Harbans Singh & ors. vs. Smt. Gurcharan Kaur

Harbans Singh & ors. vs. Smt. Gurcharan Kaur
In the High Court of Delhi
1990 CriLJ 1591, I (1990) DMC 416
Harbans Singh & ors.
Smt. Gurcharan Kaur
Date of Judgement
21 November 1989
Justice P Bahri


Dowry attributes to the durable goods, cash, movable or any immovable items or of any kind which is given by the bride family to the groom’s family or relatives as a basic custom or condition of marriage. The dowry system abruptly puts the financial burden on the bride’s family and relatives. In some cases dowry even attracts crimes against women ranging from emotional abuse, burning the bride, injury to even deaths. The payment of a dowry for long has been restricted and prohibited under specific Indian laws like the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and Section 302-B and 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act clarifies the definition of the meaning “Dowry” and Section 3 which specifies the” penalty” for giving or taking the dowry. In this case, the petitioner filed a petition as per Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing of the complaint pending before the Metropolitan Magistrate as per Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. 

Constitution and Statutory Provisions:

  • Section 2, 3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961
  • Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973


Smt. Gurcharan Kaur respondent in the present case filed a complaint on the present petitioners named Jang Bahadur Singh and Sukhjit Bahadur Singh, she alleged that her marriage was solemnized with Gursharan Singh on 12th July 1981 and during the time of settlement of marriage the petitioners of this case demanded dowry which includes T.V., Fridge and Scooter or Rs 20,000 in lieu and other such dowry items given at the time of marriage. The respondent’s father showed his intention of inability to fulfill such demands of the petitioners but agreed to fulfill demands after the marriage and the same the petitioners agreed for the performance of marriage under such assurance given by the respondent father. After 2-3 months of the marriage, the petitioner started demanding the dowry money and supply of such items which was assured before the marriage where the respondent -complainant managed to obtain Rs.1000 on two occasions but it didn’t satisfy the cupidity of the petitioner family which resulted in bitter relations in the matrimonial house it was further alleged that the demand for dowry and money was demanded repeatedly, on the failure of fulfillment the respondent-complainant was thrown out of the matrimonial house.

Procedural History:

  • The Complainant-Respondent filled complained under section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 before the Metropolitan Magistrate which was pending. 
  • The Petitioner-Accused seeing the pendency lying before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate filed seeking relief for quashing of such complaint pending in the trial court as per section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 


  • Whether the present petition qualifies for the quashing of the complaint filed in the Trial Court?
  • Whether complaint in the Trial Court filed by the complainant instituted within the limitation?
  • Interpretation of Section 2, 3 & 4 as per Prohibition of Dowry Act 1961.

Arguments Advanced

Arguments on behalf of the Petitioner:

The learned counsel on behalf of petitioners vehemently argued that demand of dowry made after the commencement of marriage doesn’t accord to be an offense under the purview of section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 further argued that demand of dowry was demanded before marriage was commenced as a consideration which concludes to be a time-barred Complaint when the complaint was filed. 

Arguments on behalf of the Respondent: 

The learned counsel on behalf of the respondent argued that the demand for dowry which was demanded as consideration for the performance of the marriage and those items shall no be delivered during the time of marriage and were agreed to be given later, but the concurrent repetition of demand which leads into commencing of an offense under the purview of Dowry Prohibition Act and such institution of complaint has been calculated from the time where the repetition of such demand has been commenced which in itself qualifies within the limitation to file a complaint.


Ratio Decidendi:             

The high court of Delhi holds the validity and relevance of the facts by joining and looking at the merits covered under Section 2,3 and 4 of the Prohibition Act, 1961.

The high court viewed the preliminary evidence and statements contained in the complaint which postulates clearly that the items of dowry have been demanded during the settlement of marriage and it would be covered well within the definition of dowry given in Section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act.

With reference to the case in Madan Lal v. Amar Nath,1  it has been laid down by the single judge that certain items of dowry which have been demanded as consideration for the marriage are not given at the time of the marriage, still, those items of dowry would qualify to be covered within the definition of Section 2, dowry items are given at the latter stage of the marriage but if no such dowry items have been agreed or necessitated as consideration for the marriage then even if some demand of dowry is made after the performance of the marriage, the latter would not come within the meaning of ‘dowry’ likewise the same was discussed in Inder Sain v. the State of Punjab,2  and in the present case, the demand for dowry can be witnessed before the marriage for the settlement of the marriage and demanded repeatedly after the marriage which ratifies Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

With reference to the case, L. V. Jadhav v. Shankarrao Abasaheb Pawar, 3mere demand of dowry items as consideration for construing the marriage at the time of settlement of the marriage held to constitute within the roguery of Section 4 of the Act and in the current scenario, the court held that the act of petitioner well covered in the ambit of Section 4 of Act and it was repeatedly demanded.

The main question arose before the court was that the limitation period of the filed complaint by the complainant is within the sphere of section 4 of the Act with reference to the case Lajpat Rai Sehgal And Others v. The State, 4 in the view of the High Court, the calculation of limitation of such complaint filed by the respondent-complainant shall be processed when the repeated demand of dowry lastly occurred post to marriage and not the initial demand of items which was initiated for the settling of marriage, where the High Court looked that the filled complaint was well within the limitation period. 

With these above facts, the court dismissed the petition filed by the petitioner held that complaint filed by the respondent was not barred by limitation and even the preliminary evidence corroborate the facts stated into the complaint and the offense under Section 2 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act standstill against the petitioner- Accused. 


The High Court of Delhi rightly passed an order by dismissing the petition of the petitioner and it is in the interest of justice. Dowry is considered an evil crime in society but the main instigator is the society that stimulates to attract crimes related to the abuse of women. It is believed that dowry is a custom that has been carried out for ages and shall be carried in the future generation. The mentality of society is highly corrupted to demand dowry. Dowry attracts crimes like Fraud, Cruelty, Domestic Violence, Abetment to suicide, Dowry Murder is considered to be most heinous crimes and burning a woman is the most brutal crime. Thus to safeguard a woman from domestic violence Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was passed to provide a civil remedy to a woman.

“The views of the authors are personal


1 Madan Lal v. Amar Nath, 1985 Cri LJ 118.

2 Inder Sain v. State of Punjab, (1981) 20 DLT 309: 1981 Cri LJ 1116.

3 L. V. Jadhav v. Shankarrao Abasaheb Pawar, 1983 AIR 1219, 1983 SCR (3) 762.

4 Lajpat Rai Sehgal And Others v. The State 1983 CriLJ 888, 1983 (1) Crimes 737, 23 (1983) DLT 314, 2003 (5) DRJ 1.

Nirnesh Rajendra Naidu
"I am Nirnesh Rajendra Naidu, completed my Law degree in the year 2018, right now I am practicing as an independent lawyer in South Gujarat region as a corporate and civil Lawyer. Right from my college days, I was passionate about writing on various issues and propaganda. I strongly believe that with my effective writing skills I can bring change in the society. Being a Lawyer it gives you dignity and pride in society but when you write for the society it gives you a special power and status when you put forth their rights in front of the nation and it really justifies your profession in a correct manner.