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What are the Essential Ingredients of Dowry Death under Section 304-B IPC

What are the Essential Ingredients of Dowry Death under Section 304-B IPC

Chaturanan Vs State Of UP

Allahabad HC


CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 923 of 2014

About/from the judgment:

Penal Code, 1860 – Ss. 302, 304B & 498A – Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - Ss. 3 & 4 - Neither before marriage, the demand of dowry i.e. Colour T.V. and Hero Honda Motorcycle was made nor was it made immediately after marriage rather the same was made two years after marriage - witness was not able to state that soon before the death of the deceased, there was any demand of the aforesaid items - the offence has been committed by the appellant not under Section 304-B I.P.C. rather the same has been found to have been committed under Section 302 I.P.C.


Penal Code, 1860 - S.304B - What are the essential ingredients of Section 304-B IPC.

In order to attract application of Section 304-B IPC, the essential ingredients are as follows; (i) The death of a women should be caused by burn or bodily injury or otherwise than under a normal circumstance; (ii) Such a death should have occurred within seven years of her marriage; (iii) she must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband; (iv) Such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with demand of dowry; (v) such cruelty or harassment is shown to have been meted out to the women soon before her death. On proof of the essential ingredients mentioned above, it becomes obligatory on the court to raise a presumption that the accused caused dowry death. A conjoint reading of Section 113-B of Evidence Act and Section 304-B IPC, shows that there must be material to show that soon before her death, the victim was subjected to cruelty or harassment. “Soon before” is a relative term and it would depend upon circumstance of each case and no straight jacket formula can be laid down as to what would constitute a period “soon before the occurrence”. There must be in existence, proximate live link between the facts of cruelty in connection with demand of dowry and the death. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and had become stale enough not to disturb mental equilibrium of the women concerned, it would be of no consequence. Use of word “shown” instead of “proved” in Section 304-B IPC indicates that the onus cast on the prosecution would stand satisfied on the anvil of a mere preponderance of probability. In other words, “shown” will have to be read up to mean “proved” but only to the extent of preponderance of probability. Thereafter, the word “deemed” used in that Section is to be read down to require an accused to prove his innocence, but beyond reasonable doubt. The word “deemed” culpability of accused leaving no room for the accused to prove its innocence, has been thus read down to strong “presumption” of his culpability. The accused is required to rebut his presumption by proving his innocence. Thus, where prosecution has shown that “soon before her death” the deceased was subjected to cruelty or harassment by the husband or in-laws in connection with demand of dowry, the presumption under Section 113-B of Evidence Act arises and the court shall presume that such person, who had subjected the women to cruelty or harassment in connection with any demand for dowry, shall be presumed to have caused the dowry death. The presumption that arises in such cases may be rebutted by the accused. The Supreme Court has held that the demand of dowry is required to be made soon before death for satisfying the essential ingredients to make out offence under Section 304 I.P.C. and, therefore, the entire evidence has to be read in totality to form an opinion as to whether there was consistent demand of dowry or not soon before the death of deceased which could have been a catalytic feature in unnatural death of the deceased. [Paras 15-18]

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