Court cannot convert the conviction for offence punishable under Section 302 IPC to one under Section 304B or 498A IPC

Dinesh Kumar & Ors vs State Nct Of Delhi

Delhi HC

14/08/2014

CRL.A. 210/2013

About/from the judgment:

The serious consequence which may ensue to the accused in such a situation can be limned through an illustration: If a bride was murdered within seven years of her marriage and there was evidence to show that either on the previous day or a couple of days earlier she was subjected to harassment by her husband with demand for dowry, such husband would be guilty of the offence on the language of Section 304-B IPC read with Section 113-B of the Evidence Act. But if the murder of his wife was actually committed either by a dacoit or by a militant in a terrorist act the husband can lead evidence to show that he had no hand in her death at all. If he succeeds in discharging the burden of proof he is not liable to be convicted under Section 304-B IPC. But if the husband is charged only under Section 302 IPC he has no burden to prove that his wife was murdered like that as he can have his traditional defence that the prosecution has failed to prove the charge of murder against him and claim an order of acquittal.

 

The above illustration would amplify the gravity of the consequence befalling an accused if he was only asked to defend a charge under Section 302 IPC and was alternatively convicted under Section 304-B IPC without any notice to him, because he is deprived of the opportunity to disprove the burden cast on him by law.

 

In such a situation, if the trial court finds that the prosecution has failed to make out the case under Section 302 IPC, but the offence under Section 304-B IPC has been made out, the court has to call upon the accused to enter on his defence in respect of the said offence. Without affording such an opportunity to the accused, a conviction under Section 304- B IPC would lead to real and serious miscarriage of justice. Even if no such count was included in the charge, when the court affords him an opportunity to discharge his burden by putting him to notice regarding the prima facie view of the court that he is liable to be convicted under Section 304-B IPC, unless he succeeds in disproving the presumption, it is possible for the court to enter upon a conviction of the said offence in the event of his failure to disprove the presumption."

 

Thus Sections 304B or 498A IPC not being minor offences of Section 302 IPC, in the absence of an appeal by the complainant or the State, it is beyond the jurisdiction of this Court to convert the conviction for offence punishable under Section 302 IPC to one under Section 304B or 498A IPC.

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