Legal Advice

Dowry death committed in matrimonial home

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow

Criminal Law

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Question asked on: 21 Sep, 2015

My sister is married in last year. His husband is an engineer and living in Bangalore. We have given Rs 20 lakh as dowry at the time of marriage. My sister was very jolly and well educated and also an engineer working at Pune. Just after the marriage, her father-in-law started the demand for more dowry for buying a flat in Bangalore.

Her father-in-law is a senior IAS of U.P. He always shows his official and political approach to dominate us. Whenever we visit my sister’s in-law’s home his father and mother-in-law used to humiliate us in the manner to feel us a miser family. My father is a chief engineer in power corporation.

On 12 August, on the birthday of my sister, he informed us that your daughter found dead in her bedroom and they are going to cremate her. Probably cause of death is heart attack so if you want to see her dead body you may attain her funeral. 

She was lying at the entrance of her bedroom and we noticed a ligature mark on the neck of my sister, thereafter we went to the police station to lodge an FIR under section 302/306/304 B/ 498 A IPC and section 3/4 DP Act. What would be the next course of action and what her father-in-law can do to protect his family?

All the sections mentioned in FIR are constituting commission of the cognizable offence. Police are bound to initiate an investigation without the permission of the court. However deceased’s father-in-law is an IAS officer so he may influence the investigation. But you should be borne in mind that court is not bound to accept findings of investigation submitted by the police under section 173 of CRPC.

If you find that final report submitted by the police under section 173 of CRPC is manipulated by someone and that report is accepted by the court then you have right to file protest petition before the same court.

In Arun Bhandari vs State of U.P. 2013 SCC: when investigating Officer, after completing the investigation, submitted the final report stating that the case was civil and no criminal offence had been made out. In this situation, the informant of FIR may file a protest petition before the learned Magistrate.

The court may take that protest petition as a complaint from the informant and pass appropriate order after application of his judicial mind. The court may return or reject the final report of the police and may order for re-investigation of the case. On reject of the protest petition, you may file an appeal before the court of sessions.

In Manojbhai Bhagwandas Shah vs State Of Gujarat AIR 2001: on submission of the final report, the court may issue a notice to the informant of FIR for filing of the protest petition. If informant does not want to file such petition then the court, it finds that further investigation is needed because of the manipulation of the final report, may take cognizance of the case under section 190 CRPC and direct for further investigation.

But at this time investigation is conducted by police so you should collect some evidence regarding the case and state your version before the investigating officer (IO). IO may record all the statements of the witness which is relevant to the case. Section 161 of CRPC empowers the IO to record such statements. Charge sheet or final report will be based on the collection of evidence by the police during the investigation.

Your case is immature for any order from the court regarding the investigation. Court has limited power regarding the investigation and the court cannot interfere in the investigation. The court may pass appropriate order after filing of a police report under section 173 CRPC.

He may manipulate the investigation or destroy some evidence but ultimately justice will be done. Today courts are so strict in offences against woman and especially in dowry death cases. If some concrete evidence comes before the court then the court may pronounce judgment on them. Even statement recorded in examination in chief is sufficient if it is corroborated with some other evidence. The burden to prove innocence is on the accused because death is committed in their home and some injuries also found in the deceased body. Which needs to be explained in the trial.