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Report No. 91

3.3. Recommendation to amend the Indian Penal Code to punish persistent cruelty driving a person to suicide.-

Having regard to the need to deal effectively with suicides that are the result of ill-treatment within the family, it is also necessary to punish persistent cruel conduct on the part of one person that drives another member of family living with him to the commission of suicide. Such a recommendation was, in fact, made by the Law Commission1 long ago in its Report on the Indian Penal Code.2 That recommendation awaits implementation. The matter has now become very urgent. The new section may run on these lines:-

"Whoever, by persistent acts of cruelty, drives a member of his family living with him to committing suicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description, which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine."

Of course, this will be a general provision covering all suicides impelled by cruelty. Besides this, the law should expressly provide that persistent demands for dowry shall amount to "persistent acts of cruelty" for the purposes of this section. The definition of "dowry" for the purpose of the above new provision 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."

1. Law Commission of India, 42nd Report (Indian Penal Code), para. 16.35.

2. This concerns the Indian Penal Code.

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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