Tag Archives: dowry death

Dowry – Meaning of

A perusal of Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act shows that this definition can be broken into six distinct parts:
(a) Dowry must first consist of any property or valuable security – the word “any” is a word of width and would, therefore, include within it property and valuable security of any kind whatsoever.
(b) Such property or security can be given or even agreed to be given. The actual giving of such property or security is, therefore, not necessary.
(c) Such property or security can be given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.
(d) Such giving or agreeing to give can again be not only by one party to a marriage to the other but also by the parents of either party or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person. It will be noticed that this clause again widens the reach of the Act insofar as those guilty of committing the offence of giving or receiving dowry is concerned.
(e) Such giving or agreeing to give can be at any time. It can be at, before, or at any time after the marriage. Thus, it can be many years after a marriage is solemnized.
(f) Such giving or receiving must be in connection with the marriage of the parties. Obviously, the expression “in connection with” would in the context of the social evil sought to be tackled by the Dowry Prohibition Act mean “in relation with” or “relating to”. Rajinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (2015) 6 SCC 477.

Leave a comment

Filed under Criminal Law, Dowry

Expression – Relative of the Husband

The expression “relative of the husband” has been used in Section 498-A I.P.C. While interpreting the said expression, the Hon’ble Apex Court in U. Suvetha v. State, (2009) 6 SCC 757 held it to mean a person related by blood, marriage or adoption. In the absence of any statutory definition, the term ‘relative’ must be assigned a meaning as is commonly understood. Ordinarily it would include father, mother, husband or wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, nephew or neice, grandson or granddaughter of an individual or the spouse of any person. The meaning of the word ‘relative‘ would depend upon the nature of the Statute. It principally includes a person related by blood, marriage or adoption.
The expression “relative of the husband” further came up for consideration in Vijeta Gajra v. State, (2010) 11 SCC 618 and while approving the decision in U. Suvetha v. State, (2009) 6 SCC 757, it was held that the word relative would be limited only to the blood relations or the relations by marriage. It was held as under:
“Relying on the dictionary meaning of the word ‘relative’ and further relying on P. Ramanatha Aiyar’s Advanced Law Lexicon (Vol. 4, 3rd Edn.), the court went on to hold that Section 498-A IPC being a penal provision would deserve strict construction and unless a contextual meaning is required to be given to the Statute, the said Statute has to be construed strictly. On that behalf the court relied on the judgment in T. Ashok Pai v. CIT, (2007) 7 SCC 162. A reference was made to the decision in Shivcharan Lal Verma v. State of M.P., (2007) 15 SCC 369. After quoting from various decisions, it was held that reference to the word ‘relative’ in Section 498-A IPC would be limited only to the blood relations by marriage.”
It is a well known rule of construction that when the legislature uses the same words in different parts of the Statute, the presumption is that those words have been used in the same sense, unless displaced by the context. Hence, the expression “relative of the husband” in Section 304-B IPC would mean such persons, who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh, (2014) 9 SCC 632.

Leave a comment

Filed under Criminal Law, Relative

Dowry Death vis-à-vis Murder

In Rajbir v. State of Haryana, (2010) 15 SCC 116 the court had directed the addition of a charge under Section 302 IPC to every case in which the accused are charged with Section 304-B. That was not the true purport of the order passed by the court. The direction was not meant to be followed mechanically and without due regard to the nature of the evidence available in the case. All that the Court meant to say was that in a case where a charge alleging dowry death is framed, a charge under Section 302 can also be framed if the evidence otherwise permits. No other meaning could be deduced from the order of the Court.

                It is common ground that a charge under Section 304-B IPC is not a substitute for a charge of murder punishable under Section 302. As in the case of murder punishable under Section 304-B also there is a death involved. The question whether it is murder punishable under Section 302 IPC or a dowry death punishable under Section 304-B IPC depends upon the fact situation and the evidence in the case. If there is evidence whether direct or circumstantial to prima facie support a charge under Section 302 IPC the trial court can and indeed ought to frame a charge of murder punishable under Section 302 IPC, which would then be the main charge and not an alternative charge as is erroneously assumed in some quarters. If the main charge of murder is not proved against the accused at the trial, the court can look into the evidence to determine whether the alternative charge of dowry death punishable under section 304-B is established. The ingredients constituting the two offences are different, thereby demanding appreciation of evidence from the perspective relevant to such ingredients. Jasvinder Saini and others v. State, (2013) 7 SCC 256.

Leave a comment

Filed under Criminal Law, Dowry Death