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Dinesh Seth Vs State of NCT of Delhi

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Citations: Dinesh Seth Vs State of NCT of Delhi (2008) 14 SCC 94

Date of Judgement :18/08/2008

Equivalent citations: (2008) 14 SCC 94; (2009) 2 SCC (Cri) 783; 2008 SCC OnLine SC 1246

Case No.: Criminal Appeal no. 1239 of 2003

Case Type: Criminal Appeal

Appellant: Dinesh Seth

Respondent: State of NCT of Delhi

Bench: Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir and Hon’ble Justice G.S. Singhvi

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860; Sections 304B and 498A

Cases Referred:

  • State of West Bengal Vs Orilal Jaiswal & Another, 1994 (1) SCC 73
  • Himachal Pradesh Admn. Vs Shri Om Prakash, 1972 (2) SCR 765
  • Ramakant Rai Vs Madan Rai & Others, JT 2003 (Supp.2) SC 344
  • Gokaraju Venkatanarasa Raju Vs State of A.P., 1993 Supp.(4) SCC 191
  • Shivanand Mallappa Koti Vs State of Karnataka, 2007 (8) Scale 408
  • Pyare Lal Vs State of Haryana, 1997 (11) SCC 552
  • Satpal Vs State of Haryana, 1998 (5) SCC 687
  • Willie (William) Slaney Vs State of M.P., AIR 1956 SC 116
  • Gurbachan Singh Vs State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 623
  • Lakhjit Singh Vs State of Punjab, 1994 Supp. (1) SCC 173
  • Sangaraboina Sreenu Vs State of A.P., 1997 (5) SCC 348
  • Dalbir Singh Vs State of U.P, (2004) 5 SCC 334 
  • Hira Lal Vs State (NCT) Delhi, (2003) 8 SCC 80.

Facts:

  • The Marriage between Dinesh Seth and Rama was solemnized on 02/12/1984.
  • Rama died on 22/11/1986.
  • There was a receipt of an anonymous call that the appellant had murdered his wife.
  • Shri C.L. Jatav, Sub-Inspector of Police visited the spot and located the natural object of the deceased together with one piece of material near the body and one piece tied with the ceiling fan.
  • Brother-in-law of the deceased was present at the positioning and told him that the deceased was subjected to harassment and torture by her husband and in laws.
  • The Sub-Divisional Magistrate recorded the statement of the mother of the deceased.
  • This case was registered under Section 304B/306/498A read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • This Appeal is directed against the Judgment of Delhi High Court whereby the Appellant was acquitted of the charge under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 but was convicted under Section 498A of Indian Penal code, 1860 and was sentenced to 3 years of Rigorous imprisonment.

Issues Involved:

  • Whether the accused can be convicted under Section 498A when he was tried under Section 304B only.
  • Whether the Appellant is liable to be convicted or not?

Contention of Appellant:

The counsel for Appellant contended that:

  • Shri K.T.S. Tulsi, senior counsel appearing for the Appellant, attacked the impugned judgment on two counts:
    • He argued that the Appellant’s conviction under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 is susceptible to be put aside because he was tried for an offence under Section 304B read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and not under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
    • Learned senior counsel submitted that within the absence of a selected charge under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, the State couldn’t have convicted the Appellant thereunder section because he didn’t get opportunity to defend himself.
  • Shri Tulsi further argued that after having discarded the testimony of PW-1, PW-6 and PW-7 on the problem of harassment, cruelty and demand of dowry and acquitted the Appellant of the charge under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 , the court couldn’t have relied upon the identical evidence for the aim of convicting him under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 .

Contention of Respondent:

The counsel for Respondent contended that:

  • Shri P.P. Malhotra, who is senior counsel while representing the State relied upon the provisions of Section 221, 222 and 464 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • He argued that omission to border specific charge under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 cannot be made a ground for acquittal of the Appellant because absence of charge under its section failed to prejudice his defence and no failure of justice was occasioned.
  • Shri Malhotra submitted that the evidence produced by the prosecution was sufficient to prove that the Appellant had subjected the deceased to cruelty and the State failed to commit any error by convicting him under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Judgement:

  • The accused was already charged under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860, the precise allegation levelled against him was that he had subjected the deceased to cruelty for or in reference to demand for dowry and he or she had died unnatural death within seven years of her marriage.

The Court dismissed the Appeal and upheld the conviction of the Appellant under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • The power of the Court to ignore any error within the framing of charges cannot be curtailed. As long because the main ingredients were present within the charges and there has been no prejudice to the accused, the Court is empowered to convict the accused under another section.
  • Thus, the Appellant was rightly convicted under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 although he was only tried for Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860, the two sections lay down two distinct offenses, but are still not exclusive.

Obiter Dicta:

The purpose of conviction under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, is sufficient to prove that the lady was subjected to cruelty, as elucidated within the explanation appearing below substantive a part of the section, by her husband or his relative.

Conclusion:

It can be concluded that, the Supreme Court controlled the differences and similarities between Section 304B and Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as the essential ingredients of those sections. These two sections aren’t exclusive. While Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with actual death cases only, Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with all the cases of cruelty by the husband and/or his relatives and thus, has is wider in scope. However, since cruelty hasn’t been defined under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860, within the common background of those two offences, the meaning is often borrowed from Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Drafted By: Bharti Verma, Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Studies and School of Law

Published On: September 24, 2021 at 11:22 IST