The Law Commission has recommended to the government not to prescribe capital punishment in dowry death cases.
In a report submitted to Law Minister HR Bhardwaj on Wednesday, Commission’s Chairman Justice AR Lakshmanan, however, favoured increasing the minimum sentence from seven years to 10 years in such cases under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code. The Commission’s recommendations are not binding on the Centre.
The Commission said, “The offence of murder is not the same thing as the offence of dowry deaths. Though death of bride may be a common element in both the offences, the absence of direct connection between the husband and the death of wife distinguished the dowry death from the offence of murder.”
However, the Commission said where a case of dowry death also fell within the ambit of the offence of murder, awarding death sentence might be legally permissible.
Section 304-B has been in force since 1986 but incidents of dowry deaths did not show any significant decline leading to demands for capital punishment for dowry death. It provides for a minimum seven-year imprisonment, which may extend to life imprisonment in deserving cases.
The Commission found a lot of misgivings and misapprehension associated with the subject. “Dowry death is quite often confused with the offence of murder.
NCW, which wanted death penalty in extreme cases, welcomed the increase of minimum sentence for dowry death from seven to 10 years.
“We are happy that the Commission has accepted our plea for enhancement of minimum punishment,” NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas told HT. She said “We have faith in the judiciary and we believe that in cases of extreme brutality, courts would give proper punishment to culprits.”