New Delhi: In the backdrop of growing number
of dowry deaths, the Supreme Court on Monday directed all courts
in the country to add the charge of murder against the accused
so that death penalty could be awarded in such heinous cases.
"We further direct all trial courts in India to
ordinarily add Section 302 (murder) to the charge of section
304B so that death sentence can be imposed in such heinous and
barbaric crimes against women," a Bench of Justices Markandeya
Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said in an order.
Under the exisiting provision, dowry death is registered
under Section 304B IPC entailing a maximum punishment of life
imprisonment(minimum seven years) but there is no provision
for capital punishment.
The apex court passed the order while issuing a notice
to convict Thathamsetty Suresh of Andhra Pradesh asking him
why he should not be awarded death sentence for killing his
wife and another convict Rajbir alias Raju as to why the
punishment of of life imprisonment awarded to him by the
sessions court in Rohtak, Haryana, should not be restored.
While in the case of Suresh, the sessions court had
awarded life imprisonment which was confirmed by the High
Court under Section 302 IPC, in the case of Rajbir, the charge
was under Section 304B.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier reduced the
life imprisonment to 10 year. Rajbir`s mother was awarded
two years RI.
However, since Rajbir`s mother was 80 years old, the
apex court ordered her release on bail.