New Day, New Low: MP Woman Deprived Of Food For Unmet Dowry Demand

The MP HC ruled that denying food to a married woman because of the unmet dowry demands is physical and mental cruelty. The court added that compelling a married woman to stay at her parental house due to the unmet dowry demands is mental harassment too.

Rudrani Gupta
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In a recent ruling, the Madhya Pradesh High Court said that denying food to a married woman because of the unmet dowry demands is physical and mental cruelty. The court further added that compelling a married woman to stay at her parental house due to the unmet dowry demands is mental harassment under Section 498A (Cruelty to wife) of the Indian Penal Code. 


MP Family Deprives Daughter-In-Law Of Food For Unmet Dowry Demands 

As per reports, the bench of Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia made this statement while hearing a petition filed by a man against an FIR registered by his wife. As per the FIR, the wife alleged that she married in April 2018 and her father had given a subsequent amount of dowry. However, her husband and in-laws did not give her food and made her suffer. She also said that she was subjected to mental harassment because her marital family didn't receive an air-conditioned car in a dowry. She has been staying at her parental home for the past year since her marital family didn't want her in the house. 

The FIR accused the husband and his family under Sections 498A (cruelty), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of IPC read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. 

The husband and his family filed a petition at the high court to contest this FIR. They claimed that the allegations were vague. They also said that the FIR was just a 'counterblast' to the husband's complaints and allegations against the wife. 

Reportedly, the husband had filed for divorce and had also accused the wife of adultery. After considering all the facts, the court stated that withholding food from a married woman because of unmet dowry demand is unquestionably physical and mental harassment. The court further said that simply because the FIR was lodged after the divorce plea, it cannot be quashed based on counterblast. 

The court clarified, "If the FIR lodged after the filing of the divorce petition is considered, then it can also be said that respondent No.2 might be interested in saving her matrimonial life, therefore, she kept quiet and only when she realized that now her husband has gone to the extent where the possibility of reconciliation is bleak, then if she lodges the FIR for the misdeeds done to her than it cannot be said that it is by way of counterblast to the divorce petition."


The court said that the relationship between the husband and the wife was incompatible. The husband went to the extent of accusing his wife of adultery. "If the allegation of adultery is found to be incorrect, then that allegation, by itself, would amount to cruelty. Under these circumstances, this Court is of considered opinion that no case is made out warranting interference. The application fails and is hereby dismissed," the court stated.

The plight of women who suffer from dowry harassment is endless. Almost every day we come across cases of women being tortured, harassed and killed for dowry demands. This is happening despite the presence of a law that prohibits not only the practice of dowry but also dowry harassment. Why do we need courts to always remind us that dowry is a crime? Why can't we simply understand that demanding dowry and harassing women for it is inhumane and a punishable crime? Do laws seem bookish to us and traditions a reality? Dear society, no matter how much you ignore the law, when it comes into action, it will make you realise its power. Action. This is the word that is required to stop dowry and dowry harassment. Merely making laws won't change the age-old tradition. 

A recent case of dowry harassment

Just a few days ago a tragic incident once again spotlighted the ugly reality of our society. A woman was beaten to death by her husband and her in-laws for being unable to meet their dowry demands. The deceased woman, Karishma, lived with her husband, Vikas, and his family in Greater Noida. The family was constantly demanding dowry and Karishma's family was trying to fulfill them. However, the situation turned fatal when Vikas and his family demanded a Toyota Fortuner and 21 lakh rupees cash. As Karishma's family failed to meet the demands, Vikas and his family bludgeoned Karishma to death. 

Family Didn’t Get Fortuner In Dowry - So They Killed Daughter-In-Law

As per the reports, Karishma married Vikas in December 2022 and was living with his family in Kheda Chauganpur village of Greater Noida's Ecotech-3. Deepak, Karishma's brother, received a call from his sister on Friday. She told him that her husband, his parents and siblings had beaten her up. When Karishma's family reached her house to check, she was dead. 


Deepak filed a police complaint in which he said that Vikas and his family were given gold worth ₹ 11 lakh as well as an SUV during the wedding. However, Deepak alleged that Vikas and his family kept demanding more dowry over the years and mentally and physically abused Karishma.

The situation became grim when Karishma gave birth to a baby girl. The two families tried to sort out their differences through panchayat meetings at Vikas' village. However, Karishma's family had to pay ₹ 10 lakh to Vikas' family. Yet, the abuse didn't stop. In fact, the dowry demand increased and the abuse led to death.

The police have registered a case of murder for dowry against Vikas, his father Sompal Bhati, his mother Rakesh, his sister Rinki and brothers Sunil and Anil. Vikas and his father have been arrested. The police are on the lookout for other accused. 

A recent "proud" display of dowry in Noida's wedding

This case happened just a few days after a wedding in Noida conducted a lavish display of dowry.  A reel went viral on social media in which the bride's family is seen displaying, in fact lavishly, the gifts it is offering to the groom's family. There is a stage with a microphone where the speaker is reading out the list of gifts which includes a Mercedes E-Class, a Fortuner, and substantial amounts of silver and gold. In response to this, the groom's family boasted about the money it was offering during Kanyadaan. This video is of a wedding in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. 

After watching the reel, I felt as if it wasn't a wedding but a bidding ground where the bride and groom were on sale. 


And then Karishma's death proved that women are indeed measured in terms of money. She was brutally killed by her husband and in-laws just because she couldn't meet their dowry demands. Vikas' family was so greedy that they demanded dowry even after Karishma's family had paid a hefty amount during the wedding. Moreover, the panchayat meetings also couldn't help Karishma and favoured the dowry demands.

The questions that the case must raise 

First of all, demanding and giving dowry itself is illegal. Demanding additional "gifts" after the wedding and killing the woman for not meeting the demand are grave and unforgivable crimes. People need to accept that dowry is illegal, file complaints and get legal help against those who practice it. Until people realise the criminal impacts of dowry and how it objectifies women, these incidents will, unfortunately, never stop. Moreover, the law also needs to be more strict about dowry. I belong to one of the communities where dowry is normal. Even if I cannot change the entire community, I will start the revolution from my home.    

Views expressed are the author's own.

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