Appendix – The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Appendix I

RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 AND INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872

Indian Penal Code, 1860

304B. Dowry Death – (1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relatives shall be deemed to have caused her death.

Explanation – For the purposes of this sub section, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

COMMENTS

(i) After the marriage demand for valuable presents by the husband from the wife’s parents and the suicide of the wife by the constant harassment does not amount to dowry death; Arjun Dhondiba Kamble v. State of Maharashtra, 1995 AIHC 273.

(ii) Section 304-B is creating a substantive offence and is not merely a provision effecting a change in the procedure for the trail of a pre-existing substantive offence. Section 304-B is prospective in nature, death taking place before section 304-B came into force; Bhoora Singh v. State, 1993 Cri. LJ 2636 All.

(iii) Three essential ingredients are to be established before the offences under section 304-B can be made punishable. They are –

(a) That there is a demand of dowry and harassment by the accused,

(b) That the deceased had died,

(c) That the death is under unnatural circumstances. Since there was demand for dowry and harassment and death within 7 years of marriage, the other things automatically follow and offence under section 304-B is proved; Vemuri Venkateshwara Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1992 Cri. LJ. 563 A.P. See also Shanti v. State of Haryana, 1 (1991) DMC 187 SC.

(iv) Though the death of the deceased within 7 years of marriage tool place by burns, section 304-B was held not attracted as there was nothing to show that the deceased before her death was subjected to cruelty or harassment for dowry by her husband or relative; Rameshwar v. State of Madhya Pradesh, II (1992) DMC 486 M.P.

498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty- Whoever, being the husband or the relatives of the husband of a woman, subject such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation – For the purpose of this section “cruelty” means –

(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman, or

(b) Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

COMMENTS

In the absence of any specific allegations of cruelty against the petitioners there is no offence under Section 498-A the complainant had also started living with the petitioner thereby condoning the acts of cruelty; Sukhbir Jain v. State, 1994 (1) CC cases 609 (HC) Del.

(ii) The husband and in-laws subjected the wife the cruelty for bringing insufficient dowry and finally burnt her down, thereby inviting a sentence of three years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.500/- for an offence committed under section 498-A of Indian Penal Code; Bhoora Singh v. State, 1993 Cri. LJ 2636 All.

(iii) Section 498-a contemplates the offence of subjecting a woman to cruelty by the husband or relatives of the husband. As the applicants are not relatives of the husband rather they are co-villagers consequently summoning them for offence under section 498-A of Indian Penal Code amounts to abuse of process of court; Dukhi Ram v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 1993 Cri. LJ 2539 (All).

(iv) Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code is not ultra vires of articles 14, 19, 21, 22 of constitution and do not contravene these provisions; Indrawati vs. Union of India, I (1991) DMC 117 (DB) (All).

(v) The newly wed daughter-in-law was abused by her mother-in-law of ill-luck when the daughter-in-law had an abortion, the husband assaulted her on various occasions that bridal presents brought by her were of inferior quality, thereby treating her with cruelty as defined in section 498-A of Indian Penal Code driving her to commit suicide; State of West Bengal v. Orilal Jaiswal, 1994 Cri. LJ 2104 SC.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872

113B. Presumption as to dowry death- When the question is whether a person has committed by dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.

Explanation – For the purpose of this section “dowry death” shall have the same meaning as in section, 304B of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

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