Jurisdiction of Criminal Courts

“Cruelty” and “Suicide Aide” Independent Offenses: Conviction for one does not necessarily mean that the accused is guilty of the other: High Court of Kerala

The Kerala High Court ruled on Tuesday that a person need not also be found guilty of aiding his wife’s suicide under Section 306 of the IPC only because they were found guilty of cruelty under Section 498A of the IPC.

As highlighted by Justice A. Badharudeen, Sections 498A (cruelty) and 306 IPC (abetment to suicide) are separate laws that constitute separate offences.

“Merely because an accused has been held liable to be punished under Section 498A IPC, it does not follow that on the same evidence he must also and necessarily be held guilty of having abetted the commission of suicide by the woman concerned”.

The husband and mother-in-law of a deceased woman petitioned the court to review their convictions under Sections 304(B) (dowry death) and 306 (abetting suicide) r/w 34 of the IPC by the Sessions Court.

The prosecution argued that the dead received 35 sovereigns of gold when the couple got married. Additionally, the payment of Rs. 2.5 lakhs as dowry within a two-year period was agreed. It was said that the deceased endured constant pestering and dowry demands from her husband and mother-in-law while she was a guest at the matrimonial home. Within a year of their marriage, the prosecution claims that this ultimately caused her to commit herself.

The mother-in-law and husband were shortly arrested and questioned. They were then given the chance to provide a defence, but none was made. As a result, the Sessions Court found them guilty and gave them a harsh prison term.

The accused petitioned the High Court to overturn this conviction and the punishment.

The appellants’ attorneys Sasthamangalam S. Ajithkumar, Prabhu Vijayakumar, and Renjith B. Marar contended that the trial court found the appellants guilty despite a lack of substantial evidence.

The prosecution had successfully established the commission of offences under Sections 304B and 306 of the IPC, however Public Prosecutor Maya M.N passionately defended the verdict and sentence.

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