The Supreme Court observed that an accused cannot be discharged for an offense under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code while confirming the charge under Section 304B IPC.
In this case, within a period of about 15 months of marriage, a married woman committed suicide, leaving behind two suicide notes. The complainant/father of the deceased filed an FIR for offenses under Sections 304B, 306, 498A, 406, 506 read with Section 34 IPC and under Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act against the husband and also against the father-in-law and mother-in-law. Later, the mother-in-law and father-in-law of the deceased were discharged by the High Court of the offense under Section 306 IPC while confirming the charges under Section 304B IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act.
Before the Apex court, it was contended that once the charges under Section 304B IPC have been framed, the charge under Section 306 IPC could not be deleted because there were suicide notes of the deceased and there were statements of the witnesses, on perusal of which, the in-laws could not have been discharged of the offense under Section 306 IPC. Relying on Bhupendra vs. State of Madhya Pradesh – (2014) 2 SCC 106, they contended that though in a given case, where charge under Section 306 IPC is framed, a party could be discharged under Section 304B IPC, but not the reverse.
While agreeing with this contention, the bench noted the following observations made in Bhupendra:
“”30. We are, therefore, of the opinion that Section 306 IPC is much broader in its application and takes within its fold one aspect of Section 304B IPC. These two sections are not mutually exclusive. If a conviction for causing suicide is based on Section 304B IPC, it will necessarily attract Section 306 IPC. However, the converse is not true.”
Having heard learned counsel parties, considering the totality of the circumstances and keeping in view the suicide notes as well as the statements of witnesses, we are of the opinion that the accused ought not to have been discharged of the offense under Section 306 IPC, especially when the charges under Section 304B IPC and other related sections had already been framed and confirmed, the bench comprising Justice Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari observed while setting aside the High Court order.