Report No. 202
1.5 Culpable homicides and varied punishments.
All homicides are not murders, warranting capital punishment. There may be culpable homicide not amounting to murder, causing death by rash and negligence and death as a result of causing grievous hurt. Different punishments/sentences have been provided for different types of homicide, depending upon the nature and gravity of an offence in a given case.
The tenets of penology demands that punishment must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence, pragmatic and adequately deterrent, having due regard to its overall implications from all relevant angles, social, political and economic etc. The question relating to the adequacy or otherwise of the punishment for dowry death may, therefore, have to be considered in this backdrop. The punishment for the offence of dowry death is imprisonment for not less than seven years that may extend to life imprisonment.
Now the question is whether capital sentence be added to it as dowry deaths are certainly most abhorrent. If we carefully examine the provision of Section 304B, we will note that the offence there under is in a way fiction of law, whereby the offence of dowry death is deemed to have been committed if certain set of conditions are satisfied in a given case. These conditions are four in number, namely;
(i) There is a death of a women caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances,
(ii) The death of the woman has taken place within seven years of her marriage,
(iii) Soon before her death, the woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband,
(iv) Such cruelty or harassment has been for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry.