28 May 2121

Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 should be interpreted as to curb the social evil of the dowry demand - Supreme Court of India

Case : Gurmeet Singh vs. State of Punjab Criminal Appeal No. 1731 of 2010

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aniruddha Bose

Decided on : 28 May 2121

Relevant Statutes

Section 304 –B and 498 A of the Indian Penal code, 1860

Section 113-B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. In 2004, the complainant daughter engaged to the appellant. Afterwards, In April 2004, the complainant left to Abu Dhabi and in his absence the appellant married is solemnized with the deceased on 23.11.2014. A child was born in 2006. When the complainant returned back in 2007, the decease told him about the demand of dowry and physical assault by the appellant, mother in law and father in law. The complainant gave them a gold chain and further went abroad and returned on 21.07.2008. The deceased disclose the demand of money for the purchase of the car which the complainant fails to fulfil. On 08.08.2008, the father in law informed the company that his daughter has consumed the poison and taken it to the hospital and after reaching the hospital he found her daughter unconscious and the next following day she died.

2. An appeal is preferred to the High court of Punjab and Haryana for the judgment passed by the Trial Court in which the court convicted the appellant under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code 1860 and sentence rigorous imprisonment of seven years and a fine of Rs. 5000. But the High court dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of the Trial court. Later, the Appellant approached to Supreme Court.

The Issues of the Case

Whether the Complainant has satisfied the ingredients of Section 304-B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 for conviction of the appellant?

Whether the Section 304-B and Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with the same offences?

The Observations of the Court

1. The Honourable Supreme Court after hearing both sides overviewed the Section 304-B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 i.e. Dowry Death and referred to One of the judgments i.e. Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana (Criminal Appeal  1735-1736 of 2010) in which the court interpreted the necessary ingredients of Section 304-B of Indian Penal Code,1860.

2. The Honourable Supreme Court held that the first two ingredients for the dowry death under Section 303-B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 are satisfied that death occurred under otherwise than normal circumstances within the seven years of the marriage. The evidence of the father is reliable and consistent despite a thorough cross-examination and had satisfied all the Ingredients of Section 304 B of the Indian Penal code 1860.

3. After the detailed analysis by the Trial court, The Honourable Supreme Court held that The Appellant has forged the hospital records to show the cordial relationship between the families of the deceased and the appellant and also appellant has no evidence to show that the deceased was suffering from the depression due to poor health of the mother or any other evidence to disregard the testimony of the father of the deceased. Section 113 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 shall be applied in this case. In Another Judgment i.e. Kamesh Panijiyar v. State of Bihar ((2005) 2 SCC 388), It was held that Section 304-B and 498 A of Indian Penal Code 1860 deals with two distinct offences and must be proved separately.

Decision Held by the Court

1. The Honourable Supreme Court held that both the Trial Court and High Court of Punjab and Haryana have not committed any error in convicting the appellant.

2. The Honourable Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal.

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