Noting that dowry deaths were on the rise in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court Wednesday said it was giving the state government a last chance to inform them on the steps taken by the state to curb such deaths and monitor marriage bureaux that have “mushroomed” in the past few years.
A PIL had been filed by advocate Priscilla Samuel claiming that although the Dowry Prohibition Act was enacted in 1961, the state had done little to control the dowry menace. The PIL also urged the court to enquire into “mushrooming of illegal business of marriage brokers and marriage service providers.”
TISS, which intervened in the matter, pointed to figures provided by the NCRB, according to which 39 FIRs have been filed concerning dowry deaths in the state in 2014 even as 279 dowry deaths were recorded for the same period. According to the advocate appearing for the institute, police officers are usually appointed as dowry prohibition officers, but there is a need for full time officers.
Samuel, meanwhile, said that exchange of gifts and money during marriages was going unnoticed and I-T authorities should take serious note of this.
“No further time shall be granted to the state to file an affidavit in the matter. In the affidavit, the state should inform us about action being taken under Dowry Prohibition Act and steps being taken for regulation of marriage bureaux,” said the HC.
Besides information on whether dowry prohibition officers have been appointed, the court has asked if there are any qualifications required for such a post. “These officers should create awareness about provisions of the act and register offence about demand of dowry,” said Justice V M Kanade.
The court also sought information on the number of registered marriage bureaux in the state. “The government is not monitoring such bureaux even as the act provides for steps for registration,” said the court pointing to submissions by the petitioner that information provided by such bureaux is not verified by the government leading to unlawful activities being carried out by them.