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Dowry Prohibition Act

Dowry Prohibition Act is an Indian law which was enacted on 1st of May in the year 1961. This act was levied to prevent giving or receiving any form of dowry. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in the year 1961 which justifies the term 'dowry' which includes the property, goods, or money that is given by either of the parties who is engaged in the marriage.

This can be given by the parents of either of the party or by anyone else who is in connection with the marriage. The Dowry Prohibition Act is applicable to all persons irrespective of caste or religion in India. Let us learn about the same and get an awareness check on the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, which is issued by the government of India and is mandated rigorously.

Sixty years ago, in order to eradicate the evil custom of Dowry from society and to eliminate violence against married women for want of dowry and Dowry deaths, "The Dowry Prohibition Act" was passed. This Act received the assent of the President of India on 20th May, 1961 and the Act came into force on 1st July 1961.

This date is important because giving or accepting of Dowry is prohibited after the commencement of this act. The act would be inapplicable if the Dowry has been given or accepted prior to 1st July 1961, even though the marriage takes place after 1st July 1961. In view of the above fact, on 1st July, 2021 this act completes 60 years. However, if we go back to history, about 250 years ago Punyashlok Ahilyaabai Holkar, the rulerMalvaa Prant, passed the Anti-Dowry Act.

Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 is criminal law and according to section 7, offering and accepting dowry is a cognizable offence. Cases can be filed on the basis of self-information by the victim, police reports, information from parents/relations or complaints registered by any NGO. The offence under this Act is non-bailable (bail can not be sanctioned to the offender) and non-compoundable (the case once filed cannot be settled out of court).

According to Section 8(a), the offender has to prove that he is not guilty and that he has not accepted any Dowry and has not committed any offence under this Act. This rule is called "Strict Liability." According to the principle of Criminal Jurisprudence, an accused is presumed to be innocent until their guilt is proved, and it is for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the offence. This section makes an exception to this general rule and shifts the burden on the accused to prove his innocence. Amendment of the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act are the special features of this Act.

Secondly, the Indian Penal Code section 498(a) defines Cruelty. This section has been amended to make cruelty to a woman by her husband or in-laws and forcing her to meet their unlawful demands of Dowry will attract punishment with imprisonment up to three years with a fine. Thirdly according to Indian Evidence Act Section 113(a) & 114(b), if atrocities and harassment is proved and the victim dies an unnatural death within seven years of her marriage, the Court will presume that she has been driven towards suicide by her husband and his relatives. In this situation, under IPC section 306 provision of 10 years of imprisonment & fine is made. After 1961

What is Dowry?

Dowry is a very common and prevalent word in the society which is related to marriage. It is usually said to be an amount or gifts which are given by the family of the bride to the groom and his family at the wedding. Where in the beginning it was the voluntary choice of the parents of the girl to give her gifts during the wedding ceremony, in the present society it has become a norm.

Dowry History and Overview

In ancient times, marriage rites were performed in the Vedic period which was associated with the famous 'Kanyadan'. This is laid down in Dharmashastra that this praise-worthy act of Kanyadan is not complete until the bridegroom was given a 'Dakshina. So, the actual rite was as follows: when a bride is given over to the bridegroom, he was to be given something in cash or in kind, this would fulfill the meaning of 'Dakshina. Thus, in those times Kanyadan became common with giving 'Dakshina'.

While, this must be noted that, the 'Dakshina' was offered out of love and affection and it did not constitute any kind of compulsion or it didn't mean it was a consideration for the marriage. This was completely a voluntary practice without any demanding overtones.Now, as time progressed, selfishness, illogical behavior, and inhumanity dawned on society. The actual meaning of dowry has disappeared and coercive elements like force and demand have crept in in society. This evilness in society has taken deep roots not only in the marriage ceremony but also in post-marriage relationships.

In Arjun Dhondiba Kamble v. State of Maharashtra[1], the court held that, "Dowry" in the sense of the expression contemplated by Dowry Prohibition Act is a demand for property of valuable security having an inextricable nexus with the marriage, i.e., it is a consideration from the side of the bride's parents or relatives to the groom or his parents and/or guardian for the agreement to wed the bride-to-be. But where the demand for property or valuable security has no connection with the consideration for the marriage, it will not amount to a demand for dowry.

Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

The Dowry Prohibition Bill was legally passed in the Joint Sittings of both the Houses of Parliament � Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Thus, this is how the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 came into force. After which it received the assent of the President on the 20th of May and thereby the Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in the year 1961 which was legally binding on every other citizen of India irrespective of caste or religion.

Dowry Prohibition Act Amendment Following are two amending acts which complimented the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961:The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1984.The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986.

Salient Features of Dowry Prohibition Act

  1. Short Title and Commencement of the Act:
    The rules which are levied on are known as the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules which was initiated in the year 1985.The rules shall come into effect on October 2nd in the year 1985. This is the date that is being appointed for the effective force of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
  2. Rules which Mandate the Accordance of the Presents are to be Maintained:
    The list of presents which are given at the time of the marriage to the bride will be maintained by the bride only.While the list of presents which are given at the time of the marriage to the bridegroom will be maintained by the bridegroom only.
  3. Every List of Presents:
    That are Being Referred to in Sub-Rule (1) or Sub-Rule (2) Above:shall be prepared during the course of the marriage or as soon as possible after the marriage:this shall be in writing; this shall contain- a brief description of the approximate value of the present gifted.the name of the person who has given the present to each other. And,the relation of the person giving the present to the bride or bridegroom, a description of that relationship.
  4. This shall be signed by both the bride and the bridegroom

Did You Know?
Where women were killed as a result of India's dowry system each year. In many cases, a woman is being murdered by her husband or in-laws as her family could not raise the desired money. In other times, the women were forced to suicide after suffering harassment from her in-laws due to failure of paying the money. There are also cases where husbands or in-laws throw acid on a woman or set her on fire for this dowry.

"The violence ranges from brutal beatings, emotional torture, withholding money, throwing them out of the house, keeping them away from their children, keeping mistresses openly," or in extreme cases, "burning the wife alive,Savra Subratikaan, she is a women's rights worker in New Delhi told the media.

This is a pure disgrace to our society that these elements did exist. One cannot say that the dowry system got completely demolished, as in remote areas behind the jurisdiction of law, this evilness is still surviving. In fact, this is a shame to the entire humanity that brides are being killed and tortured for their own self-interest. Awareness on this topic should not stop, hence today as we learned this phenomenal topic we should carry and spread the knowledge further and keep ourselves alert to sense such evilness so that we can take steps to end it immediately

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