In one of its recent judgement, the Supreme Court has observed not only direct demand but seeking financial assistance can also constitute ‘demand for dowry’.
The Judgement came out when the Court took up a criminal appeal related to the dowry death case.
During the hearing, the contention raised by the accused was that the money demanded by him was for an extension of the clinic, and not as dowry.
In the argument, relying on the judgement Appasaheb & Anr. vs. State of Maharashtra (2007) 9 SCC 721, it was urged that a demand for money on account of some financial stringency or for meeting some urgent domestic expenses or for purchasing manure cannot be termed as a demand for dowry.
The accused in this present case was found guilty of subjecting his deceased wife to cruelty or harassment in connection with demand for dowry coupled with cruelty during the subsistence of her marriage during her stay in her matrimonial home. His mother and two brothers were also convicted by the Trial Court. The High Court, while confirming the conviction of the accused, acquitted others.
The Court thus rejected the contention based on Appasaheb, and observed:
A three-judge bench had held that any money or property or valuable security demanded by any of the persons mentioned in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, at or before or at any time after the marriage which is reasonably connected to the death of a married woman, would necessarily be in connection with or in relation to the marriage unless the facts of a given case clearly and unequivocally point otherwise. It was also held that the expression “soon” in Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code is not to be construed as synonymous with “immediate.
Therefore the Court dismissed the petition.
The judgement has been delivered by Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose on 17-12-2019.