Dowry death, a social crime, where by wife was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relative for demand of dowry and ultimately led to her death, within a period of seven years of marriage. As per Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act,1961 which says that dowry is any property or valuable security directly or indirectly agreed to be given by- (a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or (b) by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties. Dowry death is a non-bailable and cognizable offence. Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 states about the Presumption as to Dowry Death i.e. If a woman dies in relation with any demand for dowry and it was shown that soon before her death she was subjected to harassment or cruelty by any person. Then the court will assume such a person responsible for her death. If offence is proved, then accused u/s 304B(2) IPC shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. It has to be seen that irrespective of the fact whether the accused has any direct connection with the death or not, he shall be presumed to have committed the dowry death provided the other requirements mentioned are satisfied.
However, in practice, it was found that section has been misused to rope the entire family members in the offence. The Apex Court in Monju Roy v. State of W.B., (2015) 13 SCC 693 observed that possibility of naming all the family members by way of exaggeration is not ruled out. Further in Kans Raj [(2000) 5 SCC 207 that in their overenthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case. It was held that mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in the absence of any specific role and material to support such role.
That Apex Court in Rakhal Debnath v. State of W.B., (2012) 11 SCC 347 observed that the father of the deceased cannot be expected to inform everyone living around him about the unpleasant factum of the daughter's embarrassing living condition in her matrimonial home and, therefore, mere non-disclosure of those facts to others cannot be a ground to disbelieve the version of said witness.
In Subedar Tiwari Vs State of U.P. and others AIR 1989 SC 737 is another case of bride burning where a highly educated wife died on unnatural death by burning within a short span of nine months of her marriage. Although it was not a dowry death, yet the case is relevant for the reason that the husband could be prosecuted and sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life for such an unnatural death under Section 302 if both accident and suicide could be excluded on facts.
Normal rule is bail and not Jail which completely depends upon facts and circumstance of each case.
Anticipatory Bail in Dowry Death: An application of anticipatory bail in connection with the FIR registered for the offences punishable under Sections 498A, 304(B), 506(2) and 114 of the Penal Code, 1860. Considering the nature of allegations were such for which custodial interrogation at this stage was not necessary. Court while allowing the anticipatory bail held that nature of allegations which were general in nature, gravity of offences, role attributed to the accused and the fact that the present applicant who happened to be mother in law of the deceased was permanent resident of UP and as also the fact that the FIR had been lodged after a period of almost six months from the date of incident. [Binasinh Dayaramsinh Raghuvanshi v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1143
Regular Bail: A question before it is whether the Petitioner/accused ought to be released on bail? In case, wife/deceased passed away just under two years of marriage. Application for bail has been moved for bail and the trial is yet to begin though the investigation has already been completed. High Court allowed the bail application and said that the petitioner is educated and appears to be wellsettled and appeared before Police whenever called and he has already undergone imprisonment for around one year and seven months and is thus entitled to bail.
Suspension of Sentence: In case [M. Radha Hari Seshu Vs. The State Of Telangana] where husband was convicted for life imprisonment, an application for suspension of sentence u/s 389 CrPC was rejected by Hon’ble High Court without recording any reasons. Challenge was made before Apex Court. Apex Court by observing that accused is in jail from 15 Dec 2016, thought fit to suspend the sentence & release him on bail during the pendency of appeal.