced to be in love or a relationship she doesn’t want to be in it can in various ways deprive her of both physical as well as mental health. It stripes her from the opportunity to a trouble fee and peaceful life. It also heavily concentrates on her right to choose which should be legally and socially considered and respected. Her choice to reject love or advances from a man is her undeniable right as it affects her right to life and no one, including her relatives or friends, can compel or force her to do anything she does not want to do and this is what the court also tries to put pressure on. Therefore the court has held “male chauvinism”, “egoism” and so-called “masculinity” as a threat to the rights and dignity of women.