New Delhi: A daughter-in-law should be treated as a family member and not the domestic help, and she cannot be "thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time", the Supreme Court has said, while expressing concern over instances of brides being burnt and tortured in the country.
The top court said a bride must be respected in her matrimonial home as it "reflects the sensitivity of a civilised society."
"A daughter-in-law is to be treated as a member of the family with warmth and affection and not as a stranger with respectable and ignoble indifference. She should not be treated as a house maid. No impression should be given that she can be thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time," a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.
"Respect of a bride in her matrimonial home glorifies the solemnity and sanctity of marriage, reflects the sensitivity of a civilised society and eventually epitomises her aspirations dreamt of in nuptial bliss.
"But the manner in which sometimes the bride is treated in many a home by the husband, in-law and the relatives creates a feeling of emotional numbness in society," it said.
The Supreme Court made the observations while sentencing a man to five years imprisonment for torturing his wife, who committed suicide.
The bench said it was a matter of great concern that brides in several cases were being treated with total insensitivity, destroying their desire to live.
"It is a matter of grave concern and shame that brides are burned or otherwise their life-sparks are extinguished by torture, both physical and mental, because of demand of dowry and insatiable greed and sometimes, sans demand of dowry, because of cruelty and harassment meted out to the nascent brides, treating them with total insensitivity, destroying their desire to live and forcing them to commit suicide, a brutal self-humiliation of life," the bench said.