SC To Examine If Marriage Precondition For Dowry Harassment Prosecution

14 October 2007
The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether a person can be prosecuted for an offence under the Dowry Prohibition Act without marriage actually taking place.
A Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and D K Jain on Friday admitted a petition filed by sub-engineer Manohar Lal Rawat against his conviction for an offence under Sec 4 (demanding dowry) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1951 .
Earlier, counsel for the petitioner, Suresh Chand and K Shivraj Chaudhary contended before the court that Rawat has been wrongly convicted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court after 20 years for demanding dowry at the time of marriage on May 19, 1986.
The counsel also submitted that the petitioner had agreed to marry the girl without dowry after the intervention of the village elders and it was the bride’s family which refused to give their daughter in marriage to the petitioner and hence no offence can be said to have been committed by the petitioner.
It was also argued on behalf of the petitioner that both the courts below have recorded the finding of withdrawal of demand for dowry by the petitioner.
The court wanted to know whether actual performance of marriage is a precondition for attracting the provisions of the Act or whether a person can be prosecuted even without solemmnizing the marriage.
In the present case, the petitioner had demanded a refrigerator and a scooter during the customary dinner given by bride’s family to the ‘baraat’ and the girl’s family had expressed inability to meet the demand for scooter.
The apex court had granted bail to Rawat on June 18 this year and had also issued notices to the state of Madhya Pradesh.

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In 1930, the British govt arrested 17,000 women for their involvement in the Dandi Yatra (Salt March). During 1937 to 1947 (10 Years), they arrested 5,000 women involved in the freedom struggle. From 2004 to 2006, the govt of India arrested 90,000 women of all ages under 498A. On the average, 27,000 women per year are being arrested under this flawed law. These are stats from the NCRB.

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The family of the writer was tortured by the Indian Police in an attempt to extort over a $100,000 by holding them in custody for over a week. The police, in cahoots with the magistrate and the PP, did this due to the ridiculous allegations made in a 498A case by his embittered ex-wife. She filed the case years after he and his family had last seen her. Thousands of 498A cases are filed each year in India by women seeking to wreak vengeance on their husbands and in-laws. Enormous sums are extorted from intimidated families implicated in these cases by corrupt Indian police officers and elements of the Indian judiciary. The author and his family haven't bribed any public official nor have they given in to the extortion. This blog aims to raise awareness of due process in India. The content of this blog constitutes, opinions, observations, and publicly available documents. The intent is not to slander or defame anyone or any institution and is the manifestation of the author's right to freedom of expression – with all the protections this right guarantees.

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