Taunting for Less Dowry Not a Penal Offence : Allahabad HC

Taunting for Less Dowry Not a Penal Offence : Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court recently remarked that while the law recognizes demanding dowry as punishable, simply taunting for receiving fewer gifts does not constitute a criminal offense in itself.

Justice Vikram D. Chauhan's bench made this observation while dismissing criminal proceedings under Sections 498A, 323, and 506 of the IPC, as well as Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, against the husband's relatives.

Despite the husband's previous plea to dismiss the case against him being denied, the court ruled in favor of the wife's married sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and unmarried sister-in-law.

The FIR in the case was lodged on December 4, 2017, by the wife, alleging harassment by her husband and his relatives for additional dowry since their marriage on May 7, 2017, despite dowry already being provided. She also claimed instances of assault, though no injury report was filed regarding these allegations.

The counsel representing the accused relatives argued that the wife's accusations against the married sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and unmarried sister-in-law were general and vague, with no specific roles attributed to them. In response, the high court emphasized that vague and ambiguous allegations could infringe upon the accused individuals' right to due process of law and a fair trial.

The court asserted that the allegations should also specify the manner in which the offense is committed.

Furthermore, court said, "The Criminal procedure code not only provide the procedure to proceed against any person under criminal law. It also provides various checks to ensure that the criminal law is applied fairly on any accused person. The aforesaid aspect of fairness in criminal trial is essential in view of Article 21 of the Constitution".

Regarding the case at hand, the court pointed out that while there was an allegation about the payment of rupees 4 lakhs to the husband at the time of marriage for purchasing a plot, neither the FIR nor the statement of the witness alleged that the accused sisters-in-law or brother-in-law of the wife demanded this amount from her or her family members.

The court noted that according to the prosecution's case, the accused individuals taunted the wife for bringing less dowry after the marriage. However, it pointed out that "the demand alleged to have been made by the accused person was wholly vague in nature."

The court emphasized that the prosecution failed to specify the date, time, and manner in which the demand for dowry was made. It highlighted that general and vague allegations regarding the demand of dowry by the third, fourth, and fifth applicants after marriage were presented. Furthermore, the court noted that it had not been stated what role each accused person played in relation to the alleged offense.

Case Title: Shabban Khan And 4 Others v. State of U.P. and Another

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