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

What is dowry?

Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act states that “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly—

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

2)by the parents 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, but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

What is dowry death?

Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code states that if a woman dies within seven years of marriage by any burns or bodily injury or it was revealed that before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative of the husband in connection to demand dowry then the death of the woman will be considered as a dowry death.

Punishment for dowry death is a minimum sentence of imprisonment for seven years to a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life and it is non-bailable and cognizable offence.

Essential Ingredients

1)Death should be caused by burns or bodily injury or by any other circumstances.

2)Death must occur within the seven years of marriage.

3)It must be revealed that soon before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative.

4)The cruelty or harassment on her should be in connection with the demand for dowry.

5)It is non-bailable and cognizable offence.

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 as follows-

In the name of tradition

We must have seen people calling it customs to be followed in marriages thatare 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 dowry

The groom’s family voluntarily ask for dowry by giving reasons that their son is in a government 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 the 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 practised by the literates in an underdeveloped area, it becomes a bit more difficult to make them understand the laws.

Case law

State Of Himachal Pradesh vs Nikku Ram and Others on 30 August 1995

In this case, the couple got married and after 5-6 months of their marriage, husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law started taunting the newly married women 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 on the highest level that the mother-in-law beat 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 which caused her death.

The Police Officials registered a case against the family of the Husband. 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 the Section of 304-B306 and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.

After examining all the evidences, the Hon’ble Court 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 for voluntarily causing hurt to her daughter-in-law and imposed a fine of Rs. 3,000, which failing to pay the fine will attract simple imprisonment for 1 month.

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 with 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.


Practising 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 practising of demand for dowry still not stopped. No matter how many laws the government makesstill it can’t be eradicatedentirely from the society. To fully eliminate it, the people of the society have to understand that it is criminal, illegal and against the law. By enacting strict laws in society, it can be controlled but can’t put an end to it due to 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 will opt to compromise instead of bringing it to the light. Only the fear of the strict laws. literacy and support from societytogether can solve this issue.

Adv Lakshita Bakshi


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