While denying bail to a man in dowry death case, the Delhi High Court said that the people need to be educated that it is the male and not female chromosomes that decide the birth of a daughter or son i.e., the gender of the child born.

The Court was dealing with a bail application filed by a man under Section 439 read with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) seeking grant of regular bail in a case registered for the offences punishable under Sections 304B, 498A, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A Single Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed, “This Court having dealt with numerous cases of harassment, nagging and committing of suicide or dowry deaths due to the victim being victimized for giving birth to daughters after being constantly nagged that she has not been able to fulfill her husband and in-laws desire of preserving the family tree, is constrained to observe that such people need to be educated that it is their son and not their daughter-in-law whose chromosomes through union of a married couple will decide the birth of a daughter or a son. Even if, this judgment becomes the birth place of such enlightenment, it will go a long way to change the mindsets of perpetrators of such crimes and save lives of innocent married women, by use of principles of science through principles of law.”

The Bench added that a woman has lost her life for giving birth to females which should be totally unacceptable to a conscientious society and such offences must be considered as grave and serious when the trial is yet to begin.

Advocate Kapil Gupta appeared on behalf of the petitioner/accused while APP Satish Kumar appeared on behalf of the respondent/State.

Factual Background -

An FIR was registered on the complaint of a woman who had stated that her daughter had died due to demands of dowry and pressure created by her husband and in-laws. The deceased had hanged herself in the matrimonial home and on reaching there, the complainant was informed that she was taken to the hospital. The marriage between the accused and the deceased was solemnized in the year 2017 and a car was given as a dowry. The in-laws of the deceased used to make demands of a car and Rs. 10 lakhs but as her father was only able to provide a car in dowry, they used to taunt the deceased.

The deceased was not happy with the marriage and used to visit her maternal home after being tortured by the in-laws. She was often tortured on account of her giving birth to a girl child and even the child was taunted time and again by the father-in-law of the deceased. On the night of the incident, the deceased had called her mother and told while crying that her in-laws would soon kill her. Hence, a case was registered against the accused after the death of the deceased.

The High Court in view of the above facts noted, “The tragic aspect of this case lies in the fact that the deceased was allegedly subjected to harassment at the hands of her husband and in-laws for bringing insufficient dowry, a car smaller than they had expected which they used to call as “iron box” and used to mock her for the same. Additionally, she was allegedly continuously nagged and harassed for giving birth to two daughters.”

The Court was of the opinion that in a society that emphasizes equality and strives for equal progress of women and women empowerment, incidents as the present one are etched as disheartening markers on the path of equal societal advancement for women. It added by saying that the persistent prevalence of regressive mindsets and instances exemplified by cases involving insatiable demands for dowry underscores a broader societal concern and the same highlights the challenges faced by married women, whose intrinsic value and dignity should not be contingent upon their parents' ability to meet the insatiable financial demands from their in-laws.

“The notion that a woman's value diminishes if her parents cannot fulfill dowry expectations of her husband and in-laws reflects a deep-seated bias and discrimination against women. Such expectations not only violate the principles of gender equality but also contribute to an environment where women are objectified and reduced to mere transactions. … When instead of providing comfort, space, love, affection and support, the new bride is met with unrelenting greed and harassment from the very individuals who she and her family have put their faith in, the adverse consequences of such unexpected consequences extend beyond the immediate victims, affecting the deceased's parental family inflicting profound emotional trauma”, it further noted.

The Court also said that the trauma is multiplied and becomes lifelong when the victim of a matrimonial dowry related offence gives up her life due to constant torture and harassment, especially when the two children she has procreated and loved who are her daughters also become a ground to nag, harass and traumatizing her, as if, she is solely responsible for giving birth to daughters.

“Surprisingly, the genetic science in this regard is totally ignored according to which, the genetic determination of gender of the unborn child when the child is conceived, involves the combination of X and Y chromosomes, with females possessing two X chromosomes (XX) and males having one X and one Y chromosome (XY). According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the outcome of fertilization depends on whether an unfertilized egg fuses with a sperm carrying an X or Y chromosome, resulting in the birth of a girl or boy, respectively”, emphasised the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the bail application.

Cause Title- Hardesh Kumar v. State (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:158)

Click here to read/download the Judgment