No Claim for Husband Over Deceased Wife’s Property if she Dies Within Seven Years: Supreme Court

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The hon’ble Apex Court stated that husband is not entitled to get the stridhan and other assets of his wife if the wife dies under secretive situations within a period of seven years after marriage. Hence if the death of the wife comes within the sphere of dowry death, the husband cannot ask for her properties. The bench consisted of Chief Justice T S Thakur with other two judges, Justice A K Sikri and R Bhanumathi who made it clear that when a woman dies in natural situations, her legal heirs can claim property of her but where the wife dies under some secretive circumstances and if such death is within 7 years after marriage, her children will be entitled to the share of her property. If the woman does not have children, the property will be handed over to the parents of the deceased.

The Court pointed out Section 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and said that the husband or his relatives have to hand over the dowry articles to the woman within three months after their marriage. If they fail to do so, the husband and his relatives can be prosecuted for their failure to give back the articles in the specified period, the Court said. It was also clarified that when the money or articles of the woman given to her by the parents as part of dowry are under the custody of her husband or relatives, they act as the trustees of such money or articles. The person who holds the dominion over such articles have to give back those items to the woman immediately within three months.

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The bench also said that the husband or his relatives will have to undergo imprisonment for a period of two years on failing to give back articles. The court was dealing with a case filed by the husband and his relatives who were charged for not returning dowry articles to the wife’s parents who died under mysterious circumstances after 15 months of their marriage.

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Adv. Jewel Panicker