Dowry articles to be returned on death of bride within 7 yrs of marriage: SC

Dowry articles to be returned on death of bride within 7 yrs of marriage: SC

The Supreme Court has said dowry articles gifted to a woman have to be given to her children or returned to parents in case of her other than natural death within seven years of marriage.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice T S Thakur explained the legal position saying that the parents-in-law or husband can at best be described as trustee of those articles.

Relying upon Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the bench said the dowry articles must be handed over to the woman within three months of the marriage and the husband or in-laws could be prosecuted for not giving back the movable and immovable properties within the stipulated time.

“If the dowry amount or articles of married woman was placed in the custody of her husband or in-laws, they will be deemed to be trustees of the same. The person receiving dowry articles or the person who is dominion over the same, as per Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, is bound to return the same within three months after the date of marriage to the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, said.

The court was dealing with a plea filed by Bobbli Ramakrishna Raju Yadav, working as engineer in Bengaluru. After his marriage with Syamala Rani in May, 2007, they were living at their matrimonial house in Bengaluru.

However, after Rani’s death in September, 2008 under suspicious circumstances, a case was registered in HAL police station, Bengaluru city under Sections 304B (dowry death), 498A (cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, along with other provisions under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

On a plea made by the husband, the apex court quashed the proceedings against his parents for not returning the dowry articles, noticing that they resided separately at Vizianagaram.

It also said that there was no specific charges of entrustment of the dowry amount and articles to them.  The court, however, noted they were already facing separate case of dowry harassment.

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