- The Supreme Court has called dowry harassment a “pestiferous” crime where women are subjected to cruelty by “covetous” husbands and in-laws.
- The Court indicated in a judgment that a straitjacket and literal interpretation of Section 304-B, a penal provision on dowry death may have blunted the battle against the “long-standing social evil”.
- According to Section 304-B, to make out a case of dowry death, a woman should have died of burns or other bodily injuries or “otherwise than under normal circumstances” within seven years of her marriage.
- She should have suffered cruelty or harassment from her husband or in-laws “soon before her death” in connection with demand for dowry.
Issues with Section 304-B:
- The courts have mostly resorted to the narrow view of Section 304-B. Courts had interpreted the phrase 'soon before' in Section 304-B as 'immediately before'. This interpretation would make it necessary for a woman to have been harassed moments before she died.
- The phrase “otherwise than under normal circumstances” in the Section also calls for a liberal interpretation.
Statistics on dowry related deaths
- Dowry deaths accounted for 40% to 50% homicides in the country for almost a decade from 1999 to 2018.
- In 2019 alone, 7,115 cases of dowry death were registered under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code.
Source : The Hindu