Kiran Kumar was found guilty by the Kerala District Court under India’s “dowry death” law, which allows charges to be brought against people for causing the death of a woman during the first seven years of marriage with gifts and dowry payments.
Kumar had been married to his wife Wismaya Nair for just over a year when she was found dead in the bathroom of her husband’s family home in Kerala last June.
The Nair family agreed to give Kumar 100 sovereigns of gold, an acre of land, and a car as dowry, but according to court documents, he did not like the model of the car and demanded more money.
The verdict states that Kumar abused Nair physically and verbally.
“She has lost all the pleasures of life,” the court said in the decision. “She was so desperate. A feeling of despondency overcame her. Shortly before her death, she was brutally abused because of her dowry.
“We gave him a good car, but he kept demanding a bigger and more expensive car,” he said.
He described his sister as having a “bright and bold” personality who “loved to dance”.
Although outlawed under the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, the Indian dowry system remains deeply ingrained in society and has become associated with violence against women.
In the 1980s, legislators introduced sections into the Indian Penal Code allowing authorities to charge men or their family members with “dowry death”. The charge, which can also be brought in cases of suicide, is punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment.
According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, there were over 10,000 dowry complaints and almost 7,000 dowry-related deaths in the country in 2020.
Kerala, where Nair died, boasts one of the highest literacy rates for both males and females in India, and is generally considered a progressive state, but “shows sharp and persistent dowry inflation since the 1970s and has the highest average the amount of the dowry lately.” years,” according to a World Bank report published in June last year.