Dowry and dowry-related crimes: India

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Cases registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act


Andhra Pradesh tops list in dowry cases in 2012

PTI | Feb 21, 2014

NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh tops the list in Dowry cases with 2511 cases recorded in 2012 while Odisha was second with 1487 cases recorded under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Madhya Pradesh was in the top of the list for domestic violence with 9,536 cases followed by Tamil Nadu which recorded 3,838 cases under the Domestic Violence Act 2005 in 2012 according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Karnataka (1328), Bihar (1353) and Jharkhand (1066) also reported quite a large number of dowry cases while Andhra Pradesh reported 2150 cases of domestic violence for the year 2012.

The NCRB data shows an increasing trend of dowry and domestic violence cases in most of the states barring Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura which reported zero cases under the Dowry Prohibition Act, said the Women and Child Development Ministry in its reply to the Lok Sabha today.

Similarly, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Pondicherry and Chandigarh reported zero cases of domestic violence.

Over all, a total 9038 cases under the Dowry Prohibition Act were registered in 2012 while 16309 cases under the Domestic Violence Act 2005 were registered in India for the same period.

2016-17, a fall in number of petitions

Aditi R., Marked fall in dowry harassment petitions, July 24, 2017: The Hindu

Experts say the Supreme Court’s disapproval of ‘automatic’ arrests has rendered the relevant Act weak

There has been a significant fall in the number of dowry harassment petitions received by the Department of Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme in 2016-17. In contrast, the previous five years saw a continuous rise in the number of cases.

In Tamil Nadu, the rules of The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 were framed and implemented in 2004. Data received by the department shows that in 2016-17, a total of 6,083 petitions were received, of which 4,696 were settled after counselling by the respective District Social Welfare Officers (DSWOs), while 949 cases were referred to the local police.

The previous year, 8,583 petitions were received, of which 5,274 were counselled by the DSWOs and 1,147 were referred to the police.

Commenting on the fall in the number of cases, experts said that after the Supreme Court came down heavily on ‘automatically’ arresting the accused and directed authorities to not do so without proper investigation, section 498-A lost the sting of criminal prosecution.

This, experts claim, has in a way weakened the Act, and more victims have begun to file cases under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, instead.

K. Santhakumari, president, Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Lawyers, said that the authorities too have begun to show leniency in handling dowry cases. “Earlier, the police had the power to take action against both parties, but now no FIR is lodged,” she said.

P. Selvi, advocate, Madras High Court, said that most families file complaints under the Domestic Violence Act as it encompasses many more aspects and victims are more likely to avail fast remedies. The department has received over 31,000 petitions relating to domestic violence, of which 16,727 were resolved by protection officers and 12,865 cases were registered in court.

The bulk of both dowry and domestic violence cases is handled by the department.

“The idea is to unite the family and at the same time, inculcate a deep-rooted understanding about the implications of harassment. Only if the issue goes out of control do we refer it to the police,” the official said.

‘Piecemeal information’

Activists, on the other hand, say that the data provides piecemeal information and covers only a fraction of the actual number of cases. “Several cases are directly reported to the local police stations or are handled in kangaroo courts. I know of women who have been forced to resort to their own means by running between lawyers and probation officers. While the Mahila Court brings in some degree of justice, the large cases go on endlessly,” said Sujata Mody, president of the Pengal Thozhilalar Sangam.

Awareness campaigns

The department plans to set up helpdesks in all districts where the public will be informed about the provisions of various laws with regard to dowry harassment, child marriage prohibition and related issues.

A sum of ₹2 crore has been allotted for the same. Officers in charge of the desks will organise caravan campaigns and distribute information, education and communication materials to the public.

“The desks will be set up in six months,” said an official from the department.

Dowry deaths

Delhi HC on Dowry-related suicides

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

Not all demands dowry-linked: HC

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.

'Torture rather than timelines count': Court

The Times of India

Mar 24 2015

MAN ON TRIAL - Court: Torture counts, not timelines in dowry deaths

While framing charges against a man for offences of domestic violence and dowry death of his wife, a trial court has said that the term “torture soon before death“ under IPC Section 304B (dowry death) is relative and there cannot be a defined time frame for it.

“If a female is constantly being taunted regarding dowry in her matrimonial house, such constant taunting, even if spread over a period of months or years can indeed amount to cruelty soon before death,“ additional sessions judge Dig Vinay Singh said.

The court put the man on trial for alleged offences regarding death of his wife, who committed suicide a year after their marriage. “What is important is that what effect those tauntings had on the mind of deceased driving her to adopt the extreme step. The term `soon before her death' cannot be measured in a time frame. Whether cruelty or harassment was soon before death is a circumstance based on various factors.

For some people, a gap of one day alone may be enough for forgetting bad experiences, but for some few days or weeks may not be enough to forget and proceed further in life,“ the judge observed while putting the man on trial after he pleaded not guilty to the charges framed by the court under sections 304B and 498A (subjecting woman to cruelty) of the IPC. The court however, discharged the man's mother saying there was no prima facie evidence against her to prove the charges.

The court also dropped the charge of murder against the man and his mother, as alleged by the prosecution, saying the victim's postmortem report did not suggest she was murdered.

According to the prosecution, the victim married the accused in May 2013.The complaint was lodged by the victim's father on August 11, 2014, alleging that his son-in-law had tortured his daughter to death.

He alleged that her husband started demanding a motorcycle, and gold jewellery soon after they got married and kept harassing her for the same.


The Times of India, Jul 31, 2015

24,771 dowry deaths reported in last 3 years: Govt

A total of 24,771 dowry deaths have been reported in the country in past three years with maximum of them occurring in Uttar Pradesh with 7,048 deaths.

In a written reply in Lok Sabha, women and child development ministry Maneka Gandhi said that 8,233, 8,083, and 8,455 cases were registered under section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (Dowry Death) in the country in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Uttar Pradesh is followed by Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with 3,830 and 2,252 deaths during the same period.

As per National Crime Records Bureau data, the country has recorded 3.48 lakh cases of cruelty by husband or his relative and West Bengal tops the chart with 61,259 such cases in past three years, followed by Rajasthan (44,311) and Andhra Pradesh (34,835).

"Government conducts awareness generation programmes and publicity campaigns on various laws relating to women including Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 through workshops, fairs, cultural and training programmes, seminars etc," the minister said.

Prevalence of dowry in India

1960-2008: community-wise survey

July 3, 2021: The Times of India

Christians and Sikhs have shown a sharp increase in dowry, leading to higher average dowries than Hindus and Muslims, while average net dowry in Muslim marriages is only slightly lower than among Hindus and has remained stable, a study of about 40,000 marriages that took place in rural India between 1960 and 2008 has shown.

The analysis is based on data from 2006 REDS — the most recent source of dowry data for India — covering 17 states that contain about 96% of India’s population, according to a blog on the World Bank site.

The blog focuses on rural India, where it says dowry remains widespread despite being illegal since 1961. According to the 2006 Rural Economic and Demographic Survey (REDS), dowry was paid in 95% of marriages during 1960-2008, it said. “Dowry is positively correlated with higher caste status and the caste hierarchy of dowry payments has not changed over time. Upper caste marriages have the highest dowries, followed by OBCs, SCs, and STs,” according to the blog titled Evolution of Dowry in rural India: 1960-2008 written by S Anukriti, Nishith Prakash and Sungoh Kwon.

It said that although the trend in average dowry is flat at the national level, there were substantial differences across states over time.

The authors said Kerala displayed stark and persistent dowry inflation since the 1970s and has the highest average dowry in recent years. Other states with inflationary trends are Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat. “Given Kerala’s religious composition — 26% Muslims, 18% Christians, and 55% Hindus — this trend is compatible with the differential trends by religion described earlier. Similarly, the inflationary trend in Punjab — a majority Sikh state — is also consistent with the rise in Sikh dowries. On the other hand, average dowry decreased in Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra,” according to the blog.

See also

Dowry-related crimes: India <> Dowry: Pakistan <> Dowry prohibition laws: India

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