i agree with shonee kappor that 498 a case can be filed at any time . the relevance of 7 year period is if wife dies within 7 years of marraige it is assumed that it was a dowry death and burden of proof is on husband to prove his innocence
The Supreme Court has ruled that demand for money and presents from parents of a married girl at the time of birth of her child or for other ceremonies, as is prevalent in society, may be deprecable but cannot be categorised as dowry to make it a punishable offence.
This means, if a daughter-in-law is being harassed for customary gifts by parents-in-law, then they could be booked under ordinary penal provisions but not under the tough anti-dowry laws providing stringent punishments.
Acquitting the parents-in-law of a woman who had accused them of harassing her for dowry, a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and S Sathasivam took help of a 2001 judgment of SC to say that not all demands from the parents-in-law could be categorised as 'dowry' under the Dowry Prohibition Act. It said though the Act covers payment of money or articles during, before or after marriage by the girl's parent to her in-laws, the cash and presents given had to have a link with the marriage to become objectionable in law.
"Other payments which are customary payments, for example given at the time of birth of a child or other ceremonies as are prevalent in different societies, are not covered by the expression 'dowry'," said Justice Pasayat, writing the judgment for the Bench.
A Haryana trial court had continued the dowry harassment charges against the woman's husband while acquitting the parents-in-law, the married sister and brother of the husband. Though the high court allowed quashing of charges against the sister and brother, it said the parents-in-law were liable to be proceeded against.
The apex court said that when the trial court had held that an attempt had been made by the woman to rope in as many relatives of her husband as possible, the HC should have given some reasons while reversing a well-reasoned order.
It said judicial discipline demanded the HCs to give clear reasons when reversing a trial court order backed by facts. "Reasons substitute subjectivity by objectivity. The emphasis on recording reasons is that if the decision reveals the 'inscrutible face of the sphinx', it can, by its silence, render it virtually impossible for the courts to perform their appellate function or exercise the power of judicial review in adjudicating the validity of the decision," the Bench said.