Presumption under Section 304b of IPC

Dowry is a social evil in the society that has caused impossible torments and violations towards women. The evil has taken lives of ladies from all classes of society – be it poor, working class or the rich. It is a direct result of the share framework, that girls are not esteemed as much as the sons. The settlement framework dehumanizes ladies by regarding them as property, merchandise that can be traded. To exacerbate the situation, the framework likewise gives them a role as a burden, instead of a resource, to be passed along. A bride’s family pays the groom’s family for the expenses of looking after the lady. Section 304 of IPC deals with dowry deaths in India. Section 304B (1) provides that ‘dowry death’ is where death of a woman is caused by burning or bodily injuries or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances, within seven years of 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, in connection with demand for dowry.

At the point when the prosecution shows that ‘soon before her passing such lady has been oppressed by such individual to mercilessness or badgering for, or regarding, any interest for endowment’, assumption of causation emerges against the charged. From there on, the charged needs to refute this statutory presumption.

[i]The accused’s dispute was that the prosecution neglected to demonstrate that there was an interest for endowment and accepting there was one, it neglected to demonstrate that the interest was made just before to the passing of the person in question. Being a criminal statute, by and large it is to be deciphered stringently. Notwithstanding, where exacting understanding prompts absurdity or conflicts with the soul of enactment, the courts may in suitable cases place dependence upon the authentic import of the words, taken in their standard sense to determine such ambiguities. Thinking about the meaning of such a legislation, a literal understanding would defeat the purpose for which it was authorized. In this way, it is to be derived that the words, “soon before” didn’t signify “immediately before”. [ii]Rather, they left its determination in the possession of the courts. The factum of harassment varies from one case to another. Indeed, even the range of cruelty is differed, as it can go from physical, verbal or even to emotional.

Without a doubt, the menace of dowry and related deaths is expanding step by step. In any case, it is likewise seen that occasionally family members of the spouse are roped in, despite the fact that they have no dynamic part in commission of the offenses and are living separately and not in proximity of the victim. In these cases, the court should be mindful in its methodology. No restraint formulae can along these lines be set by the apex court to characterize what claims the expression “soon before”. What is to be noted in the above discussion is the foundation of a “proximate and live link” between the brutality and the demise of the victim.

[i] Deb, R. “DOWRY DEATHS : BURDEN OF PROOF.”  37 JSTOR 513 (1995).

[ii] Kans Raj v. State of Punjab, (2000)

Rajinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (2015)

Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana, (2010).

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