Dowry Death & Cruelty by Husband or Relatives of Husband

Today though not all demand dowry it is an understanding that the girl’s family should provide ample gold,money,gifts,property etc to keep the bride groom’s family happy and the bride’s life secure.

Many laws have been enacted to ensure the removal of dowry system from our culture. To an extent it has been successful in ensuring the protection of the bride in the in-laws home but still the practice continues  in many ways-in the name of culture,gifts etc and many brides suffer in many ways due to this barbaric culture.

Lets see what dowry and cruelty to a bride in connection to dowry means in our law.

“Dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly-

  1. By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
  2. By the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person; at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law Shariat) applies.

“Now Dowry means any property given or agreed to be given by the  parents (or any others) of a party to the marriage or before marriage o at any time after the marriage in connection with marriage”. Thus where the husband demanded an amount of Rs 50,000 by way of dowry some days after the marriage from the wife’s father and in the event of her not being able to give that   amount was subjected to torture , it would mean that the amount was demanded in connection with the marriage and it was a demand of dowry even though it was demanded after marriage.

Section 304B deals with dowry death. Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her 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 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.

Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Section 498A deals with cruelty or abuse by husband or relatives of husband. Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall be liable to fine.

Cruelty means –

  1. Any wilful conduct which is of such a  nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury  or danger to life, limb or health ( whether mental or physical) of the woman ; or
  2. Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

When the question is whether the commission of suicide by a woman had been abetted by her husband or any relative of her husband and it is shown that she had committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage and that her husband or such relatives of her husband had subjected her to cruelty the court may presume having regard to all the other circumstances of the case that such suicide had been abetted by her husband or by such relative of her husband.

Know the law. Know your rights.

Adv Kiran T K
For EnteKeralam.com

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