Taunting for not getting dowry not harassment, says court
NEW DELHI: Mere taunts and jibes for bringing insufficient dowry do not amount to causing harassment to a woman or subjecting her to cruelty for dowry, a trial court has said.
“Though taunting for bringing insufficient dowry is an uncivilized act, it does not come within the purview of Section 498-A of the IPC, sufficient to constitute the offence i.e. cruelty to the complainant with respect to non fulfillment of demand of dowry,” metropolitan magistrate Shunali Gupta said.
The court’s remarks came while acquitting a railway employee and his mother in a 17-year-old case of causing harassment to his wife, a teacher, for dowry. “Taunting for not bringing sufficient dowry is distinct from demand of dowry and should not be confused with (the offence itself). With reference to Section 498-A IPC, the sine quo non (essential requisition) is that there must be a demand in contradiction with mere taunts, jibes. Also, that demand should be with a view to pressurize the complainant/her relatives to meet the demand for dowry,” the judge said.
The court also reasoned that “unhappy matrimonial life per se does not imply that there has been commission of offence of harassment for dowry and cruelty”.
A criminal case was lodged by the woman, who married railway employee Jitender Kumar – a resident of Mangolpuri area in northwest Delhi – in 1992. Soon after her marriage, she had approached Mangolpuri police alleging that her husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law had been harassing her for bringing insufficient dowry.
She even told police that she was being administered slow poison by her husband and in-laws due to which she had to be repeatedly taken to hospital, albeit by her in-laws themselves. Even while hurling a string of allegations against her husband and in-laws, she told the police that “she is still ready to reside with her husband if he behaves nicely with her”.