Dowry Prohibition Act

Development of the dowry system

In the oldest available records, as the daughters did not inherit any of the father’s estate which made the start off the dowry system in many parts of the world even ages before in most civilisations.  Even records mention the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Babylon,  describe dowry as an already-existing custom. Dowry was like a portion of inheritance from the girl’s parents which was offered for a lifetime security to the bride .So this way goes the history though!

What are the three effects of dowry system?

Such effects, which include dowry- related violence and abuse, bride burning, wife murder, and female infanticide, constitute some of the most highly detrimental ills perpetrated against Indian women.

Is dowry a criminal case?

Giving and receiving dowry in India is a criminal offence.  

Is dowry a cognizable offence?

Not only taking but also giving of dowry is an offence.

S. Gopal Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh,(1996) 4 SCC 596),for example, the Apex Court observed that “The definition of the expression ‘dowry’ contained in Section 2 of the Act cannot be confined merely to the ‘demand’ of money, property or valuable security ‘made at or after the performance of marriage’

Why was Dowry Prohibition Act passed?                                                      

Dowry Prohibition Act, Indian law, enacted on May 1, 1961, intended to prevent the giving or receiving of a dowry. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry includes property, goods, or money given by either party to the marriage, by the parents of either party, or by anyone else in connection with the marriage.

What is maximum punishment for dowry?

Penalty for giving or taking dowry commits an offence. If any person, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.

 What are the evils of dowry?

Dowry is a social evil in the society, that has caused unimaginable tortures and crimes towards women and continues to prevail inspite of all legislations and rule of law. It affects the different strata of the society at each level at various magnitude.   

Section 498A IPC: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. 

Does Section 498A IPC stands as a criminal case?

Section 498A makes it criminal offence if her husband and his relatives subjects a married woman to cruelty driving a woman to commit suicide or  do cause grave physical or mental injury and harassment to her coercing her or any of her relatives to an unlawful demand of property or money or demands of benefits to her husband.

Is dowry Act applicable before marriage?

You can file a dowry case even before your marriage, Where the would-be-husband/ in-laws have demanded for dowry. You can also register a case under the jurisdiction of the police station as to where you reside, but for that you need to prove that the demand was made at your place.

What cases wife can file against husband?

Section 498a IPC is used by a woman in India to file a complaint against her husband for mental, physical, and psychological or any other agony or harassment. 

Can the Courts coerce a husband to stay with his wife against his wish?

Under no law the court can compel or force a husband to take back his wife. No court can force co-habitation between a couple. If in the mediation proceedings it is even suggested to the husband to take back his wife, he can refuse.

 How much time does a dowry case takes for the court proceedings?

Generally it takes 4 to 6 years depending the facts , circumstances and gravity of the case. IF the evidences and witnesses are very convincing, it takes around 2 to 3 years.

If demand for dowry is made before the marriage what legalities can be done?

Such an instance with the evidence and proof can be reported to the nearby police station under section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act,1961. Section 304IPC also follows :-

Penalty for demanding dowry. If any person demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom or from any other person, as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees”.

At proving the evidence of the demand for dowry, the expenses incurred by you can be recovered also along with the mental agony the victim has been through.

In order to attract application of Section 304B IPC, the essential ingredients are as follows:-

  1. (i)  The death of a woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise  than under a normal circumstance.
  3. (ii)  Such  a death should have occurred within seven years of her marriage.
  5. (iii)  She must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband.
  7. (iv)  Such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with demand of dowry.
  9. (v)  Such cruelty or harassment is shown to have been meted out to the woman soon  before her death.

Are gifts considered as dowry?

Gifts received at the time of the marriage ceremony should be noted as a list and sworn as an affidavit. It has to be notarized and signed by a protection officer and kept by both the parties to avoid a heavy penalty or complications when it arises as a dispute.  

Is there a provision for maintenance from the husband to wife during the dispute or trial for physical abuse for demand of dowry?
Yes you can apply for maintenance under section 125 of Criminal Code of Procedure. You do not necessarily need to get divorce to get maintenance from your husband. 

False implication and abuse of 498A case.

You must immediately get an anticipatory bail by applying for the same with proofs and evidences for false allegations to defend oneself , in the Sessions court or the High court.

“the Supreme Court in Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors, JT 2005 (6) SC 266 declared Section 498-A as ‘Legal Terrorism’, holding “But by misuse of the provision(IPC 498a -Dowry and Cruelty Law) a new legal terrorism can be unleashed.”

What’s the procedure if the police officer denies to take down my complaint?

In case of such a denial by the police officer, SP of your region can be approached or to the Court, the court may then either itself take charge of the matter or direct the appropriate police officer to do so. You can also take help from local media and NGOs of your city.

 Who is a Dowry Prohibition Officer?

The role of a DPO is to prevent the taking or supporting of dowry demand. These officers collect evidences, conduct preliminary inquiries on receiving complaints regarding dowry and prepare case history and help the public in getting the case registered with the police.
Generally sub-divisional magistrates, city magistrates and police officer of a high rank are appointed as a dowry prohibition officers and he shall have the power of a police officer.

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