The Apex Court, while modifying the verdict given by a two-judge Bench last year, restores to the police their power to immediately register an FIR and act on a dowry harassment complaint filed by a married woman.
One of the greatest social evils of modern India is the dowry system, whereby the bride’s father pays out an exorbitant amount of money to the groom at the wedding. Often, the bride’s father can hardly afford the expense, using up its entire savings of his lifetime, often going into debt. The dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage.
Dowry deaths are deaths of women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry. Dowry deaths are found predominantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. Lower caste members are more prone to the practice of bride price since it is a way to ensure more income for the groom’s family. It is important to remember that the caste system is an inequitable system. In such a system, a bride becomes a commodity for families to gain greater influence and/or to maintain status.
Men and women need to consider this when getting married. Instead of concentrating on looks, grades, caste, locality, it’s best to consider what the “person” is like. A marriage based on the superficial aspects of a person will always be superficial. A marriage based on a solid foundation of love, consideration, and understanding will weather any storm in life.
This is far from being a fair judgement. There are no provisions to stop misuse of this law by the police and by the woman making a false complaint. Should the affected man go for quashing of the FIR only after being arrested and remanded? What if he is proven not-guilty? Won’t the arrest and remand qualify as illegal detention? My opinion is that an FIR shouldn’t be normally filed. The husband should be given a chance to contest his side before being arrested.
There should be gender justice for women as dowry has a chilling effect on marriage on the one hand and on the other, it is right to life and personal liberty of the man, the bench had said while reserving its verdict.
The plea suggested that out of the three members in family welfare committees, at least two should be women and one should have a Masters in social work. It had also suggested recording of facts at the time of counselling. It should also consider the economic status of the parties contesting the case. Excellent decision!
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)