16 Nov 2010

Bride Burning reflects a sick society: Supreme Court

In a recent decision [Satya Narayan Tiwari @ Jolly v. State of U.P. later reported as 2010 AIR SCW 7144] the Supreme Court has expressed its anguish and ire over the state of affairs prevailing in the Indian society as brought to fore by repeated incidents of bride-burning. The Bench comprising of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra spoke unrestrained on the intensity with which such crimes need to be prosecuted. Holding that there was an inherent different in crimes against women as not being caused just be enemity, passion or anger but are rather on account of human greed, it was held that such crimes need to be dealt with a iron-hand.

The Bench in this context observed as under;
The hallmark of a healthy society is the respect it shows to women.
Indian society has become a sick society. This is evident from the large number of cases coming up in this Court (and also in almost all courts in the country) in which young women are being killed by their husbands or by their in-laws by pouring kerosene on them and setting them on fire or by hanging/strangulating them. What is the level of civilsation of a society in which a large number of women are treated in this horrendous and barbaric manner? What has our society become – this is illustrated by this case.
Although bride burning or bride hanging cases have become common in our country, in our opinion, the expression “rarest of rare” as referred to in Bachan Singh Vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1980 SC 898 does not mean that the act is uncommon, it means that the act is brutal and barbaric. Bride killing is certainly barbaric. Crimes against women are not ordinary crimes committed in a fit of anger or for property. They are social crimes. They disrupt the entire social fabric. Hence, they call for harsh punishment. Unfortunately, what is happening in our society is that out of lust for money people are often demanding dowry and after extracting as much money as they can they kill the wife and marry again and then again they commit the murder of their wife for the same purpose. This is because of total commercialization of our society, and lust for money which induces people to commit murder of the wife. The time has come when we have to stamp out this evil from our society, with an iron hand.

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