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ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Sections 498A, 306 and 304B of the Indian Penal Code -Conviction under sec.304 B of I.P.C. - When arose in case of distant relatives ?- The Court has, thus, to be careful in summoning distant relatives without there being specific material. Only the husband, his parents or at best close family members may be expected to demand dowry or to harass the wife but not distant relations, unless there is tangible material to support allegations made against such distant relations. Mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in absence of any specific role and material to support such role.-While we do not find any ground to interfere with the view taken by the courts below that the deceased was subjected to harassment on account of non-fulfillment of dowry demand, we do find merit in the submission that possibility of naming all the family members by way of exaggeration is not ruled out. -At the same time, omnibus allegation against all family members particularly against brothers and sisters and other relatives do not stand on same footing as husband and parents. In such case, apart from general allegation of demand of dowry court has to be satisfied that harassment was also caused by all the named members. -However, having regard to the nature of their relationships, there being possibility of the appellants’ having been named by way of exaggeration, we are of the view that the appellants deserve to be given benefit of doubt in that regard in the facts of the present case. Accordingly, we allow this appeal, set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellants under Section 304B IPC without interfering with conviction and sentence under other heads. -2015 S.C. MSKLAWREPORTS



While we do not find any ground to interfere with the view taken by the courts below that the deceased was subjected to harassment on account of non-fulfillment of dowry demand, we do find merit in the submission that possibility of naming all the family members by way of exaggeration is not ruled out. 
 The Court has, thus, to be careful in summoning distant relatives without there being specific material. Only the husband, his parents or at best close family members may be expected to demand dowry or to harass the wife but not distant relations, unless there is tangible material to support allegations made against such distant relations. Mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in absence of any specific role and material to support such role. 

The Court has to adopt pragmatic view and when a girl dies an unnatural death, allegation of demand of dowry or harassment which follows cannot be weighed in golden scales. At the same time, omnibus allegation against all family members particularly against brothers and sisters and other relatives do not stand on same footing as husband and parents. In such case, apart from general allegation of demand of dowry court has to be satisfied that harassment was also caused by all the named members. 

 Normally, it is the husband or parents of the husband who may be benefitted by the dowry and may be in a position to harass and not all other relatives, though no hard and fast rule can be laid down in that regard.
It is also true that till such an unfortunate event takes place, the family members may not disclose the demand of dowry being a private matter and under the hope that the relationship of the couple may improve. However, having regard to the nature of their relationships, there being possibility of the appellants’ having been named by way of exaggeration, we are of the view that the appellants deserve to be given benefit of doubt in that regard in the facts of the present case. 
Accordingly, we allow this appeal, set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellants under Section 304B IPC without interfering with conviction and sentence under other heads. Since the appellants are said to have already undergone the sentence awarded for other charges which may be verified, they may be released from custody forthwith unless required in any other case.-2015 S.C.MSKLAWREPORTS


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