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Dowry death is the most heinous crime among dowry related crimes. Dowry death arises as a result of dowry demands. This is a huge problem for Indian society. Complete provisions have been made under the Indian Penal Code to deal with this macabre problem. Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code deals with dowry death.

The definition of dowry is not given under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, but the dowry which is defined in the Indian Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 will be considered under this section. This is stated in the case of State of Andhra Pradesh vs Rajagopal Asawa AIR 2004 SC 1933.

Further, important information is being given regarding the crime of dowry death through this article.




'Where a woman is killed by some bodily or bodily harm or otherwise dies under normal circumstances within 7 years of her marriage and it is shown that her husband or her husband immediately before her death had brutalized or harassed her in relation to any demand for dowry, such death would be called dowry death and such husband or Relatives shall be deemed to have caused her death. "


·        In 1986 a new offence known as dowry death was inserted in the Indian Penal Code by the Virtue of Section 304-B. The provisions Under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code are more stringent than provided under Section 498A of Indian Penal code. The offence under Section 304-B is cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable and triable by Court of Session.

·        This section is giving protection to a woman, who dies due to any physical injury or damage within a period of 7 years from the date of marriage.


·        As a result of the demand for dowry, such women are crucified, who are unable to give dowry to the greedy person. Many women die due to illness or commit self-immolation. Such incidents keep happening in relation to women. An attempt has been made to curb similar results through this section.


·        Whoever commits death due to dowry shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to life imprisonment.


·        Presumed as dowry killing- As per Indian Evidence Act Sec 113B, The question is whether a person is committed to the dowry murder of a woman and it is shown that soon before his death was subjected by such a person to such female cruelty or harassment for or dowry In relation to any demand for, the court shall infer that such a person had caused dowry death.

Explanation: For the purposes of this section, "dowry killing" shall have the      same meaning as in section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
 For the purposes of this sub-section, "dowry" shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act,1961 (28 of 1961).




Under Section 304B, two things are primarily required to constitute the crime of dowry death.

1 dowry demand to be made.

2 For this demand, just before the death of the woman, she had been tortured by     her husband or relatives.


·        When both these things are proved in the context of any accused, then dowry is considered to be guilty for the crime of death. On the basis of proving both these things, the accused are punished under the heinous crime like dowry death.


·        Even if there is no evidence about the demand for dowry in any case, it cannot be declared under Section 304B. This is stated in the case of State of Uttar Pradesh vs Mahesh Chandra Pandey AIR 2000 SC 3631.




Under section 304-B(2) of the Indian Penal Code, Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.


Relevant Case laws in respect of Sec 304B

1.     Hans Raj vs State of Punjab

In this case Supreme court held that the term circumstances apparently means not the natural death.


2.     Rameshwardas vs State of Punjab(2008 Crm. L.J 14000 SC)

In this Supreme Court held that pregnant women would not commit suicide unless relationship with her husband comes to such a pass that she would compelled to do so. Accused liable to be convicted on failure to prove his defence.




The following facts are considered necessary by the Supreme Court for dowry death in the given cases:

1.    In the case of Baksisram v. State of Punjab AIR 2013 SC 1484.

·        Evidence of unnatural death

·        Evidence of harassment for dowry demand just before death.


2.     In the case of Kashmir Kaur v. State of Punjab AIR 2013 AC 1039The Supreme Court has stated the essentials for the construction of dowry death:-

·        To demand dowry to harass the deceased just before death.

·        The death of the deceased due to burns or any physical damage in unnatural conditions.

·        Such death to occur within 7 years of marriage.

·        To treat the deceased with cruelty or to be harassed by relatives and relatives of the deceased himself.

·        All this should be done with the demand for dowry.

·        To be tortured or harassed just before death.

Ratio of the case:  Reminding once again, the subject of murder is not being discussed, but here the issue of dowry death is being discussed. Such death which occurs under the following circumstances mentioned above, only then crime of 304 B will occur.

As far as just before death is concerned, the conduct of cruelty has to be a direct relationship between death and not much gaps between the two. There should be such a reasonable gap between cruelty and death that it can be assumed that death has occurred as a result of cruelty.

The same view has been given by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Mustafa Shahdal Sheikh v. State of Maharashtra.



3.     In the case of Pawan Kumar v. State of Haryana AIR 1995 SC 774It was held that there is no need to have any agreement in respect of the demand for dowry to constitute dowry death offense.



1.     This type of crime can be contemplated only after contemplating the events that occur before dowry death. It has also been determined by the Supreme Court in the case of M. Srinivasulu v. State of Andhra Pradesh that the relation between dowry demand death was necessary to consider a case within the purview of Section 304B. The death is expected to result in a demand for dowry. Torturing the wife a few days before the incident also comes under the purview of Section 304B.


2.     In the case of Mrs. Shanti and others vs. State of Haryana AIR 1991 SC 1226, it has been determined that the accused demands dowry from the father and brother of the deceased and treated the wife mercilessly, the deceased dies within 7 years of marriage. To go and to cremate the deceased in a hurry without informing the deceased's parents, are all signs of unnatural death. Constitutes an offense under section 304B.


3.     The case of State of Karnataka v. MV Manjunath, In this case the wife died within 6 months of marriage. Before death she was harassed for dowry. This was confirmed by the testimony of the deceased's brother, it was considered a dowry murder.


4.     Rambadan Sharma v. State of Bihar is a good example on this subject. The case is that the accused continued to demand dowry from the deceased. The deceased was harassed for dowry. He was also treated inhumanly. She was beaten from time to time. In the end she was poisoned which led to her death.


5.     The case of Pawan Kumar vs. State of Haryana, In this case, it has been postulated by the Supreme Court that in the case of dowry death, agreement for dowry is not necessary. Constantly demanding television and scooters from the deceased and his father comes under the purview of Dahej.



6.     There is no evidence regarding the demand for dowry. In such circumstances the case can also be dismissed. In Dheeraj Kumari v. State of Haryana, the conviction under Section 304B was not considered because there was a lack of evidence to torture or harass the deceased on demand of dowry just before death.


7.     It is worth noting that the evidence of dowry demand is very important in this case. The Supreme Court has highlighted the essential element of section 304B in the case of State of Himachal Pradesh v. Nikkuram AIR 1995 SC 67. In it, Rama, the husband of a deceased Roshni, his mother and sister Kamala Devi were accused of Roshni's death dowry death. It was said that Roshni was ruthlessly treated for dowry demands. She was hurt by a sickle. Anant Roshni caused poisoning and caused death.


The Supreme Court did not consider the offense to be within the purview of Section 304B as neither Roshni's body was inflicted by the person who passed the death nor was there any evidence to behave ruthlessly due to dowry.


8.     Sarojini v. State of Madhya Pradesh is an important case in which the body of the deceased was found in a fully burnt state in the store room of his house in Sasural. Her tongue and eyes came out and blood was seeping from the mouth. On the basis of post mortem report and medical report and other evidence presented, the Supreme Court considered the case of murder and not of suicide.


9.     Similarly, in the case of Harbans Lal v. State of Haryana, the husband and mother-in-law burnt and killed the daughter-in-law with a 9-month-old infant because she was distressed by not getting enough property in dowry. The Supreme Court also considered him a murder case.


10.   In the case of K Prema S. Rao v. Mai Srinivasa Rao, it was stated that where the father had given some land to his daughter at the time of marriage, dowry is not a demand for the accused to ask the wife to transfer the land to his name. Justice cannot be done under 304B even in such cases.


Oct 08, 2015, 05:16 AM

In the 1980s, there was a flood of such cases in the capital Delhi, when stoves exploded on daughters-in-law while cooking and they burned and died. People took to the streets against it, finally from November 19, 1986, Section 304B was added to the Indian Penal Code, Section 498A and Sec 113B Indian Evidence Act were added that if the secret of a married woman in seven years of marriage reveals and death occurs under such circumstances, action will be taken assuming it is not a natural death.


Section 304B defines dowry killing. According to this provision added in Indian Penal Code 1860 in 1986, If in seven years of marriage, a woman dies of burns or any other type of physical injury and it is shown that before her death, her husband or husband's family did cruelty or harassment was done with any demand for dowry, it would be considered dowry murder. In this, a minimum sentence of seven years and maximum life sentence can be given.


The Supreme Court upheld the sentence given for conviction of dowry murder under 304B, considering the statement on death row as an important basis and factor. While delivering the judgment in the case of Sandeep and others Vs State of Haryana on 26 May 2015, Judge Justice A.K. Sikri and Judge Justice Uday Umesh Lalit ruled that if the statements given on the deathbed contained completely contradictory facts, then in that case the statement could be considered contradictory. In the presented case, Ms. Sharmila, in a burnt condition in the Dadri police station area of ​​Haryana, told the police, among other things, that at 9 pm on November 1, 2006, her husband-in-law, father-in-law beat her with slaps and punches.

The next day at 8.30 am, the mother-in-law sprinkled soaked oil and the husband took out the match and set it on fire. Everyone ran away at her noise. Neighbours rushed to the hospital. On November 3, he gave a statement in front of the Judicial Magistrate in 85% burn condition, in which some more things were said, repeating what was said earlier. After her death, the accused were arrested under 304 B and 498 A  and prosecuted.


The lower court acquitted the father-in-law, but sentenced the husband and mother-in-law to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000. The Punjab Haryana High Court upheld the defect but reduced the sentence to 10 years imprisonment and fine. The convicts, while appealing to the Supreme Court, argued that both the statements given on the death row do not match each other and it is impossible for a woman to make statements in the 85 to 90 percent burn condition. A two-judge bench referred to the importance of the statement made on Mr Matsyaiah in 1992 by the decision of Kud Bala Subrahmanyam and the State of Andhra Pradesh-


The statement of the person lying on the mortuary has special significance. In such a time of grief, it is not possible that a dying person will lie. The statement on the deathbed is of the utmost importance, an evidence that came out of the victim's mouth just before death. The statement of the victim and the statements of the witnesses after passing through the courtroom becomes a very important and reliable evidence. The court has also decided that if there is more than one prenuptial statement in a case, the court has to see whether the various statements are complementary to each other.


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