Phrase "Soon Before" Section 304B IPC cannot mean 'Immediately Before'

Phrase "Soon Before" Section 304B IPC cannot mean 'Immediately Before': Supreme Court issues guidelines for trial in Dowry Death Cases

The Supreme Court observed that the phrase "soon before" as appearing in Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code cannot be construed to mean 'immediately before'. The prosecution must establish existence of "proximate and live link" between the dowry death and cruelty or harassment for dowry demand by the husband or his relatives, the bench comprising CJI NV Ramana and Aniruddha Bose observed. The court also observed that Section 304­B, IPC does not take a pigeonhole approach in categorizing death as homicidal or suicidal or accidental.

The bench observed thus while dismissing the appeal filed by accused who were convicted under Section 304B IPC. Section 304B (1) provides that 'dowry death' is where death of a woman is caused by burning or bodily injuries or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances, within seven years of marriage, and it is shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband, in connection with demand for dowry.

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