Dowry Death case 304 B IPC, Suicide committed by wife, No previous complaint, No harrasment, No act of cruelty soon before her death, No dowry demand, Regular Bail granted by Delhi court,Advocate Ravi Drall, criminal lawyer tis hazari court.

Advocate Ravi Drall got bail of his client in Dowry Death case. Deceased committed suicide within 2 years of her marriage. No Dowry demand, no cruelty soon before her death, no harrasment. Deceased had chatting on facebook with some unknown person, there was suspicion of extra marital affair, After considering all the facts and circumstances the court granted regular bail to client of Advocate Ravi Drall in Dowry Death case lodged U.S: 304B/306/34 IPC, Police Station: Mundka.

Reference Article : Bail In Dowry Death Case

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Essentials of dowry death

To establish a case of dowry death, a woman must have died of burns or other physical injuries or “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within seven years of her marriage, according to Section 304B. She should have been subjected to brutality or harassment by her husband or in-laws in connection with a dowry demand “soon before her death.”

The essentials can be listed as follows:

  1. Under normal conditions, a woman’s death should not be caused by burns or bodily harm.
  2. Within seven years of her marriage, she should have died.
  3. Her spouse or any of her husband’s relatives must have treated her cruelly or harassed her.
  4. Any demand for dowry should be accompanied by or accompanied by such brutality or harassment.
  5. Such brutal treatment or harassment should have occurred prior to her death.
  6. If a woman dies as a result of the circumstances described above, the husband and his relatives will be believed to have caused a dowry death and will be held accountable for the offences until they can be proven differently.

The term “dowry” is defined in the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, not in the IPC. Hence it is specified in the statutory provision that for the purpose of Sub-section 304B, dowry shall have the same meaning as in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act (1961). It has been defined as any property or valued security granted or promised to be given directly or indirectly, according to the act:

  • by one party to a marriage to the other party to a marriage, or
  • by one party to a marriage to the other party to a marriage or by one party to a marriage.

In connection with the marriage of the said parties, by the parents of either party to the marriage, or by any other person to either party to the marriage, or by any other person at or before, or any time after (on three occasions).

However, dowry does not encompass customary contributions that are common in diverse communities, such as those made at the time of a child’s birth. Both giving and receiving dowry are illegal.

In addition to the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, several other stricter provisions that have been enacted, include:

  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) now includes Sections 304B (dowry death) and 498A (cruelty by a husband or his family) post its amendment.
  • The Indian Evidence Act (IEA) has been amended to include Section 113B (presumption of dowry death) in order to eliminate or at least reduce the horrific act of the dowry system and related fatalities.

Nature of the offence under Section 304B IPC

The offence of dowry death is criminal in nature and is regulated by the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860. The IPC covers the substantive provisions while the procedural aspect is provided by the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), 1872 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. The offence under Section 304B is:

Cognizable

A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest without a warrant in line with the First Schedule or any other legislation in effect at the time. The majority of cognizable offences are of serious nature.

Non-bailable

Non-bailable offences are serious crimes for which bail is a privilege granted solely by the courts. When a person is arrested and brought into jail for a serious or non-bailable offence, he or she does not have the right to seek bail.

Non-compoundable

Compoundable offences are ones that can be compromised, meaning that the complainant can agree to drop the charges against the accused, whereas non-compoundable offences are the more serious kind that does not allow the parties to compromise.

Tribal by Court of Session

The Criminal Procedure Code does not define the term “trial”. The trial may be characterised as a form of investigation to determine the accused person’s guilt or innocence. Matters involving warrants can be heard by either the Court of Session or a Magistrate, but summons cases can only be heard by a Magistrate. The Court of Session does not directly take cognizance of the cases. Rather, the cases are committed to the Court of Session by the Magistrate under Section 209 of the Criminal Procedure Code if they are exclusively triable by the Session court. It should be observed that the Session Court hears cases involving crimes punishable by more than seven years in jail, life in prison, or death.

Punishment for Section 304B IPC

Penal provision

Anyone who commits dowry death is punishable under Section 304B (2) of the IPC with a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years, which may extend up to life imprisonment.

Provision for evidence for dowry death

Presumption of dowry death under Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

When the inquiry is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is established that such woman was exposed to cruelty or harassment by such person shortly before her death for, or in connection with, any dowry demand. The court will assume that this individual was responsible for the dowry death. For this provision to apply, dowry death has the same meaning in this provision as it does in Section 304B of the IPC.

This concept may be illustrated by utilising the following cases:

  1. In the case of Hansraj v. State of Punjab (1984), where the Supreme Court decided that the word “normal conditions” appears to indicate that it was not a natural death.
  2. In the case of Rameshwar Dass v. State of Punjab (2008), where the Supreme Court decided that a pregnant woman would not commit suicide until her relationship with her husband deteriorated to the point where she felt obliged to do so and that the accused is liable to be convicted if he fails to show his defence.
  3. In the case of Sher Singh @ Partapa v. State of Haryana (2015), where the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court utilised this principle while dealing with a matter concerning Section 304B. The judges held that even by a preponderance of the evidence, the prosecution can discharge the initial burden of proving the elements of Section 304B. The preliminary presumption of innocence is supplanted by an assumption of guilt of the accused, who is then required to produce evidence attempting to remove his guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt, once the participation of the concomitants is established, demonstrated, or proved by the prosecution, even by the prevalence of possibility.

Elements needed to get relief under Section 304B IPC

  1. The primary element that an accused can show to prove his innocence is the fact that there never existed a demand for dowry. If the plaintiffs are unable to procure and furnish sufficient evidence to show that the death occurred post the demand of dowry by the husband, then no case of dowry death exists.

In the case of Appasaheb v. State of Maharashtra (2007), the wife succumbed to death after ingesting poison. There was proof from her parents that she had been subjected to ill-treatment and physical and emotional torment as a result of bringing in less money. The High Court affirmed the conviction of the trial court. Both witnesses testified to ill-treatment as a result of household circumstances. There was a need for money to cover expenditures, but there was no proof of dowry demand. Since there was no display of a demand for dowry, which is an essential factor for dowry death, the conviction was overturned.

  1. The accused will also get relief in case the plaintiffs are unable to establish proper communication of the demand of dowry death to the wife or her family.

In the case of Sumunt Ojha v. State of Bihar (2009), there was no evidence that the husband made a demand or that he treated his wife cruelly or harassed her, whereas the only piece of evidence that has come on record is the statement made by the deceased woman’s brother, that a demand was made by the deceased woman’s father-in-law just four days prior to the occurrence, which is doubted for the reasons stated in the order.

If a dowry demand is made, it is assumed that the demand would be relayed to the person from whom the dowry is expected, i.e. the woman’s father or guardian. In this case, no such communication was made to the father, and even PW 11’s testimony does not reveal that his son conveyed the demand to him. It would also be assumed that after making a demand, the erring party would spend some time before taking any further action. It cannot be stated that the victim would be exposed to mistreatment by her in-laws because she made a demand four days before her death.

Therefore, the appellants were wrongfully convicted under the Indian Penal Code Section 304B. There must also be a conviction under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code to be convicted under Section 304B.

A similar observation was made in Nepal Singh v. State of Haryana (2009), the woman committed herself after the trial court acquitted her of charges that her husband and in-laws sought a large dowry. The High Court intervened in the verdict, and she committed suicide within seven years of their marriage. The deceased informed her parents about the dowry demand, otherwise, her in-laws would refuse to let her enter their house. The person who finalised the marriage never confirmed any dowry demand. There was never any money exchanged. There was no evidence of dowry demand, and the appellant’s father submitted a notification of his son’s death shortly after it occurred. Simply stating that something must have occurred that caused the dead to commit suicide is not a legitimate plea, and the conviction was overturned.

  1. It is also required by the plaintiffs to prove doubt beyond a reasonable level for the accused to be convicted. For instance, in the case of Raman Kumar v. State of Punjab (2009), the husband and mother-in-law were accused of pouring kerosene on themselves and being burned alive. The defence claimed it was an accident. The victim’s letter did not offer proof of the dowry demand and the husband was convicted based on an unproven charge. and the irrational order is rescinded Although no statements were made throughout the inquiry, the High Court’s decision was hazy and lacking in reasoning. The prosecution was unable to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The conviction was subsequently overturned.

Similarly, in the case of Kuljit Singh & Anr. v. The State of Punjab (2021), the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the trial court had not referred to any specific instances where the appellant No.2, namely, the deceased’s mother-in-law, had been ascribed any specific role in making the demand and inflicting cruelty, except for making vague statements to the effect that the husband and in­laws of their daughter had made a demand for dowry and inflicted cruel treatment. According to the statement recorded under Section 313 of the Cr.PC, appellant No.2 (Raj Rani) denied any involvement and claimed that she was not there at the house when her daughter-in-law died. Though the existence of appellant No. 1 (Kuljit Singh) was proven, no mention was made of appellant No. 2 (Raj Rani). Apart from that, there is no particular proof that appellant No.2 made such demand or that she committed cruelty in response to such a demand.

Finally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court granted the appeal in part, holding that the aforesaid evidence is insufficient for a conviction under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, and acquitting accused no. 2. (Raj Rani).