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Law, Poverty & Development



PROJECT:
'Review oI Dowry Laws in India
SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT OF
INTERNAL EVALUATION

B.A.LLB
OI the
AMITY LAW SCHOOL,
AMITY UNIVERSITY, UP
SUBMITTED BY:
SUGANDHA ANAND
ENROLLMENT NO: A3208308157
And
MEHAK ARORA
ENROLLMENT NO: A3208308170
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AMITY LAW SCHOOL
AMITY UNIVERSITY
UTTAR PRADESH
NOIDA

DECLARATION BY STUDENT

We hereby declare that the project entitled ~Review oI Dowry Laws in India
submitted Ior B.A.LLB internal evolution oI Amity Law School, Amity
University, Noida is our original work.


Signature oI the Students:


1. Sugandha Anand

2. Mehak Arora

Place: New Delhi

Date: 1st September 2011
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AMITY LAW SCHOOL
AMITY UNIVERSITY
UTTAR PRADESH
NOIDA

FORWARDING CERTIFICATE

Ms. Sugandha Anand and Ms. Mehak Arora have jointly been permitted to
write a project on 'Review oI Dowry Laws in India Ior B.A.LLB internal
evolution oI Amity Law School, Amity University, Noida.

Dated: 1
st
September 2011

Maj. Gen. Nilendra Kumar
Director
ALS, AUUP
Noida 201301


ACKNOWLEDGMENT


We would like to acknowledge and extend our heartIelt gratitude to the
Iollowing persons who have made the completion oI the project possible:

Our Head oI the Department, Major General Nilendra Kumar, Ior his vital
encouragement , support, help, inspiration, constant reminders and much needed
motivation he extended.

All Amity Law School Iaculty members and StaII.


Sugandha Anand & Mehak Arora

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COA1EA1S

Title Page.............................................................................................................................. 1
Declaration By Student ......................................................................................................... 2
Forwarding CertiIicate .......................................................................................................... 3
Acknowledgment ..................................................................................................................
Contents.................................................................................7747 B44ma7 n4t defined.
Table oI Cases...............................6
Introduction.................................. 7
Dowry...................................8

Dowry: The Vedic Concept...........................10

Social Dimensions oI Dowry Menace.......................11

Anti Dowry Laws..............................12

Dowry Demand & Cruelty against Wives....................15

Dowry as an IPC oIIence............................17

Judicial Trend.................................19

Conclusion................................22

A Selected Bibliography............................23


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1ABLE OF CASE
1. L.V. Jadhav Vs. Shankar Rao AIR 1983 SC 1219
2. Prabha Rani Vs. Suraj Kumar AIR 1985 SC 628
3. Bhai Sher Tang Singh Vs. Virendra Kumar 1975 Cr. L.J. 93 (P&H)
. Shankar Prasad Shaw Vs. State (I 991) Cr. L.J. 639
5. Premchand AIR 1989 SC 1661
6. State oI Punjab Vs. Amarjit Singh AIR 1988 SC 2013
7. Shanti Vs. State oI Haryana AIR 1991 SC 1226
8. Lichhmadevi Vs. State oI Rajasthan AIR 1988 SC 1785
9. Bhagwat Singh Vs. Commissioner oI Police 1983 2 DTL 125
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A1RODUC1OA

The empowerment oI women and equality between women and men were always been a
priority global issue. Wall Whitman has described it in the Iollowing words:

'Where women walk in public processions in the streets the same as the men,
Where they enter the public assembly and take places the same as the men,
Where the city of the faith fullest friends stands,
Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands,
There the great city stands`
1


The best way to understand a civilization is to get to know the status and position oI its
women in society. 'India oI today is guilty oI outrages Irom Ioeticide and inIanticide to
saticide and dowrycide says Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer. Because in India, 'the mother is
more than a parent and a girl more than a child with an unwanted sex. The over emphasis oI
Iamily as an unbreakable unit with religious re-enIorcement has sometimes been a guise to
warp the assertive equality oI womanhood. Power, every where, is in the hands oI man as a
species and never does power part with its privilege and pleasure.

From womb to tomb women are made to pay heavily Ior their womanhood, though protection
oI womanhood is a condition precedent Ior a just world orders. Dowry is one oI the biggest
examples explaining that women, in addition to being viewed as mere sex objects, are
considered to be severe economic liabilities Ior the parents.

1
http://bonjourplanetearth.blogspot.com/2011/08/whitman-there-great-city-stands.html
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DOWRY

Dowry system in Indian marriage can be called the commercial aspect oI the marriage. The
practice oI giving dowry was very common among all people oI all nations. Dowry system in
India is prevalent since the Vedic period. In epic period giIts Irom parents, brothers and
relative were recognized as woman`s property- stridhan. According to Kautaliya
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'means oI
subsistence or jewellery constitutes what is called the property oI woman. It is no guilt Ior the
wiIe to make use oI this property in maintaining her son, daughter-in-law or herselI iI her
absent husband has made no provision Ior her maintenance.
Dowry or Dahej is the payment in cash or/and kind by the bride's Iamily to the bridegroom`s
Iamily along with the giving away oI the bride in Indian marriage. It originated in upper
caste Iamilies as the wedding giIt to the bride Irom her Iamily. The dowry was later given to
help with marriage expenses and became a Iorm oI insurance in the case that her in-laws
mistreated her.
When the dowry amount is not considered suIIicient or is not Iorthcoming, the bride is oIten
harassed, abused and made miserable. This abuse can escalate to the point where the husband
or his Iamily burns the bride, oIten by pouring kerosene on her and lighting it, usually killing
her. The oIIicial records oI these incidents are low because they are oIten reported as
accidents or suicides by the Iamily.
Any kind oI demand made by the groom or his Iamily, that involves a direct or indirect
'deal in connection with the wedding, is considered a dowry. This demand can be made
beIore, or during, or aIter the wedding. It can be cash, valuable security, property or any other
Iavors. It includes anything that is sought either directly by the groom`s Iamily or indirectly
through a third party. Examples oI dowry demands can include things like: 'We need our
mortgage paid, so we can have the money Ior the wedding,` or Our younger son has got into
medical school and we need his Iees paid,` or Find a job Ior this relative,` or We need a car
so your daughter can live comIortably with us.`

2
http://society.indianetzone.com/weddings/1/dowrysystem.htm
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Anything that a bride`s parents giIt, just to their daughter and not to the groom, is the sole
property oI the bride and under the law it is called Stridhan (The WiIe`s Property). This can
be given beIore, during, or aIter the wedding. Stridhan includes property that a woman
inherits or giIts given to her in cash or kind by her parents, siblings, and also husband and in-
laws.
The woman is the absolute owner oI her Stridhan and the husband and his Iamily have no
right over it. II the woman gives her stridhan to her husband and or in-laws Ior saIe-keeping,
then they are only trustees and must return it when she asks Ior it. II a woman dies under
suspicious circumstances within 7 years oI her marriage, then the property has to be
transIerred to her children or to her parents iI she has no children.
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DOWRY: 1HE JEDC COACEP1

The Vedas prescribe that dowry be given by the bride`s Iamily to the groom. Kakshivat in
Rig Veda, Ior instance, says he became rich by his Iather in law giving him 10 Chariots and
maids and 1060 cows during his marriage ceremony
3
. Dowry is reIerred to as Streedhana`
and is an ancient practice. This custom implied that women, in addition to being viewed as
mere sex objects, were severe economic liabilities Ior the parents.

The ancient Vedic custom oI 'Kannyadan where the Iather presented his daughter with
jewelry and clothes at the time oI her marriage, the Vardakshina` where the Iather presented
the groom with cash and kind, are in essence the dowry system. The wealth in Vedic times
remained in the name oI women lest that it could be misappropriated. The enormity oI wealth
bestowed to a daughter at the time oI her marriage was a clear indication oI the concern oI
her Iamily in her and her children`s Iuture welIare. When Sita was married to Rama, her
Iather gave her 100 crores oI gold mohurs, 10000 carriages, 10 lakh horses, 60000 elephants,
100000 male slaves, 50000 Iemale slaves, 2 crores oI cows, 100000 pearls, and many other
household items.

The terms like avarodhika`, avarodhavadh`, which are Irequently applied to women in Indo-
Aryan literature show that women were not given any social Ireedom at all. Vachaspati
speaks oI a kulavadhu`, another synonym Ior woman` as meaning invisible` to the sun.
These metaphors indicate that Hindu women were essentially prisoners permanently locked
up at home. Also Madhava Acharya stated that 'they (woman and sudras) are barred Irom
being competent students oI the Veda the Nambudiri Brahmin women are a good example
oI the inhuman restrictions placed on Aryan women regarding going out and leaving the
house.

3
(Rig Veda I. 126).
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SOCAL DEA1OAS OF DOWRY EAACE

The social dimensions oI dowry are Iar and wide. It not only aIIects adversely the marital
relationship and social status oI women, but increasing dowry demand, at times, even Iorces
girls oI marriageable age to commit suicide out oI sheer Irustration or Ior mitigating the
suIIering and mental tension oI their parents. Again, many girls are compelled to remain
unmarried because their parents cannot meet the huge dowry demands oI the prospective
bridegroom.

It hardly needs to be mentioned that the menace oI dowry is essentially an outcome oI the
rapid industrialization and commercialization which have changed the standard oI living oI
the people and resulted into disintegration oI the Iamily system. With the unprecedented
growth in population many youths are leIt unemployed thereby causing unequal distribution
oI money and imbalances in social status

. The consequential dearth oI well-settled or earning


bridegrooms has, to some extent, been responsible Ior dowry to perpetuate as social custom
in the Indian society. The spread oI education and drastic anti- dowry laws have not been able
to contain the menace oI dowry Irom extending its tentacles even to those castes and
communities which were traditionally known to be averse to dowry system. The quantum and
magnitude oI dowry, however, varies according to the social status, proIession and Iuture
prospects oI the bridegroom and the socio-cultural background oI the Iamilies oI the spouses.

Dowry is primarily an evil associated with marriages in Hindu society, but the practice has
made inroads in many sections oI the Muslim and the Christian communities. The menace
has also permeated into the Sikh community, but not to the extent as among the middle and
upper class Hindus. Despite legal restraints, dowry continues to be a basic component oI
marriage system although its Iorm, magnitude and the associated atrocities on the women
vary according to the customary norms oI the diIIerent communities.

Subbarao K.: Social Justice & Law (197) p.109


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AA1DOWRY LAWS

The unabated miseries and injustices caused to the young brides and their parents prompted
our Parliament to bring an anti-dowry legislation in the Iorm oI Dowry Prohibition Act
5
,
1961. Although some states
6
already had their state laws enIorcing legal restrictions on
dowry, a central legislation, uniIormly applicable throughout the country, was much needed
to curb this menace.

As per section 2 oI the Dowry Prohibition Act, "owry" means any property or valuable
security
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given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly
(a) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or
(b) By the parent oI either party to a marriage or by any other person, , to either party
to the marriage or to any other person, at or beIore or any time aIter the marriage in
connection with the marriage oI the said parties but does not include dower or mehar in the
case oI persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law(Shariat) applies.

The deIinition oI dowry as given in the Act is quite comprehensive and prohibits not only
giving and taking oI dowry but also tries to stamp out the practice oI demanding dowry in
any Iorm either beIore or aIter marriage. It, however, permits customary presents to bride or
bridegroom but they have to be entered in a list maintained in accordance with the rules made
under the Act
8
.

Section oI the Act prohibits and penalises demand oI dowry as consideration Ior a marriage
between the parties thereto. This provision, however, created some doubts as to whether the
articles or presents given aIter marriage, unless it was agreed at the time oI marriage, would
constitute consideration Ior marriage or not. The controversy has now been settled by the

5
The Act consists oI ten sections in all and came into Iorce on July 1, 1961. It extends to whole oI India except
the state oI Jammu and Kashmir

6
The Bihar Dowry Restraint Act, 1950; The Andhra Pradesh Dowry Act, 1958; The Jammu & Kashmir State
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1960 etc.

7
The expression 'valuable security' has the same meaning as in sec.30 oI IPC

8
Section 3(12) and 3(2) oI the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
13

Supreme Court in its historic decision in L.V. Jadhav Vs. Shankar Rao
9
, wherein the term
'dowry' used in section has been interpreted to mean any property or valuable security iI
consented to be given on the demand made. The Apex Court Iurther clariIied that there is no
warrant Ior taking the view that the initial demand Ior giving oI property or valuable security
would not constitute an oIIence oI dowry and that an oIIence would take place only when the
demand was made again aIter the party to whom demand was made agreed to comply with it.

Section 3(l) oI the Act, as amended in 198 and 1986, provides that a person who gives, takes
or abets dowry, shall be punishable with imprisonment Ior Iive years and a Iine which shall
not be less than Rs. 1 5,000/- or the amount oI the value oI such dowry, whichever is more.
The oIIence oI dowry under the Act is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. The
complaint in a dowry case can be made within ten years
10
oI the marriage. The court can take
cognizance oI the oIIence either suo motu or on a police report or on a complaint made by the
aggrieved person, his/her relative or parent or by a recognized welIare institution or
Organization
11
.

A new section 8-A has been inserted in the Act by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act,
1986 which has shiIted the burden oI prooI on the accused in a dowry case to prove that he
did not commit the oIIence u/s 3 or oI the Act. In other words, where a person is prosecuted
Ior taking or abetting the taking oI any dowry u/s 3, or the demanding oI dowry u/s , the
burden oI proving that he had not committed the oIIence under these sections shall lie on
him.

The Act also provides Ior setting up oI Family Courts Ior the trial oI dowry cases and also Ior
restoration oI dowry and stridhan property to the woman in connection oI whose marriage it
was given. Thus section 6 oI the Act provides that iI any person other than the bride has
received the dowry, it should be transIerred to her within three months oI the marriage and in
case oI a minor bride, within three months aIter she has attained the age oI 18 years. A person
who denies a woman her dowry-property, shall be guilty oI the oIIence oI criminal breach oI

9
AIR 1983 SC 1219

10
Prior to Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 198, this period was only one.

11
Ibid section 7. For the purpose oI this section, recognised welIare institution or Organisation' means one
which is so recognised in this behalI by the Central or the State Government
1

trust u/s 05/06 oI the Indian Penal Code.
12
The Supreme Court, in Prabha Rani Vs. Suraj
Kumar
13
categorically observed that stridhan property oI a married woman, even iI it is
placed in the custody oI her husband or in-laws, they would be deemed to be trustees and,
thereIore, are bound to return the same when demanded by her. With a view to avoiding any
likely Iuture dispute regarding stridhan property, it is provided that the presents made at the
time oI marriage should be entered in the list to be maintained in accordance with the rules
made under the Dowry Act.

The working oI the Dowry Prohibition Act over the years has shown that the main diIIiculty
in the eIIective implementation oI the Act is the lack oI proper enIorcement machinery,
besides active co-operation oI the appointment oI Dowry Prohibition OIIicers. Consequently,
a new section 8-B was inserted by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986, providing
that the State governments may appoint such oIIicers as they deem Iit and speciIy their areas,
powers and Iunctions
1
. The State Government is also empowered to appoint an advisory
Board consisting oI not more than Iive social welIare workers including at least two women,
Irom the area in respect oI which such oIIicers exercise jurisdiction.

12
Bhai Sher Jang Singh Vs. Virender Kumar, (1975) Cr. L.J. 93 (P&H).

13
AIR 1985 SC 628.

1
The powers and Iunctions oI Dowry Prohibition OIIicers are contained in clause(a)to(d) oI sub-section (2) oI
sec.8-B oI the Act

15

DOWRY DEAAD & CRUEL1Y ACAAS1 WJES
Although section oI the Dowry Prohibition Act provides penalty Ior demanding dowry,
mere demand is not an oIIence unless dowry is either actually given or agreed to be given. II
mere demand oI dowry is to be brought within the purview oI this section, then the word
'dowry' as deIined in section 2 oI the Act shall have to be redeIined in the light oI sub-section
(b) oI section 98-A oI the Indian Penal Code which says that harassment oI the woman with
a view to coercing her or any person related to her, to meet any unlawIul demand Ior dowry
or on account oI Iailure on her part or any person related to her to meet such demand, shall
constitute cruelty within the meaning oI section 98-A oI the Penal Code. Though every
demand oI dowry whenever repeated constitute a separate oIIence, iI it is repeated aIter the
marriage oI the spouse, the person repeating such demand shall be deemed to have committed
an oIIence under section oI Dowry Act.
15


The magnitude oI the criminality involved in the dowry cases and the growing number oI
dowry deaths and bride-burning reIlect the barbarity so deeply embedded in our social
system. Customarily, Indian marriage is sacrament and considered to be a union not only oI
two bodies but also oI two souls in which the bride is transplanted in the Iamily oI her
husband. Since she comes Irom a totally diIIerent environment, a conIlict oI Iamily culture,
Iamily status and living standard is bound to aIIect the behavioural pattern oI the spouses and
amongst their relatives. These inequalities result into the demand oI dowry Irom the
husband's side which creates tension and diIIerences between the husband and the wiIe and
their relatives. It is an irony oI Iate that the bride, who should be dearest to her husband and
her in-laws, becomes the victim oI the dowry oIIence and her own husband or his near
relatives become the oIIender due to social, economic or psychological reasons. The age-old
gender bias permeating in the orthodox customs, traditions and belieIs is the root cause oI this
malaise.

Traditionally, the voluntary giving oI jewellry, presents and even cash by the bride's parents
to the bride- groom or his relatives was considered to be a symbol oI showing respect to the
Iamily oI the groom. However, in course oI time this voluntary consideration transIormed
into a matter oI right Ior the Iamily oI the bridegroom and now a days dowry is being
demanded by the husband and his parents, not only beIore or at the time oI the marriage but

15
Shankar Prasad Shaw Vs. State (I 991) Cr. L.J. 639
16

even years aIter it. The reIusal on the part oI wiIe or her parents generates tension between
the two Iamilies and the wiIe is harassed and subjected to cruelty which at times leads to
murder. Obviously, women are the main suIIerers oI this malady. It is Ior this reason that the
number oI dowry deaths has swelled to alarming proportions in recent years. The available
statistics indicate that more than 500 dowry-deaths are taking place every year in India
16
. A
television report Iurther claims one dowry death per hour in the country.
17
A comparative
study on dowry deaths reveals that the incidence oI bride burning and murderous assaults on
women in the northern regions oI India is substantially higher than those oI southern region.
The menace oI dowry still remains a burning problem despite drastic changes introduced in
the Dowry Act by the amendment oI 1986.

16
Findings oI the seminar on Women's Health & Child Development held in Srinagar on May 17, 1992.

17
National Telecast on Doordarshan dated January 12, 1995
17

DOWRY AS AA PC OFFEACE

The alarming increase in dowry deaths, suicides and bride burnings agitated the minds oI
Parliamentarians so as to devise stringent measures to curb this evil. The harassment meted
out to the newly married brides and their ill-treatment in the hands oI their in-laws not only
disturbs the peace oI her Iamily but also maligns the very institution oI marriage which was
once regarded as sacred. It is rather agonising to note that persons who are socially and
legally enjoined to protect the person and honour oI their wives or daughters-in-law commit
brutality on them with impunity. The legislators, thereIore, thought it expedient to insert a
new section 30-B in the Indian Penal Code making dowry death an IPC oIIence, punishable
with not less than seven years, which may extend to imprisonment Ior liIe
18
. This section
deIines 'dowry death' as Iollows:
Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily infury or occurs
otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it
is shown that soon before her death she was subfected to cruelty or harassment by her
husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with any demand for
dowry, such death shall be called dowry death and such husband or relative shall be
deemed to have caused her death.

The amending Act oI 1986 has also amended the First Schedule oI the Code oI Criminal
Procedure, 1973, making dowry death a cognizable oIIence
19
. A new section 113-B has been
inserted in the Indian Evidence Act which reads as Iollows:
When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman
and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subfected by such
person to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the
Court shall presume that such person has caused dowry death.
20



18
Inserted by Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986 (w.e.I. 19-11-1986).

19
Inserted by section 10 oI Act No:3 oI 1986

20
Ibid
18


Section 113-A
21
, which has been inserted in the Evidence Act by the amendment Act oI 1986
relates to the presumption regarding abatement oI suicide by a married woman when it is
shown that she committed suicide within a period oI seven years Irom the date oI her
marriage and that her husband or relative oI the husband had subjected her to cruelty
22
. In
such circumstances the court may presume (having regard to all the other circumstance oI the
Case) that such suicide has been abetted by her husband or by such relative oI her husband.

The Criminal Law (Amendment Act, 1986 has made subjecting a woman to cruelty)
23
by
husband or his relatives, an oIIence punishable under the Indian Penal Code with
imprisonment Ior a term which may extend to three years and also with Iine. The oIIence is
cognizable, non-bailable and triable by the Magistrate oI the First Class. The purpose oI the
amendment is obviously to plug the loopholes in the existing law relating to dowry and
dissuade people Irom indulging in such murderous criminal acts.



21
Ibid Section 12

22
For the purpose oI sec.113-A oI the Evidence Act, the word 'cruelty' shall have the same meaning as in
section 98-A oI the Indian Penal Code

23
Section 98-A deIines 'cruelty' as any wilIul conduct which is likely to drive-the woman to commit suicide or
to cause grave injury or danger to her liIe, limb or health, whether physical or mental. It also includes any
harassment caused to a woman with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet an unlawIul
demand Ior any property or valuable security or is on account oI Iailure by her or any person related to her, to
meet such demand. (sub-clause (a) and (b) oI sec. 98-A).
19

UDCAL 1READ
There has been a plethora oI judicial pronouncements on dowry cases ever since the
enactment oI the dowry prohibition law. But even the drastic changes introduced by the
amending Acts have not been able to contain this menace; on the contrary, it is on a constant
rise. Expressing its concern Premchand
2
observed as under:

egradation of society due to pernicious system of dowry and the unconscionable
demands made by greedy and unscrupulous husbands and their parents and relatives,
resulting in an alarming number of suicidal and dowry deaths by women, has shocked
the legislative conscience.

In this case, the husband persistently demanded money Irom his wiIe and quarreled with her
everyday over it. Reacting adversely, the wiIe said that she would preIer death to that sort oI
liIe. The husband, thereupon, responded by saying that he would Ieel relieved iI she died. The
wiIe, thereaIter, set herselI aIire. The Supreme Court held the husband guilty oI instigating
his wiIe to commit suicide.

It must be stated that the mental torture caused to the wiIe due to maltreatment Ior bringing
less dowry would amount to cruelty within the meaning oI the newly created section 98-A
I.P.C. even iI the girl does not commit suicide.

As regards the restoration oI dowry and "stridhan" property, the Supreme Court over-ruled
the view that, upon entering the matrimonial home, the ownership oI property became joint
with her husband or his relatives. The Court observed that even iI such property is placed in
custody oI her husband or in-laws, the latter would be deemed to be trustees oI the property
and hence would be bound to return the same iI and when demanded by her
25
. The Court also
noted that it was distressing to see a helpless woman being turned out oI her home without
the ornaments, money and clothes etc., which actually belong to her.


2
AIR 1989 SC 1661

25
Pratibha Rani Vs. Suraj Kumar, AIR 1965 SC 628
20

In State oI Punjab Vs. Amarjit Singh
26
, the Supreme Court did not stick to the technicalities
oI the rules regarding the recording oI the dying declaration and accepted a newly married
woman's statement made to the Assistant Sub-inspector that her husband had set her on Iire
and held the accused guilty oI the oIIence oI dowry death u/s 30-B oI the Indian Penal Code.

The apex court was once again called upon to lay down the indications oI the oIIence under
section 30-B IPC in Shanti Vs. State oI Haryana
27
and noted the Iollowing:

1. the death oI a married woman should have been caused by burns, bodily injury or
otherwise other than under normal circumstances;
2. such death should have occurred within seven years oI her marriage;
3. she must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any oI his
relatives; and
. such cruelty or harassment should have been Ior or in connection with demand Ior
dowry.

In a bride-burning case, namely, Lichhmadevi Vs. State oI Rajasthan
28
the neighbours had
taken Pushpa, a young bride, to the hospital where she died. The mother-in-law and husband
oI the deceased hardly showed any signs oI grieI and they had even reIused to take her to the
hospital Ior treatment. While in hospital, the deceased made a statement to the doctor that her
mother-in-law had poured kerosene and set her on Iire. She repeated the same statement to
two witnesses beIore the police. The High Court oI Rajasthan, reversing the acquittal order oI
the Sessions Court, Jaipur, convicted the mother-in- law Ior murder under section 302 I.P.C.
On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction describing the victim's murder as
'dastardly and diabolic.' The Apex Court Iurther observed that the extreme penalty oI death
sentence was justiIied in case oI the person who perpetrates a crime without any human
consideration but in view oI the diIIerence oI opinion between the Sessions Judge and the
High Court regarding the guilt oI the accused in the instant case, the sentence is reduced to
one oI imprisonment Ior liIe.



26
AIR 1988 SC 2013.

27
AIR 1991 SO 1226

28
AIR 1988 SC 1785
21

Again, in Bhagwat Singh Vs. Commissioner oI Police, Delhi
29
, The Supreme Court pointed
out that normally a young woman oI education, intelligence and character would not resort to
set herselI ablaze and embrace death unless provoked and compelled to take that desperate
step by the intolerance oI her misery. ThereIore, accused in the bride-burning needed to be
dealt with sternly.

An overall view oI dowry violence and torture suggests that socio-psychological Iactors and
suIIocating surroundings oI young wives are the main causes oI this malady. In case oI bride
burning, the deIence story generally tries to establish death due to Iire accident destroying all
the possible clues oI deliberate burning. ThereIore, there is need Ior an expeditious
investigation in such cases within the Irameworks oI the amended provisions oI the Indian
Penal Code, the Code oI Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act. The law has got to
be augmented and geared up to combat the evil oI dowry to prevent Iurther degradation oI the
society.


29
(1983) 2 DLT 125
22

COACLUSOA

Ironically, dowry demands have spurred the rate oI divorce petitions and contributed to an
irretrievable breakdown oI marriages, leaving women to suIIer badly. In Iact, the very
sanctity oI marriage has been thrown to winds and it has now assumed the Iorm oI a
commercial bargaining. The dowry menace has also contributed to sex delinquency to some
extent, as many girls are compelled to lead a promiscuous liIe just to earn enough Ior meeting
dowry expenses oI their marriage. In recent years, it has been seen that not only brides but
even the teenaged girls, knowing Iully well that their parents will not be able to arrange
dowry, are drawn to commit suicide out oI sheer Irustration and desperation
30
.

The problem oI dowry is associated with the institution oI marriage where the security and
the liIe oI a girl Ior the rest oI her liIe is involved. It would, thereIore, be expedient that
dowry-related crimes, excepting dowry deaths, and bride-burning, should be tried by Family
Courts
31
which provide a more congenial atmosphere Ior both parties to settle their
diIIerences amicably. It may also be suggested that besides punishing the erring husband or
his relative, as the case may be, with a term oI imprisonment, he should be deprived oI
certain civic rights such as disqualiIying him Irom holding any public oIIice or contesting
election etc.

Dowry being a socio-legal problem cannot be tackled by law alone unless members oI the
society come Iorward and actively co-operate with the law-enIorcement agencies. There is
the urgent need to create social awareness and mobilise public opinion against dowry through
an intensive educational programme at all levels, particularly in the rural pockets.
Timely intervention by the local agencies oI the commission in dowry-related crimes would
certainly contribute to improving women's conditions and bringing about peace in the
matrimonial homes.




30
Raghunath Patnaik's article entitled 'Dowry As A Social Evil'; 31 JILI (1989) 570.

31
The Family Courts Act, 198.
23

BBLOCRAPHY
1. Primary source(s)
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986
Indian Penal Code, 1860
2. Secondary Sources
1. Law Poverty and Development, Universal Law Publishing Co.
2. law, poverty and Development, Major General Nilendra Kumar, Universal Law Publishing
Co.
3. Electronic Sources
1. http://www.scribd.com/doc/21135516/Socio-Legal-Dimension-oI-Dowry-as-a-
Matrimonial-OIIence

2. http://www.antidowry.com/dowry.htm

3. http://bonjourplanetearth.blogspot.com/2011/08/whitman-there-great-city-stands.html

. http://society.indianetzone.com/weddings/1/dowrysystem.htm

5. http://www.scribd.com/doc/5071087/Dowry

6. http://Iorums.sulekha.com/Iorums/wo-men/stop-misuse-oI-dowry-laws.htm
. Journals
1. Raghunath Patnaik, 'Dowry As A Social Evil'; 31 JILI (1989) 570