Report No. 91
5.2. Summary of recommendations.-
For convenience, we summarise below the recommendations made in earlier chapters of this Report.
(1) A provision as under should be inserted in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872:-
(a) a married woman dies, within five years of her marriage, of burns or injuries sustained by her 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
(b) the death takes place behind closed doors, it may be presumed that the death was not accidental".1
(2) Another provision should be inserted in the Evidence Act to the following effect:-
"Where a married woman dies, within five years of her marriage, or burns 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 for dowry against the woman or her parents or other relatives, it may be presumed that her death was the result either of suicide to which the woman was driven by such persistent demands of dowry, or of homicide".2
(3) In the Indian Penal Code, a provision should be inserted to the effect that where a married woman dies, within five years of her marriage of burns or injuries sustained by her in the house in which she was residing with her husband immediately before her death or from other cause of a similar nature, and her husband, on becoming aware that the woman has so died, does not, within a reasonable time, inform the nearest police officer or Magistrate about her death, he shall, in the absence of a reasonable excuse (the burden of proving which shall lie on him) be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment not exceeding three years or with fine or both.3
(4) A specific section should be inserted in the Indian Penal Code, punishing a person who, by persistent act of cruelty, drives a member of the family living with him to committing suicide. Further, the new provision should expressly provide that persistent demands for dowry shall amount to persistent acts of cruelty for this purposed. The punishment should be imprisonment of either description upto 3 years and fine.4
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, should be amended to provide that for the purposes, of the sections of that Act providing for the grant of matrimonial relief on the ground of cruelty, persistent demands for dowry should be deemed to be an act of the husband treating the wife with cruelty, where the demands are made by, or with the connivance or acquiescence of, the husband.5
(6) For the purpose of the provisions recommended above, "dowry" should be defined as meaning 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."6
1. Para. 2.4, supra.
2. Para. 2.7, supra.
3. Para. 3.2, supra.
4. Para. 3.3, supra.
5. Paras. 4.1 and 4.5, supra.
6. Para. 4.9, supra.
The amendments suggested appear to me to be too light and not sufficiently stringent.
Vepa P. Sarthi
Dated: 10th August, 1983.