Dowry Death: An Indian Perspective

By Akanksha Chowdhury

Introduction

“Dowry is a deep-rooted evil in our society since a long time”

There has been a huge increase in the amount of dowry deaths even in the modern times specially in India. A lot of women are either murdered or are tortured in such a way that they are forced to commit suicide. Apart from India it is also found in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran. honestly speaking women have been subjected to various types of violence be it rape, eve teasing, acid throwing, dowry death, etc. despite of so many laws being introduced the violence rates have sadly not decreased much.[1] Many people might think that dowry deaths only occur in rural areas but the truth is that it mostly happens in high class societies where almost everyone is highly educated, even in the year 2020 various metropolitan cities has complained about the cases of dowry death.

Let us now understand the dowry system – Dowry system involves the bride bringing cash, gold, car and other things from her father’s house. This system puts extreme financial burden n the bride’s family as not everyone is rich and thus, they have to undergo lot of problems before they can arrange the amount or the gifts demanded. Despite of this system being prohibited long ago through the dowry prohibition act,1961 various families still engage in this practice secretly and if the groom’s family is not satisfied by the gift’s they either torture the bride or kill her.[2]

The dowry prohibition act has defined dowry in the following way –

Dowry basically refers to any property or security that is agreed to be given to the groom’s family either directly or indirectly. Even section 304B and 498A helps to prevent the dowry system under IPC.

Section 3 of the dowry prohibition act says that the penalty for dowry does not involve the gifts that are given at the time of marriage.

Although laws are present for preventing this system, they have been highly criticized for not being effective, as even now we here every next day that a woman has become the victim of dowry death.

Two main factors have been highlighted by many people regarding the cause of dowry they are –

>Economic Factors

>Social Factors

Ingredients of Dowry Death

Talking about the ingredients, there are four important ingredients which talks about how Dowry Death happens. These important ingredients are enumerated as follows:[3]

  1. Death in this matter should be caused by burns or any sort of injury which is given to the body.
  2. Death must occur within the period of seven years of the marriage life.
  3. It must be clearly noticed that before the marriage, the girl must be a victim of cruelty or torture by her husband or any other relative.
  4. The Cruelty or Harassment which the girl is facing must be related to dowry.

Dowry Death – Section 304B

1. According to this section if the death of women is caused by any burns or injuries in the body that has occurred due to reasons that are not possible under normal circumstance within 7 years of her marriage as well as if it is proved that the women was subjected to any kind of cruelty before her death by her husband or any relative such death will then be considered as dowry death and thus the husband or his relative will be held responsible.[4]

2. Further it is said in this section that anyone who commits dowry death will be punished with imprisonment for a term which cannot be less than seven years however the term can increase.

Causes Relating to Dowry Demand

Talking about the Causes, dowry has been recognized as one of the biggest social evil in the society these days. There are some of the various causes which leads to Demand of Dowry. They are as follows:[5]

  1. Some Husbands and their families think that taking dowry is in their tradition and family values. If they don’t take dowry, they will recognize it as a big insult to them and moralistic culture. So, they try to ask for things which is very difficult to afford.
  2.  The Groom’s Family members try to ask for dowry voluntarily because they give reasons which are not even valid like their son is working at a very reputed place, he is having a good salary etc.
  3. Most Husbands and Family Members think that taking dowry will lead to a big reputation at their family and it will even turn out to be a good asset for them too. They will consider themselves as superior to others.
  4. Also, the main important reason which comes over here is that in underdeveloped areas, there are less literacy rates because of which people are not even aware about the dowry laws and thus it leads to high increase in the cases od dowry demands and even deaths. There has to be a proper education provided or else many innocent women will die just under the compulsion of dowry and fulfilling monetary or other needs of the society.

Misuse of the Provisions and Constitutionality

Although we have stricter laws and provisions for Dowry, we see that there are many fake cases registered in the court of law. Many women take advantage of certain provisions which is not at all accepted in order to take revenge from someone or under any jealousy. These things should not be taken advantage of but to seek honest justice if you are a victim of it and your family members are forcing for dowry or your husband is harming you physically just for this. These provisions are there just to make women feel safe and not taking advantage of being a woman.

Case laws –

Appasaheb and Anr vs. State of Maharashtra –

In this particular case when the deceased had got married , Rs 20,000 was given to her husband as dowry however after marriage their demand kept on increasing and she was harassed physically and mentally almost every day however one day the decades consumed poison and took her own life as she was unable to bear the torture . The sessions court had sent the accused person for 7 years imprisonment however later on the case of was taken to supreme court where it was said that if the demand of many is not for dowry but for some other reason than a person cannot be convicted hence the accused were released as the prosecution was unable to give sufficient proof that it was a case of dowry death .

State of Himachal Pradesh vs Nikku Ram And Ors

In this case the husbands married for 6 months after which her sister-in-law and mother-in-law began taunting her for bringing less dowry and then they started demanding several things from her soon when she was not able to bring more dowry they started beating her and one day her mother-in-law  hit her with a sharp blade. Unable to bear the torture she committed suicide after the investigation the sharp blade was found due to which her in-laws were charged under section 304B , 306 and 498A of IPC however the court after seeing all the evidences declared that all these charges cannot be allowed however the mother-in-law will be guilty under section 324 of IPC and thus she was asked to pay Rs 3000 was fine or she had to go to jail for a month .

Reena Agarwal vs Anupam and Others

In this case the appellant was married to the respondent however just after her marriage she was subjected to torture by her in-laws, however one day she had to hospitalized for consumption of certain poisonous substance after which a FIR was lodged and then the police visited the hospital to record her statement. Reena said that since the beginning she was being harassed by her in-laws and on 13.07.1998 at 5pm all the four accused asked her to consume something to end her life following that they forcefully put something in her mind following which she started vomiting and was taken to the hospital. Her in-laws where then arrested soon after, however all the accused denied that they had tortured Reena. Later it was found that these was the second marriage of both the parties and Reena had still not divorced her first husband due to which her second marriage was not legally valid, further Reena was also very vague in her statements. Finally, the court released all the accused person.

Conclusion

Therefore, from this Article we can see that how Dowry and Dowry Death are considered to be one of the biggest problems at our society. Dowry should be completely stopped because it is considered to be one of the biggest crimes at our society. Why do we even need to give Dowry when husbands consider themselves to be the most superior and successful in their professional lives? Many people think that taking dowry is considered to be a really proud thing and it increases the reputation and social status. But they fail to understand that how a girl’s father and mother have to struggle in fulfilling their demands all the time with costly gifts or something which is not even acceptable. We need to have a strong mindset and a proper education system so that everyone in this country realizes this pain and agony.


[1] https://blog.ipleaders.in/dowry-death/. (last viewed 26th July, 13:29)

[2] https://devgan.in/ipc/section/304B/. (last viewed 26th July, 14:48)

[3] http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-1245-dowry-and-dowry-death.html. (last viewed 26th July, 15:51)

[4] http://www.aaptaxlaw.com/IPC/section-304b-ipc-dowry-death-punishment-for-dowry-death-sec-304b-of-indian-penal-code-1860.html. (last viewed 29th July, 18:11)

[5] http://lawtimesjournal.in/dowry-death/ (last viewed 30th July, 21:32)

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