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Report No. 91

4.4. Factors to be taken into account.-

In taking decision to widen the grounds of divorce by legislative action, all these factors must naturally weigh with the authorities concerned. But we would wish to point out that the situation dealt with in the present Report is a very special one. One has to weigh, in opposing scales, two conflicting considerations. The stability of the marriage is placed in one scale, while in the other scale is placed the very survival of the woman. Persistent demands for dowry must upset the mental poise of any average woman. This much, we believe, will be conceded by any reasonable human being. But this is not all. Experience in India in recent years shows that such demands lead to the emergence of a situation in which the wife is either driven to suicide or is murdered by (or at the instance of) those whose "interest" lies in demanding more and more.

Whether it is the wife's exasperation (leading to suicide) or the unabashed greed of certain persons (impelling them to commit murder), the situation is one which ought to be prevented. In our view, the scale in which this consideration finds a place, outweighs the needs of stability of marriage. No doubt, the institution of marriage deservers to be protected against emotional storms which the passing hour may bring. These are clouds that may soon disperse. But persistent demands for dowry are a different matter. They show human nature at its worst. And no woman should be forced to go on fighting human nature at its worst. Divorce, in such circumstances, is a lesser and milder evil than continuing to live constantly in an atmosphere of terror.

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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