New Delhi, December 05: Demand for dowry on the part of husband and in-laws is itself not sufficient evidence to convict them for the unnatural death of a woman, the Delhi High Court has said. The court said that it is essential to prove that the victim was being harassed in order to convict a person for dowry death.
"Mere making of demand is not the only pre-requisite for proving an offence under Section 304B IPC (dowry death). The prosecution was thus supposed to prove that the demand made by the accused was coupled with a harassment or cruelty in connection with the demand," Justice S N Dhingra said.
The bench acquitted a man after the police failed to provide credible evidence to substantiate that he or any of his family members was harassing his wife for dowry. The witness in the case had only said that the family members were demanding dowry from the victim''s family.
"Unnatural death can be called a dowry death only if, after making a demand of dowry, the accused perpetuates cruelty on the victim so that the demand made by him gets fulfilled by perpetuation of cruelty on the victim. If the alleged demand of dowry is not coupled with cruelty, harassment or any other such act on the part of accused, the case of dowry death would not be made out," the bench said.
The bench acquitted the man after none of the three brothers of the victim, who had alleged that dowry was being demanded, stated that their sister was harassed by her in-laws or husband. The court set aside the trial court verdict which had convicted the man and sentenced him to life imprisonment for killing his wife for dowry.
"Every suicide after marriage cannot be presumed to be a suicide due to dowry demand. The tendency of the court should not be that since a young bride has died after marriage, now somebody must be held culprit and the noose must be made to fit some neck," the court said.