Updated: May 20, 2020


The word dowry is not defined in IPC. It is defined in section 2(1) of the dowry prohibition act 1961.

Dowry means, any property or valuable security given or agree to be given directly or indirectly-

1) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or

2) 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.

Customary payments and gifts are not dowry[1]. In Rohtash v. state of Haryana[2], money for establishing a business is not necessarily being dowry demand.


It was inserted by Dowry Prohibition (amend) Act 1986 in IPC as section 304B. According to section 133B of Evidence Act 1872 states that if it is shown that soon before the death of women, such woman has been subjected to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with, any demand for dowry. The court shall presume that such person has caused the dowry death.

In Salbir Singh v. State of Haryana, it was held that once the prosecution is able to establish the ingredient of dowry death under section 304B, IPC. The burden of proof of innocence shift on defence.


Essentials of dowry death has been described in clause 1 of section 304B of IPC

· Death of woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances;

· Death should have occurred within seven years of marriage;

· The woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of the husband;

· cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with the demand of dowry;

· cruelty or harassment should be meted out to the woman before her death.

· The woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of the husband;


· Punishment for dowry death is defined in clause 2 of section 304B Of IPC. The clause prescribes minimum punishment of 7 years of imprisonment which may extend up to life imprisonment in case of dowry death.

· Offence of dowry death is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by the court of sessions.

In Rajbir@Raju v. State of Rajasthan (2010), the apex court taking a serious note of dowry abuse resulting in the rise of dowry death cases in the country directed the registrar general/ registrar of all the high courts to circulate to all trial courts to add section 302, IPC to charge of section 304B, IPC so that death sentence could be imposed in such heinous and barbaric crimes against women.

[1] Supreme court on 31st January 2008 [2] AIR 2012

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