Dowry death does not made out in case of natural death

by | Nov 24, 2019

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Question asked on: 24/11/2019

My wife died of a snake bite. We are living in a village, and there is no medical facility. When the snake bit my wife, we took her to the town for medical treatment, but she died in the way. We did not report the incident to the police but informed the parents of my wife. Her parents were present in the funeral without any doubt towards the cause of death.

But after one month my father in law registered an FIR against my parents and me under section 304B & 498A of IPC and section 3/4/6 of the dowry prohibition act. The magistrate has framed charges against us under the sections mentioned above and me. No postmortem conducted, and there was no dispute about the cause of death. But the magistrate has framed charges and trial is about to start. What should I do? 

Advised by: Mr. Shivendra Pratap Singh, Advocate

Your father in law lodged FIR after one month of the incident. You said that postmortem not conducted on the deceased and parents of your wife was present at the time of the funeral. As per the facts of the case, the death caused due to snake venom. You have cremated the dead body in the presence of the informant, i.e. your father in law.

Delayed FIR

The informant did not raise any objection about the cause of death when he was present at the funeral. After a month he filed an FIR under Section 304B/498A IPC, Section 3/4/6/ of DP Act. He has to place some evidence to prove the demand for dowry, cruelty and evidence of unnatural death. At the same time, the informant must explain the delay in filing the FIR.

In the absence of proper explanation about the delay, the FIR seems to be doubtful. There is to direct evidence about the cause of death; therefore, the whole case is based upon circumstances. The circumstances of your case are proving that the death was natural; however, there was an incident of cruelty. If the death is non-homicidal, no offence made out under section 304 B of the Indian Penal Code.

No proof of homicidal death

I don’t know what kind of evidence collected during the investigation, but at the time of framing of charges, the ingredients of the offence must be in existence. When the informant did not raise any objection when he attended the funeral of the deceased, his conduct proves that the death was not homicidal.

No postmortem report

In the absence of a postmortem report, the court cannot presume that the death was unnatural only on the oral statement of witnesses. Section 304 B of the IPC requires that the death should occur otherwise than under normal circumstances. Without proving this fact, a criminal proceeding cannot sustain for the offence of dowry death.

File discharge application

In the current situation, you should file a discharge application before the court. When ingredients of the offence are missing the court cannot frame charges against accused. If the court rejects your application thereupon you should prefer a petition before the high court under section 482 of the code of criminal procedure.

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Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate, Lucknow

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