3. Relevant Provisions of Indian Penal Code and Evidence Act IPC 304B: Dowry Death Offence under this provision treats the situation of the death of a woman by any burns or bodily injury or other unnatural circumstances within seven years of her marriage, preceded by cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband demanding dowry. Hence, the husband and/or his relatives shall be deemed to have caused her death. Punishment for this offence can amount to imprisonment for a minimum of seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life. Three essential ingredients are to be established before the offences under section 304-B can be made punishable. They are - 1. That there is a demand of dowry and harassment by the accused, 2. That the deceased had died, 3. That the death is under unnatural circumstances. IPC 498A: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty Offence includes that of the husband or his relatives subjecting his wife to cruelty. Such offences are punishable with imprisonment for a maximum term of upto three years and shall also be liable to fine. For the purpose of this section "cruelty" means –
any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman, or harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand. IEA 113B: Presumption as to dowry death- When the question is whether a person has committed by dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death. 4. Basic Flaws and Ambiguities in the Law On perusing the Act document, one can raise a variety of questions against the intention of the design of the Act. To list a few, 1. Definition of Dowry As per this definition, gifts of jewelry, clothes and cash traditionally given by the groom's family would also be covered by the anti-dowry law and hence declared illegal. 2. Legalizing the illegal After declaring that giving or taking of dowry is illegal, the Act adds a curious rider that 'where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person will transfer the dowry to the woman within three months after the date of marriage or within three months after the date of receipt. vi 3. Bail provisions for 'dowry crimes’ It is quite simple to accuse someone with a dowry crime as the „Burden of Proof‟ will be on the accused and hence the non-bailable provisions can be misused. Merely stating that the case cannot be withdrawn by compromise will not discourage people from using this as a quick and desperate move to inflict immediate burden on the accused. So there will then be a ironical situation of the accused becoming the victim.