Change has to come also from within to end evil of dowry: Supreme Court

Image for representational purposes only | Photo Credit: SREEJITH. R. KUMAR
Krishnadas Rajagopal NEW DELHI: 06 December 2021 13:20 IST
Updated: 06 December 2021 13:20 IST

The Supreme Court requested the Law Commission of India to take a ‘fresh look’ to bring ‘more teeth’ to the law against dowry.

The Supreme Court on December 6 said not just laws but people had to also change from within and learn to treat a woman with respect for the social evil of dowry to be vanquished once and for all.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was responding to a petition that dowry persisted despite draconian criminal law provisions introduced in the Indian Penal Code, a new law in the form of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 and the formation of the National Commission for Women.

Advocate V.K. Biju, appearing for petitioners from Kerala, said the influence of dowry was so pervasive, even in the most literate State in the country, that young women were killed for gold by the husband’s family. He narrated how thick gold jewellery adorned women at weddings, objectifying them.


‘Pre-marriage’ courses

The petitioners even suggested compulsory “pre-marriage” courses for couples to warn and create awareness against dowry. These courses should be made a mandatory pre-condition for a valid marriage.

“India does not just reside in the cities of Kochi, but also in small villages. Where will personnel and facilities for holding such sessions be found... Very serious consequences will follow if they do not take these pre-marriage courses,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

Mr. Biju highlighted how dowry continued to ravage society and the lives of innocent young women despite the existence of strict laws against it.

“Change also has to come from within... There has to be an understanding about the basic social value of marriage... How a woman, newly married, should be treated...” Justice Chandrachud observed.

The Supreme Court requested the Law Commission of India to take a “fresh look” to bring “more teeth” to the law against dowry.

The Bench, also comprising Justice A.S. Bopanna, said the court could not craft legislative reforms.

The process of a relook at the law and what measures should be introduced to support the existing anti-dowry laws could be done more speedily if it started with the Law Commission, the court said.

The Bench asked the Law Commission to look at the issue “in all its perspectives”. The petitioners have been asked to file a research note on the “relevant aspects which require further legislative reforms” in dowry cases.