Difference between Section 304-B and 498-A of the IPC are as follows:
Section 304-B deals with dowry death being subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry. But, the terms has not been defined in Section 304-B. The explanation to Section 498- A gives the meaning of cruelty and as given in explanation ‘cruelty’ by itself amounts to an offence and is permissible.
Though it is true that cruelty is a common essential to Section 304-B and Section 498- A, the provisions deal with two distinct offences. Under Section 304- B, it is the ‘dowry death’ that is punishable and such death should have occurred within seven years of the marriage. No such period is mentioned in Section 498-A and the husband or his relative would be liable for subjecting the woman to ‘cruelty’ any time after the marriage.
Further, a person charged and acquitted under Section 304-B can be convicted under Section 498-A without charge being there, if such a case is made out. But from the point of view of practice and procedure and to avoid technical defects, it is necessary in such cases to frame charges under both the sections and if the case is established, they can be convicted under both the sections but no separate sentence need be awarded under Section 498-A in view of the substantive sentence being awarded for the major offence under Section 304-B, IPC.