Brothers and sisters don’t stand on same footing as husband and parents in case of dowry death

Supreme Court: Taking into consideration the tendency of naming all the members of the family as accused in case of a dowry death, the bench of T.S. Thakur and A.K. Goel, JJ noted that while deciding such matter the Court has to adopt pragmatic view and when a girl dies an unnatural death, allegation of demand of dowry or harassment which follows cannot be weighed in golden scales. However, at the same time, omnibus allegation against all family members particularly against brothers and sisters and other relatives do not stand on same footing as husband and parents. It was further said that in such case, apart from general allegation of demand of dowry court has to be satisfied that harassment was also caused by all the named members.

Giving benefit of doubt to the relatives named in the present case where a pregnant woman committed suicide as a consequence of harassment at the hands of her in-laws for the demand of dowry, the Court was of the opinion that normally, it is the husband or parents of the husband who may be benefitted by the dowry and may be in a position to harass and not all other relatives, though no hard and fast rule can be laid down in that regard. 

Considering the nature of relationship of the appellants i.e. being sisters and brother of the husband of the deceased, the court held that the possibility of the appellants’ having been named by way of exaggeration cannot be ruled out and futher said that it is true that till such an unfortunate event takes place, the family members may not disclose the demand of dowry being a private matter and under the hope that the relationship of the couple may improve. Monju Roy v. State of West Bengal, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 358, decided on 17.04.2015

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