SC: No conviction for mere demand of dowry


SC: No conviction for mere demand of dowry 

New Delhi, August 5
The Supreme Court has ruled that a person cannot be convicted for merely demanding dowry unless the demand is followed by mental or physical torture resulting in the death of the victim. 

A Bench of Justices RM Lodha and AK Patnaik said in a judgement that the prosecution has to establish convincing evidence that the accused had subjected the victim to torture soon before her death in connection with the demand. 

“The evidence of Prosecution Witness-2, PW-4 and PW-5 shows that Jagdish and Gordhani played a role in the demand of dowry for a scooter or Rs 25,000 for Amar Singh, but demand of dowry by itself is not an offence under Section 498A or Section 304B IPC. 

“What is punishable under Section 498A or Section 304B of IPC is the act of cruelty or harassment by the husband or the relative of the husband against the woman,” the Bench said. 

The Bench passed the judgement while upholding the acquittal of Gordhani, mother-in-law, and Jagdish, brother-in-law, in a dowry death case of newly-married woman Santosh in Rajasthan’s Alwar district in March, 8, 1993. It however, upheld the conviction of the husband Amar Singh. 

The sessions court had convicted all three for dowry death(304B) and 498A (harassment of married woman by husband/relatives). The Rajasthan High Court had on an appeal from the accused quashed the conviction of Jagdish and Gordhari while sustaining the life sentence imposed on Amar Singh. 

While the state government had appealed against the acquittals, Amar Singh challenged his conviction. 

“Thus, there was evidence in the case of Amar Singh about his exact conduct which caused harassment to the deceased, but there was no such evidence in the case of Jagdish and Gordhani.” 

The apex court altered the life sentence of Amar Singh from life imprisonment to 10 years. 

“A prosecution witness, who merely uses the word ‘harassed’ or ‘tortured’, and does not describe the exact conduct of the accused which, according to him, amounted to harassment or torture may not be believed by the court in cases under Section 498A and 304B IPC,” Justice Patnaik writing the judgement observed. 

Citing its earlier ruling in Kans Raj v. State of Punjab and Others (2000) case, the apex court said in cases where accusations of dowry deaths are made, the overt acts attributed to persons other than the husband are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. 

At that time, the apex court had said a tendency has developed for roping in all relatives of in-laws of the deceased wife in a matter of dowry death, which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against real culprits. — PTI 

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4 Responses to “SC: No conviction for mere demand of dowry”

  1. menvoice Says:

    There is an urgent need to stop the misuse of 498a


    • want2change Says:

      I agree with you. 498a Should be scrapped immediately .


  2. preeti Says:

    Another classical example of the gross misuse of Dowry Act (498A) back in India is the case of television celebrity, Suhaib Ilyasi. India’s Most Wanted television host was in controversy after the dispute over his daughter Aaliya’s custody rose soon after Ilyasi’s wife Anju committed suicide on January 10, 2000 in Delhi. While his mother–in-law, Rukma Singh wanted custody of the child on the ground that she had the right under Muslim law, Suhaib Ilyasi had taken the plea that his marriage with Anju was not solemnized as per the Muslim law but had been a civil affair. His sister-in-law Rashmi Singh came from Canada after six months of her sister’s death and filed a complaint with the police against Ilyasi, alleging that he used to torture his wife Anju for dowry.

    The case took bizarre turn when Anju’s brother Prashant Singh and father Prof K P Singh took a diametrically opposite stand and described the allegations against Ilyasi as “rubbish.” Prashant told Express Newsline:`whatever my mother and sister Rashmi are stating against Suhaib Ilyasi is a lot of rubbish. There is no truth in their statement or in the charges filed by the police against Suhaib Ilyasi. If you are holding Suhaib responsible for Anju’s suicide, then my mother and sister are also to blame, as they unduly interfered in their family matters.

    K P Singh, a retired IIT professor, agreed with Prashant. “My wife and daughter are breaking up my family”. Both Anju’s father and brother allege that Rukma and Rashmi have given statements against Suhaib Ilyasi as `they wanted custody of baby Aaliya. When Suhaib Ilyasi delayed that, they put him in trouble.’

    Anju’s mother Rukma Singh had changed her earlier statement given in January, 2000, in which she had stated that she did not suspect any foul play by Suhaib Ilyasi. However when Ilyasi refused to give custody of his daughter, she change her statement and alleged dowry harassment against Ilyasi.

    It has been alleged for long that Dowry Act (498a) in India is being consistently misused by clever women for extortion and blackmailing. The NCRB records suggest that during 2005-2006, 94% of the 498A, 304B cases filed by women or by her relatives were primarily to settle scores.

    Section 498A in itself is, however, not meant to deal specifically with dowry — it is commonly considered to be a ‘dowry law’ because domestic violence against a wife related to dowry demands is considered to be within the scope of ‘cruelty’ envisaged by the Section.


    • want2change Says:

      I agree with you that 498A is being misused grossly by the Greedy women . In the name of dowry harassement these greedy and power hungry women are harassing husband and his Family members . This law should be scrapped immediately .


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