In spite of stringent laws against dowry and related offences, complemented by sustained campaigns against the menace, deaths related to the evil have increased over the past 12 years, according to statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau.
The figures show that 91,202 dowry deaths were reported in the country from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2012. Of these, as many as 84,013 offences were charge-sheeted and sent for trial. The rest were either withdrawn by the government during or prior to investigation. Cases numbering 5,081 were reported to be false after investigation.
While 6,851 deaths were reported in 2001, the figure reached 7,618 in 2006. In 2012, it was 8,233. While 6,539 cases were charge-sheeted and 6,060 sent for trial in 2001, the figures for 2012 were 8,022 and 7,537 respectively. At the start of 2001, the number of cases pending trial from the previous year was 21,922 and in 2012, the number was 29,669.
In 2001, the total number of cases on trial was 27,969 which, by the end of that year, fell to 22,697. The corresponding figures for 2012 were 37,206 and 31,888 respectively. A total of 1,389 cases were withdrawn for various reasons, in the 12-year period, after coming up for trial. As many as 44,668 convictions were effected during the period.
A State-wise break-up shows that the highest incidence of dowry deaths was in Uttar Pradesh (23,824; 19,702 sent for trial) and Bihar (13,548; 9,984 sent for trial).The conviction rate was always around about 50 per cent in U.P. and around 30 per cent in Bihar. In all States, the number of acquittals was regularly much greater than the convictions. In Maharashtra, as many as 3,066 of 3,485 trials ended in acquittals.
In U.P., the deaths tally was above 2,000 in most years. In Bihar, it was above 1,000. In Madhya Pradesh, the tally hovered around 600 in the early years of the study and later it climbed to 800 plus. In Delhi, the death toll was 1,582in the 12-year period. Nagaland is the only State and Lakshadweep the only Union Territory where no dowry deaths were reported during the period.