-Report by Anuj Dhar
On 28th May, the Supreme Court of India maintained the Trial Court and the High Court’s order and dismissed the appeal of the appellants in the impugned judgment of 28th May 2021. A bench of CJI NV Ramana and Justice Aniruddha Bose found the appellant guilty under Section 304 B but stated that Section 306 could not be proved.
- Satbir Singh, the deceased, and appellant no.1 got married on 1st July 1994.
- On 31st July 1995, Satbir was found dead after sustaining burn injuries.
- The prosecution claims that the deceased was subjected to cruelty and harassment on account of bringing less dowry by both the appellants.
- On 11th December 1997, the appellants were convicted by the Trial Court under offence punishable under Section 304B and 306, IPC.
- On June 11th, 2008, the High Court upheld the order of the Trial Court and dismissed the appeal filed by the appellants.
Contentions of the Appellants
The legal counsel of the appellants approached the Supreme Court and submitted that the possibility of accidental fire has not been ruled out in the case. The prosecution has failed to prove that there was a demand for dowry. The protection has failed to prove that the demand for dowry if there was one, was made before the death of the deceased victim.
Contentions of the Respondents
The legal counsel of the state submitted that there was no additional material that the appellants showed which would merit the interference of the Supreme Court in the concurrent findings of the courts below. Emphasized upon the fact that the death of the deceased occurred within almost a year of marriage. Witnesses have consistently stated specific instances of the demand for dowry.
The Decision of The Supreme Court
The two issues at hand which required the perusal of the Supreme Court were:
- If the courts below were correct in convicting the appellants on the charge of Section 304B, IPC?
- If the courts below were correct in convicting the appellants on the charge of Section 306, IPC?
The court stated that since the death of the victim was due to burn injuries and was within 7 years of marriage, it satisfies the first two ingredients of the offence punishable under Section 304B, IPC. The aforementioned witnesses were also found consistent and reliable and on that basis, it was held that the deceased was subjected to cruelty soon before her death.
A perusal of the provisions under Section 306 indicates that presumptions shall be attracted only if the fact of suicide has been established. The prosecution must also prove that the accused has played an active role in the commission of suicide. This being said, the court further stated that there was insufficient evidence to prove the factum of suicide beyond doubt.
The Supreme Court of India held the appellants guilty of offence punishable under Section 304B, IPC but set aside the conviction and sentence under Section 306, IPC.
- Section 304B, Indian Penal Code.
- Section 306, Indian Penal Code.
- Section 113A, Evidence Act.
- Section 113B, Evidence Act.
- Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986.