The Article ‘Dowry A Wilful Gift A Forceful Forfeit‘ is a deep and thorough analysis of the author pertaining to the most prominent socio-legal issue of India i.e Dowry. The author laments the situation of fathers in Indian families where they are just burdened with the evil practice of dowry. The article contains how the gift out of… Read More »

The Article ‘Dowry A Wilful Gift A Forceful Forfeit‘ is a deep and thorough analysis of the author pertaining to the most prominent socio-legal issue of India i.e Dowry. The author laments the situation of fathers in Indian families where they are just burdened with the evil practice of dowry. The article contains how the gift out of love and affection changed in modern times in the form of forceful dowry. The legislature enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act, of 1961 so that the wrongdoers can be punished and even various modifications were brought as per the need of the society.

The author ponders that even after various steps have been taken to stop dowry, why is this cruel system still prevailing? The author feels that there is a requirement for change in the mindset of society and steps should begin with our families first. So, the article encourages society to be bold and say no to dowry. Your daughters are no less than sons so do not fix her value as a commodity instead encourage her to rise in her career that will definitely solve various issues in her life.

Introduction: Dowry A Wilful Gift A Forceful Forfeit

Dowry –an amount which the bride’s family has to pay willingly or unwillingly for bearing a girl child. Yes, that’s the harsh reality of our country!!!! Your daughter might be an IAS/or a successful medico but when it comes to marrying her off, every dad gets nervous and anxious thinking about it!!!! Whether we agree or not we know in our hearts how difficult the situation is. Dowry: Does the word scare you? If not then you have not been a girl’s parent yet. Dowry-down payment offered with/without respect to you.

During the ancient period Dakshina to the bridegroom was offered and given out of love and affection but with the passage of time the voluntary element has vanished and the coercive element has become deep-rooted in all marriages of the Indian families. In order to remove this evil, the Dowry Prohibition Bill was passed in the joint sittings of both the Houses of Parliament and it became an Act-The Dowry Prohibition Act,1961 after receiving the President’s assent on 20th May 1961 which came into force on 1st July 1961. Even today, the dowry system has not yet completely been abolished that’s the misery of our country.

Legislative Provisions on Dowry

I. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961[1]

According to section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, the term “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.

  1. By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or
  2. By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before (or anytime after marriage) (in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include) dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim the personal law (Shariat)applies.

Section 3 of the above-mentioned Act clearly specifies that a person who gives or takes or even helps in the process of giving or taking of dowry will be punished for not less than 5 years and also has to pay a fine of Rs 15,000 or the amount of the value of dowry whichever is more.

According to section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, either party demanding dowry be a guardian or parent shall be punished for not less than 6 months and which may extend to 2 years, and also a fine of Rs 10,000 is imposed.

According to section 7, the judicial magistrate of 1st Class or metropolitan magistrate has been empowered for the trial of dowry prohibition act cases. Court’s power to take cognizance is only on reports given either by police or parents or other relatives or its own knowledge.

Amendments have been brought in our Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 in order to remove some defects and widen the dowry Prohibition Laws.

II. Indian Penal Code and Indian Evidence Act[2]

Section 304 B of the Indian Penal Code was inserted in the code by the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act 1986 with a view to deal with an increasing number of dowry deaths taking place in India.

This Amendment Act has also amended the Indian Evidence Act 1872 by inserting section 113-B which says that when it is shown soon before the death the woman had been subjected to cruelty or harassment by the accused for dowry, the court shall presume that the accused had caused dowry death and the burden is on the accused to rebut the presumption. Section 304B of I.P.C is supplementary to section 498 A of I.P.C (which punishes a husband or his relative for doing cruelty) and was inserted in the code subsequently.

Case Law on Dowry Death

Dowry death is actually the death of a woman in demand of dowry either by cruelty/torture by her husband or his relatives within 7 years of marriage.

Ashok Kumar v. State of Haryana[3]

The deceased and accused got married on 9th October 1986. Within a short period of marriage, the accused wife died due to harassment by her husband and mother-in-law. The husband wanted to set up a business and for that demanded money from the deceased parents. Unable to pay, he killed her by sprinkling kerosene oil and burning her. The Supreme Court on appeal awarded a sentence of 7 years rigorous imprisonment to the accused.

Loopholes in our system

There are certain loopholes in the proper functioning of laws.

  • In the initial stage, police officers do not take any active role.
  • In our long trial judicial proceeding, justice delayed is justice denied.

National Crime Report Bureau: Dowry Deaths

Many a time the dowry death cases are not even reported. At times it often turns into kitchen accidents.

  • According to National Crime Report Bureau, there have been 24,771 dowry deaths from 2012 to 2015-nearly 22 deaths every day during those three years.
  • 21 dowry deaths are reported across the country every day but the conviction rate is only 34.7 percent.[4]
  • Dowry-related matters accounted for the lives of 19 women every day in 2020, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data has revealed.[5]

What change does society need today?

Even after so many laws have been made and implemented, when we look around our society either in newspapers, news, or nearby we find dowry death by strangulation, the burning bride, drowning, throttling, and even poison. The question arises why is it so? In my view, we, the people of society are only responsible.

Do we even realize that if a mother-in-law is burning a bride if the same happens to her own daughter, Will that lady be able to tolerate it? No, definitely not. So, the main issue is our mindset which needs to be changed.

All the girls’ parents just think over it once, can the happiness of your daughter be purchased by fulfilling the greed of dowry? No, absolutely not. There is utmost requirement to make our daughters more self-dependent, make efforts to stop gender discrimination, and also stop female foeticide in the womb.

Instead of saving money for your daughter’s marriage in the future, invest that money for her education and that will definitely make her life brighter. When your daughters will be equally qualified and not less than boys in any sphere, put a condition of marriage without dowry- the one who accepts her for her qualities will be a true partner and good family for her.

When due to dowry, the domestic violence ratio increased, and the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 came up for the protection of women. So, all the dowry laws can become fully-fledged effective when we take a firm stand against dowry and prohibit dowry death.

Conclusion

Dowry is cancer to society, eradicate this cultural cancer, and be bold to say “no”. I request we all start from our families first…..also kill dowry, not the girl child!!!!! Because it’s rightly said,

“greatest evil is not the brutality of evil people but the silence of good”[6].

So, speak up and say “no” to dowry.


References

[1] Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, Available Here

[2] Indian Evidence Act, Available Here

[3] AIR 2010 SC 2839

[4] 21 lives are lost to dowry every day across India, Available Here

[5] 19 women were killed for dowry every day in 2020, Available Here

[6] Martin Luther King, Available Here


Updated On 2022-07-18T09:36:41+05:30
Apurva Neel

Apurva Neel

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