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CITATION                      –       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 447 OF 2012

DATE OF JUDGEMENT    –            20 APRIL 2023

COURT                           –                   SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


RESPONDENT            –                       STATE OF UTTARAKHAND 

BENCH            –                       ABHAY S. OKA , RAJESH BINDAL 


Indian society is used to demanding dowries prior to marriage, despite significant attempts by civil society organizations and the government to reduce this practice. The causes of dowry have been attributed to a number of variables, including social, economic, and religious ones. The bride’s family is heavily burdened by the dowry system, which can also occasionally result in crimes against women, including emotional abuse, physical harm, and even fatalities. Female infanticide is also mostly caused by it. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Charan Singh @ Charanjit Singh vs. The State of Uttarakhand ruled that a husband cannot be found guilty of dowry death due to an unusual death within seven years of marriage. The father filed a case against her husband and in-laws after the wife’s death, alleging unlawful harassment and dowry demand. The court ruled that the death was reasonably connected to the harassment. The court ruled that the conviction related to dowry death under sections 304B and 498A of the Indian penal code could not be upheld due to insufficient witness statements.


This is the case of Charan Singh @ Charanjit Singh v. Uttarakhand. The dead person’s lawful marriage to the appellant began in 1993. On 22.6.1995, she passed away. A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against the deceased’s mother-in-law Santo Kaur, brother-in-law Gurmeet Singh, and appellant Charan Singh based on the deceased’s father’s concern. But after the defendants filed an appeal with the High Court, brother-in-law Gurmeet Singh and mother-in-law Santo Kaur were let free, even though the appellant’s conviction was affirmed.


Whether the prosecution can be presumed to have waived its burden of proof and placed the burden of proof on the accused or appellant ?


  • Since the lawyer who submitted the appeal was not present, learned counsel was invited to act as an amicus curiae. In this capacity, they argued that the appellant’s conviction and sentence could not be legitimately upheld under Sections 304B or 498A of the IPC. 
  •  To raise the presumption under Section 304B IPC, the deceased had to have been subjected to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with any demand for dowry shortly before death.  
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Section 113B states that the presumption of dowry death can only be raised if it can be demonstrated that the woman suffered cruel treatment or harassment as a result of or in connection with the dowry demand soon before she died.
  • The appellant’s Section 304B IPC sentence of ten years of hard imprisonment was, however, lowered to seven years. The decision under appeal is the one that the High Court noted before.
  • The State’s competent attorney, however, contended that the case included the dowry-lust-driven murder of a young woman by her in-laws. 
  • After only two years of marriage, the death was not natural. Not even her parents could be informed by the deceased before they were cremated.
  • The two uncles and the maternal grandmother who were there during the cremation could see the broken tooth and marks from injuries on the deceased’s body. 
  • They were unable to file the complaint because they were threatened. Given that the death occurred in the marital household, the appellant bears the primary responsibility for refuting the presumption.
  • The prosecution’s witness testimony contains sufficient proof that the appellant made repeated demands for dowry. There are no mistakes in the High Court’s ruling.
  • The appellant’s sentence was lowered by the High Court from ten years to a minimum of seven years, as mandated by Section 304B of the IPC, exhibiting sufficient leniency.


  • It was also claimed that Jagir Singh, a significant witness who was referenced by the complainant in the FIR, was not included in the prosecution’s case.  
  • He is the one named in the lawsuit as a resident of Bhogpur Dam village, where the deceased had lived in her married home. He had informed the complainant of his daughter’s passing. 
  • Why was this important witness not produced by the prosecution? As stated by I.O. Babban Singh, who gave a testimony as PW-6, Jagir Singh’s statement was documented during the course of the inquiry. Once the conditions of Sections 304B, 498A IPC, and Section 113B of IEA have not been fulfilled, no presumption of dowry death can be raised.
  • The appellant, his brother, and mother were additionally accused of having the same accusations made against them. 
  • But the State hasn’t appealed his mother’s and brother’s convictions, and the appellant’s wife’s death wasn’t shocking considering that she was suffering fits at the time.


The appellant’s conviction under Indian Penal Code Sections 304B and 498A creates an assumption of dowry death within seven years of marriage, the court said. After scrutinizing Sections 304B and 498A of the IPC, Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act, and pertinent rulings concerning dowry death, the Court determined that it was imperative to investigate whether the presumption could be utilized against the appellant in this instance, consequently placing the onus of proof on him.

 The Court noted that the mother’s grandmother and two maternal uncles were present during the cremation, despite the fact that the deceased’s parents were absent, and they did not report anything to the police or voice any concerns. The brutality and harassment must have occurred soon before the death in cases of dowry deaths. Nevertheless, in this instance, the deceased’s father’s testimony provided no details regarding dowry demands made shortly prior to her passing. The father of the deceased had cited dowry demands in all of these cases, but they were all somewhat old.

 The court found that prosecution witnesses’ statements did not mention any instances of cruelty or harassment in connection with dowry, only requests for land and a motorcycle. The court deemed Section 304B IPC and Section 113B of the Indian facts Act invalid, as there was no proof of abuse or harassment.


Judges Rajesh Bindal and Abhay S. Oka were the two members of the Apex court bench. The Supreme Court held that the appellant’s conviction was unsupportable due to the failure to meet the prerequisites for generating a presumption under Section 304B IPC and Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act. Only the unnatural death of the deceased in the matrimonial home within seven years of marriage will not be sufficient to convict the accused under Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

All things considered, nobody knows why people die. The bench further observed that none of the witnesses for the prosecution had described any mistreatment or intimidation of the deceased by the appellant or any of his relatives as a result of dowry demands made shortly before his death, or for any other cause. According to the ruling of the Supreme Court, a husband cannot be found guilty of dowry death if his wife passes away in the home during the first seven years of their marriage.


Section 498A IPC, Section 304B and Section 113B of the Indian Penal Code, and the presumption criteria are not met by the prosecution’s proof. Because there is no proven cause of death, the Supreme Court decided that the appellant’s conviction cannot be upheld legally. The High Court’s ruling is overturned as a result of the appeal being accepted, making the bail bonds void.


  1.  SCC Online 
  2. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/83401027/
  3. https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/judiciary/supreme-court-lists-the-ingredients-of-section-498a-ipc-6608.asp

This Article is written by Anju Malik of Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalya , Khanpur Kalan ( Sonepat) , an intern under legal vidhiya.

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