Our society has become sick: SC on dowry deaths
TNN, Nov 2, 2010 - THE TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: Shaken by the large number of women being killed for dowry, the Supreme Court said Indian society has become sick. "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," an anguished bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said in a recent judgment.
"What is the level of civilization of a society in which a large number of women are treated in this horrendous and barbaric manner? What has our society become," asked the Bench before upholding life term for the husband and mother-in-law of a woman killed for dowry.
The bench had a point. Data compiled for 2008 by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that there were 8,172 dowry deaths in the country but only 33.4% of the cases resulted in conviction. For the same year, there were 81,344 cases of cruelty towards women by husbands and relatives and the conviction rate was even lower at 22.4%.
Advocating harsh punishment for those who murder women for dowry, the bench said crimes against women could not be classified as ordinary ones committed in a fit of anger or for property. "They disrupt the entire social fabric, hence call for harsh punishment," it said.
"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 woman and marry again and then again, they commit the murder of their wife for the same purpose," the Bench said, making a rather sweeping generalisation of the nature of the crime.
The bench went on to analyse causes behind this abnormal behaviour. "This is because of total commercialization of our society, and lust for money which induces people to kill their wives. The time has come when we have to stamp out this evil from society with an iron hand," it said.