The violence against women continues to extend in India, but within the recent past, to attenuate crime against women and in tune with the constitutional mandates, the state has enacted many women-specific laws and also introduced specific amendments to Indian legal code, the Indian Criminal Procedure Code, the Evidence Act and other Statutes.

These changes were necessitated to reinforce rate of conviction as at the present it’s noticed that in women related crimes conviction rate may be a meagre 4%. Therefore, at times, critics have acknowledged that little or no effort, both in terms of creating the law more sensitive to women and in terms of enforcing it’s been made within the past few years by the State to truly curb or affect the violence. Women still suffer without adequate legal or other redress.

To make the study manageable, the main target is on some women-specific provision within the Indian legal code and other important legislation concerning crime against women generally and dowry death and dowry-related crimes, rape and sexual abuse including molestation, violence and indecent representation of girls, especially are analyzed as per the acts and therefore the laws.


The term “dowry death” and “dowry murder” first began to be used around 1977-78 when investigations disclosed the facts that deaths of married women, which for years had been camouflaged by the police as accidents or suicides, were actually murders or abetted suicides, preceded by prolonged physical and mental torture by the husband and in-laws in regard to dowry demand. Rather than describing them as “wife murders” or “abetted suicides” the women’s organizations began calling them “dowry deaths”.

Section 113B Penal code has been added by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act No.43 of 1986[1] which was with effect from 19th November 1986. This was exhausted order to unravel the increasing problem of dowry death. The word dowry death has been defined in 304B Indian code and thus the term dowry has been defined in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.[2]

The Section 113B Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with the dowry death. Section 113B[3] states that: “Presumption on dowry death. -When the question is whether or not or not a private has committed the dowry death of a woman and it’s shown that soon before her death such woman has been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in regard to, any demand for dowry; the court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death”. Meaning as in Section 304-B, Indian Penal Code,1860 [4]

Section 304 B of the Indian Penal code states that Dowry death[5]

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’s 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 regard to, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to possess caused her death.

In Bhoom Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh 1992, Cri L J, 2294 the Allahabad supreme court took the view that section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act is procedural and thus is retrospective operational . Under section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act the presumption of dowry death arises if the death takes place within seven years of marriage and there’s evidence to point out that she was subjected to harassment and cruelty.


Section 113B make use of the word “shall” and not ‘may’ so it is a presumption of law, on proof of the essentials. It becomes obligatory on the court to spice up a presumption that the accused caused the “dowry death”. The court has no discretion to draw the presumption under this Section if the essential ingredients are proved then they’re sure to draw this presumption under Sec 113B of the Indian Evidence Act.

The legislature has used this presumption as a compulsory presumption, rebuttable, though this might sound to be a violent departure from the accepted norms of code. The legislature thought that the presumption under Section 113 B should be a compulsory presumption if the evil of dowry deaths is to be eradicated from the roots of our society. If it’s proved that soon before her death, the victim was subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection of a dowry demand, then the presumption under s 113B are often raised. If the prosecution has did not prove the case under Sec304B, IPC, even then, no presumption are often raised under Sec. 113B of the Indian Evidence Act.

So 304B is an integral a part of Sec 113B of the Indian Evidence Act Cruelty needn’t be physical. Even mental torture during a given case would be a case of cruelty or harassment under 304B and 498A.

Case – Parties were married on 24-5-1962.16 after staying at the matrimonial home for 2 months; she returned to her parents’ house and told them that her husband wanted a television and a fridge. Her father gave her a sum of Rs. 6,000 and she or he left for her matrimonial home. Her husband again demanded a sum of Rs. 25,000 for purchasing a plot. There after the husband took his wife to her parents’ home saying that he wouldn’t take her back unless a sum of Rs. 25,000 was paid to him. After one year he took her back but he didn’t fork over his demand for Rs. 25,000. Shortly after, she left for her parents’ home and came back with a sum of Rs. 15,000 with a promised that the rest of the number would be would be paid afterward . She died of strangulation in her husband’s home.

Held – The court found accused guilty. Supreme Court held that the accused should be convicted.


The National Commission for Women in India in one of its annual reports states that ‘everyday, almost every six hours, somewhere at some place, in India, a young married woman is being burnt alive or beaten to death or being pushed to commit suicide. Over the past few years, the cases of bride burning have registered a pointy increase throughout India. It was stated that as women make steady progress in all fields, demolishing the so-called male bastions one by one the one thing that seems to elude them is respite from the strangle-hold of dowry. Progressive as it may be, Karnataka recorded 307 dowry-related deaths in 2005, 18 more than in 2004.

This is the state of affairs in 2005 and it is difficult to imaging the gravity of the offence before this period. But some attempts have been made to tackle the problem by prosecuting the culprits under the provision of I.P.C. Section 302, 304 A, 304 B, 306 ,498 A, and Section 113A and 113B of Indian Evidence Act. But the offence take place within the four corners of the family, and were not reported, even reported very rarely culprits were punished because culprits and the victims are family members.

In Jaspal Singh v. State of Punjab[6], the prosecution story was that soon after the marriage, the husband’s demand for dowry began. The demands were not met, ultimately husband strangulated wife and burnt her body. The High Court convicted the husband to the life imprisonment. However, these general provisions of criminal law did not take into account the specific situation of a woman facing violence within the home as against assault by a stranger. It was strongly felt that an offence committed within the privacy of home by a person on who is emotionally dependent needs to be dealt with on a different plane.


Bride burning is a shame of our society. Poor never resort thereto, rich don’t need it because it’s basically economic problem of a category which suffers both from ego and sophisticated. That is social ostracisation needed to curtail increasing malady of bride burning. Dowry is a deep-rooted social evil; cause of ever so many unfortunate deaths of young ladies. It is an offence brutal and barbaric. It is generally committed inside the house and more often with a circumstance to give an impression that it was a suicidal death.

In Prabhudayal v. State of Maharastra AIR 1993 SC 2164 there was demand for dowry and cruel treatment to the deceased. Death of deceased was due to 100% burns. There was total absence of shouts or cries and Medical evidence showing asphyxia was not due to bum. Accused persons watching incident through window without any hue and cry or without any serious attempt to save deceased, the court rightly observed that, it was a case of murder and not suicidal death.


The introduction of Section 498A into the Penal Code has opened a floodgate of complaints by women alleging cruelty and harassment at the hands of their husbands and in – laws.

Case- Sarla Prabhakar Wag marev. State of Maharashtra, 1990, Cr L J. 407.

In a case under Section 498A IPC, the Bombay High Court held that it is not every harassment or every type of cruelty that could attract Section 498A. It must be established that beating and harassment was with a view to force the wife to commit suicide or to fulfill illegal demands of husband or in-laws, which, in the court’s opinion, the prosecution failed to prove in this case.


It is generally noticed that, ‘no woman unless of unsound mind will resort to suicide; having burnt or strangled herself. One of the most significant amendments that were introduced in the Indian Evidence Act allowed the courts to presume that, in certain circumstances, a husband or his relative had abetted the suicide of a woman.

In Shyama Devi v. State of West Bengal1987, Cri, LJ. 1163., allegation of the prosecution was that on account of persistent mental and physical torture by the husband and mother-in-law, the deceased committed suicide. The trial court convicted both the accused. But on appeal, the Calcutta High Court felt that there was neither hardly any reliable evidence of torture nor any evidence that the mother-in-law or her husband instigated the deceased to commit suicide. In view of this conviction of both the accused was set aside.


Case- Hannu Raja v. State ofM.P., 1976 (2) SC 761

The Dying declaration of a victim is considered as relevant evidence for the convicting the accused because it is based on the belief that the dying victim shall not tell a lie. However, there is neither rule of law nor of prudence that dying declaration cannot be accepted without corroboration.


A perusal of the provisions of Section 304B shows that one of the essential ingredients that have to be established is that death was otherwise than in normal circumstances.

In the case of Anand Mohan Sen and another v. State of W.Bv (2007) 3 SCC (cri.), 678.deceased found dead early morning in the verandah of her matrimonial home. Evidence proving physical and mental cruelty meted out to her and accidental consumption of poison ruled out on facts, because in case had it been so accused would not have fled the house and an attempt would have been made to take the deceased to hospital.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] 6 1984, Cri. L.J691.