DOWRY DEATH : SECTION 304-B

The insertion of Section 304-B in IPC as an offence punishable, with imprisonment for a term of seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, is necessitated due to the growing incidents of dowry deaths. 

If the death of a woman is caused by any burns or injury on her body or occurs otherwise and not a death caused under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that she was subjected to cruelty or harassment soon before her death by her husband or any relative of her husband for dowry demand, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death such death shall be called "dowry death" and shall be punished with seven years imprisonment which may extend to imprisonment for life.

 

ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS UNDER SECTION 304-B 


As follows : 
(1) The woman's death caused by burns, injury on her body or otherwise than under normal circumstances;
(2) Such death occurred with seven years of her marriage;
(3) The woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relatives;
(4) Such cruelty or harassment should be for dowry demand;
(5) Soon before her death she should have been subjected to cruelty or harassment. 





The Supreme Court in Ram Badan Sharma v. State of Bihar, 2006 Cr LJ 4070 (SC), observed the three main ingredients of Section 304-B :- 
(i) harassment by the accused in connection with dowry demand;
(ii) that the deceased died; and 
(iii) that, the death is under unnatural circumstances within seven years of marriage. 

The Supreme Court in Satvir Singh v. State of Punjab, 2001 Cr LJ 4625, held that there should be perceptible nexus between death of the deceased and cruelty or harassment caused to her in order to prosecute the accused under Section 304-B. 

The Supreme Court in Arvind Singh v. State of Bihar, AIR 2001 SC 2124, observed that bride-burning and dowry deaths need to be sternly dealt with because they are no doubt a menace to the society but at the same time the Courts should not ignore the fundamental principles of fair trial.


Reference Links:

4. IPC

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