Calling dowry a "customary extortion", a Delhi court has sentenced a man to life imprisonment for setting his wife on fire in 2006, three years into their marriage.
Taking a strict view of the crime, additional sessions judge Anju Bajaj Chandna said, "Taking one's life for dowry is so heinous and grave that leniency has no place to stand with it." The court also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on Anand Sharma, the victim's husband.
The incident occurred on August 3, 2006, when the victim sustained burns all over her body after being doused with kerosene oil while she was asleep and set on fire. The victim in her dying declaration to the police named her husband and in-laws for setting her on fire. She categorically mentions being harassed and beaten up by her in-laws for not bringing enough cash and gifts from her maternal home as dowry.
Advocate Kush Sharma, appearing on behalf of the victim's parents, said the dying declaration of the victim is categorical about the incident and it can be the sole basis of the conviction of the accused persons.
The court also pronounced the mother-in-law of the victim guilty of the offence of dowry death and sentenced her to 10 years in prison, together with a fine of R15,000, adding that dowry disgraces the sacred institution of marriage.
The prosecution also alleged that the victim was ill treated after she gave birth to a daughter in 2004. "In the present case, a young woman has lost her life and her little daughter is left to live without motherly care," the Judge said, adding that Anand was responsible for the victim's safety and security at her matrimonial home.
The duo has been charged with offence of dowry death (Section 304-B) and cruelty by husband and relative of husband (Section 498-A) of the Indian Penal Code.