A tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits.
The Supreme Court in the matter of Monju Roy Vs State of West Bengal, decided on 17th April, 2015 highlighted the likely hood of naming all the family members in the complaint/FIR to built pressure on the husband and his relatives. The Supreme Court relying upon a previous judgement of Kans Raj Vs State fo Punjab, 2000 (5) SCC 207 held as follows:
“A tendency has, however, developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry deaths which, if not discouraged, is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people, the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case.
The Court has, thus, to be careful in summoning distant relatives without there being specific material. Only the husband, his parents or at best close family members may be expected to demand dowry or to harass the wife but not distant relations, unless there is tangible material to support allegations made against such distant relations. Mere naming of distant relations is not enough to summon them in absence of any specific role and material to support such role”
The Court has to adopt pragmatic view and when a girl dies an unnatural death, allegation of demand of dowry or harassment which follows cannot be weighed in golden scales. At the same time, omnibus allegation against all family members particularly against brothers and sisters and other relatives do not stand on same footing as husband and parents. In such case, apart from general allegation of demand of dowry court has to be satisfied that harassment was also caused by all the named members. Normally, it is the husband or parents of the husband who
may be benefited by the dowry and may be in a position to harass and not all other relatives, though no hard and fast rule can be laid down in that regard. It is also true that till such an unfortunate event takes place, the family members may not disclose the demand of dowry being a private matter and under the hope that the relationship of the couple may improve.
Monju Roy Vs State of West Bengal
Supreme Court; Criminal Appeal No. 1797 of 2012