Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Section 201 – Essential Ingredients – Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender – A charge under Section 201 of the IPC can be independently laid and conviction maintained also, in case the prosecution is able to establish that an offence had been committed, the person charged with the offence had the knowledge or the reason to believe that the offence had been committed, the said person has caused disappearance of evidence and such act of disappearance has been done with the intention of screening the offender from legal punishment. Mere suspicion is not sufficient, it must be proved that the accused knew or had a reason to believe that the offence has been committed and yet he caused the evidence to disappear so as to screen the offender. The offender may be either himself or any other person.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(KURIAN JOSEPH) AND (AMITAVA ROY) JJ.

FEBRUARY 12, 2018

CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 265-266 OF 2018

(Arising out of S.L.P.(Criminal) Nos. 1815-1816 of 2016)

DINESH KUMAR KALIDAS PATEL … APPELLANT (S) VERSUS THE STATE OF GUJARAT … RESPONDENT (S)

J U D G M E N T

KURIAN, J.

Leave granted.

2. The appellant was convicted by the Sessions Judge, Mehsana (State of Gujarat) for offences under Sections 498A and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as “the IPC”). A sentence of one year rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs.1,000/- with a default sentence of three months was awarded under Section 498A and six months and Rs.500/- with a default sentence of one month for the offence under Section 201 of the IPC.

3. This is a case where the appellant’s wife committed suicide by hanging. The incident took place on 26.12.1990. The information was conveyed to the family of the deceased. The father and brother of the deceased, who is a doctor by profession, attended the last rites. After more than three months, the father of the deceased filed a complaint before the Judicial Magistrate at Kadi on 01.04.1991. The same was investigated, and the appellant was charged under Sections 304B, 306, 498A and 201 read with Section 120B of the IPC and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Along with the appellant, seven other persons also faced the trial. By judgment dated 12.09.1995, the Sessions Judge convicted the appellant under Sections 498A and 201 of the IPC but acquitted the seven others.

4. The appeals filed in 1995 were heard in the year 2015 and, as per the impugned judgment, the appellant was acquitted of the offence under Section 498A of the IPC but conviction under Section 201 of the IPC was maintained. Thus aggrieved, the appellant is before this Court.

5. Heard learned Counsel appearing for the appellant and learned Counsel appearing for the State.