Dowry Deaths: A Grim Reality

A dowry is the movement of guardian land, endowment, or assets when a daughter marries. Dowry is distinct from the similar terms bride price and dower. The marriage settlement is the money passed from the wife’s family to the husband or his family, presumably for the bride, whereas the bride price or bride service is a donation from the groom or his family to the bride’s parents. Dower, on the other hand, is the belongings that the groom bestows on the bride at the time of their marriage and over which she has jurisdiction and jurisdiction. The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 made giving or receiving dowry, as well as other related offences, unconstitutional.

By virtue of section 304-B, a pristine felony called as dowry (marriage settlement) death was attached to the IPC in 1986. The provisions of section 304-B are stricter than those of section 498-A of the IPC.

The deaths of young married women in the home have long been known as “accidental” or “suicides.” The link between dowry demands and deaths was made by the women’s movement. Such deaths should be treated as “murder” rather than “suicide,” they said. The issue isn’t just about the number of people who have died. As a consequence of dowry-related conflicts, there is a tremendous amount of morbidity in terms of physical and mental health regression. Family conflicts and violence play a crucial part in determining such social and health issues for women and children. Female foeticide, high infant mortality, maternal mortality, and starvation of women and children can all be seen together. In spite of the significant repercussions of dowries on female’s welfare, there is little details on the subject in the public condition literature.

Prohibition of Dowry Act, 1961

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 was the fundamental federal statute prohibiting the practise. The act has a number of prevention and disciplinary measures, but the objectives have not been fulfilled, as one would imagine. The act was revised twice in 1961, the first time to extend the concept of “marriage settlement” and second time to raise the fines for repeated violations of the act’s provisions. According to Section 2 of the act, any property or advantageous security on condition or acknowledged to be given in the upcoming future expressly or accidently in connection with wedding is marriage settlement. The sentence “as consideration for the marriage of such people” in the original Act was interpreted by the court to give the term “dowry” a narrow meaning.

“The marriage settlement scheme is a huge slur and expletive on our culture, government, and the nation,” it was said in the situation of Sanjay Kumar Jain v. State of Delhi. It is inexplicable how dowry deaths, which are both tragic and condemnable, arise so often in our society. To fight and reduce the growing threat of dowry death, all efforts must be made. The law-making body was deeply disturbed about this sad fact of our society, and the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 was passed to put a stop to the growing threat of dowry deaths.

Essential elements for Dowry Death under Section 304-B

  1. Under usual conditions, a female’s death should not be effected by burns or physical harm.
  2.  Within seven years of her engagement, she could have died
  3. Her husband or one of his family may have been abusive to her or harassed her.
  4. Any dowry requirement should be followed by or include such violence or assault.
  5. Prior to her death, she may have been subjected to inhuman abuse or threats.
  6. If a woman dies as a result of the conditions mentioned above, the husband and his family will be suspected of inducing a dowry death and will be held liable before the contrary is proved.

The terminology familiar with section 304-B “Soon before death” suggests that no specific date has defined under the IPC or section 113-B of the Indian Evidence Act, according to the situation of Mustafa Shahadal Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra. As a result, the courts decide the significance of the word “soon prior to death” based upon the details and incidents. However, it would mean that the time between the cruelty or abuse in inquiry and the death is cross examined should be short. It will be of no significance if the assumed act of barbarism occurred a long time ago and has been stale enough not to disrupt the female’s emotional stability.

Concluding Part

Dowry Death is a societal blight in Indian society that has become a hot subject. Women’s welfare organisations, the military, public servants, and the judiciary have all used dissuasive penalties for dowry deaths as part of a concerted effort between women’s welfare organisations, the military, public servants, and the judiciary. It should be remembered that the Indian government has adopted cooperative and compassionate legislation to safeguard female’s life rights and dignity, as well as to give additional justice to sufferer of abuse and assault by her spouses or families, in consultation with the Indian judiciary. However, to avoid or at least alleviate the social danger of dowry suicide, such corrective measures are needed, but most crucially, citizens power and resolution are required to escape the materialistic desire of marriage settlements requirements. To minimise the rate of dowry deaths, misuse, or crime, additional female officers must be held in positions where they are responsible in cases involving suspicious deaths of women. It is possible that the prison punishment for avoiding suicide will be increased to seven years. It would certainly be useful to find a fair and practical approach to the aforementioned dilemma.


Author: Hargunn Kaur Makhija from Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad.


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