A single judge of Calcutta High Court held as follows,
From Paras 5 and 6,
Sankar Prasad Shaw and Ors Vs The State and Anr on 27 Jul 1990 (CM Ver)
5. So, as per the definition, dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage or by the parents of either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before or after the carriage in connection with the marriage of the said parties. Sri Mukherjee has laid emphasis on the words ‘given’ or ‘agreed to be given’ at or before or after the marriage in connection with the marriage. Judged in terms of the definition, the learned counsel has submitted that in the case in hand, neither party to the marriage nor their relations had ever given or agreed to give any property or valuable security to the other party at or before or after the marriage, and, therefore, the learned counsel argues, s. 4 of the Act is not attracted to the case in hand.
6. I find much substance in the submissions of the learned counsel for the petitioners. The complaint petition does not disclose that the complainant had given any property or valuable security or that he had agreed to give such things to the accused petitioner No. 1, either at or before or after the marriage between Usha Shaw and petitioner No. 1 or to his parents or other relations. Although in common parlance we very often use the term “dowry demand” in the cases where the husband or his relations demand valuable security from the parents and other relations of the wife after the marriage, yet, in my opinion this will not amount to demand for dowry under the Act in view of the definition of dowry contained in s. 2 the Act. Demand for dowry under the Act and in the legal sense will mean the demand for dowry only when it refers to property or valuable security given or agreed to be given at or before or after the marriage. The alleged offence as made out in the complaint petition may attract the penal provisions as contained in s. 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The Parliament in its wisdom appended the explanation as to what “cruelty” means and has constructed sub clause (b) of s. 498A in the following words, “Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand”. In my opinion, if the cases of this nature are to be brought within the ambit of s. 4 of the Act, then the word ‘dowry’ under s. 2 of the Act shall have to be redefined in the light of sub-clause (b) under s. 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The term “extortion demand” popularised by the media may also find a place in the definition of dowry.