New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over growing dowry culture in the society saying it is a "social malaise" which must be dealt with firmly.
Holding dowry as a disgraceful and distressing reality, a bench of justices T S Thakur and Vikramajit Sen at the same time also said the penal provision against dowry harassment is being abused.
"Judges cannot be blind to the disgraceful and distressing reality vis-a-vis dowry, which prevails in some sections of our society. What we find extremely disconcerting is that this social malaise is spreading amongst all religious communities. The demand of dowry is a social anathema, which must be dealt with firmly," it said.
The bench also said that courts should not quash proceedings on a complaint of a woman in dowry harassment case merely on the ground of delay in filing the case.
It said the bride endures the ill treatment and taunts knowing that the marriage would be undermined and jeopardised by running to the police station.
"It would be idle and in fact illogical to contend that law expects that on the first demand of dowry, prosecution under Section 498-A (harassment by husband or in-laws) has to be commenced.
"In the Indian idiom, where it is oft spoken that on her marriage a daughter ceases to be a member of her parents` family and may return to it only as a corpse, the reality is that only when it is obvious that the marriage has become unredeemably unworkable that the wife and her family would initiate proceedings," it said.
"We must hasten to add that a malpractice is now widely manifesting itself in that lawyers invariably advise immediate commencement of Section 498-A proceedings employing them as a weapon of harassment. Courts however, are aware and alive to this abuse of otherwise salutary statutory provision."
The court order came on an appeal filed by a man and his family members seeking quashing of proceedings against them in a dowry harassment and abetment to suicide case lodged against them by his in-laws after his wife committed suicide.
The bench dismissed the plea and allowed the proceedings against them.