In India, Marriage is an indissoluble bond of a boy and girl, it is considered as the most beautiful part of life because they can make a family planning for future generations after all it also includes some evils like dowry.
The dowry is a transfer of money and expensive material gifts such as a car, jewelry, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding crockery, and other household items.
The legal definition of dowry is the demand for valuable security and property by the bride’s family in nexus with the marriage.
This made a heavy financial burden on the bride’s family especially those who are poor and this makes it leads to crime against women including both physical and mental.
Dowry is prevailing in India from the colonial period and British period also, it is mandatory to solemnization of marriage at that time and after the independence of our country, several laws relating to prohibiting dowry were established that is Dowry prohibition act 1961. But After this law, the dowry does not end and some related offenses are recorded on a very large scale such as exploitation of women in name of dowry and murder of women by the reason of not giving dowry to groom’s family.
In 1986, new offenses that is section 304 B (Dowry Death) can be penalized in the Indian penal code 1860, and it can be more strict than section 498 A of the Indian penal code (Cruelty).
Section 304 B of IPC
In a general sense, According to this section that if any women within seven years of their marriage causing death by burns or bodily injury under normal circumstances and it is shown that soon before her death she was subject to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with demand of dowry.
Such death of women shall be called dowry death and in such case, that husband or relative of the husband shall be deemed to have caused her death.
Ingredient of this section:
- The death of a woman by burns or bodily injury and such death was caused otherwise than under normal circumstances.
- The death must be caused under 7 years of her marriage.
- She must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment soon before death by a husband or by relatives of her husband.
- Such cruelty or harassment on girls is caused in the connection of dowry.
If these all ingredients are fulfilled in the accused act then he or she will be punished under 304 B of Indian Penal Code.
Explanation: The definition of dowry under this section is the same as the definition given under section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 which says, that any property or valuable security giving or demand by one party to another in connection to the marriage except ceremonies and birth of the child expenses.
Illustration; if A, was the husband of B, his wife A newly wedded couple, After some months of the marriage, A can repeatedly torture her wife to fulfill their demand of dowry, one day A bitten B mercilessly and B died on the spot in their house under normal circumstances So, It is the clear case of dowry death here A is punishable under 304B of IPC.
Whoever commits dowry death of her wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which is not less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life under the discretion of the court.
Nature of the offense: Cognizable – Non-bailable – Triable by a court of the session – Non-compoundable.
Presumption of Dowry Death
According to section 113B of Indian evidence Act, if dowry death case comes before the court, the court will presume it as dowry death when the prosecution can prove the basic ingredient in court that the death caused by burns or bodily injury and such damage is connected with the demand of dowry and her death in abnormal circumstances by her husband or relatives of her husband.
- Vadde Rama Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh AIR 1990: In this case, Andhra Pradesh High court held that Section 304 B of IPC, falls on accused, The court would be deemed to have liable if her wife would die under abnormal circumstances within seven years of her marriage by husband or relatives of her husband.
- Pathan Hussain Basha v. State of Andhra Pradesh AIR 2012: The court held that if in case the wife is dead in their matrimonial home and before death, they file a case of demand of dowry against her husband or relative then the death falls under this section and court shall be deemed to presume dowry death.
- Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 2001: in this case, it was held that the prosecution has the first duty to the burden of proof that her death has resulted in demand for dowry and there is harassment or bullying in connection of dowry soon before death. And, according to section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, there is an exception that the birth of child expenses or ceremonies expenses are not included in dowry.
- Prem Singh v. the State of Haryana: The deceased Sumitra was married to Prem Singh, she faced a repeated demand for dowry as stated by the Sumitra’s parents and after she gave birth to a male child, they expected such demands to be stopped. Although, deceased parents fulfilled some demands of Prem Singh he was still not satisfied. Sumitra had died due to burn injuries within seven years of her marriage and there was also evidence of demand for dowry. Prem Singh’s mother was acquitted as no evidence was found against her as she also lived separately. According to Prem Singh, his wife died due to consuming poison but that was not supported by medical evidence. So, the accused was convicted under section 304B of the Indian Penal Code.
The dowry is prohibited in India but in Modern times also, the dowry practices are not stopped, people voluntarily take participation in dowry dealings during marriages and even bride parents also gave dowry by their own wish except in poor families, If we try to stop the dowry practices then I started changing the thinking of my own and our future generation.
Dowry is one of the biggest reasons that offenses against women are increased day by day because the hunger of money can blind anyone, so if I trying to stop giving dowry in any form even, I have the capacity to give that is a gift like cars, property, money, etc.
Author: RAHUL SHARMA,
Ideal Institute of Management and Technology affiliated to GGSIPU/ 2nd Year/ Law Student