Dowry death crimes shall get iron hand, says Supreme Court

"Keeping in mind the aforesaid aspects, imposition of sentence for the offence of dowry death is required to be considered," the apex court said.
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI: While confirming the conviction of a mother and father-in-law for the dowry death of a woman who died within a year of marriage, the Supreme Court on Friday reiterated that offences like dowry death have a serious impact upon society and a strong message must be sent that the person who commits such an offence shall be dealt with iron hands.

“The offence under Section 304­B – offence of dowry death is the offence against society. Such offences have a serious impact upon society. Keeping in mind the aforesaid aspects, imposition of sentence for the offence of dowry death is required to be considered. A strong message must go in the society that a person who commits such an offence under the Dowry Prohibition Act shall be dealt with an iron hand,” the court said.

The observation was made by a bench of Justices MR Shah and B V Nagarathna in an appeal preferred by Ajhola Devi against Jharkhand High Court’s order of convicting her and her husband for the offences under Section 304­B (Dowry Death) read with Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender) of IPC. The high court had affirmed the Trial Court’s order which had awarded a sentence of 10 years of Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) to the couple.

The SC bench upheld the 10-year RI awarded to Ajhola Devi and her husband — mother and father-in-law of the deceased woman — by the trial court and confirmed by the Jharkhand High Court for the dowry death of their daughter-in-law.

Throwing light on the intent of the Legislature while incorporating Section 304B (Dowry Death) in the IPC, the court said, “The legislative intent of incorporating Section 304­B was to curb the menace of dowry death with a firm hand. In dealing with cases under Section 304­B, such legislative intent has to be kept in mind.”

To affirm the High Court’s order the bench had considered the aspect of the prosecution establishing and proving the demand of dowry, the deceased dying within a period of one year of her marriage and failure of the defence to prove their false case/theory of the deceased dying because of diarrhoea.

Turning down the couple’s plea of granting them lesser punishment taking into consideration their age, the bench said, “Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, imposing 10 years RI cannot be said to be disproportionate to the offence committed. No interference of this court is called for so far as the imposition of the sentence of 10 years RI is concerned."

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The New Indian Express