Dowry demand without Harassment is not Crime – Delhi HC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has held that a solitary demand not followed by any harassment of the wife doesn’t constitute a dowry demand and is not punishable under section 304 B of Indian Penal Code. Justice V K Jain gave the ruling while acquitting three members of a man’s family who had appealed against their conviction for dowry death.
The main allegation against the accused was that they had asked for Rs 50,000 from the victim’s family and sent her to her parental house to get it. After it failed to come across any persistence in the demand for the amount, HC clarified that just because a demand was made once after the wedding, it doesn’t automatically attract penal provisions related to dowry as it was not ‘‘referable to the marriage.’’
‘‘Demand for something which has not been agreed to be given at any time before or at the time of marriage and which isn’t in the contemplation of the boy or his family members and which is neither expected by them to be given in the marriage can’t be said to be connected with marriage,’’ justice Jain noted, emphasizing that a demand should be in connection to marriage for it to be covered under section 304 B.
Explaining ‘‘in connection with the marriage of the said parties’’ provided under Section 304-B of the IPC, the court said that it clearly excludes the demands that were not in connection with the marriage of the parties.
The judge further clarified that even if the victim was harassed with respect to one demand, if it wasn’t connected to marriage it would not attract 304 B. ‘‘It is difficult to accept that the demands which are not at all referable to the marriage would also constitute dowry demand, in case woman is subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection to such a demand,’’ he said.
However, the judge noted there are demands other than those covered under the definition of dowry which are made after the marriage and such demands do result in subjecting the girl to cruelty and harassment. He suggested the legislature change the law if these have to be dealt with under the IPC.
Earlier, the father and brother of the victim, Lovely, had alleged she committed suicide after being harassed for not bringing Rs 50,000. The trial court had in March 2005 sentenced the victim’s husband, Naresh Kumar Sharma, besides his father, mother and elder brother to seven years of imprisonment.

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