Dowry death under IPC


 Dowry death is the criminal offence. Dowry death is specifically mentioned under Indian Penal Code section 304(b). In this women are torture for the dowry by her or his parents or the relatives. Many of the women die due to this offence of dowry against woman. The dowry is not fixed, it could be anything like gold, cash, goods, movable or immovable property.

For the offence of dowry death, there is also punishment which is under section 304(b) of the IPC, this is given to those person who practice this offence of dowry.



According to the definition of dowry death given in IPC section 304-b(1), it says that any woman death by cause of burns or bodily injury or death without any natural circumstances within the seven year of her marriage and it should be shown that soon before the death, she was under any cruelty or harassment by her husband and its relatives or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called dowry death, and husband and its relative are caused for her death.


There are some conditions to recognize the dowry death:-

  • In dowry death, the death shall be caused by burns or bodily injury or it is in unnatural circumstance.
  • Death must occur within the seven year of her marriage.
  • It shows that soon before her death, the subject of cruelty or harassment done by her husband or its relatives
  • Or cruelty and harassment was done with the connection of any demand for dowry.


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In section 304-b(2) tells about the punishment of dowry death, whoever commit this offence of dowry death shall be liable for the seven year rigorous imprisonment.

There is a feature of changing or converting the punishment of seven years imprisonment into life imprisonment.

In the case of Durga prasad V. State of M.P (2010) III cri. L.J. 3419 (S.C.).

The accused was alleged to have driven her wife to commit suicide on subject to cruelty by her husband. He was prosecuted for the demand for dowry with the connection of harassment and cruelty. The judgement of high court convicted the accused and it was held by the supreme court that cruelty and harassment soon before the death must be proved in relation to demanded of dowry. So in this case mother and brother of the deceased make a bald statement. And no other evidence was proved against the accused. Prosecution was failed to fulfill the requirement of section 304-b IPC and 113-b of evidence act. Therefore the accused was acquitted.


In the case of Pathan Hussain Basha V. State of A.P., related to dowry death. The evidence of father or deceased and other witnesses shows that accused husband has demanded for dowry and harassed and beaten the deceased. Deceased die due to the asphyxia as a result of hanging. Death of the wife took place after some months of the marriage. Accused doesn’t have evidence to clarify how death had taken place. It was held that silence of the accused could not be evaluated to discharge under section 113-b of evidence act. Hence accused was liable for conviction. It was further held that on considering the age of accused, attending circumstance and fact that accused had been in jail for considerable period, sentence of life imprisonment was reduced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment

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The demand of dowry means bridegroom was demanding something from the bride side. It demands the dowry at the time of marriage or after the marriage. Due to this demand for dowry, it is prohibited under the INDIAN PENAL CODE or DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961.

According to dowry prohibition act, section 2 define the dowry which means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given or taken either by directly or indirectly; by one party to a marriage to the other party to a marriage, or by the parents of either party to a marriage; at or before the marriage or after the marriage at any time is prohibited

Section 3 of dowry prohibition act tells about the penalty for giving or taking of dowry. In section 3(1) if any one, after the commencement of this act, gives or takes or abets for giving and taking dowry, he shall be punishable for at-least five years of imprisonment and with fine which shall be fifteen thousand rupees.

In section 3(2), nothing in sub section (1) shall apply to or in relation, which are given in present time of marriage to the bride, which is without having any demand, Or which are given to bridegroom at the present time of marriage, which is without having any demand thereof.

Section 498-A of IPC says about the cruelty by husband or relatives of husband. When a husband or relative of husband of woman, subject to cruelty against woman. They shall be punishable for the three years and also be liable for the fine.

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In case of Inder Raj Malik V. Mrs. Sumita Malik, it was contended that the section is same as article 14 and article 20(2) of the constitution. In this case there is situation that dowry prohibition act, section 4 and IPC section 498-A are the double jeopardy. But the high court says that both sections are not double jeopardy. Section 4 of dowry prohibition act is different from the section 498-A IPC. Section 4 says for the dowry demand whereas section 498-A for the cruelty by her husband and husband relatives.


 The dowry death is brutal offence against the woman. It is physical or mental harm to the woman. Many times this offence leads to the suicide or death of the woman due to the cruelty and harassment by the husband and his relatives.

The demand of dowry is not only before the marriage but the groom and his relatives can demand the dowry even after the marriage from the bride parents to give the demanded thing, otherwise her husband and relative will torture or harass the woman. Due to all this offence related to dowry death and cruelty of woman from the husband or husband relative side, there is protection laws for women in section 304-B and 498-A of IPC that gives the justice to the victim women.
































Author: Manish Kumar,
Delhi Metropolitan Education( Affiliated to GGSIPU) and 2nd year(BALLB)

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