`Mere taunts no harassment for bringing dowry`

A Delhi court has held that "mere taunts and jibes for bringing insufficient dowry" does not amount to causing harassment to woman or subjecting her to cruelty for dowry, unless there is a persistent demand for it.

Last Updated: Apr 06, 2011, 13:03 PM IST

New Delhi: A Delhi court has held that
"mere taunts and jibes for bringing insufficient dowry" does
not amount to causing harassment to woman or subjecting her to
cruelty for dowry, unless there is a persistent demand for it
aimed at forcing her to meet it.

Metropolitan Magistrate Shunali Gupta gave this ruling
while acquitting a railway employee along with his mother in a
17-year-old case of causing harassment to his post graduate
teacher (PGT) wife for dowry.

"Taunting for not bringing sufficient dowry is
distinct from demand of dowry and should not be confused with
(the offence itself)," the magistrate said.

"Though, taunting for bringing insufficient dowry is
also an uncivilized act but does not come within the purview
of the Section 498-A IPC, sufficient to constitute the offence
i.e., cruelty to the complainant with respect to non
fulfillment of demand of dowry," said the magistrate.

"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 and that demand should
be with a view to pressurize the complainant/her relatives to
meet the demand for dowry," she 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."

"To adjudge the guilt under the penal provision, it
has always to be beyond the shadow of doubt that is upon
impeachable, cogent evidence which gives no escape but to
accept commission of offence alone," the court said.

The court gave the ruling in a criminal case lodged by
Ragini, who was married to railway employee Jitender Kumar, a
resident of Mangolpuri area in North West Delhi area, in 1992.

Soon after her marriage, she had approached the
Mangolpuri police alleging that her husband, mother-in-law and
brother-in-law have 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."

PTI