Author: Mr. Surya Prakash, 

New Law College, Bharti Vidyapeeth University.

ISSN: 2581-8465


The classification of cause of death is real in its consequences: for the reputation of the deceased, for her family, for those who may be concerned, and for medical specialty and social research and policies and practices that may follow from it. The study reported here refers specifically to the process involved in classifying deaths of women from burn in India. It examines the dowry death determination a class used in India but not in other jurisdictions. Based on the findings tracked in hospitals in real time and interviews the dowry deaths of burn cases are more in India. The formal part into which any given death is administered is shown to result from intended accounting processes representing the interests and resources accessible to the doctors, victims, victim families the victim’s husband and his family, and ultimately, the police .suggestions are made for methods of ameliorating the risks.

KEYWORDS: India, Dowry death, burns, classification of death, Police, Women victims


‘DOWRY’ means any property and valuable security given and agreed to given either directly or indirectly. By one party to a marriage to the other party to marriage and by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to marriage or to the marriage or to any other person at or before or any time after marriage in connections with the marriage of said parties it is been said in the case of Shanti v. State of Haryana[1]. Dowry is a concept of giving and taking money or gifts from the bride’s family at the time of marriage as a token of love and acceptance which binds both families into one. Unfortunately, over the years the term has shifted from being an affectionate gesture to a horrifying nightmare. Though the practice of dowry emerged as a safeguard for the woman, it has assumed mammoth shape and magnitude. 7634 brides were burned to death in India in 2015 due to dowry disputes[2]. This approximates to one bride being burned every hour. 30.6% of total cases of dowry deaths were reported in Uttar Pradesh (2335 cases) alone, followed by Bihar (1154 cases.)[3] The Act also provides the penalty for the giving or taking of dowry which may not be less than fifteen thousand rupees and up to five years of imprisonment or what the Court may deem fit[4]. If an individual makes a demand for dowry, he can be made liable to pay a fine of Rupees ten thousand and imprisonment for six months which may be extended to two years[5]. When a death is classified thus, the woman’s husband or other family members are automatically considered suspect and we examine the impact of this classification on the subsequent prosecution and conviction of perpetrators.

India is a place where there are conventions and societies pursued over its length and broadness. It includes numerous customs acknowledged and rehearsed generally. One such is that of share passing. Various lawful arrangements have been set ready for checking this issue yet it is being polished straightforwardly. Endowment passing or as prevalently known as lady consuming has turned out to be broadly regular in numerous pieces of the nation and sadly acknowledged by people who have no enthusiasm for changing the situation. Luckily expanding requests by women’s activists and interest for ladies strengthening as an issue of the right have prompted different changes of arrangements in the criminal law on the nation so as to accomplish the objective of checking the issue of settlement passing. Throughout the year’s numerous administrative advances have been started towards bringing balance and reasonable treatment towards ladies. These legitimate arrangements have helped groups of the exploited people to get equity and discover comfort in the arms of the law. Hitched ladies have endured and keep on enduring even to this date by being tormented by their better half and his relatives. Because of such arrangements, guilty parties can never again take cover behind out of date customs which abuse ideal to live of an individual, for example, spouse. Fortunately, our Indian legitimate framework is sufficiently able to separate unimportant cases from those of certifiable nature and would keep on doing as such later on also.


Dowry deaths comprise a unique category of deaths in India. The custom of payment of dowry by the bride’s family to the prospective bridegroom’s family is ancient and widely prevalent. One of the many explanations for it is that it is a form of compensation to the groom’s family for sheltering the woman for life[6]. An explanation invokes the Hindu Succession Act, which even after its amendment in 2005, confers less than equal property rights on the female child. When demands for cash, jewelry or goods remain unfulfilled in arranged marriages, or when the dowry is deemed unsatisfactory the resulting tensions may lead to the husband or his extended family harassing the woman, sometimes to the extent of killing her or creating such intolerable conditions that she decides to take her own life[7]. Such deaths are termed ‘dowry deaths’ in the Indian Penal Code (defined in section 304B). Traditionally, dowry deaths (homicidal and suicidal) occurred through immolation. Indeed, even though in recent years dowry-related deaths as a result of poisoning or hanging may have been increasing, the term dowry death has become synonymous with ‘bride burning’ in popular discourse[8]. In this paper, we focus on dowry deaths as a result of the burn.


The methods of difficulties entailed in classifying unnatural deaths have been highlighted. He suggested that the study of the processes of social and legal in which official classifications of death are produced can be useful in placing official statistics in perspective and in identifying whether any systematic, non-random basis affects their production. We explore the process of classification of death of women by burning within the conceptual framework of ‘death brokering’ (Timmermans2005), which refers to activities of authorities to render individual deaths culturally appropriate. In India, the police are primary ‘death brokers’ and employ culturally appropriate scripts to classify the death of a woman within seven years of marriage as dowry-related (or not). This involves police officers engaging in a set of social negotiations with the victim, her natal (family of birth) and marital (husband’s family) families, health practitioners, and forensic experts to render the definition of an individual death socially and legally acceptable.


Fire-related injuries are the leading cause of death among women in India in the age group 15–34 years. Public health research has focused on the causes of burn-related deaths among women, their patterns and trends. Collectively the research literature suggests that accidents are responsible for a majority of burns, followed by suicide attempts and finally by homicidal attempts analysis of victim and burn characteristics, based on post mortem reports, found that a majority of female victims were in the age group 18–26 years; were relatively uneducated; were from lower socio-economic positions; and were predominantly Hindu. In the cases studied burns mostly occurred during the daytime, in closed spaces, and kerosene was the main medium used[9]. The legal, moral, and forensic, ambiguities involved in classifying an unnatural death suicide, are intensified in the socio-legal context of classifying unnatural deaths of women within seven years of marriage in India, regardless of the cause of death[10]. The literature shows that factors influencing death investigations include racial, religious, cultural, and family concerns that affect the medical-legal verdicts.


With the expanding number of endowment demise cases in India, the Government has laid a few rules to manage such cases and the laws have additionally been revised for reinforcing the legitimate framework to ensure and bolster the unfortunate casualties who go under the instances of endowment passing or cold-bloodedness. We have The Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.), The Indian Evidence Act (I.E.A.), Criminal System Code (Cr.P.C.) and The Dowry Prohibition Act (D.P.A.), to ensure the ladies from being exposed to Dowry Deaths or Cruelty emerging out of questions identified with an endowment.

  1.   SECTION 304-B of the I.P.C. manages Dowry Death. That further says:

(1) where the demise of a lady is brought about by any consumes or real damage or happens generally than underneath ordinary conditions inside seven years of her marriage and it is demonstrated that soon before her demise she was exposed to brutality or provocation by her better half or any relative of her significant other for, or regarding, any interest for endowment, such passing will be classified “share passing”, and such spouse or relative will be considered to have caused her demise.

(2) Whoever submits endowment demise will be fined with detainment for a term which will not be under seven years but rather which may reach out to detainment forever.

  • Ingredients of Section 304 – B of I.P.C. are as follows:

1. When the death of the woman is caused by abnormal and suspicious circumstances caused by burns or any other bodily injuries.

2. within 7 years of the marriage.

 3. Death is caused in relation to the demand for dowry.

 4. The expression of “Soon before her Death”.  It is a Cognizable, Non – Bailable, -Non – Compoundable offence.

In the case of Satvir Singh and others v. State of Punjab and another[11] apex court held that the harassment or cruelty to which the woman is subjected should not be at some time with the demand to dowry rather it should be “soon before her death”.

 If the wife dies within 7 years of the marriage and if there is no demand for dowry and there was no ill-treatment as well from the side of husband and his family, then the husband and his family cannot be held liable and charged under section 304 – B of the I.P.C., held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Meka Ramaswamy v. Dasari Mohan and others[12] .

 In Prahallad Budek v. State of Orissa[13] it was held that there should be a live link between the death of the woman and the harassment and cruelty faced by her in relation to demand of dowry, and if there is no such link then the offence of Section 304 – B of I.P.C. cannot be established against the husband or husband’s relatives.

State of Rajasthan v. Jaggu Ram[14] held that, as there is no specification of time period for the expression “soon before her death” in any of the statutes or acts, so it is directed that as the facts and circumstances of each case may differ so on the basis of that it is required by the court to decide that if the time period between the death of the woman and the cruelty she suffered is immediate or not.

  •       SECTION 498- A of the I.P.C. manages the Husband or relative or spouse of a lady exposing her to remorselessness. That further says:

Whoever, being the spouse or the relative of the husband of a lady, subjects such lady to remorselessness will be rebuffed with detainment for a term which may stretch out to three years and will likewise is at risk to fine.

  • Ingredients of Section 498 – A of I.P.C. are as follows:

1. The woman should be a married woman.

2. The married woman should be the subject of cruelty or harassment.

3. The harassment or cruelty should be done by the husband or by the husband’s relatives.

 4. There should be a Mens Rea on the part of the husband or husband’s relatives[15].  It is a Cognizable, Non – Bailable, Non – Compoundable offence.

 In the case of Balwant Singh and others v. State of Himachal Pradesh[16] the 2 judges bench said that the person who is acquitted under section 304 – B of the I.P.C. can also be convicted under section 498 – A of the I.P.C. as both the sections of the I.P.C. cannot be held as mutually inclusive.

Further to give justice to the deceased and to strengthen the belief of the society in the legal system of the country the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Pawan Kumar and others v. State of Haryana[17] held that the wife who died within 7 years of the marriage, which is the result of a dowry death by committing suicide, then along with section 304 – B of the I.P.C and section 498 – A of the I.P.C. the accused can also be held liable under section 306 of the I.P.C. (which says Abetment of attempt to commit suicide) as the treatment of the accused forced the wife to do so.

  1. SECTION – 113-B of the I.E.A. manages Presumption as to share passing. That further says:

At the point when the inquiry is whether an individual has submitted the share passing of a lady and it is demonstrated that soon before her demise such lady has been oppressed by such individual to remorselessness or provocation for, or regarding, any interest for settlement, the Court will assume that such individual had caused the endowment demise.

  • The ingredient of this section is the fulfillment of the ingredients of section 304 – B of the I.P.C.

In Kamesh Panjiyar alias Kamlesh Panjiyar v. State of Bihar[18] the court said that if there is a conjoint reading of section 113 – B of the I.E.A. and section 304 – B of the I.P.C. then there have to be some evidences submitted before the court stating that there have been cruelty and harassment to the wife from the side of husband or husband’s relatives in order to punish the accused in the matter of dowry death.

 In Harjit Singh v. State of Punjab[19] the court held that there was no evidence showing that the poison consumed by the wife was the result of some cruelty or harassment by the husband, so the husband was acquitted under section 304 – B of the I.P.C. and the provisions of section 113 – B of the I.E.A. could not be inflicted against him.


Dowry Prohibition Act, Indian law, enacted on First of May, 1961, intended to prevent the giving or receiving of a dowry. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, share incorporates property, merchandise, or cash given by either gathering to the marriage, by the guardians of either party or by any other person regarding the marriage. The Dowry Prohibition Act applies to people of all religions in India. The first content of the Dowry Prohibition Act was generally made a decision to be insufficient in checking the act of settlement. In addition, explicit types of savagery against ladies kept on being connected to an inability to satisfy share needs. Accordingly, the enactment experienced resulting alteration. In 1984, for instance, it was changed to determine that present given to a lady of the hour or a husband to be at the season of a wedding are permitted. The law required, notwithstanding, that a rundown be kept up depicting each blessing, its esteem, the character of the individual giving it, and the individual’s connection to either gathering to the marriage. The whole of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is prepared, equipped and developed in order to provide relief to the victims of the dowry cases in the country. The entire act solely fulfills the purpose to protect woman’s sufferings from the dowry harassment and cruelty.

•           It contains a total of 10 sections of which following are the heading of each section:

1) Section one – Short title, extent, and commencement

2) Section 2 – Definition of “dowry”

3) Section 3 –“ Penalty for giving or taking dowry”

4) Section 4 – Penalty for demanding dowry

5) Section 4A – Ban on the advertisement

6) Section 5 – Agreement for giving or taking dower to be void

7) Section 6 – dowry to be for the benefit of the married woman or her heirs

8) Section 7 – Cognizance of offence

9) Section 8 – Offences to be cognizable for certain purposes and to be non-bailable and non-compoundable

10) Section 8A – Burden of proof in certain cases

11) Section 8B – Dowry Prohibition Officers

12) Section 9 – Power to make rules

13) Section 10 – Power of State Government to make rule

As it is been seen that this Act is drafted, remembering the enthusiasm of all regions of society and law so as to ensure and improve the status of share unfortunate casualties which might lead them to death, suicide, badgering or mercilessness. It is comprehended that “Settlement” is a social shrewdness, here we ought to comprehend that dowry is basically an entirety of property (regardless of whether it is cash or some other property) given by her folks or her folks’ family out of sheer love and love to ensure the social and monetary enthusiasm of a lady and which isn’t social wickedness.

In the case of Sabitri Dei and others v. Sarat Chandra Rout and others[20] the apex court quashed the order given by the competent Sessions Court and convicted the husband and his relative under section 498–A/section 304–B of the I.P.C. and under section 4 of the D.P. Act.

Similarly, in the case of Premananda Sahoo v. State of Orissa[21] the criminal appeal was directed against the judgement given by competent Sessions Court.

 In the landmark case of Suresh Kumar Singh v. State of U.P[22]the apex court held that the proof of demand of dowry as shown by the prosecution should not be too old from the death of the woman. The propinquity of dowry demand and the death of the victim should be established to evoke the expression of “soon before her death” and charge the accused under the dowry prohibition act as well.


Authority figures from India’s National Crime Records Bureau uncover that 8,233 young ladies, a significant number of the new ladies, were slaughtered in alleged ‘settlement passing in 2012. In spite of the fact that the installment of endowments for marriage is unlawful in India, they stay broad crosswise over standing, class and instructive partitions. As of late requests have turned out to be increasingly relentless and costly. One of the shares passing a year ago was Pravartika Gupta, who was signed to death in her room as she laid down with her one-year-old little girl. She had been undermined by her in-laws since her family couldn’t stand to accelerate their timetable of installments. They had consented to pay £15,000 in real money and purchase a Honda City vehicle for their child in-law’s folks. The in-laws had all of a sudden requested that Pravartika’s family likewise get them aloft. Be that as it may, if a lady would not fulfill relentless requests by her significant other and in-laws for cash and products, in spite of having carried with her the compulsory endowment at the season of marriage, she was exposed to the barbaric treatment.

Female settlement passing represents 40 to 50 percent of all female crime recorded every year in India, speaking to a steady pattern over the period 1999 to 2016. Balanced for the populace, Pakistan, with 2,000 announced such passing for each year, has the most astounding rate of share demise at 2.45 per 100000 ladies. It additionally takes a long time for the least difficult of cases in India’s over-burden courts to be chosen, after which the defendants constantly document claim petitions prompting further endless postponements and disavowal of auspicious equity. Three years back India’s Supreme Court proclaimed that no leniency ought to have appeared to those discovered blameworthy of copying ladies for not bringing sufficient share. On one hand, individuals see ladies as Devi (goddess), then again they consume them alive. This is against the standards of socialized society. It’s oafish,” previous Justice Markandey Katju commented in lightweight of an intrigue documented by a married person gave lifelong confinement by a Sessions court for intense his mate.


Alongside the improvement of laws to ensure ladies, there have occurrences of abuse of these laws by ladies themselves. There have been a decent number of instances of false acquisitions and gross abuse of these rights. As a rule where requests of the Wife are not being satisfied, and so as to bug the spouse and his family, or if the marriage is stressed in light of some other unessential reasons, they stop false objection with the closest police headquarters and the husband and additionally his family are in a split second captured without examinations. There have likewise been instances of suicide by the spouse or his relatives over the span of their preliminary in light of the humiliation they face because of these bogus charges.

According to the statistics given in the NCRB Report, 2016[23] the total number of reported False Cases related to Dowry Deaths in the year 2016 were 254 and the total number of reported False Cases related to cruelty by the husband or his relatives towards the wife in the year 2016 were 6,745. It is rightly said by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India[24]that section 498 – A of the I.P.C. was incorporated for the protection of women which is being maliciously misused and stated this section as a “Legal Terrorism”.    


There are exemptions to the cases including share demise just as abusive behavior at home because of the way that a few ladies will have a criminal goal of making the spouse and his family stuck in an unfortunate situation. For that, they record certain cases which include the arrangement of the above-expressed Acts. In such circumstances, the researching organization just as the Court should make a basic investigation of the actualities and issues of the case as the charged likewise have equivalent rights as the people in question. In such a unique situation, it must be expressed that the groups of both the couple must be in great terms and free from any budgetary liabilities between them. Overviews express that India is the main nation with the most noteworthy measure of offenses identifying with abusive behavior at home just as offenses in regards to the endowment. This condition can be changed just when the general population begins believing that no monetary needs must be fulfilled amid the season of marriage. Issues emerging out in the family life must be restored in a split second and adequately that there emerge no further issues on a similar issue in the future. The administration can actualize certain alteration in specific resolutions in regards to settlement denial and aggressive behavior at home with the end goal that individuals alter their perspective and there emerge an idea that share and abusive behavior at home against’ ladies itself is a social malevolence of the time.

As it is said “whenever there is light, there is shadow too”, similarly, in order to provide justice to women and to protect them from dowry harassment in their best interest, there have been cases of misuse of the laws and provisions provided to help and protect them. These provisions and rights have been exploited in a wrong manner and that too it has happened for a reasonable period of time now. This is one of the loopholes that is needed to be corrected and rectified by the same Nobel, scholars and intellectual law-makers who have laid down these provisions keeping in mind the protection of women from the heinous crime of dowry.

[1] (1191) 1 SCC 371

[2] National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2015:Compendium

[3] National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2015:Compendium

[4] Sec.3 Dowry Prohibition Act,1961

[5] Sec.4 Dowry Prohibition Act,1961

[6]Ahmad N. Dowry deaths: a socio-legal appraisal. J. East Asia Int. Law.2008;1(2):275-289.

[7] Banerjee P.Dowry in 21st century India. Trauma violence Abus.  2013;15(1):34-40

[8] Bedi R.;Indian dowry deaths on rise .2012 Feb 7th Telegraph

[9] Chakraborty S, Bisoi S. A study on demographic profile of burn patients in  an apex institute of West Bengal. Indian J. Public health 2010;54(1):27-29

[10] Dougals J. The Social Meaning of suicide. Princeton University Press; New Jersey:1970.

[11] (2001) 8 SCC 633;2002 SCC (Cri)48; AIR 2001 SC 2828;MANU/SC/0588/2001

[12] 1998 SCC (Cri) 604; AIR 1998 SC 774;MANU/SC/0042/1998

[13] (2008) 64 AIC 458; 2008 CriLJ (NOC 339)97)

[14] (2008)12 SCC 51; (2009) 1 SCC (Cri) 317; AIR 2008 SC 982; MANU/SC/0253/2008

[15] C. Veerudu v. State of Andhra Pradesh: (1988) 2 AP LJ 75; 1989 CriLJ (NOC 52) 25)

[16] (2008) 15 SCC 497; (2009) 3 SCC (Cri) 1094; 2008 CriLJ 4683; MANU/SC/4359/2008

[17] (1998) 3 SCC 309; 1998 SCC (Cri) 740; AIR 1998 SC 958; MANU/SC/0104/1998

[18] (2005) 2 SCC 388; 2005 SCC (Cri) 511; AIR 2005 SC 785; MANU/SC/0076/2005

[19] (2006) 1 SCC 463; (2006) 1 SCC (Cri) 417; AIR 2006 SC 680; MANU/SC/2287/2005

[20] (1996) 3 SCC 301; MANU/SC/1117/1996

[21] (2008) 41 OCR 558; MANU/OR/0785/2008

[22] (2009) 17 SCC 243; (2011) 1 SCC (Cri) 989; MANU/SC/0953/2009

[23] Crime in India, 2016 – National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, India

[24] (2005) 6 SCC 281; 2005 SCC (Cri) 1473; AIR 2005 SC 3100; MANU/SC/0418/2005

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