Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code 1860 provides for the offence of dowry death and in that regard section 113 B of the Indian evidence act provides for the mandatory presumption and puts a mandate upon the court to presume that the husband or his relative has caused such dowry death. However for that presumption the has to prove the following facts:
1) that death of the women caused under unnatural circumstances; &
2) that death was caused with seven years of her marriage; &
3) that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty; &
4) that such cruelty was in connection with the demand of dowry
As far as the fact of prosecution’s burden is concerned in reference to the above stated ingredients it is manifested by the use of the word “shown” under section 304B of IPC and 113B of the IEA that the prosecution burden is not much rather the burden is only to the extent of prima facie satisfying the court in reference to the ingredients.
In such cases it generally noted that accused tries to take the benefit of technicalities by alleging that there are no evidence which establish the factum of marriage therefore he cannot be held liable under section 304 B but it held in Reema Aggrawal v. Anupam Aggrawal that the purpose of section 304 B is the protection and conservation of the rights of the women therefore the court will be liberal and if the prosecution is able to satisfy the court as to factum of marriage through indirect evidence such as long cohabitation or long conduct of such couple behaving as husband and wife then court may raise the presumption of marriage under section 114 A of the IEA and thereby shift the burden of rebuttal upon the accused itself.
The soon before as used in section 304B does not mean that the death was caused immediately after the cruelty rather it stands for live link between the cruelty and death. However here it is pertinent to note that if it a situation of suicidal death the test would whether the nature of curelty was such that the aggravated state of mind started with cruelty was continued uptill the point of time at which suicide was committed by the wife.
Whereas in case of homicidal death the test would of the fact whether the nature of cruelty was such that it can be believed that such cruelty was continued uptil the death of the wife.