Any material demanded by in-laws, including money for building a house, is dowry: what SC said


As the law prohibits demanding or giving a dowry, it is not uncommon these days to obtain it indirectly, at the time of marriage or later.

This includes “gift” jewelry, cars, houses, and many more. But the Supreme Court has ruled that any material demanded of a woman by her in-laws falls under dowry and is therefore illegal.

The SC overturned the MP’s high court order

SC has overturned a Madhya Pradesh high court that acquitted a husband and father-in-law in a dowry-related death on the grounds that the victim himself asked family members to contribute money to build a house, which cannot be treated as a dowry request.


The court, however, reduced their sentence of rigorous life imprisonment imposed by a trial court to a rigorous sentence of imprisonment of seven years, which is the prescribed minimum sentence for an offense under section 304- B ICC.

the Chief Justice NV Ramana’s SC Bench said Section 304-B ​​was inserted into the IPC to combat the social scourge of dowry demand which has reached alarming proportions.

It cannot be argued that if there is ambiguity in the language used in the provision, it should be interpreted strictly as that would defeat the very purpose of the provision, he said. he declares.


What SC said

In light of the provision (Dower Law) which defines the word “dowry” and encompasses any type of property or securityin our opinion, the High Court erred in holding that the request for money for the construction of a house cannot be treated as a request for a dowry,” said the panel, which also includes judges AS Bopanna and Hima. Kohli.

The Supreme Court stated that the interpretation of a provision of law which would run counter to the very intention of the legislator must be avoided in favor of an interpretation which will further the objective sought by the legislation intended to eradicate a social evil like the demand for dowry.

“In this context, the word ‘Dot’ should be given a broad meaning so as to encompass any demand made of a woman, whether in respect of property or a valuable title of any kind. .

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“When it comes to matters falling under ICC Section 304-B, a provision legislated to act as a deterrent in society and combat the heinous crime of dowry demands, the change of The courts’ approach should be from strict to liberal, from restricted to dilated,” the bench said.

Although illegal, dowry continues to be widely practiced throughout the country, regardless of religion.

According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), as many as 6,966 dowry-related deaths and 7,045 victims were reported in 2020. This translates to almost 20 deaths per day.

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