Proving a Dowry-Related Crime

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

Usually, in criminal law it is upon the person making the complaint to prove that the person they are accusing has committed the crime.

But in cases of dowry the person against whom there is a complaint has to prove that they are innocent.

For Example, if Simran makes a complaint that Raj has asked her family for dowry, then Raj has to prove that he has not asked for dowry.

Cruelty and Deaths from Dowry Demands

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

Indian law criminalises the actions of cruelty and death resulting from dowry demands. This is known as dowry death. If the death of the wife was because of harassment for dowry demands, the husband and the in-laws of the woman can be punished.

In cases of cruelty and harassment, you can approach the police station and report this crime by filing an FIR.

If convicted, the husband and her in-laws will be punished with jail time between 7 years and life imprisonment.

Guidelines for Arrests in Cruelty and Dowry Cases

To prevent arrests from frivolous cases and misuse of the law on cruelty and dowry cases, the Supreme Court of India has issued certain guidelines for the police to follow while investigating cases of cruelty. This was later issued as an advisory circular by the Ministry of Home Affairs.


  • The police should not arrest the husband or the relatives automatically when a case of cruelty is filed.
  • They need to have satisfactory reasons for the arrest without a warrant.
  • All police officers need to be provided with a checklist containing specific procedures to be followed. Police should forward duly filled check list with reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest to Magistrate while producing the accused for further detention.
  • The decision of the police not to arrest a person accused of cruelty should be forwarded to the Magistrate within two weeks from the date of the filing of the case against the person.
  • Police officers who fail to comply with these directions will be liable for departmental action and will also be punished for contempt of court by the High Court.


  • The Magistrate must authorise the detention of the accused person only after he has read the reasons of the arrest in the police report and is satisfied that such reasons are valid.
  • If the concerned judicial magistrate authorises detention without recording reasons as mentioned above, they shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.

Cases of Dowry Death

When the death of a woman within 7 years of her marriage was unnatural, i.e. caused by burns or injuries which are not ordinary and she had also suffered from cruelty or harassment because of demands for dowry, it is assumed that the husband or the relatives of the husband committed the crime of cruelty.

Death by suicide is also considered as a form of unnatural death.

If the above facts exist then the court will assume that the accused has committed the offence. The accused will then have to prove that she or he did not commit the offence.

The punishment for this crime is jail time up to 3 years along with a fine