SC quashes its own judgement in dowry death case

SC has set aside its own order passed in a dowry death case in 2008 on the ground that the accused husband and mother-in-law were not heard at the time of quashing their remission of sentence in the case.

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2010, 00:20 AM IST

New Delhi: In a rare departure from
convention, the Supreme Court has set aside its own order
passed in a dowry death case in 2008 on the ground that the
accused husband and mother-in-law were not heard at the time
of quashing their remission of sentence in the case.

It held that the remission rules of Madhya Pradesh
government gave the benefit of remission (reduction in
sentence) for the accused as their sentence was only for seven
years and not for life imprisonment.

A Bench of Justices R V Raveendran and D K Jain set
aside the November 11, 2008, judgement of a Bench headed by
Justice C K Thakker (since retired) in the review petition
filed by the aggrieved mother-in-law Reshma Devi and husband
Jolly Singla who were sentenced to seven years RI for the
dowry death of the latter`s wife Anju Rani.

In a review petition which filed after the original
appeal is dismissed, the apex court rarely modifies its
earlier judgement.

In the instant case, the earlier Bench of the apex court
had quashed the remission of the two accused on the ground
that Madhya Pradesh government`s rule did not provide any
remission of sentence in serious offences like dowry death
case.

Aggrieved by the earlier decision, the accused filed a
review petition on the ground that they were not made parties
in the SLP filed by the deceased`s father and that the apex
court had erroneously held that they were not entitled to
remission for the serious offence of dowry death.

Upholding the review petition, the present apex court
bench said "there is considerable force in both the
contentions. Accused no.2 (mother-in-law) was not a party to
the appeal before this court. But while disposing of the
appeal, this Court directed that if she had been granted the
benefit under the government Order dated 14.8.2002, she also
has to surrender to custody till the period of seven years is
over.

"Obviously as accused no.2 was not a party and as she was
not heard, no observation could have been made in the judgment
of this Court nor any direction could have been given to her
detriment, that too in regard to a matter which was not the
subject matter of the appeal," the apex court said.

Interpreting the state`s remission rules, the present
apex court bench further said the convicts were entitled to
the benefit of remission as they were sentenced only for seven
years. It pointed out that the remission benefits would not
have been applicable to them if they were to serve a life
sentence.

PTI