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Section 304B, Indian Penal Code, 1860


S340B. 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 relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.

Explanation- For the purpose of this sub-section, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 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.]

Classification of Offence:

Punishment- Imprisonment of not less than 7 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life- Cognizable– Non-Bailable, Triable by Court of Session- Non-Compoundable.

Burden of Proof:

The prosecution under Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code cannot escape from the burden of proof that the harassment to cruelty was related to the demand of dowry and such was caused “soon before her death”. The word “dowry” has to be understood as it is defined in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Thus, there are three occasions related to dowry, i.e., before marriage, at the time of marriage and at an unending period. The customary payment, in connection with the birth of a child or other ceremonies, is not involved within the ambit of “dowry”.

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