Spouse of employee in marital dispute can get copy of ‘Dowry Declaration signed by employee’

Spouse of employee in marital dispute can get copy of 'Dowry Declaration signed by employee'. Declaration is to be signed by employee, spouse, Father, Father in Law

(A) In judgment hailed as landmark judgment Haryana State Information Commission; Information Commissioner Shri Hemant Atri ruled that:

- Any criminal act is an act against the state as a whole. Therefore idea of privacy etc becomes irrelevant.

-The government may put in place a system where a person while entering a government job should give an undertaking in writing that if and when he enters a marital alliance, he shall strictly comply with the anti-dowry law in letter and in spirit and also at the same time, furnish full details of all articles of property and amounts of money received by him from his in-laws or spouse in any name or manner, whatsoever.

-The information in this regard should also not be barred by any public information officer in the name of 'third party' protection so long as the government employee stays in legal wedlock with the applicant desirous of obtaining information in this regard or as a legal separatee or divorcee.

- Since the declaration pertains to the evil of dowry in society, it is essential that the service rules are put in place.

- Spouse (wife in this case) of a government employee having a marital dispute cannot be denied official information about her spouse on the grounds of privacy.

- Spouse being affected party is not a third party therefore information about declaration under Section 18 (2) of Haryana Civil Services (Government Employees' Conduct) Rules, 2016, can be disclosed.

And the appellant is very well within her rights to get a copy of any undertaking given by the spouse (third party) to his office with regard to dowry/gifts received during the marriage, if any.

- Putting provision under section 25 (5) of the RTI Act, 2005, to proper use Shri Hemant Atri has recommended to the Chief Secretary to take all necessary steps for strict compliance of Rule 18 (2) of Haryana Civil Services (Government Employees' Conduct) Rules, 2016 by all employees in letter and in spirit.

And that on behalf of the Chief Secretary or somebody suitably placed in his office may pass necessary directions to all heads of departments for ensuring strict compliance of Rule 18(2) and a copy of such communication sent to all Head of Departments be also sent to the commission within 45 days as a compliance report.

(B) Earlier CIC had also decided to provide copy of 'Dowry Declaration of father in law' to Son in Law and also added that 'if there is any declaration that no dowry was involved this would not blanked out.'

Information Sought: Information is sought concerning the life and liberty.

I request you to provide certified copies of the below mentioned information: Kindly furnish the Declaration given by Shri N.V.Planiappan 'that no element of dowry is involved' in his Daughter Smt V.P.Vijayalakshmi's Marriage.

Reply of the Public Information Officer (PIO): This information has been received by us in fiduciary capacity and hence it is exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1) (e) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Grounds for the Second Appeal: Late and unsatisfactory information provided by the PIO.

- Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 09 January 2012:

'The PIO has refused to give the information claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(e) & (j) of the RTI Act. The PIO also states that they had sought the views of the third party Mr. N. V. Paliniyappan whether the information should be disclosed to the Appellant. The PIO stated that the third party had objected to disclosure of the information. The Commission therefore adjourns the hearing to give the third party an opportunity to give his objections to revealing the information.'

The matter was adjourned.

Note: The Commission had issued a hearing notice of hearing on 20/01/2012 to the Third Party Mr. N. V. Palaniappan as well as Appellant and the PIO to appear before the Commission on 10 February 2012 at 12.15PM.

- Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing on 10 February 2012:

Third Party: Absent;

The Third Party has not appears for the hearing though he was given an opportunity to present his view. The PIO claims that the Form in which the application is made by the Third Party Mr. N. V. Palaniappan for his PF withdrawal for marriage may also have other information disclosing which may be an invasion on his privacy. The Commission therefore directs the PIO to black out any information revealing which may be claimed to an invasion on the privacy of Mr. N. V. Palaniappan. This severance would be done as per the provisions of Section 10 of the RTI Act. However, if there is any declaration that no dowry was involved this would not blanked out.

Decision:

The appeal is allowed. The PIO is directed to provide the information as directed above to the Appellant after severing any information which he feels would intrude the privacy of Mr. N. V. Palaniappan to the Appellant before 10 March 2012.

Appellant : Mr. P. Rajasekar
Respondent : Mr. Ashok Joshi, PIO & General Manager, Reserve Bank of India
Third Party: : Mr. N. V. Palaniappan,Special Assistant Cash Department, Reserve Bank of India
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002976/17296
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2011/002976
10 February 2012

(C) In another matter, although of different nature, the CIC rejected the exemption for disclosure of such information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act.

The right of both the spouses to information; Wife or Husband was held alike and equal. The efforts of the applicant spouse (husband) fetched him desired results. The spouses/applicants facing similar situations can cite and get relief in similar situations.

The Commission observes that employment status of person can be furnished to spouse for the purpose of deciding maintenance, if sought under RTI Act, because such information could be an essential component in deciding maintenance issues. If wife is a petitioner for maintenance, she has a right to know the salary details, similarly a husband can defend his interest seeking the salary details and employment status of wife.

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
CIC/EPFOG/A/2017/315385
Kirubananthan K v. PIO, EPFO, Chennai
Decided On: 02.08.2017 FINAL ORDER

(D) The Haryana Civil Services (Government Employees' Conduct) Rules, 2016.

18. (1) No Government employee shall:

(i) give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or

(ii) demand, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be , any dowry.

Explanation.: For the purposes of this rule, 'dowry' has the same meaning as in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961), as amended in its application to the State of Haryana.

(2) Every Government employee after his marriage shall furnish a declaration to his Head of Department that he has not taken any dowry. The declaration shall be signed by his wife, father and father-in-law.

(E) (i) The other establishments in the state also have similar provisions e.g; Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam..

ANNEXURE-I : Declaration to be taken at the time of entry into Nigam's Service

DECLARATION

WHEREAS the provision of Regulation-7 of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Employees Conduct Regulations- 2006 has been specifically brought to my notice; AND whereas on date I am unmarried; NOW, therefore, I _________________do hereby undertake that I shall not:- (b) Give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or (c) Demand, directly or indirectly from the parents or guardians of the bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry. N.B: 'dowry' shall have the same meaning as in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.' I aver in the full understanding that any breach f the rules or law relating to taking or abetting the taking of dowry shall render me liable for appropriate disciplinary action.

Place: Signature ……………………….. Name in Block Letters: Designation: Name of Office: Copy to: (Name of Parent/Guardian) Address:

ANNEXURE-II: Declaration to be given by the mail Nigam's Employees after their marriage

WHEREAS I was married on ………………………. (Date of marriage) Now, therefore, in terms of the provision of Regulation-7 of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Employees Conduct Regulations- 2006, I (Name of the Nigam Employee), do hereby declare that I have not taken or abetted I the taking of any dowry. This declaration has also been signed by my wife, father and father-in-law. Note: To be declared only if either the father or father-in-law or both are not living on the date of declaration. I declare and affirm that my father/my father-in-law /both my father and fatherin-law, are not alive.

Place: Signature ……………………….. Name in Block Letters: Designation: Name of Office: 1. Signature of Father ……………………………. 2. Signature of Wife……………………………….. 3. Signature of Father-in-law …………………….

ANNEXURE-III: Declaration form for movable property under regulation 11 of the DHBVNL Employees (Conduct) Regulations, 2006

ANNEXURE-IV

Declaration by___of the immovable property held by him and Members of his family made on -

(ii) THE ALL INDIA SERVICES (CONDUCT) RULES, 1968

11 A. Giving or taking of dowry. - No member of the Service shall -

(i) give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or

(ii) demand, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry.

Explanation. For the purpose of the rule, 'dowry' has the same meaning as in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).

(iii) The College Education department in State of Rajasthan issued circular asking employees to furnish a declaration they have not taken or given dowry or would not ask for it at the time of their marriage. The declaration will have to be signed by the person concerned, wife, father-in-law and father and submitted to HoDs at the time of joining service.

(iv) The state of Kerala laid down that employees getting married will be required to furnish a declaration to his head of the department after marriage that he has not taken any dowry. The declaration would have to be signed by his wife, father and father-in-law.

The Government notification making such a declaration mandatory has come into effect as part of the new Kerala Dowry Prohibition Rules, 2004. The state has appointed Dowry Prohibition Officers.

The Kerala Dowry Prohibition Rules, 2004

3. Regional Dowry Prohibition Officers.

The Regional Dowry Prohibition Officers shall function in the existing offices of the Regional Assistant Director of Social Welfare

(v) CENTRAL CIVIL SERVICES (CONDUCT) RULES, 1964 (Updated)

13-A. Dowry

No Government servant shall-

(i) give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or
(ii) demand directly or indirectly, from the parent or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry.

Explanation:- For the purposes of this rule, 'dowry' has the same meaning as in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961(28 of 1961).

(vi) The Government Employees (Conduct) Rules,1966

[I3-A.Prohibition of Dowry. - No Government employee shall-

(i) give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or
(ii) demand, directly or indirectly from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry.

Explanation. - For the purpose of this rule, "dowry" has the same meaning as in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961), as amended in its application to the State of Haryana].

(vii) CENTRAL CIVIL SERVICES (CLASSIFICATION, CONTROL & APPEAL) RULES, 1965

10.Suspension

(1) The appointing authority or any authority to which it is subordinate or the disciplinary authority or any other authority empowered in that behalf by the President, by general or special order, may place a Government servant under suspension-

(a) where a disciplinary proceeding against him is contemplated or is pending; or
(b) where a case against him in respect of any criminal offence is under investigation, inquiry or trial:

(11) Suspension in cases of dowry death :-

Explanation – For the purpose of this sub-section 'dowry' shall have the same meaning as in Section 2 of the 'dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.'

(viii) The Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964

13. GIFTS:

(1) Save as provided in these rules, no Government servant shall accept, or permit any member of his family or any other person acting on his behalf to accept, any gift.

(2) On occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, funerals or religious functions, when the making of gift is in conformity with the prevailing religious and social practice, a Government servant may accept gifts from his near relatives or from his personal friends having no official dealings with him, but shall make a report to the Government, if the value of such gift exceeds -

*[(i) rupees twenty five thousand in the case of a Government servant holding any Group 'A' post;
(ii) rupees fifteen thousand in the case of a Govem1nent servant holding any Group 'B' post;
(iii) rupees seven thousand five hundred in the case of a Government servant holding any Group 'C' post.]

13-A. Dowry

No Government servant shall-

(i) give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or
(ii) demand directly or indirectly, from the parent or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry.

Explanation:- For the purposes of this rule, 'dowry' has the same meaning as in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961(28 of 1961).

Government of India Decisions

(5)Acceptance of dowry by Government servants [MHA OM No. 25/37/65-Ests. (A), dated 30.08.1965] »

It is provided in this Ministry's OM No. 25/8/57-Estt.(A) dated the 25th March, 1957 (not reproduced) that dowry should be regarded as a customary gift which a Government servant may accept without prior sanction and that subject to the provisions of the rules relating to gifts and transactions in immovable and movable property, all such gifts should be reported to the Government or other prescribed authority.

2.The matter has been reviewed in the context of the provisions contained in the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Section 2 of this Act defines dowry as 'any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage or by the parents 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 the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dowry or mahar in the case of persons to whom the muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies'.

Persons who are guilty of giving or taking or abetting the giving or taking of dowry, or demanding any dowry, directly or indirectly from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, are liable to the punishments prescribed in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act. In the circumstances, Government servant should not give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; nor should they demand dowry, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom as the case may be. Dowry can, therefore, no longer be treated as 'customary gift' as has been stated in this Ministry's OM of 25.03.1957 referred to in para 1 above (not reproduced). Any violation of the provision of Dowry prohibition Act, 1961 by a Government servant will constitute a good and sufficient reason for institution disciplinary proceedings against him in addition to such legal action as may be taken against him in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The concerned officer in respective establishment is duty bound to initiate action against any irregularity or fraud, falsehood , if that comes into his knowledge by any means as per CCS Conduct rules.

The concerned HoD in respective establishment should get the 'Dowry Declaration' forms signed per procedure.

(F) THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961 (28 OF 1961)

(As on website of Women & Child Development Department, Haryana Government)

2. Definition of 'dowry'.-In 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 parents 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 any time after the 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 Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

[***]

Explanation II.-The expression 'valuable security' has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

State Amendment-[Haryana].-

(For other states one may go thru the details placd under the respective State)

In its application to the State of Haryana, for S.2, substitute the following section, namely:-

'2. Definitions.-In this Act, unless the context requires,-

(i) 'dowry' means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly-

at or before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mahr in case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

Explanation I.-For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that any presents made at the time of a marriage to either party to the marriage in the form of cash, ornaments, clothes or other articles, shall not be deemed to be dowry within the meaning of this section, unless they are made as consideration for the marriage of the said parties.

Explanation II.-The expression 'valuable securities' has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

(ii) 'marriage expenses' shall include expenses incurred directly or indirectly at or before the marriage on-

(a) Thakka, Sagai, Tikka, Shagun and Milni ceremonies;

(b) the gifts made by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage or by the parents, grant-parents and brothers of either party to a marriage, to either party to the marriage or the blood relations thereof;

(c) illumination, food and the arrangements for serving food to the members of the marriage party and other expenses incidental thereto.

Explanation.-For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that any gifts made by a person other than those specified in sub-clause (b), at the time of marriage to either party to the marriage shall not be deemed to be marriage expenses'.-Haryana Act 38 of 1976, S.2 (w.e.f. 11-8-1976).

3. Penalty for giving or taking dowry.-

10. Power of State Government to make rules.-(1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

THE DOWRY PROHIBITION (MAINTENANCE OF LISTS OF PRESENTS TO THE BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM) RULES, 1985

2. Rules in accordance with which lists of presents are to be maintained.-

(1) The list of presents which are given at the time of the marriage to the bride shall be maintained by the bride.

(2) The list of presents which are given at the time of marriage to the bridegroom shall be maintained by the bridegroom.

(G) Central Government Act: The Indian Penal Code

166. Public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person.—Whoever, being a public servant, knowingly diso­beys any direction of the law as to the way in which he is to conduct himself as such public servant, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will, by such disobedience, cause injury to any person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

167. Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury.

217. Public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture.

218. Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture

(H) THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005

8. Exemption from disclosure of information.

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,

(j) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information:

Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

10. Severability.—(1) Where a request for access to information is rejected on the ground that it is in relation to information which is exempt from disclosure, then, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, access may be provided to that part of the record which does not contain any information which is exempt from disclosure under this Act and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains exempt information.

(2) Where access is granted to a part of the record under sub-section (I), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall give a notice to the applicant, informing -

25. Monitoring and reporting.

(5) If it appears to the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, that the practice of a public authority in relation to the exercise of its functions under this Act does not conform with the provisions or spirit of this Act, it may give to the authority a recommendation specifying the steps which ought in its opinion to be taken for promoting such conformity.

(I) In on stroke Information Commissioner Shri Hemant Atri had addressed all aspects and provide a NO escape recourse to the applicant and persons (either of the spouse; Husband or Wife for universal application) facing similar situation.

The third party ;Gaurav Chahal, (government official; ETO o/o DETC(ST) in this case had not furnished a declaration under Section 18 (2) of Haryana Civil Services (Government Employees' Conduct) Rules, 2016 and had also denied to part with the personal information to the appellant in some other case (harassment for dowry u/s 498). He further informed the commission that the applicant is his estranged wife and the information does not serve any public interest.

The information sought was termed as third party and the same was denied to the appellant by invoking personal clause u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005.

The SPIO did not provide the information sought by appellant.

It was noted by the commission that 'The respondent SPIO present before the Commission is not aware of any facts of the case.'

The appellant, failing to receive requisite information, approached the Commission by filing second appeal (dated 01.08.2017) with the prayer to provide requisite information to her and initiate penal as well as disciplinary action against the respondent SPIO. She also prayed for compensation.

The commission directed the SPIO to be personally present on the next date of hearing. The self-acclaimed representative of SPIO presented without any authority letter or knowledge of the case. The Commission took a serious cognizance of the same.

In an ongoing matrimonial dispute in which the spouse (appellant; wife in this case) pleaded having suffered a lot at the hands of 'third party' (husband in this case) and claimed that the issue was not of any public interest but it is about rights of an individual and needs information to defend her case in the court of law as well as deciding the alimony as an outcome of the case.

The Information Commissioner, observing from the ongoing proceedings that the appellant does not constitute 'public' as she is legally married to the third party and no divorce proceedings are on till date in any court of law and there is a criminal case of harassment for dowry, under Section 498 going on in court, between both spouses and it being a settled legal position that any criminal act is an act against the state as a whole, therefore idea of privacy etc, becomes irrelevant,….. ruled that..

'the commission is of the considered opinion that the appellant is very well within her rights to get a copy of any undertaking given by the spouse (third party; husband in this case) to his office with regard to dowry/gifts received during the marriage, if any.'

Reg.No: HIC/CIC/A/2017/5063 Registered On; 2017-08-07
Applicant Name; Kuntal
File Name; KUNTAL VS EXCISE AND TAXATION BHAWAN, PANCHKULA
Bench; Hemant Atri

APPEAL CASE NO. 6321 OF 2017
STATE INFORMATION COMMISSION, HARYANA
SCO NO. 114-115, SECTOR 8-C, CHANDIGARH
RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT-UNDER SECTION 19 (3)

(J) Dowry is social evil. This should end. The citizens have to act and end the evil.

Also the eyes should not be closed to see those giving dowry as victim of the system and not a perpetrator of the crime.

The false complaints that misuse/abuse the system and law should be dealt with firm hands and taken to logical conclusion.

False complaints in such matters are not an unknown fact. The domestic violence complaints may also find roots in (false) Dowry complaints.

There are publications suggesting that in some cases the PIO replied affirmatively and further mentioned that employee of the establishment (say Father of wife) had given a declaration form to his dept mentioning that the amount drawn is for his daughter's wedding and NO DOWRY is involved in it. As it can be seen from mentioned rules that this is a mandatory declaration to be given by employees while joining service o in service and whenever they take amount from their dept for marriage purpose.

However a certified copy of that declaration by PIO to applicant spouse (say Husband) was refused quoting 8(1)(j) of RTI Act.

The previous and recent judgments/decisions should help spouses/applicant facing similar situations.

 

Kumar Doab 
on 27 November 2017
Published in Family Law
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