SC: Prove cruelty in dowry death cases


The apex court said Section 304-B (dowry death) can be invoked against the accused only if there is material evidence to support the allegation and not on mere presumption that the victim died within seven years of marriage.

Under Section 304-B read with Section 113-B of the Indian Evidence Act, a husband and his family members can be prosecuted for causing dowry death of the woman if the same occurs within seven years of the marriage.

“In order to hold an accused guilty of an offence under Section  304-B of the IPC, it has to be shown that apart from the fact that the woman died on account of burns or bodily injury, otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of marriage, it also has to be 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.
“Only then would such death be called dowry death and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused the death of the woman concerned,” a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and H L Gokhale said in a judgement.

The apex court passed the judgment while acquitting Durga Prasad and one of his relatives sentenced to seven years imprisonment in a case of harassment and dowry death in Madhya Pradesh.

A sessions court had sentenced the accused for harassing Kripa Bai for dowry resulting in her committing suicide.

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