DOWRY – A DARK SIDE OF INDIA
By: Sahaj Karan Singh
“Any other dowry, which the self-willed manmukhs offer for show, is only false egotism and a worthless display. O my father, please give me the Name of the Lord God as my wedding gift a dowry”.
Guru Granth Sahib Ji, page79
Marriages is an aphorism i.e. it’s a pithy observation which contains a general truth, it is believed that since ages the god is only one who makes the couples in paradise only, that’s why the phase mostly used for marriages is “Marriages are made in heaven”. A bride leaves her parental home for matrimonial home abandoning sweet recollections therewith an expectation that she will see another world loaded with affection in her lucky man’s or groom’s home. She deserts her surname, gotra and chastity.
According to law the word “dowry” means any property or valuable security is given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by bride to groom this valuable security or property demand will be taken as dowry, but it does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies. Throughout the years, Dowry has developed as a profound established social evil. It is the origin of atrocity on woman and many awful, unpleasant deaths of young married girls.
Dowry is a terrible and wicked practice, not in statutes but also in religious scriptures the practice of dowry is taken a sin. If we say that this is a common thing among the illiterate or uneducated people, we will be wrong because literate people are also engaged in this malicious practice. Dowry has moved toward becoming a bane for our society at large and one of the heinous, cold-blooded and vicious offence. In its most popular form, disputes over the dowry give rise to what newspapers describe as “dowry deaths” where wives are burned alive by their husband’s families or husband. Dowry is the origin of atrocity on woman and many awful, unpleasant deaths of young married girls.
Violence, cruelty, harassment and torture against women are not a myth but a reality that exists and exists everywhere. The type, intensity, frequency and control of violence against women may vary from time to time or place but it’s there.
Most dowry deaths arise when the woman, unable to bear the harassment, barbaric torture, cruelty, and because of this they commit suicide. The vast majority of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning, or by fire. Many times the woman is murdered by setting up her on fire by her husband or in-laws; it is known as “bride burning“, and sometimes disguised their murder as suicide or accident. Deaths by the burning of women in India have been more frequently ascribed to dowry conflicts. In dowry deaths, the husband’s family is the perpetrator of murder or suicide. Apart from hanging, poisoning, or by fire acid attacks are also prominent for dowry death to make the bride or married women quite. As per the report of National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs for recorded cases regarding dowry death, dowry a motive for murder and against the Dowry Prohibition Act in 2016 is 7621, 1354 and 9683 respectively. It is a typical nature in Indian ladies that the ladies who are victimized for dowry demand; they don’t wish to bring their lamentable scene to Police headquarters or Courts as to maintain the ethics, moral views of Indian society.
As taking this a vicious offence and becoming prominent in the society the Indian, the law provides punishment to the accused, the punishment of taking, giving or demanding dowry is for six months of imprisonment or with fine of Rs. 5,000/- or both. But for dowry death which is added newly in the penal code of India by Act 43 of 1986, Sec. 10 on November 19, 1986, states the punishment prescribed by law for dowry death is 10 years or may extend to life imprisonment or fine or both. In the case of dowry death according to law the burden of proof is towards accused that he has to prove himself innocent.
The Honorable Supreme Court has laid down the necessary ingredients for dowry death which are as follows:
- death of a woman is either by burns or by bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances;
- It should be within seven years of marriage;
- It should be soon before her death that she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by the husband or any relative of the husband;
- Such harassment or cruelty should be related to demand for dowry.
There are live examples where for dowry death where the Supreme Court found the accused guilty under Section 304B of IPC, 1860for the case of dowry death and sentenced the accused for life imprisonment for his wife being put on fire for not satisfying his dowry demands. The disturbing ascent in the quantity of cases including harassment to the married girl for dowry which shatters their dreams. In India the terrorist is dowry also, which destroys the matrimonial home. Dowry death is a big challenge to the present Indian society, moral values, police, and forensic professionals as well as to legal officials and justice not only to eliminate this social peril but also to punish the culprits in effective manner to make the world free from it forever.
Presently 32 years have been passed since the implementation of Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986. The question arises before us is:
- Whether the Government has prevailing with regards to curb the issue of ‘dowry death’?
- Why the prevailing law cannot be able to curb the cruel and drastic problem of dowry from society?
- Should capital punishment be accommodated the offense of dowry death?
We live in a wretched society, it cannot be ignored. Since centuries, it has been patriarchal i.e. male-dominated society and people are scared of women empowerment. Till now dowry is the most debated issue of the society. Strikingly, many men and women are taking advantage of dowry system and prevailing laws.
It is ridiculous, hilarious and absurd, I mean some suffer and some laugh. People are misusing the prevailing laws of dowry; Delhi, Bangalore and Jaipur have many of fake cases filed by both men and women and it’s proved by the Tribunal and High Courts of respective states. The dowry cases received last year, 5-10 % has been found fake during investigations and more of these false dowry cases were filed by women. Maybe that’s why men fear women’s freedom and empowerment. So they are repressed and male supremacy rules. Women are no milk-washed angels. They are at fault too.
The miserable of dowry deaths is still pursuing. Large number of cases relating to dowry death is reported each year, which really is a matter of shame and cause for deep concern. As I would see dowry death is more terrible than murder however there is no death penalty for it whereas death penalty can be given for murder. As per me the time has come when the law should be altered and capital punishment ought to be allowed in instances of dowry death in rarest of the rare case, Justice Sanskaria on the behalf of the majority delivered his judgement and said that capital punishment is necessary in India. He said that capital punishment could not be totally abolished in India. It can, however, be restricted only for the ‘rarest of the rare cases’. For instance, dowry death, murder, rape can be treated as ‘rarest of rare cases’.
The term ‘rarest of the rare’, indicated about those exceptional cases in which the cruelty and intention of the criminal to cause deaths proved, no other suitable alternative is left before the court except awarding capital punishment and the amendment has to be there for increasing the punishment for demanding, taking or giving dowry also.