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Report No. 91

2.7. Recommendation for another amendment in the Evidence Act.-

The factor mentioned in the preceding paragraph seems to justify the insertion, in the law, of two provisions:-

Besides the presumption already recommended for being inserted in the Evidence Act,1 another presumption should also be inserted in the same Act, as under:-

"Where a married woman dies, within five years of her marriage, of burn or injuries sustained in the house in which she and her husband were residing together immediately before her death, or from other cause of a similar nature, and there is credible information that there had been persistent demands of dowry against the woman or her parents or other relatives, it may be presumed that her death was the result2 that:

(a) either of suicide to which the woman was driven by such persistent demands of dowry, or

(b) of homicide."

The definition of "dowry" for the purpose of the provisions to be newly inserted will be as under:-

"'dowry' means money, or other thing estimable in terms of money, demanded from the wife or her parents or other relatives by the husband or his parents or other relatives, where such a demand is not properly referable to any legally recognised claim and is relatable only to the wife's having married into the husband's family."

(ii) Secondly, it would be proper to regard persistent demands for dowry as amounting to "cruelty" within the meaning of matrimonial legislation. This point will be developed later, when we come to the question of divorce.3

1. Para. 2.4, supra.

2. In this case, death need not take place behind the closed doors.

3. Chapter 4, infra.

Dowry Deaths and Law Reform - Amending the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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