Dowry demand by wealthier people against impoverished family members of wife is rampant: Bombay High Court
The High Court overturned judgments acquitting the husband and his family members, stating that the evidence of the deceased woman’s parents was rejected on inadequate grounds.
The Bombay High Court in Aurangabad recently stated that the societal scourge of dowry persists in our culture, with even ostensibly wealthy people demanding payment from the destitute parents of a bride. [State of Maharashtra v. Vasant s/o Nagnath Amilkantwar].
The revision petitioner was represented by attorneys Aummaheshwari Jadhav and PR Katneshwarkar.
The State was represented by Additional Public Prosecutor Geeta Deshpande.
For the defendants, attorneys SR Bagal and BN Gadegaonkar was appeared.
In his decision, Justice Bharat Deshpande stated,
“The aspect of dowry in our society is clearly a social menace. Inspite of strict legislation and punishments imposed by the courts from time to time, many cases are coming in the courts of law. A greed is not dependent upon the status of persons. Demand of dowry even by rich persons against poor family members of the wife is rampant…”
While overturning a trial court’s acquittal judgments, the Court highlighted that the evidence of the deceased woman’s parents, highlighting a dowry demand, was ignored on insufficient grounds.
“The Sessions Judge praised the prosecution witness’ evidence regarding cruelty from and refused to accept the version of the deceased’s parents on the grounds that the accused knew about the financial status of the deceased’s parents, who were poor in comparison to the accused persons, and thus there was no question of asking dowry. With all seriousness, such discovery must be regarded as feeble and fictitious,” the Court held.
The Bench heard a criminal revision application submitted by the father of a bride who died on June 14, 2001, with 97% burn injuries at a government-run hospital. The deceased’s parents said that their daughter was frequently abused and tormented by her husband and in-laws since her parents had failed to meet the dowry demands.
The Sessions judge, on the other hand, stated in his March 23, 2004, verdict that because the accused were aware of the deceased’s parents’ low socioeconomic situation, there was no chance of their seeking dowry. The judge also relied on a deathbed declaration, in which the dead indicated that she committed herself because she couldn’t bear the tremendous discomfort in her stomach.
However, Justice Deshpande pointed out that the sessions judge overlooked the fact that the deathbed declaration he relied on was not signed by a doctor certifying that the dead was in a “fit condition of mind” to make any statement.
The Bench further remarked that the aforementioned dying declaration was not recorded in accordance with the statutory standards and hence was ineffective for adjudicating the case.
Justice Deshpande further stated that the deceased suffered 97% burns when all of the accused were present in the matrimonial dwelling..
“ These burn injuries were received within three years of her marriage. Prior to the aforementioned occurrence, her parents allege that she was exposed to ill-treatment and dowry pressure. As a result, denying such a claim based on assumptions and conjectures, as well as on flimsy grounds, is completely unjustified” the judge opined.
As a result, the Bench determined that it was a suitable case for exercising jurisdiction under Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) because the sessions judge completely ignored settled legal propositions regarding dowry death, evaluation of evidence in connection with demand where there is normally no independent witness, and thirdly, regarding dying declaration which appears to be not genuine.
“ Thus, acquitting all accused defendants on these grounds is a miscarriage of justice. Because the deceased and her parents suffered as a result of the verdict, intervention is required,” the Bench concluded.
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