Dowry Prohibition Act



1. Prologue
2. Meaning and Definition
3. Legal Steps
4. Judicial Decision
5. Forwarded Step


An eminent jurist of International repute Mr.N.A.Palkhiwala has observed in his book “We the People” that one of the costly failures of the Government in the post-Constitution era in India has been its failure to maintain Law and Order. It is mostly prevalent in the case of women, who were treating as subordinate to men and socially oppressing from the time immemorial. Still now the practice of discriminating women is continuing in the society. The most important aspect to show that the Indian women were still being in oppressed state is dowry in marriages.

Meaning and Definition

Dowry is an age old practice in Indian society referring to property or valuable security given by one party to another as a consideration for marriage. Mostly the consideration is given by the family members of the bride. It may also be regarded as a vehicle for setting up a relation of accord between the bride’s family and the husband’s family. This relationship of accord is accompanied by giving gifts which persists long after the marriage rites.

Legal Steps

At first in the year 1961, the Dowry Prohibition Act is enacted to eradicate the practice of dowry. It consists of 10 sections.
Under this Act, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.
(a) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or (b) 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 1[or any time after the marriage] 2[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 Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

The penalty for giving and taking dowry is incorporated in Section 3 of the Act. But the Act contains so many loopholes, also the punishment prescribed for demanding, taking and giving dowry were very low. So the Act has been amended from time to time to be effective.After the amendment of Dowry Prohibition Act,1984 prescribe a minimum punishment of two years imprisonment and fine to anyone demanding dowry.

Because of this Dowry Prohibition Act, a person who gives or takes, or helps in the giving or taking of dowry can be sentenced to jail for 5 years and fined Rs.15,000/- or the amount of the value of dowry, whichever is more. This Act is prohibited to give or to agree to give, directly or indirectly, any property or valuable security, in connection with a marriage. The giving of or agreeing to the giving of any amount either in cash of kind, jewelry, articles, properties, etc. in respect of a marriage is absolutely prohibited by the Dowry prohibition Act. Even the making of a demand for dowry is also now prohibited and it is punishable with imprisonment of 5 years and a fine of Rs.10,000.

In Order to provide more teeth to dowry prevention laws, the Government has decided to make it mandatory for couples to make list of gifts exchanged during the ceremonies of marriage. The Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of List of present to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules were introduced in 1985 in pursuance of the same purpose. It clearly stated that the list of gifts, in form of a sworn affidavit, has to be notarised, signed by a protection officer or a dowry prohibition officer and kept by both the parties. Failing this can invite heavy penalty including a three-year term in jail for not only bride and groom but also their parents.

Provision to this effect has been added in the Indian Evidence Act, by adding Section 113-A since the year 1983.Sec.304-B is incorporated in the Indian Penal Code in 1983. It deals with Dowry Death. It states that where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.Clause(2) of Sec.304-B stated that whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Recently for the Protection of women from Domestic Violence an Act is enacted in the year 2005 which is called as the Domestic Violence Act. The main objective of the Act is to eradicate the domestic violence against women and to provide protection to women from the domestic violence. Some measures took by the international community for eradication of domestic violence against women and declared 25th November as the International day to prevent violence against women.

Judicial Decision

In a case, State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Chhoteylal, On 23rd January, 2011 A bench comprising of Justice Aftab Alam and RM Lodha in their judgment held that “It is imperative that the criminal case relating to offences against the State, Corruption, domestic violence, dowry-death, sexual assault, financial fraud and cyber crimes are fast tracked and decided in a fixed time frame, preferably of three years including appeal provisions”.

Forwarded Step

Even though a series of laws have been enacted from time to time to raise the status of women those laws remains on papers due to lack of effective publicity and proper utilization.
The definition of dowry is also being widened by changing the word “in connection with marriage” to “given before the marriage, at the time and at any time after the marriage”.
The Juristic and legal persons must conduct awareness camps in rural and slum areas to make the people efficient to tackle any kind of problems by using the enacted laws.
The educated people must learn the acts and provisions which were laid down by the Government to utilize them properly and to explain them to the masses and illiterates for utilization of laws in a proper way.
The Electronic and Print Media must concentrate on the provisions and they have to publish comparative Articles regarding the previous and present position of Acts. Also they must give wide publicity to the enacted provisions and how to make use of the provisions.
Every citizen must try to be updated with the Acts laid down by the Government and must properly utilize them when there is a dire need to exercise their rights.To stop the offences of cruelty by husband or his relatives on wife, Section 498-A has been added in the Indian Penal Code, and Section 198-A has been added in the Criminal Procedure Code since the year 1983. In the case of suicide by a married woman, within 7 years from the date of her marriage, the Court may presume that such suicide has been abetted, encouraged by her husband or his relatives.