A short commentary on Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
“Dowry” has been defined in Section 2 of The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, it refers to any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given on a future date by the one party to the marriage to the other party of the marriage or by parents of one party or through another party given directly or indirectly in context of the marriage but it doesn’t apply to dower or Mehr given in Muslim marriages. Dowry can be called a social evil for Indian Society as it is a burdensome on the parents of bride. Earlier there was a time when women didn’t work outside and have less economical value than men. Today when the education is so expensive and the parents put so much money and efforts for their children either a girl or a boy to be educated and independent then it is not fair that they have to pay for them to be getting married in any form of money or equivalent to that. Mostly, women are treated subordinate to men. If men are getting married to women then he is privileged in every sense as if she likes at being home then she is the one who changes his house to home and if she likes to work outside then she is earning for the family.
If a woman is murdered or does suicide within 7 years from her marriage then it will be considered that she is murdered by her in-laws but there should be some kind of evidence that she was asked for dowry or being tortured mentally or physically.
If any person demands dowry either directly or indirectly, he will be punishable under section 4 of the abovementioned Act for the time period not less than 6 months and not exceeding 2 years or with fine which can exceed up to 10,000 rupees. But if the judiciary mind finds it suitable then the punishment can be less than 6 months. If any person offers any share in his property or money through any advertisement to his son or daughter or to any other relative then he will be punishable for a period of not less than 6 years which can be extend to 2 years or with fine which can extend to 15,000 rupees. If any person gives or takes dowry, he shall be punishable with not less than five years of imprisonment and with fine which shall not be less than 15,000 rupees or the amount of dowry whichever is higher.
It is because of The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1960 that the an Agreement between the parties, to give or to take dowry, is considered as void and cannot be enforced in law and the person who has received dowry is liable to return it to the wife. Burden of the proof of being innocent will be on the same party.
Genuine presents offered to the Bride or to the Bridegroom, at the time of the marriage, are however not prohibited by this Act. The giving of such presents however must be customary. The value of such presents, however, should not be excessive, compared to the financial status of the parties giving such presents. A list of such presents is also required to be maintained wherein the name of the person who has given the present, his relationship with the Bride or Bridegroom, description of the presents given and the value of the presents is to be mentioned and that list has to be signed by both the Bride and the Bridegroom. If the property has been given to some other relative then he should give it back to the respective person within 3 months
- after the date of marriage if the dowry was received before the date of marriage;
- after the date of its receipt if received at the time of after the marriage;
- after being mature (or after being 18 years) if received when she was a minor.
Any victim or her relative can file the case in the court. The case can be filed in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of first class. If the court has its own knowledge or the facts are stated by a police officer and the complaint is filed by the victim or her parents or her relatives then the court can take the cognizance of the matter.
According to the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and The Bridegroom) Rules, 1985, the lists of gifts received either by the bride or the bridegroom should be made by them respectively. This act also provides the minute details regarding making of this list like this list should be made at the time of marriage, shall be in writing and requires signature or thumb impression of the respective spouse etc.
Even if all the laws are made, there are many cases which don’t even come to the court but it can’t be said that the situation is not improved after the Act is made. The husband many a times found complaining that he is being harassed because of these laws by his wife or in-laws. Every coin has two sides. Everything which has its profits contains reasons of loss too. The cases of Dowry are usually put by female spouse when the male spouse files for divorce. So there is a need of awareness among people that these laws are for their benefits and not for being misused.
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