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Report No. 91

4.2. Varieties of factual situations.-

No doubt, every case where dowry is demanded after marriage does not necessarily result in a "dowry death". But if recent events are any guide, every case where the demand is persistent should at least put the woman on her guard that the situation is potentially dangerous. The possibility of dowry death (whether by suicide or murder) in such circumstances is not so remote or fanciful that it can be disregarded by the law. To put the matter differently, the danger being real and not fanciful and the harm likely to ensure being of the most substantial character, the law is justified in devising a remedy that can be of concrete help in preventing further unhappy developments that will most probably culminate in a tragedy. It is true that in every such case the wife may not necessarily prefer divorce. But the law can only provide a remedy. At what stage the woman should start thinking of going to court, is for her to decide. A faint suggestion that some payment be made by her parents may not ordinarily evoke thoughts of divorce.

A repetition of the demand may induce some, though not many, women to think of divorce. Much depends on the emotional make up of the woman and many other factors. But where the demands grow persistent, the woman should be on her guard and, in due time, take a decision as to her future course of action. She must decide whether she would still continue to live in a state of tension which might ultimately result in a tragedy, or whether she would prefer to secure release from the situation for all time to come. For any woman, the decision to seek divorce on this ground or on any other ground is a crucial one, often an agonising one and always a difficult one. That difficulty notwithstanding, the framework of the law must take into account the harsh realities of life and accord the woman an appropriate and effective remedy that will enable her to re-mould her life before it is too late.

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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