Learned Sessions Judge went wrong in convicting the appellants under section 116 linked with Section 306 IPC. The former is abetment of offence punishable with imprisonment - if offence be not committed. But the crux of the offence under Section 306 itself is abetment. In other words, if there is no abetment there is no question of the offence under Section 306 coming into play. It is inconceivable to have abetment of an abetment. Hence there cannot be an offence under Section 116 read with Section 306 IPC. Therefore, the High Court was correct in altering the conviction from the penalising provisions fastened with the appellants by Sessions Court.
Now, we have to consider whether the High Court was correct in convicting the appellants under Section 116 read with Section 304B IPC. Shri R.S. Cheema, learned senior counsel for the appellants advanced two contentions against it. First is that Section 304B cannot apply to a case of suicide at all, whether it is sequel to cruelty or harassment with the demand for dowry or not. Second is that the concept of abetment of an offence under Section 304-B is inconceivable in the absence of death of a woman within the statutory period mentioned in that provision. In elaborating the first contention learned senior counsel submitted that Section 306 IPC is now intended to cover all cases of suicide in view of Section 113A of the Evidence Act (which was brought in by Act 46 of 1983).
No doubt Section 306 IPC read with Section 113A of the Evidence Act is wide enough to take care of an offence under Section 304B also. But the latter is made a more serious offence by providing a much higher sentence and also by imposing a minimum period of imprisonment as the sentence. In other words, if death occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within 7 years of the marriage as a sequel to the cruelty or harassment inflicted on a woman with demand of dowry, soon before her death, Parliament intended such a case to be treated as a very serious offence punishable even upto imprisonment for life in appropriate cases. It is for the said purpose that such cases are separated from the general category provided under Section 306 IPC (read with Section 113A of the Evidence Act) and made a separate offence.
draw a presumption the other way around as well. Thus, there is dearth of evidence to show that Tejinder Pal Kaur (PW-5) was subjected to cruelty or harassment connected with the demand for dowry, soon before the attempt to commit suicide. When the position is such it is an unnecessary exercise on our part to consider whether Section 116 IPC can ever be linked with the offence under Section 304B IPC. We, therefore, conclude that appellants cannot be convicted under Section 116 IPC either by linking it with Section 306 or with Section 304B. Hence the conviction and sentence passed on them under Section 116 IPC is set aside. We have no reason to interfere with the conviction passed on the appellants under Section 498A IPC. We do confirm the same. We are told that first appellant Satvir Singh (A-1) has undergone the substantial portion of the sentence of imprisonment imposed on him and the remaining appellants have also undergone a long period of imprisonment by now in connection with this case. But we feel that the fine portion of the sentence imposed on the appellants is too insufficient, particularly when such fine was intended to be disbursed