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“Section 304B of Indian Penal Code.

"Dowry Death”

UNDER THE GUIDENCE OF: MR. Prashant Pandey

ROBIN SINGH

BBA-LLB (4th-SEM.)

Roll No.: 31

JIMS SCHOOL OF LAW


Section 304B of Indian Penal Code. "Dowry Death"

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1) Where the death of a lady is caused by any burns or bodily injury or

occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her

marriage and it's shown that soon before her death she was subjected to

cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or

in reference to , any demand for dowry, such death shall be called "dowry
death", and such husband or relative shall be deemed to possess caused her

death. Explanation- For the aim of this sub-section, "dowry" shall have

the same meaning. as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of
1961).

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with

imprisonment for a term which shall not be but seven years but which

may reach imprisonment for all times .]

1
2 kamesh panjiyar vs state of bihar
ESSENTIAL INGRIDIENTS OF DOWRY DEATH

(i) Death must be caused by burns or bodily injury or it must occur otherwise than in normal
circumstances;

(ii) Death must occur within sever years of marriage; and

(iii) It must be shown that soon before her death the women was subjected to cruelty or
harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband.

(iv) Here the dowry shall have the meaning as assigned to it under Section 2 of the Dowry
Prohibition Act, 1961

Another important feature of this section, which can be said to be a departure from the normal
feature of the Code is that a minimum of not less than 7 years imprisonment is prescribed but this
may extend to imprisonment for life. 
Abstract

When a woman enters into a union she has many salubrious expectations. She

would like to a happy married life. She would expect to be a mother someday

and then expect to be mother-in-law,grand-mother and so on. And deserve to

be a dignified status in society. All these are worn out by the cruel hands of

dowry-related deaths.

Dowry deaths is violence by the husband and his family with a motive of

extortion of gifts and other demanded from time to time against a woman. The

unnatural death of recently married woman vital to women’s moment in the

Indian society through the meaning of dowry has changed over time but

harassment and cruelty have remained the same to some extent. Protection of

women from this social evil is the responsibility of the state. Government has

enacted many laws regarding the prohibition of dowry like the Dowry Prohibition

Act, 1961 and so on. On the recommendation of  21st law commission report

certain Penal provisions were inserted. Many educational and awareness

programme was run by the government and non- governmental organisation

with the intent to the lesser down the rate of dowry death. To deal with this

brutal kind of social evil section 304 B Dowry death, Section 498A (Cruelty by

Husband or in-laws i.e. domestic violence) 113 B (Presumption as to dowry

death) was incorporated in Indian penal laws around 1986 to eradicate the

nuisance of dowry death


Introduction

Marriage as a social institution is recognised as a civilized social order where two individuals,
capable of entering into the union, have pledged themselves to the institutional norms and values
and promised to each other a very strong bond to sustain and maintain the marital obligation. It
works as a root for the continuance of the human race. Despite all the promises made at different
occasions of marriage ceremony that the individual incompatibilities and attitudinal differences
for non-adjustment or refusal for adjustment may come to an end, but certain circumstances
occurred where the husbands and his families demand i.e. Dowry which is not fulfilled and
sometimes a perverted sense of revenge occurred.   

Dowry means the transfer of parental property at the marriage of a daughter. Dowry is a payment
of cash or gifts from the bride’s family to the groom’s family upon marriage. It may include
cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, crockery, utensils, car and other household items
that help the newly married couple to start their life journey. Dowry is an ancient custom, and its
existence may well anticipate records of it. Dowries continue to be expected in many parts of the
world and are sometimes used as a condition of the contract that if not accepted then the wedlock
came to an end, particularly in parts of Asia and North Africa. The custom of dowry is deep-
rooted in Indian society over the years, it has turned into a social peril, too entrenched and
devilish to be tackled by reformers and law-makers. Though the efforts for the eradication of the
dowry practise go back to more than a century, it has perhaps become the most alarming social
issue during the last two decades or so as manifested by the growing violence against women
emerging from matters relating to dowry. It is generally understood that dowry, in its original
form, was not based on greed and extortion as it quite often the case today but present a token of
love and regard for the bridegroom. The term Varadakshina, mentioned in the Hindu Shastras,
was a Dakshina of a purely voluntary nature without which the meritorious act of Kanyadaan
would not be complete. The role of the bride’s parents was to provide security and compensation
for inheritance rights to the daughter in order to enable her to lead a dignified and harmonious
relationship with her husband and his family.

Marriages are made in heaven indeed, but mother-in-law, sister-in-law, husband and other
relatives are being actively involved in the dissolution of marriage for the lust of dowry. Dowry
death, murder-suicide, and bride burning are burning symptoms of peculiar social ailment and
are unfortunate development of our society. During last few decades India has witnessed the dark
evils of the dowry system in a more acute form in almost all parts of the country since it is
practised by almost every section of society; irrespective of religion, caste or creed to which they
belong. It is almost a matter of day-to-day occurrence that not only married women are harassed
humiliated, beaten and forced to commit suicide and ill-treated but thousands are even burnt to
death because parents are unable to meet dowry demands.

In India, the dowry system puts a great financial burden on the bride’s family. The law-makers,

taking the note of seriousness and consequence of the problem legislative measures to plug the

loopholes in the law as well as to enact new provisions so as to make the law rational and

effective. The Dowry Prohibition Act, the first national legislation to deal with the social evil of

dowry, was passed in 1961. The object of this act is to prohibit giving and taking of dowry. The
act lays down a number of preventive and punitive provisions but, as could be foreshadowing,

the objectives have not been achieved.  Though the dowry problem as such may not be the

appropriate target of criminal law, the violence connected with a dowry, sometimes fatal, is

certainly within the functional domain of criminal law. As a result of speedy rate of dowry-

related deaths and failure of dowry legislation, which results in certain substantial and procedural

changes in law criminal law as Criminal Law Amendment Acts, 1983 and 1986. In Indian Penal

Code, two new offences have been created under section 304-B and 498-A. The offence  under

section 304-B called as the Dowry death whereas section 498-A called as Husband or relative of

husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty, Code of Criminal Procedure includes section 174

and 176 deals with the investigations and inquiries into the causes of unnatural deaths by police

and magistrate respectively and in Indian Evidence act new section 113-B called as presumption

in cases of dowry death that the person who is shown to have subjected the woman to cruelty or

harassment soon before her death

Despite the changes in Indian Criminal law reflects serious efforts by legislators to put an end to
dowry-related crimes, and although they have been in effect for many years now, they have been
largely criticised as being ineffective. While the laws give great powers, they are not effectively
enforced by the police or by courts[1]. It takes a lot of time for a case to get it listed in the court
and the husband and families acquitted even for murder because women and their families
cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There is a criticism of dowry related provisions in India
are often misused, particularly section 498-A of IPC  because of mechanical arrest by the police.
In the case of Preeti gupta & anr. V. State of Jharkhand & anr.[2] Section 498-A was
challenged and supreme court regrets about the possible misuse of anti-dowry laws and
recommend a detail investigation.

Enactment of legislation related to dowry

The Dowry prohibition act, 1961

The first national legislation related to dowry was enacted as the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
The act lays down a certain number of preventive and punitive provisions but, as could be
anticipated, the objectives have not been achieved. The failure is not primarily due to a few
defects in law but on the part of government also regarding its enforcement but because of the
fact that the dowry practise is too well-entrenched among all the cross-sections of the society.
The lack of enforcement of government officials is that no action is taken on registered cases as
well as people are not aware of the legislation. Though the legislation and judiciary provide
continue support still the situation not changed.

In the year 1961 dowry prohibition act was amended twice to widen the meaning of term
“dowry” and enhancement of punishment for the various violations of the provisions of the act.
Section 2 of the act states that any property or valuable security from one side to another either
given or agreed to be given in future directly or indirectly in connection of marriage amounts to
dowry. The expression used in the original Act was “as consideration for the marriage of such
parties” was interpreted by the court to give a narrow meaning of the term “dowry”. In Inder
Sain v. State[3], it was held that “consideration” was restricted to motive or reason,
compensation or reward to marriage and would not, therefore, include any property demanded or
given subsequent to marriage. The expression “any time after the marriage” has been brought to
replace “after marriage” to eliminate a restricted interpretation of the statute. The concepts of gift
in Indian marriages are only allowed which are customary in nature, which does not create a
financial burden on a family. A list of such presents, along with value and description, is to be
prepared and must be signed by the bride and bridegroom. 

 In case of Sanjay Kumar Jain v. State of Delhi[4] it was said that “The dowry system is a big
slur and curse on our society, democracy and the country. It is incomprehensible how such
unfortunate and condemnable instances of dowry deaths are frequently occurring in our society.
All efforts must be made to combat and curb the increasing menace of dowry death. The
legislature was seriously concerned about this unfortunate reality of our society and to curb
combat the increasing menace of dowry deaths with a firm hand the Dowry Prohibition Act,
1961 was enacted. 

Some stringent penal provisions have been enacted or amended from time to time to stop from
taking and demanding dowry. Under section 3 of the act giving and taking of dowry is
punishable with a minimum term of 5 years and a fine of Rs 15,000 or value of dowry whichever
more. Similarly demanding of dowry is also punishable under section 4 for the term of six
months to five years and fine up to Rs 15,000. After a couple of amendment the act tries to curb
this social menace. Section 7 provides persons and agencies who may initiate the proceedings (a)
police (b) aggrieved person (c) parents and relatives (d) any recognised welfare institution or
organisation Section 8 tries to make act harsher by adding offences under the purview of non-
bailable and cognizable. Further section 8-A states that burden of proof lies on person who
denies offence. 

 A common rehearse in marriages are that articles and ornaments of bride are immediately taken
into possession by husband or his family can transferred to woman or her heirs by virtue of
section 6 with period of three months failing of such act will amount to imprisonment from six
months to two years and fine from five to ten thousand rupees. Supreme Court in case
of Pratibha Rani v. Suraj Kumar[5] held that taking possession of bride articles will amount to
criminal breach of trust punishable under section 405 of penal code.

A joint parliamentary committee examining the working of the act in 1982 and gave two reasons
for abject failure of act is defective definition of dowry and lack of enforcement instrumentality.
Though, definition of dowry has been amended and enforcement provision has been actively
worked after the committee’s report of 1982.  2

Indian Penal Code, 1860

2
Satbir singh vs state of Haryana 16 september 2005
The appropriate target of criminal law not only limited to dowry problems but the violence
connected with dowry also comes under the purview of criminal law. Failure of dowry
legislation and increase in rate of dowry death led to the Criminal amendment in the year 1983
and 1986 by adding section 304-B and 498-A. In brief, we can say that there are four situations
where married woman is subjected to cruelty and harassment leading to the commission of an
offence. Firstly, Dowry Death-Section 304-B IPC:- The offence under section 304-B defines
“Dowry Death” is the death caused to woman by burns or bodily injury, or under unnatural
circumstances within seven years of her marriage ,where it is shown that she was harassed or put
to cruelty by husband or his relatives in relation of dowry the punishable with a term of seven
years to life imprisonment. The period of seven years would be considered as cut period for
reason that seven steps taken by bride and bride groom of the sacred nuptial fire for completion
of marriage where one step is considered as one year. Supreme Court in the case of state of
Punjab v. Iqbal  Singh[6]  explained the period of seven  years as it is considered to be
turbulent one after which the legislature assumed that the couple would have settled down in
life.  

The term dowry has not been defined in the Indian Penal Code, whereas section 304-B
explanation affirmed that dowry shall have the same meaning as defined in section 2(1) oof the
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

In case of Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana[7]  the Apex Court held that the prosecution is able
to establish the ingredients of section 304-B, IPC the burden of proof of innocence shifts on
defence. The provisions under section 304B,IPC are more stringent than that provided under
section 498A of the Penal Code . The offence is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by a court
of Sessions.

In case of Mustafa Shahadal Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra states that the language used
under section 304-B “Soon before death” means no definite period has been mentioned under the
Penal Code as well as under section 113-B of Indian Evidence Act. Accordingly, term “Soon
before death” determined by Courts depending upon the facts & circumstances of case. However
it would imply that interval should not be much between the cruelty or harassment concerned
and death in question. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale
enough not to disturb the mental equilibrium of the woman concerned, it would be of no
consequence.

To curb the practice of dowry death there is an urgent need to take punitive and preventive
measures with iron hands. At the same time law must be made more effective and police should
be more watchful with respect to these offences. Supreme Court always try to take a note of
dowry abuse which results in dowry death. So, in the case of Rajbir v. State of Haryana[8] apex
court directed to registrar generals of all high courts to circulate to all trial courts add section
302, IPC to charge of section 304B IPC so that death sentences could be imposed on heinous and
barbaric crimes and stated that dowry death cases to be charged both under section 302 and 304B
of IPC. After the Apex Court decision, a person convicted of dowry death would be charged
under section 302 as well as section 304-B of IPC.

Secondly, Cruelty on woman by Husband or Relatives-Section 498A, IPC: – When her


husband or his family member subjects the woman to cruelty or harassment. Cruelty by his
husband or relatives has been made punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine u/s
498-A. The word cruelty means both mental and physical torture. It consists of any wilful
conduct likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause danger to her life, limb or
health, mental or physical or harassment to coerce her or any other person by making an uIn case
of Vijeta Gajra v. State of NCT Delhi[9]  it was held that foster sister is not “Relative” within
the meaning of section 498A, IPC to fix liability for causing cruelty against the complainant. 

Section 498A, IPC and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act do not attract double jeopardy. In
case of Inder Raj Malik v. Sunita Malik[10], the Delhi High Court held that a person convicted
both under section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and section 498A of Indian Penal code does not
come under the ambit of double jeopardy under article 20(2) of Indian Constitution. The
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prohibition of Dowry Prohibition act and Indian Penal Code distinguishes from each other as in
earlier enactment on demand of dowry is punishable, cruelty is not necessary where in later
enactment presence of cruelty is a necessary element for section 498A of Indian Penal Code. The
Delhi High Court has taken a pragmatic approach in the impugned case and said that the word
‘cruelty’ is well defined.

3
Arnesh kumar case 2july 2014
nlawful demand for dowries such as property or any goods.

In the case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar[11] the petitioner approached the Supreme
Court by way of special leave petition for grant of anticipatory bail in which he was unsuccessful
earlier. Section 498A of IPC was enacted with avowed object to combat the menace of
harassment to a woman by husband and his near relatives. Supreme Court said that it is a fact
that section 498A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride
amongst the provision that is used as a weapon rather than shields by disgruntled wives, the
simple way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a
quiet number of cases old and bed-ridden fathers and mothers of husband, their sister living
abroad who never meet with each other will also get arrested so the Apex Court gave following
directions before arresting under section 498A of IPC:-

1. State government to instruct Police not to arrest without a warrant unless feels
necessity and fulfilments of all parameters laid under section 41 of Cr.PC
2. All Police officer shall provide with a check list containing specified sub-clauses
under section 41(1)(b)(ii) and must be filed and furnish the reason and material which
necessitated the arrest.
3. The magistrate while authorising the detention of the accused shall peruse the report
furnished by the police and after recording its satisfaction may authorize detention.
4. The decision not to arrest was forwarded to magistrate within two weeks from the date
of institution of the case with a copy that arrests not made under offence referred.
5. When, such person, at any time, fails to comply with terms of notice or unwilling to
identify himself then the police may arrest for offence mentioned in the notice.

Thirdly, Intentional Death of women –Section 302 IPC: – If a person intentionally causes
woman death then punishable under section 302 IPC.
Fourthly, Abetment of Suicide of Woman- Section 306 IPC:- If husband and his relatives
create a situation which led to the suicide of woman within seven years of marriage fall within
the ambit of section 306.
PLAGIARISM REPORT Content Checked For Plagiarism:

When a woman enters into a union she has many salubrious expectations. She would like to a
happy married life. She would expect to be a mother someday and then expect to be mother-in-
law,grand-mother and so on. And deserve to be a dignified status in society. All these are worn
out by the cruel hands of dowry-related deaths. Dowry deaths is violence by the husband and his
family with a motive of extortion of gifts and other demanded from time to time against a
woman. The unnatural death of recently married woman vital to women’s moment in the Indian
society through the meaning of dowry has changed over time but harassment and cruelty have
remained the same to some extent. Protection of women from this social evil is the responsibility
of the state. Government has enacted many laws regarding the prohibition of dowry like the
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and so on. On the recommendation of 21st law commission report
certain Penal provisions were inserted. Many educational and awareness programme was run by
the government and non- governmental organisation with the intent to the lesser down the rate of
dowry death. To deal with this brutal kind of social evil section 304 B Dowry death, Section
498A (Cruelty by Husband or in-laws i.e. domestic violence) 113 B (Presumption as to
dowry death) was incorporated in Indian penal laws around 1986 to eradicate the nuisance of
dowry death

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