Mumbai: Observing that in situations of “financial distress” people do seek assistance from relatives, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently held that such a demand of money from in-laws, cannot be termed as a “dowry demand.” A single-judge bench of Justice Manish Pitale said, “In situations of financial distress, people do seek assistance from relatives and friends.”
“In the present case, it is not anyone’s case that the demand of money was being made for some luxurious item by the accused or for any property or valuable security. Admittedly, the demand made by the accused husband from his in-laws, pertained to the medical treatment of his own father. Thus, it could not be termed as an unlawful demand,” Justice Pitale held. The bench was seized with a criminal appeal filed by Balaji Kinhale (27) challenging the orders of a trial court. He had also challenged the eight-years sentence imposed upon him by the trial court under charges of domestic violence and abetting suicide of his wife. According to the prosecution case, Kinhale had married his wife Narmada in May 1998 after her parents paid a dowry of Rs 40,000. It further claimed that within four months of their marriage, Narmada was subjected to cruelty by Kinhale and his parents as she failed to bring Rs 20,000 from her maternal house.
The prosecution accused Kinhale for abetting suicide of Narmada, who set her self on fire in February 1999.
Having considered the submissions, Justice Pitale said, “In any case, the demand of Rs 20,000 even as per the prosecution witnesses, was for medical treatment of Narmada’s father-in-law. It could not be termed to be an unlawful demand for any property or valuable security and therefore the conduct of Kinhale would not fall under the definition of cruelty.”
“The trial court has abruptly come to the conclusion that the prosecution had successfully proved the charges. The reasoning of the trial court was rendered erroneous because the evidence and material on record was not appreciated in the correct perspective, keeping in mind the ingredients of offences under cruelty, domestic violence etc,” Justice Pitale said.