Summary of Recent judgment

Case: Buddhadeb Saha v. State of West Bengal

Date of Order / Judgment: 13th September 2023.

The Matter Heard by Bench: Justice J.B Pardiwala & Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra


This case was presented as an appeal before the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Prashant Kumar Mishra. The case arose from an FIR filed by the complainant, Uma Shankar Shah, who claimed that cash and gold jewelry were supplied to the husband's family during Tuli Shah's marriage. However, the appellant soon began harassing Tuli for more dowry. The prosecution's case was predicated on the claim that Tuli Shah committed suicide by swallowing poison on September 16, 2011, as a result of the appellant’s constant harassment at her matrimonial residence. The Trial Court found the appellant guilty of offences under Sections 498A, 304B, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The High Court upheld the order of conviction passed by the Trial Court. The accused filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the decision of the Calcutta High Court which confirmed the conviction sentence of the appellants to 7 years imprisonment for committing dowry death under Section 304-B IPC and 3 years for cruelty under Section 498-A IPC.

Observation of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court noted that “both the post-mortem report and the viscera report were silent regarding the exact cause of Tuli Shah’s death and the presence of poison in her body. The Court referred to findings from the trial court and the High Court, which strongly suggested that Tuli Shah’s death resulted from poison consumption. Notably, the inquest report noted froth coming from the mouth and nose of the deceased and observed symptoms consistent with poisoning.” The Court also noted that “the Medical Officer, who conducted the post-mortem, testified that a pungent-smelling material was found in the stomach, which is often associated with poison consumption. He also admitted that if there is any delay in sending viscera samples for chemical examination,the poison may not be detecte in the present case, the viscera was received for chemical examination on 22nd February 2012 that is, after five months.”


The Apex court thus determined that the absence of poison detection in the viscera report should not be deemed conclusive proof that the death of the victim was not caused by poison. Despite the absence of a positive viscera report, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the trial court and the high court confirming the appellants’ conviction in a dowry death case.