The bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar while dismissing a petition challenging the order of the trail court whereby charges against all the accused were framed under Sections 306, 304-B and 498A of the IPC has held that if a conviction for causing suicide is based on Section 304-B IPC, it will necessarily attract Section 306 of the IPC, though the converse may not be true.
The petitioner had challenged the impugned order of the trail Court on the ground that offences under Section 304-B and 306 RPC are mutually exclusive and, therefore, an accused cannot be simultaneously charged for commission of both these offences.
Mr. Sunil Shetty, Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioners argued that suicidal death is not covered by Section 304-B RPC, in that Section 304-B refers to dowry death being a death of woman caused by burns or bodily injury or that which occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances. Mr. Shetty further argued that the death by suicide is covered by a different provision i.e. Section 306 RPC.
On the other hand, Ld. AAG, appearing for the respondent raised question about the maintainability of the petition.
While answering the contention raised by the petitioner that the accused cannot be charged for the offences under Section 306 and 304-B RPC together on the ground that these two offences are mutually exclusive, the Court placed reliance on the judgment of the Supreme Court in case titled Bhupendra v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 106 and Satvir Singh and others v. State of Punjab and another,(2001) 8 SCC 633 and observed that:
22) Taking note of the aforesaid observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Satvir Singh (supra), the position of law on the point was re-stated in para 35 of the judgment of Bhupendra (supra), which, for facility of reference, is also reproduced as under:
“35. We are, therefore, of the opinion that Section 306 of the IPC is much broader in its application and takes within its fold one aspect of Section 304-B of the IPC. These two Sections are not mutually exclusive. If a conviction for causing a suicide is based on Section 304-B of the IPC, it will necessarily attract Section 306 of the IPC. However, the converse is not true.”
24) In view of the settled legal position, it is no more available to the accused/petitioners herein to contend that they cannot be charged for the offences under Section 306 and 304-B RPC together on the ground that these two offences are mutually exclusive
In the case of Satvir Singh (supra), the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in para 17, has held thus:
“17. No doubt Section 306 IPC read with Section 113A of the Evidence Act is wide enough to take care of an offence under Section 304B also. But the latter is made a more serious offence by providing a much higher sentence and also by imposing a minimum period of imprisonment as the sentence. In other words, if death occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within 7 years of the marriage as a sequel to the cruelty or harassment inflicted on a woman with demand of dowry, soon before her death, Parliament intended such a case to be treated as a very serious offence punishable even upto imprisonment for life in appropriate cases. It is for the said purpose that such cases are separated from the general category provided under Section 306 IPC (read with Section 113A of the Evidence Act) and made a separate offence.”
The Court further observed that suicide is one of the modes of death falling within the ambit of Section 304-B IPC. The expression “otherwise than under normal circumstances” would comprehend within its sweep, the death caused by burns or bodily injury or even the suicidal death.
Ultimately the Court found no merit in the petition and was accordingly dismissed.
Case Title: Jyoti Bala & Ors vs State of J&K (CRR No.14/2015)