Any demand for money, property or valuable security made from the bride or her parents or other relatives by the bridegroom or his parents or other relatives or vice versa in connection with the marriage will fall within the mischief of ‘dowry’ under the Dowry Prohibition Act, the Apex Court has held. A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha said, “The mere demand for ‘dowry’ before marriage, at the time of marriage or any time after the marriage is an offence. The 1961 Act has been amended by Parliament on more than one occasion and by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986, Parliament brought in stringent provisions and provided for offence relating to dowry death.”
The Bench upheld a judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court confirming seven-year imprisonment awarded by a trial court to Bachni Devi and her son for causing the death of Kanta, wife of the second appellant, after their demand for a motorcycle for development of his business was not met by the victim’s father, Pale Ram, a rickshawpuller.
The Bench said the term ‘dowry’ “is defined comprehensively to include properties of all sorts as it takes within its fold ‘any property or valuable security’ given or agreed to be given in connection with a marriage either directly or indirectly to be given or demanded ‘as consideration for the marriage’.” Any demand which was not properly referable to any legally recognised claim and was relatable only to the consideration of marriage would come within the ambit of ‘dowry’ under the Act.