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Eradication of the wrong contentions for Dowry Death

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was enacted with the intention to be the preventive measure against receiving as well as allotment of dowry. This Act envisaged removal of dowry from its roots. Section 3 of this Act clearly states the penalty regarding receiving as well offering of dowry in any formhowever, the hate crime and domestic violence cases against women due to dowry were still seeing a spike in numbers, therefore this Act was subjected to certain amendments.

Owing to increase in these cases a unique section has been inserted in the Indian Penal Code after Section 304-A i.e. Section 304 B, Dowry death which reads as follows: If a womanhas died within 7 years of her marriage due to injury and if it comes to the light that she had also undergone harassment by her husband or by any relative of her husband in issues related to dowry then it would be considered dowry death. The sub section also states that if someone commits dowry death that person would be subjected to imprisonment not less than 7 and in certain cases that can also extend to life imprisonment.

Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code strongly condemns the cruelty a woman is subjected to. When a married woman experiences or is subjected to cruelty from her husband or in laws, then this section will call for them to be punished, which includes imprisonment that can extend up to 3 years along withfine which can be imposed on them. We have to understand thegravity of the term “cruelty”. Cruelty can be seen as action which would make that woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury to her. Also, cruelty here would not be confined to just physical harm, if that woman is being forced to accept unlawful demand of any form of wealth that would be subjected under this section too.

In the present case the accused (husband and parents-in-law) used to harass and beat the daughter-in-law for dowery and owing to this, she committed suicide. Hence, the trial court found them guilty of the offence under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code and Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code. They were sentenced to imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of Rs 5,000 was imposed.

An appeal was filed in the Madras High Court by the accused challenging the trial court’s verdict along with a petition by the in-laws for suspension of their jail sentence.

The Madras High Court refused to terminate the jail sentence that was awarded to the elderly couple and rejected their contention that they were living separate from their son and daughter-in-law hence there being no possibility of harassment. Justice P Velmurugan, who headed the bench, held that a wrong message would be portrayed to the society, and due to this, many in-laws may escape from their liability of the offence committed. Justice Velmurugan also observed that the foremost responsibility of parents is that they should raise their children as responsible citizens first, only then good education will frame them to be ideal. The Court ultimately dismissed the plea of the accused to suspend their jail term.

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