From DNA India:
New Delhi: The needle of suspicion does not necessarily point to husband and in-laws if a woman dies within a year or so of marriage, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled. It cannot be treated as cruelty for dowry and the in-laws cannot be convicted of causing dowry death, the court said.
The judgment came on an appeal by Suresh Kumar Singh who was sentenced to seven years by an UP court under IPC section 304-B (dowry death) for causing the death of wife Asha Devi on December 8, 1993. The Allahabad high court confirmed the sentence.
Asha’s family alleged that Singh and his parents had harassed her demanding gold ornaments a year ago and as such, they were to blame for her death.
SC, however, said as the alleged demand for dowry was made over a year prior to Asha’s death, it could not be considered cruelty leading to death.
“Harassment a year prior to the death without something more, in our opinion, could not have been considered cruelty inflicted soon before the death of the wife. It does not satisfy the proximity test,” justices SB Sinha and Mukandakam Sharma held, negating the prosecution’s assertion that in case of death of a married woman within seven years of marriage, husband and in-laws were liable to face the dowry death charge.
To invite conviction under section 304-B, it is necessary that “soon before her death”, the woman must have been subjected to cruelty by husband or his relatives in connection with dowry, SC said.