8888677771 | Husband’s extramarital affair not ground to assume dowry death: Delhi HC

NEW DELHI: A man’s extramarital affair or betting habits cannot be grounds to implicate him under Section 304B of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which punishes wife’s dowry death, observed Delhi High Court recently, while granting bail to a man whose wife had died by suicide in August 2022 within two years of their marriage.
Justice Vikas Mahajan noted that for invoking Section 304B of IPC, not only there should be harassment soon before the woman’s death, but such harassment must be related to a demand for dowry. “The expression “soon before death” is a relative expression. Time lag may differ from case to case. All that is necessary that the demand of dowry should not be stale but should be a continuing cause for the death of married woman under Section 304B IPC,” said the single judge bench.
The man had allegedly lied that he was a law graduate and practicing as a lawyer when he got married. His wife later came to know about his alleged extramarital affair and betting habits as well and due to the strained relationship, she filed various cases against him including a divorce petition.
The couple had been living separately since April 19, 2021 and the woman died by suicide on August 7, 2022.
After the prosecution submitted that there was nothing on record to show that demand for dowry was made by the accused after the victim left her matrimonial home, HC allowed release of the accused on bail, factoring in that there was little to indicate that the woman was subjected to dowry-related harassment “soon before” her death.
Notably, the woman suffered from anxiety and depression. “It prima facie appears that the deceased was under treatment for anxiety and depression and the demand of dowry was not stated to be a stressor or trigger for her said medical issues, as shared by her with the treating doctor,” the court observed.
After her death, the deceased’s father filed a criminal complaint against the accused alleging that it was a case of dowry death alleging that the accused had met the woman a day before her death and threatened her leading to her suicide.
Noting that the woman’s father did not allege that any demand of dowry was made by the accused when he allegedly met the woman the day before her suicide, the court observed that the woman had earlier made a complaint alleging cruelty under Section 498A IPC in 2021, which also included allegations of dowry demand.
However, the court noted that this allegation related to a time before April 19, 2021, which was when the woman left her matrimonial home.

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