Based on Satbir Singh case here, a 3-judge bench comprising the CJI N.V. Ramana, the appellant was held liable for the offence of 304B IPC>Gurmeet Singh Vs State of Punjab on 28 May 2021
Other Sources :
A Division bench of the Apex Court passed these guidelines to the Judges trying the 304 IPC cases.
From Para 36,
Satbir Singh and Anr Vs State of Haryana on 28 May 2021
36. At the cost of repetition, the law under Section 304B, IPC read with Section 113B, Evidence Act can be summarized below:
i. Section 304B, IPC must be interpreted keeping in mind the legislative intent to curb the social evil of bride burning and dowry demand.
ii. The prosecution must at first establish the existence of the necessary ingredients for constituting an offence under Section 304B, IPC. Once these ingredients are satisfied, the rebuttable presumption of causality, provided under Section 113B, Evidence Act operates against the accused.
iii. The phrase “soon before” as appearing in Section 304B, IPC cannot be construed to mean ‘immediately before’. The prosecution must establish existence of “proximate and live link” between the dowry death and cruelty or harassment for dowry demand by the husband or his relatives.
iv. Section 304B, IPC does not take a pigeonhole approach in categorizing death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental. The reason for such non categorization is due to the fact that death occurring “otherwise than under normal circumstances” can, in cases, be homicidal or suicidal or accidental.
v. Due to the precarious nature of Section 304B, IPC read with 113B, Evidence Act, Judges, prosecution and defence should be careful during conduction of trial.
vi. It is a matter of grave concern that, often, Trial Courts record the statement under Section 313, CrPC in a very casual and cursory manner, without specifically questioning the accused as to his defense. It ought to be noted that the examination of an accused under Section 313, CrPC cannot be treated as a mere procedural formality, as it based on the fundamental principle of fairness. This aforesaid provision incorporates the valuable principle of natural justice “audi alteram partem” as it enables the accused to offer an explanation for the incriminatory material appearing against him. Therefore, it imposes an obligation on the court to question the accused fairly, with care and caution.
vii. The Court must put incriminating circumstances before the accused and seek his response. A duty is also cast on the counsel of the accused to prepare his defense since the inception of the Trial with due caution, keeping in consideration the peculiarities of Section 304B, IPC read with
Section 113B, Evidence Act.
viii. Section 232, CrPC provides that, “If, after taking the evidence for the prosecution, examining the accused and hearing the prosecution and the defence on the point, the Judge considers that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence, the Judge shall record an order of acquittal”. Such discretion must be utilized by the Trial Courts as an obligation of best efforts.
ix. Once the Trial Court decides that the accused is not eligible to be acquitted as per the provisions of Section 232, CrPC, it must move on and fix hearings specifically for ‘defence evidence’, calling upon the accused to present his defense as per the procedure provided under Section 233, CrPC, which is also an invaluable right provided to the accused.
x. In the same breath, Trial Courts need to balance other important considerations such as the right to a speedy trial. In this regard, we may caution that the above provisions should not be allowed to be misused as delay tactics.
xi. Apart from the above, the presiding Judge should follow the guidelines laid down by this Court while sentencing and imposing appropriate punishment.
xii. Undoubtedly, as discussed above, the menace of dowry death is increasing day by day. However, it is also observed that sometimes family members of the husband are roped in, even though they have no active role in commission of the offence and are residing at distant places. In these cases, the Court need to be cautious in its approach.
(1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this sub-section, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).
(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
This judgment from Allahabad High Court held that gifts given to the husband by the wife or some family member of wife is not Dowry.
Shivendra Raizada and Others Vs State of U.P. and Anr on 6 December, 2018
This is a landmark judgment from Supreme Court of India which clarified the legal position around sections 304B and 498A IPC.
From Para 6,
Now we shall consider the question as to whether the acquittal of the appellants of the offence punishable under Section 498-A makes any difference. The submission of the learned counsel is that the acquittal under Section 498-A IPC would lead to the effect that the cruelty on the part of the accused is not established. We see no force in this submission. The High Court only held that Section 304-B and Section 498-A IPC are mutually exclusive and that when once the cruelty envisaged in Section 498-A IPC culminates in dowry death of the victim, Section 304-B alone is attracted and in that view of the matter the appellants were acquitted under Section 498-A IPC. It can therefore be seen that the High Court did not hold that the prosecution has not established cruelty on the part of the appellants but on the other hand the High Court considered the entire evidence and held that the element of cruelty which is also an essential of Section 304-B IPC has been established. Therefore the mere acquittal of the appellants under Section 498-A IPC in these circumstances makes no difference for the purpose of this case. However, we want to point out that this view of the High Court is not correct and Sections 304-B and 498-A cannot be held to be mutually exclusive. These provisions deal with two distinct offences. It is true that “cruelty” is a common essential to both the sections and that has to be proved. The Explanation to Section 498-A gives the meaning of “cruelty”. In Section 304-B there is no such explanation about the meaning of “cruelty” but having regard to the common background to these offences we have to take that the meaning of “cruelty or harassment” will be the same as we find in the explanation to Section 498-A under which “cruelty” by itself amounts to an offence and is punishable. Under Section 304-B as already noted, it is the “dowry death” that is punishable and such death should have occurred within seven years of the marriage. No such period is mentioned in Section 498-A and the husband or his relative would be liable for subjecting the woman to “cruelty” any time after the marriage. Further it must also be borne in mind that a person charged and acquitted under Section 304-B can be convicted under Section 498-A without charge being there, if such a case is made out. But from the point of view of practice and procedure and to avoid technical defects it is necessary in such cases to frame charges under both the sections and if the case is established they can be convicted under both the sections but no separate sentence need be awarded under Section 498-A in view of the substantive sentence being awarded for the major offence under Section 304-B.
And the benevolence of the judges overflows for women like juices… yakkk thuuu
From Para 8,
Shanti And Anr Vs State of Haryana on 13 November, 1990
Further both the appellants are women. Under these circumstances, a minimum sentence of seven years’ rigorous imprisonment would serve the ends of justice. Accordingly the convictions are confirmed but the sentence of imprisonment for life under Section 304-B IPC of each of the accused appellant is set aside and instead each of them is sentenced to undergo seven years’ rigorous imprisonment.
Reproduced in accordance with Section 52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, lobis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court and District Court Websites such as ecourts.gov.in
In this case, hon’ble supreme court did not find any evidence that which “led that the deceased was subjected to cruelty by appellant Nos.2 & 3. Before holding that appellant Nos. 2 & 3 had committed the offence, it had to be found that they are responsible for subjecting her to cruelty or harassment, soon before her death. We find in this case evidence is only confined to the husband and not against appellant Nos. 2 & 3. Hence on the evidence on record, so far as appellant Nos. 2 & 3 are concerned, we extend to them the benefit of doubt and acquit them.”Pawan Kumar & Ors Vs State Of Haryana on 9 February, 1998
There was a Criminal appeal filed on this case, the order of which is available below.Pawan Kumar Vs State Of Haryana on 13 March, 2001
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