Dowry Death

Awaking of this collective consciousness is the need of the day. Change of heart and attitude is needed. If men were to regain their harmony with others and replaced hatred, greed, selfishness, and anger by mutual love, affection, belief, and understanding, and if women were to receive education and become economically independent of this pernicious social evil dying a natural death may not remain a dream only.

Whereas in the General sense dowry death means dory+ death a death due to or in nexus of the dowry.

Here is the statement of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru ( on Dowry Prohibition Bill, 1961 ) on 6th May 1961:

” Legislation can’t be by itself solve the deep-rooted social problem. One has to approach them in another way too, but legislation is necessary and essential…………………………..”

Mahatma Gandhi once said:

” As a bride the queen of the household. the Ardhangi, the Sadharmini, the barye and the equal partner with her husband has become the worst target of social and economic exploitation in demands of dowry.’

” Dowry Death is a deep-rooted social evil. It is an offence, brutal and barbaric murder, it is generally committed in the house wall from Satiprathan to the bride burning the Indian Society has witnessed a drastic and dynamic cultural change in family relationships.


Death of A Woman For Dowry - Odisha News Insight

During these long years to modern civilization, human generations have travelled from inequality. Alas ! in the long period of development none has been able to control the bargain or dowry or dowry mince.”

The government has come forward with legislation from time to time to protect women.

In 1961, the Dowry prohibition Act (Act 28 of 1961) was passed, in which talking and giving dowry was prohibited, by the Criminal Law ( Amendment Second ), Act 1983 (Act 46 of 1983) Chapter xx, was introduced. In the Indian Penal Code with Section 498 A

A new offense and also Amended Section 174 of Criminal procedure Code (Act 46 of 1983) Section 3), to secure post-mortem in case of suicided or death of women within seven years of the marriage keeping in view the legislation has also amended and inserted Section 113- A and 113-B in Indian Evidence Act for raising the presumption of dowry judicial death and dowry death. Apart from the legislation the dowry death cases have increased with fast speed.

Even though for the eradication of this social evil, effective steps can be taken by society itself. Our society is the witness of differences between the boys and girls for the purpose of marriage. It makes the dowry system thrive. Lack of education and economically dependent women and our social structure have encouraged greedy criminals. It has also been seen that when the daughter complains of harassment and expresses fear of her life the parents pressurize her to remain within volant marriage, knowing that it may result in her death. The parents do not take the pain of a married daughter and they send her back to the matrimonial home without taking any precautions.

Unsuitable match between the party in respect of education, personality, physical figure and structure, social standard and the very important financial standard is the main factors of the abnormal death of women
The courts must also display greater sensitivity to criminality ad avoid all accounts of” soft justice” as there is so much chance or implication of an innocent person.
It was observed by Orissa High Court.

Dowry And Dowry Death

” Court is called upon to adjudicate the complex question whether in-laws have become ” outlaws” and have directly or indirectly contributed to snuff out the life of a woman. The greedy perpetrators of crime must be punished.

As ” dowry death ” are the result of the disgraceful act but the courts have to be careful in shifting the evidence to see whether the accusation are true or are aimed at the false implication .”

In the series of offenses the dowry death inserted as after  Section 304- B in the Indian penal Code. The legislature realizing the gravity of the situation has amended laws and provided for stringent punishment in such cases and even permitted the raising of presumption in such cases and even permitted the raising of a presumption against an accused in cases of unnatural death of brides within the first seven years of marriage and Section 304- B was inserted in Indian Penal Code 1860.

Is Dowry’s death a bailable and a cognizable offense?

Bailable Offences- Offences in which permission from the court to release the arrested person is not required. The arrested person by fulfilling the necessary requirements can be released and the police cannot refuse the person.

Cognizable Offences- Offence in which the police have the authority to arrest any person without any warrant and also have the authority to start an investigation with or without any permission of the magistrate by filing FIR.

Misuse of the provision and its Constitutionality

Many fake cases have been filed in misusing the provision for its own motive or in order to give torture to the husband’s family. The woman should not misuse the very own Section which is made to protect her. However, a mere possibility to misuse the provision should not invalidate the provision. Hence Section 498A is Constitutional.

Presumption as to Dowry Death

Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 states about the Presumption as to Dowry Death. If a woman dies in relation to any demand for dowry and it was shown that soon before her death she was subjected to harassment or cruelty by any person. Then the court will assume such a person responsible for her death.


Practicing in the name of a so-called tradition that is dowry is seen existing in every place in India whether rural or urban. The menace of dowry custom has reached far down in society. Despite making so many provisions practicing demand for dowry still not stopped. No matter how many laws the government makes it still can’t eradicate it fully from society. To fully eliminate it the people of society have to understand that it is wrong.

By enacting strict laws in society it can be controlled but can’t put an end to it because of the unawareness of the laws in the society and also no support from the families. Even if the girl complains to her parents about the torture she faces by the husband’s family the parents of the girl opt to compromise instead of bringing it to the light. The laws and support from society together can solve the issue.

State Of Himachal Pradesh vs Nikku Ram And Ors on 30 August 1995

In this case, the couple was married and after 5-6 months of their marriage husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law started taunting the wife of the husband for bringing less dowry. They started demanding several things from her which was not fulfilled by her. The prosecutor filed a case for torturing the deceased and subjected her to cruelty in order to make her bring more dowry.

Gradually the torture on her increased so much that the mother-in-law hit her with a sharp blade on her forehead causing a deep cut over there.

She was unable to tolerate the ill-treatment by her husband and by her in-laws on her, as a result, she committed suicide by consuming naphthalene balls and died.

During the investigation, the sharp-edged blade was recovered and after the completion of the investigation husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law were charged under Section 304-B, 306, and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. And the case against them was registered.

The Court after examining all the evidence, was held that persons who are charged under Section 304-B, 306, and 498-A will be free from these criminal charges as the prosecution failed to produce the evidence against them and only mother-in-law will be held guilty under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code as voluntarily causing hurt to her daughter-in-law. And imposed a fine of Rs. 3,000, failing to pay the fine will attract simple imprisonment for 1 month.


Whether she was subjected to any cruelty or harassment soon before her death and the same was in connection with the demand for dowry.

Whether the demand asked for a refrigerator, scooter, etc is a desire to acquire or a dowry demand.


The learned counsel of the appellant argued that the mere desire to acquire a refrigerator, scooter, etc. should not come within the ambit of demanding dowry and cannot be held as an offense as this would not come under the definition of dowry under Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 with Section 304B and Section 498A of Indian Penal Code.

It was held by the Court that Demand for dowry itself is an offense under Section 304B and to be an offense under this it does not requires that an agreement for it should be necessarily present.

The court also held him guilty under Section 498A subjecting her to cruelty or harassment by passing comments on her looks and also taunting her to bring more dowry.

Pawan Kumar appellant No.1 under Section 304B was sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment and liable to pay a fine of Rs 500 and in default of paying the fine 6 months will be added to his imprisonment.

And under 306 IPC was sentenced to 4 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 200 and in default of the payment 3 months will be added to his imprisonment and also held him guilty under Section 498A sentenced him for 2 years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 200 fine in default more 3 months to his imprisonment will be added.

All the sentences should run simultaneously.

Appellant No.2 and appellant No. 3 the court here gave them the benefit of doubt and acquitted them.


Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code defines cruelty.

If a husband or any relative of him causes mental or physical harm to a woman then they will be held punishable under this section.

Punishment will be imprisonment for three years and also will be liable to pay the fine.


  • Any willful conduct on a woman to cause her injury or to instigate her to commit suicide.
  • Harassing a woman or any of her relatives in order to make them fulfill their unlawful demands.

The State Of Punjab vs Gurmit Singh on 2 July 2014

In this case, the term ‘relative’ was analyzed.

The respondent Gurmit Singh was charged under Section 304B of IPC that he is the reason for the death caused to Guruji Kaur wife of Paramjit Singh. The respondent argued that he could not be charged with the offense of Section 304B as he is not the relative of the deceased.

The respondent was the brother of Paramjit’s aunt and cannot be said that he is the relative of the deceased’s husband.

It was held by the court that he cannot be charged under Section 304B as he is not the relative either by blood, adoption, or by the marriage of the deceased’s husband. But the court said that he can be tried under another Section for the offense.

Section 498A in its definition talks about relative and by this case, it has analyzed the word ‘relative’ and it means a person who is a relative by blood, adoption, or by marriage others will not fall under the category of relatives and cannot be held guilty under Section 304B but can be held guilty under other section if they have committed any other offense.

Since time immemorial we have seen so many offenses against women, where they are tortured and one such offense is dowry death. We all must have heard many cases related to the death caused to a woman for the demand for dowry. It’s very disgraceful for a society where a woman dies for not being able to give dowry and also very shameful where dowry is still being practiced.

Dowry’s death is defined in Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Also Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 states the presumption as to dowry death.

Essential Ingredients

  • Death should be caused by burns or bodily injury or by any other circumstances.
  • Death must occur within seven years of marriage.
  • It must be revealed that soon before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative.
  • The cruelty or harassment of her should be in connection with the demand for dowry.

Demand for Dowry

As per Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act,1961 which says that dowry is any property or valuable security directly or indirectly agreed to be given by-

(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or

(b) by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties.

Various Causes to demand dowry

From the ages, we have seen the demand for dowry but to stop dowry the demand for it should be understood properly by society so that it can prevent its practice.

The various causes are-

In the name of tradition

We must have seen people calling it a tradition or a custom to be followed in marriages taking place. In the name of tradition which has to be followed by the bride’s family give valuables to the groom’s family.

The groom’s family ask for a dowry

The groom’s family voluntarily asks for dowry by giving reasons that their son is placed in a good job and they have a lot of reputation etc.

Thinking that it will build a reputation in society

Earlier people had a preconceived notion that giving dowry will build up a good reputation in society. With time it became a show-off concept in society and people started comparing it with others.


In underdeveloped areas, the literacy rate is very less and people are unaware of the laws relating to dowry, which led to the increased demand for dowry by the others.

Though dowry is also practiced by the literates in an underdeveloped area, it becomes a bit more difficult to make them understand the laws.