Charge murder in dowry death cases, SC tells courts
In the backdrop of growing number of dowry deaths, the Supreme Court on Monday directed all courts in the country to add the charge of murder against the accused so that death penalty could be awarded in such heinous cases. "We further direct all trial courts in India to ordinarily add
Section 302 (murder) to the charge of section 304B so that death sentence can be imposed in such heinous and barbaric crimes against women," a Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said in an order.
Under the exisiting provision, dowry death is registered under Section 304B IPC entailing a maximum punishment of life imprisonment(minimum seven years) but there is no provision for capital punishment.
The apex court passed the order while issuing a notice to convict Thathamsetty Suresh of Andhra Pradesh asking him why he should not be awarded death sentence for killing his wife and another convict Rajbir alias Raju as to why the punishment of of life imprisonment awarded to him by the sessions court in Rohtak, Haryana, should not be restored.
While in the case of Suresh, the sessions court had awarded life imprisonment which was confirmed by the High Court under Section 302 IPC, in the case of Rajbir, the charge was under Section 304B.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier reduced the life imprisonment to 10 year. Rajbir's mother was awarded two years RI. However, since Rajbir's mother was 80 years old, the apex court ordered her release on bail.