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Bhupinder Singh v. U.T. of Chandigarh

case brief, case summary

Bhupinder Singh v. U.T. Chandigarh, (2008) 8 SCC 531

Parties

Bhupinder Singh, Appellant

U.T. Chandigarh, Respondent

Facts

Manjit Kaur, the complainant worked as a Clerk for All Bank Employees Urban Salary Earners Thrift Credit Society Ltd. from September 1990 to September 1991. She commuted every day from Ambala’s Naraingarh District, where her sister lived. Bhupinder Singh worked as a Data Entry Operator at the State Bank of Patiala in Chandigarh’s Sector 17-C. He used to come to her office and build intimacy with her before proposing to her to marry him after revealing that he was single.

Bhupinder Singh insisted on her getting married as soon as possible at a Gurudwara with a modest ceremony. He said that approval from her parents could be obtained later and that the marriage would then be solemnized with much pomp and show. Then she accepted the accused’s request. Manjit Kaur and Bhupinder Singh married in a Gurudwara on 4.12.1990.

Sohan Singh, the husband of her cousin sister Joginder Kaur, was also there at the moment. Then she went to live with the accused in H.No.3166, Sector 22-C Chandigarh, where he shared a house with one J.P. Goel. Then, on 27.12.1990, they went to Kasauli for their honeymoon and slept in a hotel. Her office was thereafter relocated from Sector 17 to Chandigarh’s Sector 42. She and the accused moved to H.No.1110, Sector 42-B, Chandigarh, where they rented an apartment from Pritam Singh.

Even the landlord had filed a report with the Chandigarh Police Station, Sector 36, identifying them as husband and wife. And Bhupinder Singh had completed and handed over a document to the police station. In May 1991, the accused took a loan of Rs.5000/- from a society in Panchkula, where he listed her as his wife. She conceived a child. Despite her wishes, the accused had her removed from Kaushal Nursing Home. Under the influence of the accused, she quit the military in September 1991.

Bhupinder Singh, the accused, was posted from Chandigarh to Ropar in 1992. And they moved to Ropar and lived at House No.111, Street No.8, Malhotra Colony, Ropar. They returned to Chandigarh and began residing at H.No.859, Sector 38, Chandigarh, with accused-Bhupinder travelling to Ropar regularly. In May 1993, she was re-employed as a Clerk at Punjab University, Chandigarh, on a daily pay. On the eve of Diwali, she went to H.No. C-146, Sector 14, Punjab University, Chandigarh. In July 1993, she became pregnant for the second time, and their relationship remained friendly until March 1994.

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She met Devinder Kumar Bansal and Vinod Sharma, who were friends of her husband Bhupinder Singh when she went to Rose Garden on 6.3.1994. Those individuals informed her that the accused, Bhupinder Singh, was already married to Gurinder Kaur and had children from that union. She questioned why they had not informed her about her husband’s prior marriage. They did not, however, respond.

She was surprised to discover this. And when she arrived at the home, she inquired about Bhupinder Singh, who had departed for Patiala on the same day under the guise of attending a training course and had not returned till 13.3.1994.  She went to Devinder Bansal’s residence to inquire about the location of the accused Bhupinder Singh. But Bhupinder Singh and his wife Gurinder Kaur arrived and began arguing, prompting Manjit Kaur to call the police.

However, Daljit, Bhupinder Singh’s sister’s husband, brought her and left her at her home. She was taken to General Hospital on 16.4.1994 and gave birth to a girl child. She told Bhupinder Singh, the child’s father, about the situation. Bhupinder Singh, on the other hand, did not show up. Based on this complaint, a case was filed for the violation of IPC Sections 420/376/498A.

The appellant stated in his statement under Section 313 of the CrPC that he first met the appellant after his marriage to Gurinder Kaur. The complainant was acquainted with his wife before their marriage. And she had visited their home in Sector 23, Chandigarh, in 1988 with her mother, who asked him to get her a job since she had completed her education and was looking for work. For six months, the complainant stayed in their home. After that, he set up a position for her.

However, she had changed and, due to her lax morals, she was able to entertain a large number of people. He protested and ordered the complainant to alter her ways after learning that she had loose morals and was going out with different people at odd hours. But she got into a confrontation with him and demanded money, which he refused to give, and when the baby was born, she filed a bogus report. Before her marriage, Gurinder Kaur said she knew the complainant.

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Issue

Should the respondent be found guilty of violating Sections 376 and 417 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860?

Judgment

The High Court determined that the matter at issue was covered by Section 375 IPC Clause “Fourthly,”. And that the defendant was thus guilty of the offence and liable to punishment under Section 376 IPC. As a result, the conviction was maintained in its entirety. But taking into account the fact that the complainant had knowledge about his marriage, and had yet surrendered to him for sexual intercourse, held this to be a fit case for reduction of sentence and award of adequate compensation.

As a result, instead of the seven years of rigorous imprisonment ordered by the trial court, a custodial term of three years rigorous imprisonment was given. The compensation was set at Rs. 1,00,000/-, with a three-month deadline for payment. It was stated that if the reparation sum was not paid, the sentence reduction would not be implemented. The accused-learned appellant’s counsel argued that Clause “Fourthly” of Section 375 IPC would not apply if the complainant was aware that he was married and yet agreed to sexual intercourse with him.

It was also argued that the fact that the complainant was aware of his status as a married man may be inferred from the allegations made in a suit she filed seeking a declaration that she is the accused’s wife. The penalty imposed is described as severe. However, it was pointed out that the plaintiff had deposited and withdrew the compensation ordered by the High Court.

The penalty imposed has been described as severe. The complainant, however, has deposited and withdrew the compensation ordered by the High Court. The State’s learned counsel argued that this is a clear instance where Section 375 IPC Clause “Fourthly” applies. The complainant’s learned counsel argued that no sentence reduction was warranted in this case. The High Court proceeded under the incorrect assumption that the complainant was aware that the accused was married. It was also argued that the compensation amount given was insufficient.

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Though it is argued vehemently that Clause “Fourthly” of Section 375 IPC does not apply because the plaintiff knew he was married, the argument is plain without merit. Despite the fact that the complainant claimed to have married the accused, which is supported by many papers, the situation for the accused-appellant does not improve. 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. Because he was already married, all subsequent marriages have no legal validity and are void ab initio. In any case, the accused-appellant could not have married the complaint in a legal manner. The date of knowledge alleged by the complainant is 6.3.1994, while the first information report was filed on 19.9.1994, as learned counsel for the appellant points out.

The complainant has said that she gave birth to a kid shortly after learning of the event on 16.4.1994 and so was unable to file the complaint sooner. When she found out about the accused marriage, the appellant’s claims she was completely devastated. Though the answer is unsatisfactory, given the legal position that the accused was really guilty of the violation punishable under Section 376 IPC, the complainant’s delayed approach cannot, in any case, absolve the accused.

 Conclusion

The accused’s appeal has been denied. The sentence was lowered by the High Court due to the unusual characteristics of the case, notably the complainant’s awareness of the accused’s marital status. The High Court has provided substantial and reasonable reasons for lowering the sentence and awarded Rs.1,000,000/- in compensation.

The grounds given by the High Court are without flaws, and so the complainant’s appeal is without merit and rejected. As a result, both appeals are rejected.

Edited by Megha Jain.

Authors/Editors

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