SC: Anyone who Commits Offence of Dowry Death u/s 304B Will be Dealt with Iron Hand

Supreme Court Law Insider

Aastha Thakur

Published by: 19 August, 2022 at 18:12 IST

The Supreme Court held that the legislative intent of inserting Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code is to curb the menace of dowry death.

The bench, comprising of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna, said that a strong message must go to the society that a person who commits the offence of dowry death will be dealt with stringent rules and regulations.

The Court also underlined in its judgement that, “The offence under Section 304­B—offence of dowry death is an offence against society. A strong message must go out in 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.”

The Court was hearing the appeal filed by the appellant-accused against the order of the Jharkhand High Court. The accused appealed to the apex court to reduce the punishment awarded by the high court on the ground of their advanced age.

The accused here father-in-law and mother-in-law of the deceased women were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of 10 years for demanding dowry from the deceased woman who died within one year of marriage. The prosecution had proved their guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

However, the bench of the apex court upheld an order of the Jharkhand High Court while giving the reasoning that, “The accused came up 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 7 years, and the maximum punishment is life imprisonment. The trial court has awarded the sentence of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. “

It is further pointed out that while incorporating Section 304B, the intent of the legislature was to curb the menace of dowry death with an iron 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,” the order stated.

In the facts and circumstances of the case, imposing 10 years of imprisonment cannot be said to be disproportionate to the offence committed, the Court held.

Therefore, the court dismissed the appeal filed against the Jharkhand High Court decision.

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