In a landmark judgment of Rajinder Singh versus State of Punjab, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that demand for money even after three years into marriage can come under the ambit of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

In the case mentioned above, the Appellant Rajinder Singh was married to Salwinder Kaur in 1990. In August 1993, his wife committed suicide, as she was unable to bring money from her father as demanded by her husband. The Appellant was awarded seven years imprisonment by the Trial Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld this. The appeal by Rajinder Singh was mainly on the ground that there was no proximity between the demand for dowry and the death of his wife. The Apex Court dismissed the appeal.

A three-judge Bench comprising Justices T.S. Thakur, Rohinton Nariman and Prafulla C. Pant said that “any money or property or valuable security demanded by any of the persons mentioned in Section 19 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, at or before or at any time after the marriage which could be reasonably connected to the death of a married woman, would necessarily come under dowry.”

Sati and dowry deaths had plagued this nation for centuries. While Sati had been abolished, dowry had been made a punishable offence.

The Bench analyzed that there must be a nexus between the demand of dowry, cruelty or harassment. Based upon such demand and the date of death, the test of proximity will have to be applied. But, it is not a rigid test. It depends on the facts and circumstances of each case and calls for a practical and sensitive approach of the Court within the confines of law.

Sanchayeeta Das

Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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