Occurrence of harassment immediately before death not necessary to prove offence of murder for dowry, rules Delhi HC

Delhi High court refused to set aside the conviction of a man in a case of dowry death merely on the ground that no harassment had occurred immediately before the incident. Justice Gupta noted that the essential ingredients for prosecution under Section 304B are: (i) the death of a woman must have been caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances; (ii) such death must have occurred seven years of her marriage; (iii) soon before her death, the woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relatives of her husband; (iv) such cruelty or harassment must be for, or in connection with, demand for dowry.

The court notes that the accused had demanded gifts from the deceased’s brother two days before the incident as dowry. This demand was sufficient to satisfy the third ingredient of the offence, and harassment “soon before” was not anonymous with “immediately” before the death of the victim. The Court therefore upheld the sentence of seven years of rigorous imprisonment imposed upon the husband of the deceased.

Ashok v. State of NCT of Delhi CRL.A. 433/2013 [High Court of Delhi]