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Dowry can be said to be the age-old demon of society that destroys the family structure, bonding and society in general. When we look into the newspaper, once in a short interval of time we can see the events of dowry death that shocked the society. When we look into Kerala society a recent judgment has been proclaimed against the culprit sooraj regarding the dowry death of vismaya. When we come across the news of the dowry death too often, have you ever thought of what is the legal definition, meaning and consequences of the dowry death. Well in the modern scenario in the light of the recent events regarding the same it is important to know and understand the basics of the dowry death in detail for competitive examination and also for understanding the dowry related laws of India.
What is Dowry Death?
Dowry death is simply the death associated with the practice of Dowry. Dowry is the prohibited practice of giving money or other valuables to the husband by the wife or her family. This definition may be slightly different from that of the legal perspective. Dowry has been prohibited by the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. The dowry has been defined by the Dowry Prohibition Act as follows:
In the Act, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either
directly or indirectly.
- By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or
- By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person.
The practice of giving dowry is more and more prevalent in Indian society. Various forms of dowry are there. Dowry death is hard to define. Dowry death means the death occurred to the person wither knowingly by the husband or his relatives, or due to the cruelty done to the wife in the name of dowry or the suicide that cause due to the assault and harassment in the name of dowry death.
Dowry Death – Indian Penal code Crime and Punishment.
The practice of dowry has been prohibited by the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. It defines what a dowry is, how it is punished etc. The Indian Penal Code is the codified comprehensive legislation regarding the crime and punishment. The Indian Penal code defines Dowry death as:
IPC 304B. Dowry death. — (1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
Explanation. For the purposes of this subsection, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).
(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
How Dowry Death is Different from Other Crimes
Dowry death is a crime which is very much different from the normal crime. Every crime is a threat to the society and the crime is considered as a wrong to the entire society even if it is done to a particular person. That’s why the state is taking action when a crime takes place, not the party who is aggrieved by the crime. The Indian criminal justice system is based on the following principle.
“Let the 1000 guilty be acquitted but no innocent should be convicted”
It may seem like more of a legal maxim but the meaning is very simple. Even if the court has to release or not to punish the wrongdoer it is ok before the court but it should never ever punish an innocent person. Every court in India adheres to this principle. That’s why it’s hard to punish a person rather than release him. So, a benefit of innocence will be given to the accused (who is considered as the culprit at the investigation of police) while the trial starts. The court will start a trial with a presumption that the person is innocent and the state has to prove the guilt of the person before the court beyond any reasonable doubt.
But in the case of Dowry Death, this presumption will be reversed. If the case is prima facie seen to be a dowry death, the presumption is that the death is caused by the accused himself. It is the duty of the accused to prove that he is innocent before the court. Any death of a married women during the time period of 7 years from marriage is subjected to be an unnatural death like suicide, gas outburst etc will be considered as a dowry death and trial will be started. It is the speciality of the dowry death compared to all other crimes. In short, it is hard to release or acquit a person who is accused of the dowry death rather than convicting him.
Dowry is the age-old system of evil which is still prevalent in some sections of the society. Understanding the legal provisions associated with the dowry will enable you to prevent yourself from being engaged to the system of dowry. It is more and more important that it will enable you to raise your voice against the dowry and bring the people before the law, who practice dowry. Besides that, it will also help you to crack examinations like PSC SI, Constables etc. all these kinds of law enforcing PSC now ask legal background questions in their examination. Changes should come from us and to be transferred to everyone. Keep studying, keep winning.