A bench of Judges NV Ramana, AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli said that the interpretation of a provision of the law which goes against the very intention of the legislator should be avoided in favor of an interpretation which will favor the objective sought through the legislation intended to uproot a social evil like the dowry.
“In this context, the word ‘dowry’ should be given a broad meaning so as to encompass any demand made of a woman, be it for property or security of any kind. When it comes to cases falling under Article 304 of the IPC-B, a provision legislated to have a deterrent effect in society and repress the heinous crime of dowry requests, the change of approach of the courts should be strict to liberal, restricted to dilated. Therefore, an effort in the right direction is needed to accomplish the task of eradicating this evil which has become deeply entrenched in our society, ”said Judge Kohli, who wrote the judgment for the judiciary.
The court overturned a verdict from the Madhya Pradesh high court that acquitted a husband and stepfather for dowry death on the grounds that the victim herself asked her family members to contribute financially to the construction of the dowry. ‘a house, which cannot be treated as a request for a dowry.
The Supreme Court said the request made by the deceased herself should be seen and understood from the right perspective as she was being tortured to bring money to her family. He said the trial court order sentencing them both for dowry-related death was correct. In this case, the deceased, who was five months pregnant, set herself on fire in her marital home.
“We are of the opinion that the court of first instance correctly interpreted the claim for money raised by the respondents on the deceased for the construction of a house as falling within the definition of the word dot. that the respondents had been constantly tormenting the deceased and asking her to ask her family members for money to build a house and it was only on their persistence and insistence that she was forced to ask them for a contribution for building a house, ”he said.
The court said the evidence on file showed the deceased had been pressured to make such a request for money from her mother and uncle. “This was not a case of complicity but a case of sheer helplessness faced by the deceased in such adverse circumstances,” the court said while condemning both the husband and his father under of Articles 304-B and 498-A IPC and granted him seven years in prison. rigorous imprisonment, which is the minimum sentence prescribed for an offense under Article 304-B IPC.
“The glaring circumstances above, taken together, can hardly mitigate the offense of the respondents or leave the case outside the scope of Article 304-B CPI, when the four conditions precedent to the invocation of the said provision are met, namely that the death of Geeta Bai took place at her marital home within seven years of her marriage; that the said death occurred in abnormal circumstances due to burns and this also while she was five months pregnant; that she had been the victim of cruelty and harassment on the part of the respondents before her death and this cruelty / harassment was related to a request for dowry ”, declared the court.