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Justice delayed? 65-yr-old woman gets two-year jail term in 19-year-old dowry harassment case

A local court has given a two-year jail term to a 65-year-old woman for torturing her daughter-in-law for dowry and turning her out of the house less than a month after marriage, 19 years ago.

Metropolitan magistrate Ekta Gauba, while sentencing Shanti Devi, said being a woman herself, she victimised another woman (daughter-in-law) leaving her in a helpless condition as she is neither the widow of her son Chander Prakash, nor has she been divorced by him and had to fight for justice for 18 years.
While Devi, a resident of west Delhi, has been convicted, her son, complainant's husband, Chander Prakash was declared proclaimed offender in 2011.

The court denied Devi's plea for leniency and release on probation on ground of age, saying, ‘Shanti Devi, herself a woman had victimised another woman, the complainant, who is her daughter-in-law.’
It also noted ‘harassment of women for dowry is increasing in today's scenario.’
Relying on the testimony of complainant Komal Arora, the court held Devi guilty under section 498 A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of IPC. It also said that both she and Chander Prakash shared common intention of treating the complainant with cruelty for dowry.

Besides Devi, Prakash was also an accused in the case and declared proclaimed offender after police said he was not traceable. Devi's husband Om Prakash died during the pendency of the case while their other relatives were discharged.
In her complaint, Komal had said that from the day their marriage was fixed to right after her marriage on 17 July, 1994, her family was being pressurised for dowry.

She also told the court that her parents had given them cash, gold ring, TV set and other gifts at the time of fixing the marriage and furniture and cash at the time of marriage.
She said after marriage when she went to her matrimonial home, Devi took away her gold jewellery and she along with Chander and other relatives started raising demands for money and scooter. When their demands were not met, she was turned out in August 1994, just a few days after the marriage.

She also narrated to the court how she was once taken to a nursing home and forcibly declared a patient of anxiety and forced to consume some medicines by Chander.
When she made a complaint to the Crime Against Women cell, her gold ornaments were returned but they were found to be fake. On this count, Devi was held guilty of criminal breach of trust. A fine of Rs 5,000 has been slapped on her. The police had filed the charge sheet in the case after 13 years. The delay was, however, condoned.
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