Chief Justice NV Ramana today lamented the persistence of dowry harassment and deaths despite years of laws against them. He cautioned trial courts against taking a casual approach in such cases and also sought care to not implicate innocent relatives who may have had no role in the crime.
India's Parliament enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act way back in 1961 as a first step to eradicate the practice. Further, various laws were amended to tighten the screw on it.
"However, the issue of dowry harassment is still prevalent. Additionally, there was a growing trend of deaths of young brides in suspicious circumstances following demands of dowry," the Chief Justice said today in a judgment he wrote together for Justice Aniruddha Bose in a case from Haryana.
The Chief Justice pointed at a report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which said that dowry deaths in India in 2018 alone accounted for up to 50 per cent of such fatalities for the period 1999-2016.
The bench today also laid down guidelines trial courts dealing with dowry death cases.
"Trial courts should not record statements of the accused and others in a casual way...They must be cautious not to rope in family members of the husband who do not have any active role in the crime," the guidelines say.
Chief Justice Ramana noted that the court must put incriminating circumstances before the accused and seek a response.