In today Indian society dowry is like a norm, we see that people spend lavishly on marriages. The root cause of the problem starts from here, The parents of the bride fulfil all the wishes of groom’s family like spending lavishly on wedding, gifting cars etc. when the bride reaches her matrimonial home, The selfishness of groom’s family grows .Now they demand more things like household items, property etc. Not in the condition to fulfil the infinite demands of groom family, The Groom family starts to harass the newly wedded wife so much and so grave that she thinks it’s better to end the life than to live it. In the end the lavishly solemnized wedding ends into tragic death of the bride. The cause of death is not natural that is for sure, it may be due to poison, suicide, even hanging on the ceiling, burns.
This the most common story of all the dowry related deaths .For this common story there must be a common Law on different footing as that of murder and culpable homicide as the cases of murder and culpable homicide demands much greater evidence and are much complicated. The dowry death is covered in sec 304 B IPC which is -:
(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 purposes 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.
1. There must be a death of the woman.
2. The death of the woman must be in un natural circumstances.
3. And there must be evidence that she was subjected to cruelty due to demand of dowry.
So there is a stark difference between section 299/300 and 304B as 299/300 has much wider scope and covers many motives, But sec 304B the main motive is Dowry due to which cruelty and harassment is performed on the bride and due to which she died.
Evidence in 304 B-:
For the protection of harassed party the evidence act comes to rescue for a crime to come under the 4 corners of evidence act, The material evidence is cruelty and harassment on the bride.
113B. Presumption as to dowry death.- When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a women 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.
Now due to this section the burden of proof shifts to defendants, now they have to show that they have not done cruelty and harassment in order to evade this section.
Unlike in murder cases there is always presumption of innocence, The section of murder has to pass through quite stringent tests than that of dowry death. In dowry related death those people who are involved in cruelty(relatives) are held to be liable for the dowry death.