The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC advises no mercy for bride killing

New Delhi, Jan. 11: The Supreme Court has convicted one person for bride burning and advised all courts in the country not to show leniency in such cases.

A division bench of Justices Y.K. Sabharwal and H.K. Sema set aside an acquittal order of Karnataka High Court and directed M.V. Manjunathe Gowde to surrender and serve out the sentence of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

Gowde was convicted under Section 304-B of the IPC. The section says: “Death of a woman caused by any burns or bodily injuries within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called dowry death.” The punishment is a term of seven years, which may extend to life imprisonment.

Justice Sema, the first Naga judge of the Supreme Court, said: “The practice of giving and demanding dowry is a social evil having deleterious effect on the entire civilised society and has to be condemned by the strong hands of the judiciary.

“Every court must be sensitised to the enactment of the law (dowry abolition) and the purpose for which it is made by the legislature keeping in view the evil practice of giving and taking dowry, which is having a deleterious effect on society.”

Describing “dowry death” as a “crime against the society”, the court ruled “no leniency is warranted to the perpetrator of the crime” and that a “deterrent punishment is called for”.

“When a woman enters into wedlock, she has many salutary expectations” and “expects a happy conjugal life”, it said.

The high court had taken the stand that there was no harassment for dowry as witnesses had been making contradictory claims. But the apex court said “going by the records” of the case, the “main consideration” of the convict for marrying the deceased was “love of dowry and not love for the girl”.

The apex court observed that “despite various amendments providing deterrent punishment with a view to curb the increasing menace of dowry deaths, the evil practice of dowry remains unabated”.

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