This blog is written by Anchal Chaturvedi, student of New Law College Bharati Vidyapeeth deemed to be University,Pune.
Earlier in India, when marriage was decided between bride and groom, the groom’s family use to ask dowry from the bride or bride’s parents which may include expensive goods like house, car, scooter, cycle, cash, jewellery, furniture,utensils, or other households' item, etc. Also, if the satisfaction of the groom’s side does not fulfil then they use to torture or blackmail for more dowry and later force her to death or murder her or torture her to die herself and it got termed as “dowry death”.
Later it turned into a “so-called" ritual which leads to the pressure on the bridal family as the demand of dowry increased day by day and the poor family was not able to afford, and it caused the killing of the girl child. People started killing girl child when they were born and after it people started determining the gender of the child when it was in the womb of the women, so that in future there is no need of giving dowry when the girl will get marry, also girl was then treated as a liability if they are left alive.
Seeing the increase cases of dowry, The Dowry Prohibition Act, the first national legislation to deal with the social evil of dowry, was passed in 1961 and the objective of this act is to prohibit giving and taking of dowry. Failure ofdowry legislation and increase in the cases dowry death led to the criminal amendment in the year 1983 and 1986by adding section 304-B and 498-A.
In 1986 a new offence known as dowry death was inserted in the Indian Penal Code by the virtue of Section 304-B.
The offence under section 304-B defines “Dowry Death” is the death caused to woman by burns or bodily injury or under unnatural circumstances within seven years of marriage, where it is shown that she was harassed or put to cruelty by husband or his relatives in relation of dowry the punishable with a term of seven years to life imprisonment.
For the purpose of S 304B, the word dowry as the same meaning as S 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, which defines the word as follows:
Dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly - a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, b) by parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any otherperson - At, before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties But the followingwas not included as dowry in the act: A) Dower or mahr in case of Muslim person B) Reimbursement of marriage expense
The act applies to all the religions in India. Also, the act does not have any retrospective effect. Essentials ofdowry death under section 304-B:
1. Death was caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under ordinary circumstances.
2. Death should have occurred within seven years of marriage.
3. Woman must have subjected to cruelty or harassment by husband or his relatives.
4. Such cruelty or harassment should be in connection with demand of dowry
5. Such cruelty or harassment should have been subjected soon before her death.
The offence under section 304-B is cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable and triable by the court of session.
Although this was made for the welfare of the women but as of now some women are now taking it for granted. Inmany cases of India, we have seen this.
For example, women use to blackmail their in-laws that she will suicide, if they do not name their property to her then she will charge fake dowry and torture for dowry death, and will file suit against them and as it is a cognizable and non bailable offence there will be no warrant as such and the husband or the relatives will be punished for theoffence they have not committed.
Yes, there is a need of feminism but not fake feminism. If there is need of a safety of women, then there should be safety of men too, there should be the verification before giving them a grievous punishment.
As we know in India, there are crores of cases which are pending and till the judgements comes, a decade used to fly like a minute and if it happens then an innocent gets a punishment for the offence which he has not committed, and the life of the innocent man gets ruined.
According to me, there should be amendment in this law. There is no guarantee that if a woman is dying before 7years of marriage, then it is a dowry death or if it's after 7 years of marriage then not so, and there should be a proper verification of that if there is any act of dowry or not. Amendment should include that the act should not be cognizable, earlier there was necessary of this but now there is a change in the society. Mostly the cruelty which used to happen earlier now it is not so, most of the people are aware of the same. We cannot apply 1986’s law in 2023 and it should be amended.
We need amended laws, as 1986’s laws cannot be applicable in today's scenario. Although we know judges are working on it, but there should be the amendment as soon as possible.
Definitely, a person who asks for dowry and torture women should be punished, but after a proper scrutinization,as our motive is justice for all.