Uday Chakraborty and Ors. v State of West Bengal AIR 2010 SC 3506
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA – Section 498A and 304B of Indian Penal Code, 1860
The Trial Court convicted all the five accused persons i.e. the husband and other in-laws for an offence punishable under Sections 498A/304B of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘IPC’) and sentenced them for 7 years rigorous imprisonment. No separate sentence was awarded under Section 498A of IPC on the ground that the accused persons were awarded sentence for the substantive offence of murder under Section 304B of IPC. Finally the Court dismissed the appeal and held that offence under Sections 304B read with 498A of IPC was made out and had been proved by prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. The Court stated that execution of the “Chuktiparta” itself demonstrate that there was a clear intention on the part of the appellants to take dowry in and as consideration for marriage. Gifts were given at the time of marriage and some items were also agreed to be given subsequent to the marriage. This itself would be an appropriate fact to be taken into consideration and is, in any case, completely in line with the case of the prosecution. The Court observed that the expression ‘soon before her death’ has to be given its due meaning as the legislature has not specified any time which would be the period prior to death, that would attract the provisions of Section 304B of IPC. The concept of reasonable time would be applicable, which would primarily depend upon the facts of a given case, the conduct of the parties and the impact of cruelty and harassment inflicted upon the deceased in relation to demand of dowry to the cause of unnatural death of the deceased. In our considered view, the marriage itself has not survived even for a period of two years, the entire period would be a relevant factor in determining such an issue.