Demand for dowry can be made at any time and not necessarily before marriage

Supreme Court: Considering the social evil of dowry, the bench of M.Y. Eqbal and P.C. Ghose, JJ held that the demand for dowry can be made at any time and not necessarily before marriage. In the case where the accused had taken the plea that no demand for dowry was made by accused before the marriage and if at all they wanted dowry, they would demand it before marriage itself, the Court rejected the said plea stating that such defence does not hold water.

In the present case, the deceased was married to the accused with the consent of both the families, however, after a few days of wedding, her husband and in-laws tortured her on demand of dowry and subsequently, she was given some toxic substance which led to her death and later burnt her. The accused had contended that the fact that the brother of the accused had himself informed the Gram Pradhan about the death of the deceased, showed that the death was an outcome of a suicide and not murder by the family of the accused. It was also contended that there was no earlier incident of abuse or torture and that no report for dowry demand was made by the family members of the deceased prior to the incident. The Court rejected the contention by stating that there was no missing link in the circumstantial evidence.

Regarding the law on circumstantial evidence, it was held that if some of the circumstances in the chain can be explained by any other reasonable hypothesis, then the accused is entitled to benefit of doubt. However, in the present case the accused was not entitled to benefit of doubt as there was no snap in the chain of circumstances.Bhim Singh v. State of Uttarakhand, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 108, decided on 11.02.2015

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