Dowry Death by Suicide| Subjecting a woman to a life akin to a slave merely because of her marital status is an egregious injustice: Delhi High Court

delhi high court

Delhi High Court: An appeal was filed under Section 374 read with Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 (‘CrPC’) by the appellant impugning judgment of conviction and order on sentence dated 16-04-2009 and 21-04-2009 respectively passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Rohini, Delhi in case FIR registered at Police Station Prashant Vihar for offence punishable under Section 498-A, 304-B, 34 of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). Swarana Kanta Sharma, J., did not interfere with the impugned conviction order and directed the appellant to surrender to serve the unexpired portion of his sentence within a period of 30 days since the present appeal pertains to the year 2009 and the appellant has been on bail for more than 14 years.

The appellant was married to the deceased according to Sikh rites and a daughter was born to the couple. It is the case of the prosecution that as per the statement of the parents of the deceased wife, she was subjected to harassment for non-fulfillment of demands of dowry. The deceased had committed suicide in her matrimonial home by hanging herself to the ceiling fan in her bedroom. It is stated that the appellant was not present at home at that time and when he came, he had found the deceased hanging from the ceiling fan. A complaint was filed alleging that the deceased was being harassed since they were not able to fulfill their demand of a car, and she was being tortured and harassed on that account by the appellant and other family members.

The father had also informed the police that earlier, a report had been lodged but a compromise took place, and the deceased was taken back to her matrimonial home by the appellant after giving assurance that he would not repeat such acts of torture and harassment in future, however, the harassment continued. The present FIR was registered against the appellant, his sister, brother and parents. During the investigation, the complainant/father of the victim had handed over two letters written by the victim. By way of the impugned judgment dated 16-04-2009, the Trial Court acquitted the appellant’s sister and brother but convicted the appellant to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 10 years for an offence punishable under Section 304-B of IPC and rigorous imprisonment of 3 years for offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC, along with a fine of Rs. 10,000/- and to undergo simple imprisonment of 6 months in case of default thereof.

The Court noted that the deceased had met an unnatural death shortly after 14 months of her marriage, which falls within the seven-year period as provided under Section 304-B of IPC following her marriage to the husband. Therefore, it is essential to determine whether the victim had experienced cruelty at the hands of the appellant concerning dowry demands shortly before her unfortunate death.

The Court further noted that the accused/husband had demanded a car and cash amount of Rs.5 lakhs from the deceased which she was supposed to get from her parents as dowry. It has been deposed that the husband subjected the deceased to physical abuse, including hitting her in her stomach when his demand for bringing cash etc. from her parents could not be fulfilled. The deceased was reportedly beaten on multiple occasions due to the non-fulfillment of demand of dowry and the family members of the husband, had even resorted to throwing glass bottles at the deceased. She was driven to loneliness and isolation to the extent that she was not even allowed to make phone calls to her own parents who had given birth to her, who could have supported and given strength to her.

The Court remarked that the collective experience of victims of dowry death, as narrated through their near ones after their demise as also visible in the present case, lays bare the excruciating psychological trauma that women endure when subjected to dowry demands which mean that even after being married, they are forced and expected to keep asking their parents and families to somehow give cash or other expensive articles to the husband or his family as a matter of their right only because they are parents of a boy and the parents of a girl are duty bound to fulfill such demands of theirs. These cases continue to reinforce the notion that women are seen as financial burdens, with their marriage prospects and associated expenses taking precedence from their very birth, often overshadowing their education and career aspirations in many parts of the country and financially weaker strata of society.

The Court held that all the testimonies collectively illustrate the extent of abuse, cruelty physical and mental as well as life of deprivation that the deceased was forced to lead and endure just because her parents were not able to fulfill the demands of dowry. Thus, the prosecution has been successful in proving that the deceased was subjected to cruelty in connection with the demand of dowry and that too, soon before her death and which led to her unnatural death i.e., by way of suicide within seven years of her marriage. Her death, thus, can be termed as dowry death.

[Satpal Singh v State, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 7004, decided on 31-10-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Puruesh Buttan, Mr. Himanshu Buttan and Mr. Shivam Handa, Advocates for appellant

Mr. Naresh Kumar Chahar, APP for the State with SI Amit, P.S. Prashant Vihar.

Buy Penal Code, 1860   HERE

penal code, 1860

Buy Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973  HERE

Code of Criminal Procedure

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.