File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Dowry And Dowry Death

Marriage in India is steeped in traditions and deep-rooted cultural belief practices are passed down by word of month and in some case, with the changing times. There is, however, one custom that stubbornly resists change the dowry system in India, It has roots in medieval times when a gift in case or kind was given to a pride by her family to maintain her independence after marriage. During the colonial period, it became the only legal way to get married, with the British making the practice of dowry mandatory.

A dowry is transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter. Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom or his family to the bride's parent's dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride's family to the room or his family, ostensibly for the bride. Similarly, dower is the property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the times of marriage and which remains under her ownership and control. Dowry prohibition Act, 1961 was enacted to prohibit in giving or taking of dowry and related offences.

Dowry death, in 1986 a new offence know as dowry death was inserted in the IPC by the virtue of section 304-B. The provision under sec 304-B are more stringent than provided U/s 498-A of IPC

Dowry System In India

The dowry system in India refers the bride's family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a conditions of the marriage. Dowry stemmed from India's skewed inheritance laws, and Hindu succession Act, needed to be amended to stop the routine disinheritance of daughters. Dowry is essentially in the nature of payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to the bridegroom's family along with the pride and includes cash, jewelry, electrical, furniture, bedding, crockery and other household items that the newlyweds setup their home.

The dowry system in thought to put great financial burden on the bride's family. In some case, the dowry system Leeds to crime against women, ranging from emotional above and injury to even deaths. The payment of dowry has long been prohibited under specific Indian laws including the Dowry Prohibited under specific Indian law including the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and subsequently by Section 304-B and 498-A of the IPC.

The Legal definition of dowry as Dowry in the sense of the expression contemplated by dowry prohibition Act is a demand for property of valuable security having and 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 or relative to the groom o his parents and guardian for the agreement to wed the bride to be.

The Dowry Pro. Act. 1961 Section 3 specifies that the penalty for giving or taking dowry does not apply to presents which are given at the times of a marriage to the bride or bridegroom, when no demand for them have been made.

Although Indian laws against dowries have been in effect for decades. They have been largely criticized as being ineffective. The practice of dowry deaths and murders continues to take place unchecked in many parts of India and this has further added to the concerns of enforcement. Section 498-A of the IPC required the bridegroom and his family to be automatically arrested it a wife complains of dowry harassment. The law was widely abused and in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that arrests can only be made with a magistrate's approval.

Causes of The Dowry

Various reasons have been suggested as cause of dowry practice in India. There include economic factors and social factors.

Economic Factors

There are many economic factors that contributes towards the system of dowry. Some of these includes inheritance systems and the bride's economic status.
Some suggestions point to economics and weak legal institutions on inheritance place women in disadvantage with inheritances beings left only to sons. This leaves women dependent upon their husbands and in laws. Who keep the dowry when she marriages. In 1956, India give equal legal status to daughters and sons among Hindu. Sikh, Jain families under the Hindu succession Act.

Dowry gave, at least in theory, women economic and financial security in their marriage in the form of Marble goods. This helped prevent family wealth break up and provided security to the pride at the sometimes. The system can also be used as a premortem inheritance, as once a women is presented with morals gifts, she may be out off from the family estate. For many, dowry has become a greater financial burden on the family, and can leave families destitute based on the demand from the groom. The demand for dowry has increased over time.
Social factors

valuable in the marriage, decreasing the chance of dowry over the bride price system. north, marriage usually follows apatri local (lives with husband's family) system, where the The structure and kinship of marriage in parts of India contributes to dowry. In the groom is a non-related member of the family. This system encourages dowry perhaps due to the exclusion of the bride's family after marriage as a form of premortem in heritance for the bride.

In the south, marriage is more often conducted within the bride's family, for example with close relatives or cross-cousins, and in a closer physical distance to her family. In addition, brides may have the ability to inherit land, which makes her more

While India has been making progress for woman’s rights women continue to be in a subordinate status in their family. Women's education, income, and health are some significant factors that play into the dowry system, and for how much control a woman has over her marriage.

Types of Dowry crimes

Dowry is considered a major contributor towards observed violence against women in India. Some of these offences include physical violence, emotional abuses, and even murder of brides and young girls prior to marriage. The predominant types of dowry crimes relate to cruelty (which includes torture and harassment), domestic violence (including physical, emotional andsexual assault), abetment to suicide and dowry death (including, issues of bride burning and murder).


Cruelty in the form of torture or harassment of a woman with the objective of forcing her to meet a demand for property or valuable security is a form of dowry crime. The cruelty could be in the form of verbal attacks or may be accompanied by beating or harassment in order to force the woman or her family to yield to dowry demands. In many instances, the cruelty may even force the woman to commit suicide and it has been specifically criminalized by the anti-dowry laws in India.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence includes a broad spectrum of abusive and threatening behaviour which includes physical, emotional, economic and sexual violence as well as intimidation, isolation and coercion. There are laws like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 that help to reduce domestic violence and to protect women's rights.

Dowry murder

Dowry deaths and dowry murder relate to a bride's suicide or killing committed by her husband and his family soon after the marriage because of their dissatisfaction with the dowry. It is typically the culmination of a series of prior domestic abuses by the husband's family.

Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide by hanging herself or consuming poison. Dowry deaths also include bride burning where brides are doused in kerosene and set ablaze by the husband or his family.

Sometimes, due to their abetment to commit suicide, the bride may end up setting herself on fire Dowry deaths can also include sex selective abortions and female foeticide by parents who do not want to pay for their daughter's dowry when she comes of age. Daughters are often seen as economic liabilities due to the dowry system.

Dowry Death (Section 304-B)

  1. Where the death of woman is caused by any burns of bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven year 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.
  2. Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven year but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

For the purpose of this sub-section, Dowry shall have the some meaning as in section 2 of the dowry prohibition Act, 1961.

Essential Ingredients

  1. Death of woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury nor otherwise under normal circumstances.
  2. Death should have been occurred within 7 years of her marriage.
  3. The woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassments by her husband or any relative of her husband.
  4. Such cruelty or harassments should be or in connection with, any demand for dowry.
  5. Such cruelty or harassment should have been subjected soon before her death.
  6. It death of women caused under the above circumstance, the husband and husband's relative will be presumed to have caused a dowry death and be liable for the offences, unless it is proved otherwise.


Under section 304-B (2) of IPC whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a terms which shall not be less that 7 yrs. but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
Classification of Offence
The offence U/s 304-B is

  • Cognizable
  • Nonbailable
  • Non- compoundable
  • Tribal by Court of Session

Dowry Death and Evidence Act, 1872

Section 113-B presumption as to dowry death

When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with any demand for dowry. The court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.

For the purpose of this section Dowry Death Shall have the same meaning as in section 304-B of IPC.

Sher Singh @ partapa v/s State of Haryana
A two judge bench [Vikramjit Sen and Kurian Jospe Joseph JJ] of the SC while dealing with section 304-B

IPC and section 113-B Evidence Act held as follows:

The prosecution can discharge the initial burden to prove the ingredients of section 304-B even by preponderance of probabilities.
Once the presence of the concomitants are established or shown or proved by the prosecution, even by preponderance of possibility, the initial presumption of innocence is replaced by an assumption of guilt of the accused, thereupon, Transferring the heavy of proof upon him and requiring him to produce evidence dislodging his guilt, beyond reasonable doubt.

Case Laws

  • Hansraj V. State of Punjab
    In this case SC held that term normal circumstances apparently means not by natural death.
  • Rameshwer Das V. State of Punjab, 2008
    In this case Sc held that, pregnant women, woman would not commit suicide unless relationship with her husband comes to such a passed that she would be compelled to do so, accused is liable to be convicted on the failure to prove his defense.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Section 2 Definition of Dowry

  1. In this act, dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.
  2. 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.
  3. To either party to the marriage or the any other person at or before or any time offer the marriage in connection with the marriage of said parties but does not include dowry 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 IPC.

Section 3 Penalty for Giving or taking dowry

If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than Fifteen thousand rupees or amount of the value of such dowry whichever is more provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a terms of less than 5 years.

Section 4 Penalty for demanding dowry

If any person demands directly or indirectly, from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees .

Section 4A Ban on advertisement

If any person-
a. Offers, through any advertisement in any newspaper, periodical, journal or through any other media any share in his property or of any money or both as a share in any business or other interest as consideration for the marriage of his son or daughter or any other relative.

b. Prints or publishes or circulates any advertisement referred to CI. He shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to fifteen thousand rupees .

Section 5 Agreement for giving or taking dowry to be void any agreement for the giving or taking of dowry shall be void .

Section 6 Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or heirs:

  1. Where any dowry is received by any persons other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall transfer it to the woman
    a. If the dowry was received before marriage, within three month after the date of marriage or,
    b. If the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage within three months after the date of its receipt or,
    c. if the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within three months after she has attained the age of 18 years, and pending such transfer, shall hold it in trust for the benefit of the woman.
  2. if any person fails to transfer any property as required by sub-section (1) within the time limit specified therefore or as required by sub-section(3), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend two years or with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees, but which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.
  3. where the woman entitled to any property under sub-section (1) dies before receiving it, the heirs of the woman shall be entitled to claim it from the person holding it for the time being : if she has no children, be transferred to her parents, or if she has children, be transferred to such children and pending such transfer, be held in trust for such children.

    (3-A).Where a person convicted under sub-sec.(2) for failure to transfer any property as required by sub-sec(1) or sub-sec.(3) has not, before his conviction under that sub-section, transferred such property to the woman entitled thereto or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children, the court shall, in addition to awarding punishment under that sub-sec. Direct by order in writing, that such person shall transfer the property to such woman or as case may be, her heirs, parents or children within such period as may be specified in the order and if such person fails to comply with the direction within the period so specified an amount equal to the value of the property may be recovered from him as if it were a fine imposed by such court and paid to such woman, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children.
  4. Nothing contained in this section shall affect provisions of sec.3 or sec.4 .
    Sec.8 Offence to be cognizable for certain purposes and to be bailable and non-compoundable
    (1)The code of criminal procedure, 1973 shall apply to offences under this act as of they were cognizable offences-

    a. for the purpose of investigation of such offences and
    b. for the purpose of matter other than
    1. matter referred to in sec. 42 of that code, and
    2. the arrest of person without a warrant or without an order of a magistrate.
    (2) Every offence under this act shall be non bailable and non compoundable .

Section. 8B Dowry prohibition officers:

  1. the state government may appoint as many dowry prohibition officers as it thinks fit and specify the areas in respect of which they shall exercise their jurisdiction and powers under this Act.
  2. Every Dowry prohibition officer shall exercise and perform the following powers and functions, namely,-
    (a) to see that the provisions of this Act are complied with,
    (b) to prevent, as far as possible, the taking or abetting the taking of, of the demanding of dowry ;
    (c) to collect such evidence as may be necessary for the prosecution of persons committing offences under the Act ; and
    (d) to perform such additional functions as may be assigned to him by the state government, or as may be specified in the rules made under this Act.
  3. The state government may, by notification in the official gazette, confer such powers of a police officer as may be specified in the notification, the Dowry Prohibition Officer who shall exercise such powers subject to such limitations and conditions as may be specified by rules made under this Act.
  4. The state government may, for the purpose of advising and assisting the Dowry prohibition Officers in the efficient performance of their functions under this Act, appoint an advisory board consisting of not more than five social welfare workers from the area in respect of which such Dowry Prohibition Officer exercises jurisdiction under sub-section(1)

Case Laws

  • Satyanandam v/s Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P.,2004
    In this case court held that where the offence of dowry death is not proved the accused can still be convicted for dowry demand.
  • State of Andhra PradeshV.Ram Gopal Asawa & Another (AIR 2004 SCC 470 )
    In this case court held that there must be proximate and live link between the effects of cruelty based on dowry demand and the concerned death.
  • Kans Raj v/s State of punjab, AIR 2000 SC 2324
    For the fault of the husband, the in-laws or the other relations cannot, in all cases, be held to be involved in the demand of dowry . In cases where such accusation is made, the overt acts attributed to persons other than husband are required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. By mere conjectures and implications such relations cannot be held guilty for the offence relating to dowry death . A tendency has however developed for roping in all relations of the in-laws of the deceased wives in the matters of dowry death which, if not discourage is likely to affect the case of the prosecution even against the real culprits. In their over enthusiasm and anxiety to seek conviction for maximum people the parents of the deceased have been found to be making efforts for involving other relations which ultimately weaken the case of the prosecution even against the real accused as appears to have happened in the instant case.
  • Arnesh Kumar v/s State of Bihar, 2014 (8) SCC 273
    There is a phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years . the institution of marriage is greatly revered in this country . Section 498-A IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. The fact that section 498-A IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of bride among the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provisions. In a quite number of cases, bedridden grandfathers and grandmothers of the husband, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested .

The dowry at present is source of both joy and curse in the society . it is also a joy to the husband and his relatives who get cash, costly dress and utensils, furniture, bedding materials, etc

 But, it is a curse to the bride’s parents who have to bear enormous cost to satisfy the unreasonable demands of the bridegrooms party. a demands of dowry does not diminish even after marriage. in some instances, the in-laws of the bride are very much ready to inflict harassment, insults and tortures both mental and physical.

It is often seen that, when more pressure is put on bride’s parents, their dear daughter has no other option but to commit suicide to avoid more insult and torture at the hands of the members of her husband’s family moreover, when deaths occur through bride burning, evidence itself is usually lost in flames.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly