What is the Punishment for Dowry Deaths in India?
That is why commission of dowry death has now been made punishable under a new Section of the Penal Code, i.e., 304-B. It runs as under:
“304-B. Dowry Death:
(1) Whenever 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 is 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 connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called ‘dowry-death’, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
For the purpose of this sub-section ‘dowry’ shall have the same meaning as in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for lilfe”.
It is obvious the aforesaid section seeks to give a definition of dowry death and fix the punishment for the same, the maximum being life imprisonment. But it will be seen that this fixed statutory punishment is not the factual maximum.
Essentials of Section 304-B:
A careful analysis of Section 304-B shows that this section has the following essentials:
1. The death of the woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances;
2. Such death should have occurred within seven years of her marriage;
3. She must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband;
4. Such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with demand for dowry.