The term "dowry" refers to any property or valued security offered or agreed to be delivered, either directly or indirectly, in accordance with section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
(a) By one spouse to the other spouse during a marriage,
(b) 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 applies, 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 (Shariat).
Who could possibly violate the law?
Both receiving and giving dowry are prohibited under section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. As a result, both the bride's family and the bridegroom's family would be required to consent to the payment of dowry.
LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR DOWRY:
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- Penalization for dowry transactions (Section 3) Section 3 states that anyone who offers, takes, or aids in the giving or taking of dowry after the Act's implementation will be punished with a period of imprisonment of at least five years and a fine of at least Rs. 15,000 or the amount of the dowry, whichever is greater.
- Section 4 punishment for making dowry demands: Section 4 states that anyone who directly or indirectly asks the parents, guardians, or relatives of the bride or the bridegroom for money would be penalised with a minimum of six months in jail and a maximum of two years in prison as well as a fine that could reach ten thousand rupees.
- In Pandurang Shivram Kawathkar v. State of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unlawful to just demand dowry before marriage.
- In Bhoora Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the court determined that the deceased had sent a letter to her father before being set on fire by her in-laws, complaining about being mistreated, harassed, and threatened with terrible repercussions for not paying the demanded dowry. As a result, the section 4 offence of dowry demand had been committed.
- Section 4-A's prohibition on advertising states that anyone who makes an advertisement in a newspaper, journal, or through another medium offering a share of their property, business, money, or other assets in exchange for getting married will be subject to a minimum six-month sentence and a maximum five-year sentence, as well as a fine that could reach 15,000 rupees.
- Section 7 states that a judge who is not lower than the rank of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of First Class shall try an offence in accordance with this Act. Only the victim, the victim's parents or other family members, the police report, or the court's own knowledge of the facts of the offence may be used to establish criminal responsibility in court.
- Section 8 of this Act states that some offences are cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable.
Legal provisions under Indian Penal Code 1860
If it can be proven that a woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry shortly before her death, such death shall be called "dowry death," and such husband or relatives shall be punished. Dowry Death (Section 304 B)- Section 304(B) states as follows: Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury, or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years.
Anyone who commits dowry death will be punished with a sentence of imprisonment that must not be less than seven years but may go as long as life.
The court established the following guidelines in Vemuri Venkateshwara Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh for determining an offence under section 304(B) and they are-
That the accused is harassing the victim and demanding dowry, that the victim had passed away, and that there were unusual circumstances surrounding the death. The offence under section 304-B is proven because there was dowry demand, harassment, and death within 7 years of marriage. The other things naturally follow.
1872 Indian Evidence Act
- Suspicion of dowry death (Section 113 B) According to Section 113 B, the court shall assume that the person in issue was responsible for the dowry death of the woman if it can be proven that shortly before her death, the woman had been exposed to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry.
Evils of Dowry:
- The practise of dowry has a number of negative impacts on society and has reduced the lovely institution of marriage to a simple exchange of gifts and demands for expensive assets in return for marriage. Following are a few social ills that the dowry system itself brings about:
- Even today, despite the widespread support for legislation that forbid female foeticide, the statistics on the subject are far higher than one might anticipate. One of the main justifications for this practise is the belief that if a female child were to be born, she would become a financial burden on her parents due to the high cost of her marriage.
- Even today, despite the widespread support for legislation that forbid female foeticide, the statistics on the subject are far higher than one might anticipate. One of the main justifications for this practise is the belief that if a female child were to be born, she would become a financial burden on her parents due to the high cost of her marriage. People believe that it is preferable to eliminate the "Female Child," which is the source of the issue.
- Suicide by Young Girls- When parents can't have their daughters married off because of dowry, this frequently results in harassment for the family, which drives the young girls to commit suicide to stop the mental abuse to their families.
- Many families decide against providing their daughters with a good education in order to save money that could be used for dowry.
- Because parents or other family members believe that they would need a large amount of dowry to marry them off, the girls are frequently the targets of mental harassment because they are dark-skinned, overweight, or suffer from any other physical deficiency. These constant taunts and statements not only cause mental harassment in the girls, but also cause them to develop an inferiority complex.
The practise of "DOWRY" is ingrained in Indian society and cannot be completely abolished. The thinking, mentality, and mentality of Indians are the main reasons why this practise cannot be eradicated. In India, parents educate their sons to the point where they may demand a sizable dowry for him when he marries. The amount of dowry a guy receives depends on his level of education and financial stability. Similar to this, girls' parents would give them a lot of education so that their daughters can marry into a wealthy household. They do not hesitate to give dowry because it is now considered customary and because, despite several laws, very few perpetrators are brought to justice. This societal ill can only be eliminated when there is a shift in people's attitudes. The foundations of the tradition would start to erode once people realised that giving and receiving dowry was equivalent to selling one's girls and boys, but that day appears to be very far off.