State Of Karnataka vs MN Basavaraja CrA 503 Of 2013- S 304B IPC – Dowry Death

Criminal Trial – A lady facing harassment and cruelty owing to her or her family’s failure to meet dowry demands would more often than not confide in her immediate family members. If the evidence of the family members in a case of dowry death is to be discarded on the ground that they are interested witnesses, we wonder who would be the reliable witness to testify for bringing the culprit to book? (Para 12)

Summary: Accused charged under sections 302, 498A and 201 were acquitted by the Trial Court – High Court upheld acquittal under S 302, 201, but convicted accused under S 498A IPC – Allowing appeal filed by the State, SC observed: All the ingredients for framing of a charge under section 304B, IPC were present and quite mindlessly, an exercise appears to have been undertaken to nail the respondents for committing offence punishable under section 302, IPC overlooking the contents of the police report under section 173(2), Cr. PC suggesting suicidal death- an accused could be convicted for an offence for which no charge was framed if the accused is aware of the basic ingredients of the offence with which he could have been charged and if no failure of justice would occasion, provided fair chance of defence is extended to him -However, an opportunity is required to be extended as part of the assurance of a fair trial and reasonableness of the procedure established by law to enable the accused rebut the presumption of dowry death drawn in terms of the provisions contained in section 304B IPC read with section 113B of the Evidence Act – Referred to Shamnsaheb M. Multtani vs. State of Karnataka (2001) 2 SCC 577- The case is remitted to the Sessions Court for proceeding further and to take the same to its logical conclusion in accordance with law upon granting reasonable opportunity to both the prosecution and the defence.

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