'Life term for dowry death in rare cases only'

'Life term for dowry death in rare cases only'

A bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and H L Dattu passed the judgment while reducing to 10 years the life sentence imposed on G V Siddaramesh, convicted by a sessions court in Karnataka for causing the death of his wife Usha. Under Section 304-B (dowry death) of the IPC, the minimum punishment is seven years but the maximum punishment can go up to life imprisonment.

Citing the judgment of a three-judge bench in the “Hemchand vs State of Haryana” case, the apex court said Section 304-B merely raises a presumption of dowry death and lays down that the minimum sentence should be seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life. “Therefore, awarding the extreme punishment of imprisonment for life should be used in rare cases and not in every case,” it said, citing its observation in the earlier case.

In the present case, the Supreme Court, while altering the sentence, said: “The appellant is a young man and has already undergone six years of imprisonment after being convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court. We are of the view, in the facts and circumstances of the case, that a sentence of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment would meet the ends of justice.”

Usha who got married to Siddaramesh on December 13, 1997, committed suicide by hanging herself on January 17, 1998, within a month. She took the extreme step on account of the mental torture meted out to her by Siddaramesh who was demanding an additional Rs 50,000.

The sessions court convicted Siddaramesh and awarded him life imprisonment. The Karnataka High Court confirmed the sentence.

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