20 Dec 2022 12:04 PM GMT
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday held that a husband convicted for killing his wife shall not be entitled to claim ownership over the dowry articles received at the time of marriage in view of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. A division bench of Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur said that the provisions of Dowry Prohibition Act cannot be overlooked...
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday held that a husband convicted for killing his wife shall not be entitled to claim ownership over the dowry articles received at the time of marriage in view of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
A division bench of Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur said that the provisions of Dowry Prohibition Act cannot be overlooked by invoking the provisions of Hindu Law relating to Succession, while rejecting an argument that Section 15 (1) of the Hindu Succession Act - which states that after death of wife, her belongings shall devolve upon her children and husband, would be applicable in the case.
"The deceased Shweta Singh died within seven years of her marriage. There was no issue out of their wedlock. The record reveals that she died unnatural death other than in normal circumstances. Thus, the case squarely falls within Section 6(3) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, so as to maintain the custody of dowry articles with the complainant."
The court was hearing an appeal filed by the appellant-husband against the order dated 14.08.2015 of a Fazilka court by which the dowry articles were ordered to be released to the father of his deceased wife Shweta Singh.
The husband-appellant was convicted for the offence of committing murder of his wife by the Additional Sessions Judge Fazilka in July 2014, and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life along with fine.
The appellant contended that the order passed releasing articles to his deceased-wife's father was patently illegal, erroneous in law and against facts and evidence on record. It was argued that since he was the owner of the ornaments and articles recovered by the police from his house, the same cannot be released in favour of the complainant-father.
The Counsel for the State argued that the ornaments and articles were given by the complainant at the time of marriage of his deceased-daughter and therefore, the complainant being father of the deceased was entitled to receive the same.
The State placed reliance on the cases in Balbir Singh v. State of Haryana, 2010 (2) RCR (Criminal) 371 and State by Belakavadi Police v. Mallesha, 2002 (3) RCR (Criminal) 157.
The Court said no material proving ownership has been produced by the appellant. On the argument that the trial court failed to consider Section 15 (1) of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the court said:
"... it is quite contrary to the arguments now raised by the learned counsel for the appellant, wherein now he is claiming the appellant to be owner of these articles. So once the appellant has taken the plea that provisions of Section 15 (1) of Hindu Succession Act were to be applied, it amounts to implied admission on his part that he was not owner of these articles"
The Court also referred to Section 6(3) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, as per which, where a woman dies within seven years of her marriage, otherwise, than due to natural causes, the property she is entitled to under Section 6(1), shall be transferred to her parents if she has no children.
The Court, relying on the decisions in Balbir Singh's and Mallesha's case, where it was held that husband was not entitled to retain dowry even if he was acquitted and dowry articles were transferred to the father and the family of the deceased respectively, said that:
"In the instant case, the accused husband has been convicted by the trial Court under Section 302 IPC for committing murder of his wife. So keeping in view the ratio of law laid down in the cases supra also, the impugned order is a legal and valid order."
Advocates Suvir Sidhu, G.S. Badal and G.S. Dhillon represented the appellant-husband.
Additional Advocate General, Punjab, J.S. Mehndiratta appeared for the State.
Senior Advocate Sumeet Goel with Advocates Viraj Gandhi and Adarsh Dubey represented the complainant-father.
Case Title: Sandeep Tomar v. State of Punjab
Citation: CRA-S-5048-SB-2015 (O&M)
Coram: Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 331
Click Here To Read/Download the Order