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India top court says dowry laws are okay (not biased!)

As questions are being raised on the anti-dowry laws on the ground that they are being “misused” to fix husbands and their family members, the Supreme Court in an important judgement has revisited the entire jurisprudence on the issue and held that the concept of these legislations is based on “deemed fiction” which otherwise is not applicable in the criminal justice system.

Explaining the concept, a bench comprising Justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said “deeming fiction is hardly applicable in the criminal jurisprudence. In contradiction to this aspect, the legislature has applied the concept of deeming fiction to the provision of section 304B of the Indian Penal Code.”

Section 304B inserted in IPC by the 1986 amendment by Parliament makes husband and his family members and relatives liable for the dowry death if a bride dies of the bodily injuries within seven years of the marriage. Besides, any case registered should meet the other ingredients of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The section carries the minimum sentence of 7 years and maximum for life.

The apex court said where the other ingredients of section 304B are satisfied, the husband or his relatives “shall be deemed” to have caused the bride’s death. “Once the prosecution proves its case with regard to the basic ingredients of the section, the court will presume by deemed fiction of law that the husband or relatives, have caused her death,” the bench ruled.
But such a presumption would be drawn by the trial courts strictly based on the evidence produced by the prosecution in support of the substantive charge under section 304B.

Source: Manushi magazine

“Of course, deemed fiction would introduce a rebuttable presumption” giving husband and his relatives right to produce evidence to show that the ingredients of section 304B were not “satisfied,” the top court said.
The main “ingredients” to meet the requirement of section 304B include, subjecting the wife to cruelty and harassment by the husband, his family members or relatives, the harassment is related to the demand of dowry and it had started soon after the marriage and continued till her death. The significant expression used in the section about cruelty or harassment “soon before her death, in our view cannot be given a restricted or narrow meaning,” the bench said. “The expression must be understood in the plain language and with reference to the meaning in common parlance,” court ruled.

People suggesting “misuse” of the law should cite even one law where a man was burnt alive or physically harmed by his wife/in-laws to an extent that he was battling for his life on way to/in the hospital. Such cases neither occur nor can be registered. The court has also now accepted gender bias is prevalent not just in our society but also in our government working.


Dear Victorymust, I may not understand and may never either, what is right in paying a dowry by the bride's parents to the groom, I do not know why this is recognised by the law of the land, and why they felt it is alright. I am not an Indian by birth but a Wold citizen by choice therefore I choose to be Indian at this moment, presently I have more thatn five firends who cannot affor to pay their bride price, I have a close friend that got married now at thirty eight and she has two sisters ahead of her who are yet to have men, she said she has to work in order to add to whatever her poor parents could afford and the man she married was introduced to her 2 days before the marriage

May be it would be hard before anyone can convince me or make me to understand anything about dowry in India att all, men pay dowry to the bride family in Nigeria and we are complaining that our ladies are getting old because many men are refusing to pay their bride price and this is obtainable only in the Eastern part of Nigeria, a culture that is fast changing and I think India is ahead of us when it comes to development.

If the government has decided to close its eye to the plight of the poor may be we should open our eyes, we are the government, we are the lawmakers too, for the sake of the poor, the law is made for man, man is not made for the law....whether it is biased or ok, but we should do what is right and stand on enacting that which is good for the masses. There is an adage that says we are trying to finish our food which is powdered beans and some wicked people are still puring more powder on our plate, why cant we for once think for humanity and stop pretending that all is well with everybody.......
Corruption will continue as long as the rich continues to oppress the poor, armed robbery and kidnapping may never come to an end until justice is attained in all spheres of life, you can only steal from someone richer than you, what will the rich steal from the poor? not money.......that is why caste and class system will not be eradicated, because the law favours some people and some are just living in bondage.
As long as women continue to pay dowry in India, dowry death will continue to occur.....and as long as there is caste and caste and dowry.....honour killing will persist....women liberation will continue to be a dream and elude us.......

Can you imagine if I were to watch my daughter stoned to death in order to buy our honour? Is it the same child bearing pain? is it the same undying love? If I had being stoned to death because I married the man I am married to now, because I married against my family's wish, and today my siblings are happy that I married him now....Likewise everyone who has stories to tell too.

It is high time we faced the reality and make law that will set humanity free, Ghandi said that India cannot said to be free until and Indian woman is working free on the streets of India, are our women working free on Indian streets, are they free from emotional shackles? When will the law address the real issues and how can someone still sit to think and enact laws that will destroy lives HABA! We still have a lot to do when it comes to the law.


Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


victorymust's picture


Thanks for the message. You touched on the subject which has been very close to my heart and I wanted to right it.
I feel that dowry serves two purposes:
1. It disinherits women at her parents house. It is given in a manner that ensures that women are not part of inheritance at parents house. Plus, the expenditure of marriage, etc is huge and eats into her pie!
2. It is a means to give her something to call as her own when she gets married.For the house she has gone to, she has no inheritance there. It all belongs to her inlaws and her husband. While she can claim a part of her husband's property, she has no claim whatsoever in her inlaws belongings. So if her husband is not there to care for her, she is without any support. He in turn is her single support and thus, the society helped make him the master!
I know you may not like reading it but I feel that this is what has happened over the years. We don't treat our women well and even don't even teach our men to treat them well. The who to blame but us, women. After all, if we don't respect ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to respect us.


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