Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Asking for wife's share of property not dowry

In the mix of the many dowry related laws and court clarifications / edicts, add another one. This one is something that strikes to make sure that family settlements are all equitable, and also rectifying one part of the provisions of the the dowry law. The current dowry laws are harsh, and put a lot of the onus of proving innocence on the husbands in case of dowry related deaths within 7 years of marriage. As with many laws, this one is subject to misuse. If the husband is not on good terms with his in-laws, and his wife dies within 7 years of marriage (and it becomes alleged that he was demanding dowry), then the law essentially puts the onus of proving innocence on the husband. This is not a very comforting feeling, given the basic provisions of fairness which all laws must meet (and let us be clear, such laws were made harsh because of the large number of dowry related deaths and harassment cases in today's society). So this judgment of the court is a welcome clarification:

Supreme Court on Monday ruled that asking for the wife's share in ancestral property from in-laws would not come under the definition of "dowry". This judgment could become a small but significant breather for husbands, on whom the courts virtually impose the onus of coming clean on dowry death charges if their wives die an unnatural death within seven years of marriage and there had been past allegations of harassment.
"Demanding her share in the ancestral property will not amount to a dowry demand," said a bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Harjit Singh Bedi while dismissing a man’s appeal seeking acquittal in a dowry death case.

We still need to go a long way towards getting rid of the evils of dowry from today's world, but making harsh laws (that open themselves up to misuse at the hands of people out to subvert law) is not a recommended course of action. All such cases should need proper investigation, including the guidance of experts as well as NGO's.

Labels: , , , , ,

If you like these writings, you can subscribe to this feed to get new postsSite Feed Site Feed

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 5:51 AM