In the Supreme Court of India Case No. Criminal Appeal No. 635 of 1987 Equivalent Citation: 1988 SCC 424 Appellants Madhu Sudan Malhotra Respondent Kishore Chand Bhandari Decided on 7th December, 1987 Bench A.P. Sen, L.M. Sharma
Statutes and provisions involved:
- 378 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- 406 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)
- § 2(1), 4, and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
1. Whether High Court was right in refusing to grant leave in the concerned matter or not?
2. Whether prima facie case is there against respondents or not?
In this case a list of ornaments and articles was given to complainants at the time of marriage settlement. Some jewelry and goods were given to the bride by her father, but soon disputes arose between the couple, she was driven out of her matrimonial house.
She started living with her parents and her husband refused to give any of her articles back when she demanded from her parental house. So, aggrieved by the acts of her maternal sides she filed a complaint in the trial court which convicted the accused.
However, the Honorable High Court acquitted the convicts in an appeal filed by the respondents. So, an appeal is filed in the Apex Court to quash the order of the High Court.
Judgment of the High Court
The Honorable High Court held that respondents are not guilty of offences punishable under § 406 of the Indian Penal Code and that no offence has been committed by them under any other laws. They were acquitted under judgment of the High Court for the allegations raised by the victim under §§ 4 & 6 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 read with § 406 of IPC.
Judgment of the Supreme Court:
The Apex Court of our country quashed the order of the High Court and found the respondents guilty for demanding dowry within the meaning of § 2 (1) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. It was held that there is a prima facie case against the respondents and that providing list of ornaments or household goods amount to demand of dowry.
The Apex Court directed the High Court to provide adequate relief as per the situation and facts of the case and allow the leave under § 378 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It was also stated by the court that necessary steps should be taken by the High Court to restore the articles and ornaments given to the daughter Anita as the accused refused after driving her out from her matrimonial house.
Concepts Highlighted in this Case:
It was highlighted in this case that merely providing list of valuable ornaments and goods during marriage settlement amounts to demand of dowry which is an offence under the prevailing legislations. It was also highlighted in the present case that it is the duty of courts to restore the valuable items or goods given during the marriage settlements as gifts, if the wife is thrown out of the matrimonial house.
It can be concluded that it is very important for the judiciary to take active steps in such matrimonial cases where the vulnerable section of the society i.e. women is exploited and victimized. It is really important for judiciary to take certain much needed steps in order to stop or reduce such rampant violations of human rights as the cases related to dowry death and assault are very common these days.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje