Bhupinder Singh V/s U.T Of Chandigarh

The high court found that the case at hand was covered by clause “FOURTHLY” of section 375 IPC and, therefore, the accused-appellant was guilty of the offence and was liable for punishment under section 376 IPC.

Case name:Bhupinder Singh V/s U.T Of Chandigarh
Case number:S.L.P. (Crl.) No.1411 of 2007
Court:The Supreme Court Of India
Bench:Justice Arijit Pasayat, Justice P. Sathasivam
Decided on:JULY 10, 2008
Relevant Act/Sections:Section 376, 420 and 498-A IPC, 1860
  • Complainant Manjit Kaur filed a case against Bhupinder Singh stating that she was employed as a clerk in bank employee’s thrift credit society. Bhupinder Singh was employed as data entry operator in state bank of Patiala at Chandigarh. He used to come to her office and developed intimacy and then asked her to marry after disclosing himself as an unmarried person. Bhupinder Singh insisted her to get married at the earliest in the gurudwara following a simple ceremony and  the permission of the parents will be taken later on and thereafter marriage would be solemnized with great pomp and show. She accepted the proposal.
  • On 4-12-1990 Bhupinder Singh and Manjit kaur got solemnized their marriage by exchanging garlands before the holy granth sahib. Then she stayed with accused in sector 22-C Chandigarh. Accused has also taken loan of Rs.5000 from a society at Panchkula in May 1991 where he had nominated as her wife.
  • She became pregnant and accused got her aborted from Kaushal nursing home against her wishes. Then she again became pregnant in July 1993 and their relations remained cordial till march 1994
  • On 6-3-1994 when she had gone to rose garden, she met Devinder bansal and Vinod Sharma who were friends of the accused. They told her that the accused was already married with Gurinder kaur and having children from the said wedlock. She was shocked to know this and after reaching the home, she asked about Bhupinder Singh who on the same day left for Patiala on the pretext of attending some training course and did not return till 13-3-1994.        
  • On 16-4-1994 she was admitted in general hospital and gave birth to female child. She told accused about the child as he was the father but he did not turn up.
  • Challenge in these appeals is the judgment of a learned Single Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Criminal Appeal No.698-SB/1999. The appellant Bhupinder Singh (hereinafter referred to as the ‘accused’) had filed the appeal before the High Court against the judgment dated 20.9.1999 passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Chandigarh, convicting him for offences punishable under Sections 376 and 417 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short ‘the Code’).
  • He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- with default stipulations for the first offence and rigorous imprisonment for nine months in respect of the second offence.
  • The High Court found that Bhupinder Singh and Manjit kaur living as husband wife together for pretty long time at different places. There had been sexual intercourse for which Manjit kaur has given consent treating Bhupinder Singh as husband and Manjit kaur had become pregnant. Bhupinder Singh very well knew that he was married to Gurinder Kaur. Present case will squarely be covered under the description “fourthly” of Section 375 IPC and therefore, the accused was guilty of the offence and was liable for punishment under Section 376 IPC. Accordingly, the conviction, as done, was upheld.
  • The High Court also found that by the statements of Gurinder Kaur and other defence witnesses it cannot be said that Manjit Kaur did not know about the fact that Bhupinder Singh was already married with Gurinder Kaur and held that the case was a fit one for reduction of sentence and award of adequate compensation. Therefore, case for the offence under Section 417 IPC was not made out and the appellant was acquitted of that offence. Accordingly, custodial sentence of three years rigorous imprisonment was imposed in place of seven years rigorous imprisonment as was done by the trial court. The compensation was fixed at Rs. 1,00,000/- which was directed to be paid within three months. It was indicated that in case the compensation amount was not paid, the reduction in sentence would not be given effect to.
  • Whether the high court was erroneous in its decision to reduce the sentence of accused-appellant to 3 years?
  • Whether the case was within the scope of Section 375(4) of the IPC?
  • The Counsel for the appellant submitted that when the complainant knew that he was a married man and yet consented for sexual intercourse with him, Clause “Fourthly” of Section 375 IPC would have no application. It was also submitted that the fact that the complainant knew about his being a married man, is clearly established from the averments made in a suit filed by her where she had sought for a declaration that she is the wife of the accused.
  • Though it is urged with some amount of vehemence that when complainant knew that he was a married man, Clause “Fourthly” of Section 375 IPC has no application, the stand is clearly without substance. Even though, the complainant claimed to have married the accused, which fact is established from several documents, that does not improve the situation so far as the accused-appellant is concerned.  Since, he was already married, the subsequent marriage, if any, has no sanctity in law and is void ab-initio.  In any event, the accused-appellant could not have lawfully married the complainant.  A bare reading of Clause “Fourthly” of Section 375 IPC makes this position clear.  It is pointed out by learned counsel for the appellant that the date of knowledge claimed by the complainant is 6.3.1994, but the first information report was lodged on 19.9.1994. The complainant has explained that she delivered a child immediately after learning about the incident on 16.4.1994 and, therefore, was not in a position to lodge the complaint earlier.
  • According to her she was totally traumatized on learning about the marriage of the accused-appellant. Though the explanation is really not satisfactory, but in view of the position in law that the accused was really guilty of the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC, the delayed approach of the complainant cannot, in any event, wash away the offence.          
  • In this case the judgment was given by JUSTICE ARIJIT PASAYAT that the appeal filed by the accused is dismissed.  The High Court has reduced the sentence taking note of the peculiar facts of the case, more particularly, the knowledge of the complainant about the accused being a married man. The High Court has given sufficient and adequate reasons for reducing the sentence and awarding compensation of Rs.1,00,000/-.  The reasons indicated by the High Court do not suffer from an infirmity and, therefore, the appeal filed by the complainant is without merit and is dismissed. 
  • Both the appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.

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