Marriages are made in heaven, is an adage. A bride leaves the parental home for the matrimonial home, leaving behind sweet memories therewith a hope that she will see a new world full of love in her groom’s house. She expects not only to be a daughter-in-law, but a daughter. Alas! the alarming rise in the number of cases involving harassment to the newly wed girls for dowry shatters the dreams. In-laws are characterized to be outlaws for perpetrating terrorism which destroys the matrimonial home. The terrorist is dowry, and it is spreading tentacles in every possible direction. Dowry Death relates to a bride’s suicide or killing committed by her husband and his family soon after the marriage because of their dissatisfaction with the dowry. It is also known as bride burning.
Cases related to dowry death.
1) Uday Chakraborty and others v. State of West Bengal ( AIR 2010 SC 3506)
Facts of the case:-
Ms. Mina was married to Uday Chakraborty on 5th June 1994. At the time of marriage, gifts and cash amount were given to the Chakraborty family by Mina’s parents. This all amount and gifts were reduced in writing in chuktiparta. However, 10,000 rupees remained to be given subsequently. The husband and her in-laws used to torture her mentally and physically. On 18.4,1996 Uday Chakraborty had a fight with his wife and on the same day, she was admitted to Arambagh subdivision hospital after she was burnt. At the time when she was admitted in hospital, she was conscious and was able to speak. On 19.4.1996 at 5.30 am she expired. As per the prescription written by Dr. Subhamony Sidhanta the burn was accidental. On the same day, a complaint was filed by mina’s father. It stated that her in-laws that is her father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law used to torture the deceased. After that case was heard by the session court which convicted all 5 accused persons for an offence punishable under 304B of IPC and sentenced them for 7 years of rigorous imprisonment. Then the accused preferred an appeal to HC where HC confirmed the session’s court’s judgment on 18th April 2007. Aggrieved from these appellants have filed an appeal to SC under Article 136 of the Constitution.
Petitioner’s pleading- The petitioner pleaded that the trial court, as well as the HC have failed to examine the ingredients of offence under sec 304B and pleaded not guilty.
Respondent’s pleading – In this case, the respondent is the father. The execution of Chuktiparta itself demonstrates that there was a clear intention on part of the appellants to take in dowry as a consideration for marriage. The death, as already noticed, is not disputed, as large number of witness have made specific allegation for dowry demand and harassment. And as within 2 years of marriage the girl lost her life, this case contains the ingredients of sec 304B of IPC.
The SC had confirmed and upheld sessions court judgment and held that the sentence of imprisonment for an offence under sec 304 B of IPC is 7 years which is the minimum sentence provided under law. Thus the question of accepting this contention doesn’t arise and dismissed the appeal.
2) Hazarilal v. State of M.P (SC 566 of 2007)
Dashoda Bai was a daughter of Asha Ram and Parvati Bai. Dashoda bai commited suicide by burning herself on 28.8.1989 in the house of her husband. In January 1989 Dashoda bai came to the house of her parents and told them that now she would not go to the inlaws place as she was harassed by her in-laws and beaten by her husband. She also told them that her in-laws demanded a golden ring, golden chain, and fan as dowry. About 10 days before the suicide she was blessed with a son. The trial court convicted the husband and his mother for offence punishable under sec 304B and 498A of IPC and imposed sentence of 10 years and 3 years respectively. Therefore, the accused preferred an appeal.
Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that after having recorded a positive finding, there was no question of any dowry demand, the conviction in terms of Section 498A was clearly untenable.
State on the other hand submitted that though there was no evidence of any demand for dowry, the harassment and cruelty could be for special reasons.
The High Court held that there was no question of demand of dowry, and in fact, appellant was financing the father of the deceased. There being no other material to show as to how the deceased was being harassed or subjected to cruelty, the conclusion of the High Court was, because the deceased committed suicide there must be some harassment and cruelty, is insupportable and indefensible. Therefore appeal was allowed by the Supreme Court and it also upheld the decision of the High Court. The bail bonds executed for the purpose of bail were discharged.
Towards the end after having a glimpse of both the cases, in the first case the Supreme court confirmed the punishment given by trail court because the burning of the bride was not mere coincidence but was a planned murder and amounted to dowry death as the case contained all ingredients of 304 B of IPC. But in the second case the Supreme Court adopted totally contradictory opinion from the first case and released the accused because it did not contain the demand for dowry and it did not amount to dowry death. Therefore in my opinion evidence as to cruelty and harassment of the wife and her death within 7 years of marriage could amount to dowry death. In dowry death sufficient evidence is to be noticed. Court has to examine whether there was a police complain in such case. And corroborating of evidence shall also be done. Also the husband’s income source and customary practices in that locality shall be taken into consideration.