Recently, the Calcutta High Court held that voluntary gifts given by friends and relatives before or after a wedding to the bride groom or bride which are given out of affection and love would not fall within the definition of dowry as per the Dowry Prohibition Act.
Hon’ble Justice Bibek Chaudhari held that while dowry as a quid pro quo was prohibited, giving presents from family and friends to the bride or bridegroom were not.
Therefore, the Court acquitted the deceased’s husband and his mother in a dowry death case.
The Court heard an appeal filed against the order of ASJ, Barasat, convicting the accused of offences punishable u/s 498A and 304B of the Indian Penal Code.
An instant case was filed by one Nirmal Ghosh, who is the father of the deceased. In his complaint, Ghosh stated that his daughter committed suicide because her husband, mother and brother in law used to physically and mentally torture her. Furthermore, it was stated that he had given various gifts before marriage and was supposed to give a gold chain after the marriage.
Soon after the marriage, it was alleged that his daughter was tortured, and on 4th August 2011, the complainant came to know that she died by consuming poison.
A case was filed, and the trial court convicted the accused as there were reliable prosecution witnesses who alleged torture; the death occurred within 44 days of marriage and because the defence failed to prove its case.
Observations of the High Court:-
In Appeal, the High Court noted that the complainant never alleged any demand of dowry by the accused.
The Court further opined that voluntary presents given on or before the marriage to the bride and bridegroom could not be called dowry. In this regard, the Bench placed reliance on S Gopal Reddy vs State of Andhra Pradesh.
Lastly, the Court noted that the autopsy surgeon could not give an opinion without going through the chemical examiner’s report.
Based on the grounds mentioned above, the Bench set aside the trial court order and acquitted the accused.