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Section 304B IPC -Message Should Go That Dowry Death Shall Be Dealt With An Iron Hand: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
19 Aug 2022 3:27 AM GMT
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Observing that "the legislative intent of incorporating IPC section 304­B was to curb the menace of dowry death with a firm hand" and that "in dealing with cases under section 304­B, such legislative intent has to be kept in mind", the Supreme Court has asserted that in the imposition of sentence for the offence of dowry death, "a strong message must go in the society that a person who commits such an offence of dowry death and/or the offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act shall be dealt with an iron hand".

Upholding the imposition of a sentence of 10 years' rigorous imprisonment on the father-in-law and mother-in-law of the deceased and refusing to consider the prayer for a lesser punishment in view of their old age, the Supreme Court has stressed that "the offence under Section 304­B – offence of dowry death is the offence against society", that "such offences have serious impact upon society", and that "keeping in mind the aforesaid aspects, imposition of sentence for the offence of dowry death is required to be considered"
The bench of Justices M. R. Shah and B. V. Nagarathna, having heard counsel for the respective parties and having gone through the judgment and order passed by the Trial Court, confirmed by the Jharkhand High Court, convicting the appellants/accused – father­-in­-law and mother-­in-­law of the deceased for the offences under Section 304­B read with Section 201 of IPC, and even on re­appreciation of the entire evidence on record, was of the opinion that both, the Trial Court as well as the High Court, have rightly convicted the accused for the aforesaid offences. "We see no reason to interfere with the order of conviction passed by the learned Trial Court confirmed by the High Court", stated the bench.
Further, it was prayed on behalf of the appellants that lesser punishment may be imposed looking to the age of the accused. However, the bench declared that it is required to be noted that the appellants herein/father in law and mother in law are convicted for the dowry death and that the demand of dowry has been established and proved by the prosecution. The bench of Justices Shah and Nagarathna observed that the deceased died within a period of one year of her marriage and that the accused came out with a false case/theory that the deceased died because of Diarrhoea, which has not been established and proved by the defence.
"The minimum punishment for the offence of dowry death is 07 years and the maximum punishment is life imprisonment. The learned Trial Court has awarded the sentence of 10 years R.I. Considering the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case and more particularly, considering the fact that it is a case of dowry death, the learned Trial Court was right in imposing sentence of 10 years R.I., which has been rightly upheld by the High Court. The legislative intent of incorporating Section 304­B was to curb the menace of dowry death with a firm hand. In dealing with cases under Section 304­B, such legislative intent has to be kept in mind. The offence under Section 304­B – offence of dowry death is the offence against society. Such offences have serious impact upon society. Keeping in mind the aforesaid aspects, imposition of sentence for the offence of dowry death is required to be considered. A strong message must go in the society that a person who commits such an offence of dowry death and/or the offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act shall be dealt with an iron hand", noted the bench.
Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the bench found that imposing 10 years R.I. only cannot be said to be disproportionate to the offence committed, and concluding that no interference is called for so far as the imposition of sentence of 10 years R.I. is concerned, the bench proceeded to dismiss the appeals.

Case Title: Ajhola Devi & Anr. v. State of Jharkhand

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 695

Indian Penal Code 1860- Section 304B - Offence of dowry death -the legislative intent of incorporating IPC section 304­B was to curb the menace of dowry death with a firm hand-in dealing with cases under section 304­B, such legislative intent has to be kept in mind- a strong message must go in the society that a person who commits such an offence of dowry death and/or the offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act shall be dealt with an iron hand

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