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Detail Study On Dowry Death In India (By-Chinmay Kukani)

Detail Study On Dowry Death In India

Authored By-Chinmay Kukani


 Marriage is integral part of society it is a joyful movement of life for both bride and groom and their families. But evil is attached to it from point of view of women in India which is the dowry system. Although lot is said about it by people it is still prevalent in society in both subtle and obvious ways. The dowry means property utensil ornaments which wife bring to her husband house after the marriage. At begging it was voluntary later on it became a tool to pressurise bride family on name of custom and honour. Dowry is a curse to bride and her family as they have to do their best to satisfy the demand of groom and his family. The demand for dowry is not diminished even after marriage and they harass and torture the bride for the same which sometime leads to suicide of bride to avoid more harassment and torture from grooms' family.


Dowry means valuable property which bride family gives to groom's family at the time of marriage. A court judgement clarifies the legal definition of dowry a

"Dowry" in the sense of the expression contemplated by Dowry Prohibition Act is a demand for property of valuable security having an inextricable nexus with the marriage, i.e., it is a consideration from the side of the bride's parents or relatives to the groom or his parents and or guardian for the agreement to wed the bride-to-be. To prevent practice of dowry. Dowry Prohibition act 1961 was legislated to stop the practice of dowry it was the begging of new law which were dowry harassment laws which were prohibiting demand and taking of dowry to further strengthen the anti-dowry law and to stop offences of cruelty by the husband or his relatives against the wife, new provisions were added to the Indian criminal law – section 498A to Indian Penal Code and section 198A to the Criminal Procedure Code in 1983. In 2005, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed, which added an additional layer of protection from dowry harassment.      The punishment under dowry prohibition act is imprisonment for minimum 5 years and a fine more than ?15,000 or the value of the dowry received, whichever is higher.

RESERCH OBJECTIVE: Detail understanding of reason of dowry death and legislation to stop the practice and its origin


When women's family is not able to satisfy the demands of dowry of groom's family then women is subjected violence. There are various cases which we have come across where women are subjected to violence and harassment and torture due to their families unable to pay dowry. Origin of this system is slightly controversial topic some of the scholar some of the scholar believed that it was practiced in antiquity but some do not believe it to be so.

Many historical reports claim that dowry had not being a significant part in past and instead of dowry bride wealth was a custom.

Under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, “if a woman dies within the seven years of marriage by any burns or any other 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 the dowry then the death of the woman will be considered as a dowry death.”. Condition prerequisite for Dowry death under sec 304B are:

Death should be caused either by burns or bodily injury or by any other circumstances for that matter.
Death must occur within or before seven years of marriage.
It must also be revealed that soon after the marriage of the bride, she was exposed to some sort of cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative.
And lastly, her cruelty or harassment of her should be connected with the demand for dowry.
arrest a person and the person cannot be acquitted without court’s order and cognizable that is that the police do have the authority to arrest any person without issuing of any warrant along with the authority to carry out the investigation with or without the permission of magistrate of a court.

In 1961, the first national legislation pertinent to dowry prohibition and to deal with the prevalent dowry system was enacted as the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. It was reamended twice in same year The Act lays down a set of preventive measure against the existing peril but, as the matter of fact being much celebrated, the objectives have not been achieved. The act was reamended twice in the same year. Originally in the act it was considered as consideration for marriage of such parties which gave quite a narrower scope to the term dowry

Amendments in the act

Sec 3 of act states that giving or taking of dowry is punishable with a minimum term of 5 years and a fine up to Rs 15,000 or to the extent of the value of dowry whichever is more.
Sec 4 of act states that demanding dowry is also punishable by the term ranging from six months to five years and a fine limit up to Rs 15,000. After a couple of amendments, the act tries to curb this social menace.
Section 7 provides that the agencies who/which may initiate the proceedings such as (a) police (b) aggrieved person (c) parents and relatives (d) any recognised welfare institution or organisation.
Section 8 makes act more stringent by adding these offences under the ambit of non- bailable and cognizable. Further Section 8-A goes on to state that the onus probandi lies on the person who is the offender or the one who denies offence.
Landmark cases

In Satbir Singh vs, The State of Haryana (2021), the apex court held that the if prosecution can prove ingredients of Section 304-B of IPC are present then the burden to prove innocence completely lies on the defence. Further, the provisions under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code are far more stringent as compared to those in Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code in the sense that offences under it are cognizable, non-bailable and can be tried by the court of Session.

Mustafa Shahadal Shaikh v. the State of Maharashtra the ratio decidendi of the court states that language used in section 304 –B soon before death dose not ascribe time frame within which death must have occurred neither under IPC nor under Section 113-B of Indian Evidence Act. Accordingly, court can take decision on the based on each case means It is totally upon discretion of court depending upon the evidence and fact of each case. This however, imply that the interval should not be much between the cruelty or harassment concerned and the death in question. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb the mental equilibrium of the woman concerned, it would have no consequence.

Kamesh Panjiyar v State of Bihar in this case the bride family gave groom 40000 as the dowry at the time of marriage but appellant further demanded buffalo but bride family was unable to fulfil his demand due to which grooms' family started torturing and harassing the bride for the same When brides brother came to know about it, he confronted them he was insulted by them. When brother of bride on hearing of rumour of his sister's death he visited her house and found that her sister was dead and there were multiple injuries on her bodies which appellant claimed was due to rheumatic disease to be the cause of her death.

Sessions Court found appellant guilty and punished him with the imprisonment of 10 years. On appeal preferred by appellant before High Court, it was reduced to 7 years. • Although, SC upheld the decision of Sessions Court stating that under Section 304 of IPC (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder – any act is done with knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death or to cause such bodily injury

as is likely to cause death) it was not necessary to give direct evidence of causing death. Cruelty before death is enough

Pamiben v State of Gujarat in this case mother-in-law burns her daughter in law and when daughter in law woke, she started crying and asking for help and her husband and relatives but she died.SC convicted her mother-in-law under Section 304B of IPC by relying on the dying declaration of the deceased in which she said that her mother-in-law put her on fire. Court held that there was no ground to believe that she had committed suicide. Court considered it as a most heinous (wrongful act) and barbaric(brutal) crime.

Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar case the wife alleges that she is thrown out the house due to non-fulfilment of demand for dowry however husband even applied for anticipatory bail but was not able to received so he approached supreme court. Court observed that the fact that Section 498A, IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence, it is more often than not is used as a weapon rather than shield by resentful wives. And it resulted in harassment of the husband and her relatives as it is disturbing for them to see grandparent getting arrested without evidence. Thus, the Court laid down certain guidelines which the police officer must follow while arresting under Section 498A, IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and that such arrest must be based on a reasonable satisfaction with respect to genuineness of the allegation. Moreover, even the Magistrates must be careful enough not to authorise detention casually and mechanically.

In Virbhan Singh v. State of U.P, the top court claimed that in view of death of bride this lethal crime must be enforced whenever they have proven to be merciless The Supreme Court is concerned about the acquittement of some of the supposed guilty parties, but the State cannot bring an appeal to the apex Court.

Reason For Dowry Death

Tradition and Custom: Some people on name tradition and custom demand dowry Which often lead to harassment and torture to the women which force them to suicide which lead to their death
Reputation: Sometime people which demand dowry for sake of their reputation in society and may even subject the bride to domestic violence torture which eventually leads to their death
Illiteracy: Due to illiteracy of women in our country people are not aware of law related to prohibition of dowry tolerate all torture which even led to their death
Disadvantage of Dowry system

Economic burden on bride family: Dowry creates economic burden on the middle-class family as they are not so financially sound and are hand to mouth come under pressure of custom and social value and borrow money from other which they are unable to pay which
 creates financial burden on the family as daughter marriage is a source of agony for parent due to all reason women suicide to save women from torture

Institution of marriage undermine: Torturing and harassment of bride undermine institution of marriage. It makes bride loss faith in institution of marriage and may take step to end their life as no option is left with them.

India reports the highest total number of deaths due to dowry with 8,391 such deaths reported in 2010, which means there are 1.4 deaths per 100,000 women. About 40 to 50 per cent of all female homicides were recorded in India, due to this illegal system of dowry from period of 1999 to 2016. Recent statistics of 2020, shows that the increase in the number of dowry deaths during the lockdown when people were staying in their homes when about 10,366 cases were registered. The crime rate per 100,000 women in 2020 stood at 1.6. This statistic shows that the amount of domestic violence a woman faces in her own house for not bringing enough gold, money or gifts from her parent’s house as dowry.

Due to all this institution of marriage which was consider as purest way to unite two souls without any condition has been demeaned because of the evil practice of dowry because of which wife is not able to trust the husband. The family who promised to keep her like her with love affection and respect are now harassing her torturing her. Her dignity and pride are being affected. She is subjected to cruelty by her in-laws and their family member because of this continues torture and harassment she tries to end her life by hanging or drinking poison to get rid of the cruelty.

From Indian Evidence Act perspective

According section 113b of Indian Evidence act the burden of proof on event of dowry death is establish according to which court must ascertain that dowry death has been caused or cruelty has occurred just before the death.

It was viewed that offences related to dowry is done within the four walls of the house in privacy and secrecy and not easy to obtain evidence to prosecute and punish the wrong doer due to this reason amendment act of 43 of 1986 introduced 113b in evidence act 1872 so that hands of prosecutor are strengthened by allowing certain assumption certain assumption to be raised if certain basic facts are identified and the unfortunate incident of death occurred within seven years of marriage.

Section 113(b) of the Indian Evidence Act states that shortly before the death of a woman, such a woman has been subjected to cruelty or abuse for, or in connection with, any request for the death of a woman under section 304(b) of the IPC.

Enforcement of law and policies

Policies are primary made for protection of people but it is criticised as it creates fear in minds of people it is also being criticised for action behaviour and likelihood being applied effectively in present context. The most frequently made allegation by public is that police

 arrive late at crime scene which led to distorting of evidence cannot always equate dowry death with suicide and doing investigation not in particular manner and police in many

cases treat violence against women as family matter and are unable to investigate properly. Apex Court claims that the rate of accidental deaths is much higher than that suggested by the police. Police diaries are not adequately kept and produced before a magistrate. The

investigating officer has sometimes changed, which has a serious effect on the investigation. Corruption is due to the shortcomings of the police.


From the above research I had a detail understanding of dowry its origin and policies and enforcement of policies and reason of dowry death we here found the origin of dowry and also reason of the practice which is due to pressure from groom family, social pressure and many families daughter wedding is of great prestige and many time grooms' family take advantage of this situation even to keep their reputation in society groom family demand dowry and sometimes. Statistic shows that highest number of death due to dowry practice. Many case laws were discussed which spoke about various aspect such as within how much time the crime must be committed to be called dowry death. We also came across various section and law to stop the practice of dowry but we found that implementation of policy was not proper due to flaws in working such as police arriving late which led to distorting of evidence. We came across different act which were made or amendment were made in act to prevent practice of dowry. So, from above explanation I can conclude that my research objective is fulfilled


Dowry death: understanding the basics - iPleaders

Smt. Paniben vs State of Gujrat 13 March, 199(indiankanoon.org)

Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar & Anr on 2 July, 2014 (indiankanoon.org

Kamesh Panjiyar @ Kamlesh ... vs State of Bihar on 1 February, 2005 (indiankanoon.org) Satbir Singh vs The State Of Haryana on 28 May, 2021 (indiankanoon.org)

Dowry Cruelty and Dowry Death | Soo LEGAL1


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