In India, the marital custom of dowry is widely spread. Dowry is the transfer of
wealth has from the bride's side to the groom's side. It includes clothes,
appliances, automobiles, property, jewellery, money, furniture etc.
Traditionally, there have been many reasons for the establishment of this
technique. It was a sort of inheritance for the bride, since all the family
property was inherited by men. It was supposed to be the security for the bride
in case any misfortune befell her husband's house.
It was also a system of honouring the groom for his willingness to accept the bride as his wife in
marriage, and the gifts given could range from anything significant to even a
small token of good wishes. However, the greed for dowry has
affected most ordinary families in India. This menace is the root cause of
almost all violence against a married woman. In most cases after marriage the
problem of dowry will arise. If the wife isn't ready to provide all, which her
husband and in laws demand, her life within the groom's house become miserable.
She will be treated cruelly and in some cases she may lose her life.
There is the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 which is enacted, and in addition the
laws have been made more stringent namely, Section 304 B (dowry death) and
Section 498 A (cruelty by husband or his relatives) have been integrated into
the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) and also Section 113 B (presumption as to dowry
death) have been made part of the Indian Evidence Act (I.E.A.) so as to
eradicate or at-least lower down this heinous act of dowry system and related
The scope of the study is to justify the cruelty amongst women in regards to
dowry. The study shows the evolvement of laws and regulations for the protection
of women. The study was conducted on the basis of secondary data of the dowry
system. So, there is a lacking to presenting the originality of incident.
The problem which Indian society still suffers is cruelty against women is based
on dowry; domestic violence against women in India has its root at the demand of
dowry. Dowry may happen in any families there's no difference between
rich, bourgeoisie, poor, educated or uneducated. When a marriage is fixed no one
is worry as to how clever, intellectual, and homely the girl is, but all that
matters is, how much money and luxuries will she get to husband's home. With the
passage of time dowry became a customary part in Indian society and became
demanding dowry as their right in order to marry a woman, and gradually the
dowry became violence to women when the groom's family didn't get enough
dowry, leading to harassment or cruelty of brides and also dowry deaths,
especially in certain parts of India. Dowry demands affect the lives of females
socially, economically and culturally.
According to the definition of dowry under section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition
Act 1961, it is clear that dowry is a property which woman brings to her husband
at marriage and includes the land, all sorts of properties, valuable securities
given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly at the time of marriage. The
term dowry does not include repayment of marriage expenses.
The term dowry does
not include Mahr.
The social and cultural effects of the dowry system are devastating to the
society as a whole. The system reduced women to a commodity and a source of
wealth.  Even if the dowry is paid, in most cases, the bride is tortured by
her in-laws, mentally and physically as their demand for more dowry becomes
endless (Chirmade 1992). This torture generally results in suicide or murder of
The reason why dowry is still persistent in India is not only because it is
difficult to enforce the law against it or because the groom's family is very
demanding, but also because the bride's family continues to bear with it.
Despite the widespread awareness of the negative consequences of dowry and the
problems cause by it, it is still seen as a way of buying happiness for the
bride (Stone and James, 1995). Many families believe that giving an
outsized dowry would end in better treatment of the daughter by the groom's
family. This has only aggravated the problem as the standard for dowry became
high and marriage was made dependent on whether the bride's family could meet
that standard of dowry or not.
This research paper has made an effort to scrutinize and evaluate legal
provisions which have been adapted and adopted by the Indian Legal System to
minimize nuisance of Dowry Deaths, highlight loopholes and along-with its
betterment in the legal system & the society and also to spotlight the available
remedies as also how to further argument such remedies so as to be beneficial to
the genuinely aggrieved party.
Is the dowry system still is accepted in today's society?
An important contribution is Rajaraman (1983) who analysed the transformation of
the bride price into a dowry as a nation-wide phenomenon in the preceding 2-3
decades. Her main argument is that a dowry system which evolves from a bride
price system on account of a decline in female contribution to family income
alone, without any other parallel developments, will have a punitive incidence
no greater than that of the system replaced. This is of course an incomplete
analysis as it doesn't throw light on inflation of dowry.
In an insightful contribution, based on marriage recall data collected by
ICRISAT, Deolalikar and Rao (1990), estimate the demand of groom households for
dowries and brides in an economic model of bride selection and dowry exchange.
They report that grooms and brides are matched not only by individual traits
but, consistent with India's arranged marriage system, by household
characteristics as well. Furthermore, they found that while the wealth of a
groom's parental household brings a higher dowry, his individual characteristics
do not make much difference to the level of the dowry. They also noted a
significant rise in the real value of dowry transfers over time.
The district sex ratio, which is an index of the degree of the marriage squeeze,
is significantly associated with increases in net real dowries. This suggests
that an increase in the number of women in the marriage market relative to the
number of men causes dowries to rise. The effect of the labour force ratio,
however, is not significant, disputing Rajaraman's (1983) argument that a
reduction in the relative female labour force participation rate has had an
effect on dowries. The difference in land owned by the parents of each spouse
before the marriage significantly reduces net dowries. The estimated effect of
the age difference is also not significantly different from zero.
The marriage squeeze mainly manifests itself in these regions by forcing dowries
to rise and reducing age differences between spouses. However, a surplus of
women in the marriage market should, more generally, shift the distribution of
marital resources towards men.
Consider an equilibrium in a 'marriage market' in which grooms and brides have
been matched so that men marry younger women. Suppose there is an exogenous
increase in the rate of population growth which results in increasing the
numbers of women in the marriage market. Since these surplus women come from a
younger cohort, the average age of potential brides decreases. This results in
further competition for scarce grooms which induces an upward shift in dowries.
Thus, the marriage squeeze, in combination with the strong preference for early,
universal and monogamous marriage, results in greater competition for eligible
grooms. Even though the marriage squeeze is 'resolved' through an increase in
the average age at marriage of women in the sense that almost all women and men
find a mate, the pressures associated with the adjustment in the age difference
cause dowries to rise.
The marriage-squeeze ratio is negatively and significantly associated with the
age difference which indicates that women do get married at ages closer to those
of men in regimes with a greater marriage squeeze.
Moreover, the difference in land owned by the parents of each spouse before the
marriage significantly reduces net dowries. The district age ratio which is an
index of the extent of the marriage squeeze is significantly associated with
increases in net real dowries. In brief, the estimates of the dowry function
provide evidence in support of the hypothesis that the rise in real net dowry
transfers has been significantly affected by a marriage squeeze brought on by a
surplus of women in the marriage market caused by population growth. The wealth
of a spouse's parent is a valued trait and important in determining a match. In
regions more to the north dowries on average seem to be higher.
Dowry Death Related Laws
The Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.), Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) and Indian
Evidence Act (I.E.A.) under the criminal law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 and by
President of India to deal with dowry death cases and of cruelty caused to
IPC Section 304-B
At the point when the passing of a wedded lady is caused by any consumes or
substantial damage or happens under irregular or suspicious conditions inside
seven years of her marriage span and it is obviously appeared that soon before
her demise she was subjected to cold-bloodedness or badgering or torment by her
better half or any relative of her spouse or in laws for, or in association
with, any interest for settlement, such passing should be called as "settlement
passing", and such spouse or relative or in laws esteemed to have caused her
demise. Whoever confers endowment passing might be rebuffed with detainment for
a term least of seven years which may reach out to detainment forever.
Ingredients of Section 304 B of I.P.C. are as follows:
It is a Cognizable, Non Bailable, Non Compoundable offence.
- When the death of the woman is caused under abnormal and suspicious
circumstances caused by burns or any other bodily injuries
- Within 7 years of the marriage.
- The death is caused in relation to demand for dowry.
- The expression of Soon before her Death.
In the case of Satvir Singh and others v. State of Punjab and another
court held that the harassment or cruelty to which the woman is subjected should
not be at some time with the demand to dowry rather it should be soon before
Further, in the case of Raja Lal Singh v. State of Jharkhand
 it was said by
the apex court that the term soon before her death that is given in Section
304 B of the I.P.C. is a very flexible expression, it can be interpreted as
instantly before her death or within a reasonable time before her death. The
thing that is significant over here is that there should be an appreciable
connection between the death of the woman and the harassment she faced related
to dowry demand.
If the wife dies within 7 years of the marriage and if there is no demand for
dowry and there was no ill-treatment as well from the side of husband and his
family, then the husband and his family cannot be held liable and charged under
section 304 B of the I.P.C., held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of
Ramaswamy v. Dasari Mohan and others
However, it was held in the case of Bhagwan Das v. Kartar Singh and others
 that if the woman is killed or commits suicide in relation to demand of
dowry and it happens soon before her death then Section 304 B of the I.P.C.
may be invoked.
In Prahallad Budek v. State of Orissa
 it was held that there should be a
live link between the death of the woman and the harassment and cruelty faced by
her in relation to demand of dowry, and if there is no such link then the
offence of Section 304 B of I.P.C. cannot be established against the husband
or husband's relatives. Also, it was the same that was stated in the case of Baldev
Singh v. State of Punjab  plus it was also said that the time gap should not
be much between the cruelty and harassment and the death of the woman.
State of Rajasthan v. Jaggu Ram
 held that, as there is no specification of
time period for the expression soon before her death in any of the statutes or
acts, so it is directed that as the facts and circumstances of each case may
differ so on the basis of that it is required by the court to decide that if the
time period between the death of the woman and the cruelty, she suffered is
immediate or not.
IPC Section 498-A
This section speaks about cruelty caused to women by husband or relative of the
husband. Whoever being the spouse or the relative of the spouse or in law of a
lady, subjects such lady to cold-bloodedness or provocation or torment might be
rebuffed with detainment for a term International Journal of Pure and Applied
Mathematics Special Issue 1685 which may reach out up to three years and to pay
fine. The mercilessness can be either mental or then again physical torment
which drives the ladies to confer suicide or to cause genuine damage, or on the
other hand threat to life or wellbeing.
Ingredients of Section 498 A of I.P.C. are as follows:
It is a Cognizable, Non Bailable, Non Compoundable offence.
- The woman should be a married woman.
- The married woman should be the subject of the cruelty or harassment.
- The harassment or cruelty should be done by the husband or by husband's
- There should be a Mens Rea on the part of husband or husband's relatives.
In the case of Balwant Singh and others v. State of Himachal Pradesh
 the 2
judges bench said that the person who is acquitted under section 304 B of the I.P.C. can also be convicted under section 498 A of the I.P.C. as both the
sections of the I.P.C. cannot be held as mutually inclusive.
Further to give justice to the deceased and to strengthen the belief of the
society in the legal system of the country the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case
of Pawan Kumar and others v. State of Haryana held that the wife who died
within 7 years of the marriage, which is the result of a dowry death by
committing suicide, then along with section 304 B of the I.P.C and section 498
A of the I.P.C. the accused can also be held liable under section 306 of the
I.P.C. (which says Abetment of attempt to commit suicide) as the treatment of
the accused forced the wife to do so.
IEA Section 113-A
This section deals with presumption of abetment of suicide of a married women.
 At the point when the inquiry is whether the commission of suicide by lady
had been abetted by her better half or any relative her better half and it is
demonstrated that she had conferred suicide inside a time of seven a long time
from the date of her oversee and her spouse or such relative of her better half
had subjected to remorselessness, the court may assume, having respect to the
various conditions of the case, that such suicide had been abetted by her better
half or by such relative of her better half.
IEA Section 113-B
This section deals with presumption of dowry death. At the point when the
inquiry is whether a man has conferred the share passing of a lady and it is
demonstrated that soon before her demise, such lady had been subjected by such
individual to remorselessness or provocation for, or in association with, any
interest for endowment, the court might assume that such individual had caused
the share passing.
The ingredient of this section is the fulfilment of the ingredients of section
304 B of the I.P.C
In Kamesh Panjiyar alias Kamlesh Panjiyar v. State of Bihar
 the court said
that if there is a conjoint reading of section 113 B of the I.E.A. and section
304 B of the I.P.C. then there have to be some evidences submitted before the
court stating that there have been cruelty and harassment to the wife from the
side of husband or husband's relatives in order to punish the accused in the
matter of dowry death.
However, in the case of Sham Lal v. State of Haryana
 it was said that the
husband cannot be convicted under section 304 B of the I.P.C. and also section
113 B of the I.E.A. cannot be raised if there is no evidence of the harassment
and cruelty soon before her death.
Similarly, in Harjit Singh v. State of Punjab
 the court held that there was
no evidence showing that the poison consumed by the wife was the result of some
cruelty or harassment by the husband, so the husband was acquitted under section
304 B of the I.P.C. and the provisions of section 113 B of the I.E.A. could
not be inflicted against him.
Dowry Prohibition Act,1961
The whole of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is prepared, equipped and developed
in order to provide relief to the victims of the dowry cases in the country. The
entire act solely fulfils the purpose to protect woman's sufferings from the
dowry harassment and cruelty.
It contains a total of 10 sections of which following are the heading of each
- Section 1 Short title, extent and commencement
- Section 2 Definition of dowry
- Section 3 Penalty for giving or taking dowry
- Section 4 Penalty for demanding dowry
- Section 4A Ban on advertisement
- Section 5 Agreement for giving or taking dowry to be void
- Section 6 Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs
- Section 7 Cognizance of offence
- Section 8 Offences to be cognizable for certain purposes and to be
- Section 8A Burden of proof in certain cases
- Section 8B Dowry Prohibition Officers
- Section 9 Power to make rules
- Section 10 Power of State Government to make rules
As it can be seen that this Act is drafted, keeping in mind the interest of all
areas of society and law in order to protect and enhance the status of dowry
victims which may be leading them to death, suicide, harassment or cruelty.
It is understood that the word Dowry
is a social evil, but as it can be seen
in section 6 of the D.P. Act which says Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife
or her heirs, here we should understand that Dowry is simply a sum of property
(whether it is money or any other property) given by her parents or her parents'
family out of sheer love and affection to protect the social and financial
interest of a woman and which is not social evil. In-fact the social evil is the demand of dowry by the husband or his family, faced by the wife and her
In the case of Sabitri Dei and others v. Sarat Chandra Rout and others
apex court quashed the order given by the competent Sessions Court and convicted
the husband and his relative under section 498A/section 304B of the I.P.C. and
under section 4 of the D.P. Act. Similarly, in the case of Premananda Sahoo v.
State of Orissa  the criminal appeal was directed against the judgement
given by competent Sessions Court.
In the landmark judgement of Suresh Kumar Singh v. State of U.P
.  the apex
court held that the proof of demand of dowry as shown by the prosecution should
not be too old from the death of the woman. The propinquity of dowry demand and
the death of the victim should be established to evoke the expression of soon
before her death and charge the accused under the D.P. Act as well.
I have used the information from National Crime Records Bureau or NCRB (2001 to
2016) on dowry deaths of ladies across Indian states. Number of dowry deaths is
normalised per 100,000 women in each state. To construct the panel of
explanatory variables, we've got relied on various sources: the Indian Census
2001 and 2011; population projections by the Registrar General of India, and
estimates of convictions against rapes from Ministry of Home Affairs, Federal
Reserve Bank of India for estimates of state GDP (or SGDP) per capita. These are
at 2013-14 constant prices. Political regime variables were constructed for
each state and year from available sources. Various adjustments had to be made
because of missing data, smallness of some states, and reorganisation of states
over this period.
As the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala,
Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Tripura and West
Bengal have not released official 2016-17 SDP estimates, going by RBI released
data as on Dec' 2017, we extrapolate the same. We do this by computing the
difference in the SDP in the preceding years of 2014-15 and 2015-16. We then add
this difference (SDP 2016-15 minus SDP 2015-14) to the 2015-16 official SDP
estimates, giving us the 2016-17 SDP estimates. The SDP figures for the state of
West Bengal are not available in the RBI dataset after 2011. To ensure that the
richness of our panel isn't lost because of this shortcoming, we calculated the
SGDP at constant 2014 prices from the current prices approximations released by
National Institute for Transforming India (Niti Aayog) for West Bengal.
Population figures for various years that Census data don't seem to be available
are taken from the report of the technical group on population projections
constituted by the National Commission on Population in May 2006. We do this to
approximate the change in population after the 2001 and 2011 census. Using these
projections, we calculate the new sex ratio and the age distribution structures
across the Indian states from 2001 to 2016.
An issue is underreporting of dowry
deaths for familiar reasons: fear of retaliation by the husband's family,
difficulty in marrying a second daughter and the requirement of prior harassment
by the male spouse in registering a dowry death and resistance from local police
in filing an FIR.
Number of dowry cases goes up' (The Hindu, January 2008); Dowry death after
' (The Times of India, April 2008); Harassed for dowry, teacher
' (The Indian Express, November 2007). These are just three headlines
from three of India's popular newspapers that show the persistence of the dowry
system and its consequences in modern India. Dowry is still prevalent in modern
India, in not only the illiterate section of the population, but also the
educated elites in India's major metropolitan cities.
Surprisingly in the past
decade, the number of dowry related crime cases has actually gone up, despite
dowry being banned since 1961 by Indian law. According to the statistics
released by the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 8391 dowry deaths were
reported in 2010 itself, which means that a bride was killed every 90 minutes
due to dowry related reasons. In 1988, this number was 2209; in 1990 it rose to
4835; in 2000 (a couple of decades earlier), this number was 6995, and in 2007
it climbed up to an astounding 8093.
According to other government records, Delhi itself records a few hundred dowry
deaths every year, while women's rights groups estimate this number to be at 900
per year. This is a phenomenal increase compared to the numbers for the 1990s,
which were about 300 per year. It is important to note that these are just
official records, and are thus immensely under-reported. 90% of the cases in
which women are burnt are recorded as accidents, 5% as suicides, and only the
remaining 5% of the cases are shown as murder. These shockingly high numbers
clearly reflect the continuous increase in dowry related crimes and deaths in
With passing years cases related to dowry deaths in India are gradually
increasing. Also, cases of cruelty towards the wife by a husband or his
relatives are increasing which is prominently caused by the demand for dowry and
wife's inability to fulfil it. According to the statistics given in the NCRB
Report, 2016 , total number of reported cases related to Dowry Deaths in the
year 2016 were 7,621 and total number of reported cases related to cruelty by
the husband or his relatives to the wife in the year 2016 were 1,10,378.
India holds the highest number of Dowry Death cases in the World. Another
glaring issue that comes up with the laws laid down to protect women from this
cruel act is that misuse of the very same laws by the wife or her family to
harass and blackmail the husband or his family, which is also needed to be dealt
with in a swift manner.
The methodology adopted for this research is doctrinal. Doctrinal study includes
case laws on dowry and the role played by various cases in forming the law for
the protection of women's dignity. The paper has been inspired by various
research papers and journals. Majority inspiration has been taken from Dowry
Death and Dowry System in India Research Paper by Dev Raizada. The figures
taken are accurate and as provided by the National Crime Bureau.
When a woman is accepted not from her virtues except for the cash she brings and
when the dowry she brings is that the be all and end all of the transaction, the
marriage looses all sanctity and sublimity. The sooner the dowry becomes the
thing of the past, the higher for our society.
The problem of dowry demand is
not merely one of the family demanding cash and goods, beyond the capacity and
desire of another family to give but rather a question of the inter relatedness
of psychological, social and financial factors. As one reads the shocking story
of individual women and families, one notice that there's little or no and
sometimes no awareness among them of the roots of the problem or any motivations
to curb the practice and bring about a much-needed social change.
This can be
attributed to an internalization of prevailing particular values which view
women as inferior and having only themselves responsible for his or
her predicament. It seldom sees them as victims of a particular from of
oppression or of socially prevalent sex biases. The burden of tradition, a
prevailing ideology of male superiority, insensitive police force, and
archaic judiciary and a society that condones violence creates a chamber of
horror where even angels would fear to tread.
As it is said whenever there is light, there is shadow too
, similarly, in
order to provide justice to women and to protect them from dowry harassment in
their best interest, there have been cases of misuse of the laws and provisions
provided to help and protect them. These provisions and rights have been
exploited in a wrong manner and that too it has happened for a reasonable period
of time now. This is one of the loopholes that is needed to be corrected and
rectified by the same nobel, scholered and intellectual law-makers who have laid
down these provisions keeping in mind the protection of women from the heinous
crime of dowry.
- Dowry System in India Leila Ateffakhr; Department of Law, University of
- UK Essays. (November 2018). Research Paper on Dowry System in India.
Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/sociology/research-paper-dowry-system-sociology-essay.php?vref=1
- An illustration of dowry inflation is pertinent. Holcombe (2016) reports
An eligible bachelor can enter his attributes, such as a degree from a top
institution, into a 9software app and find out how much dowry he can demand.
I'm worth one crore rupees, one executive told the Times of Indiaroughly
$150,000. However, she also points out that there is gender asymmetry. The
experience is not equivalent for women, for whom higher education or
powerful careers can hurt. A poll by shaadi.com, a match-making website,
discovered that men seek educated partners but overwhelmingly prefer a
partner who earns less than them.
- (2001) 8 SCC 633; 2002 SCC (Cri) 48; AIR 2001 SC 2828; MANU/SC/0588/2001
- (2007) 15 SCC 415; (2010) 3 SCC (Cri) 539; AIR 2007 SC 2154;
- 1998 SCC (Cri) 604; AIR 1998 SC 774; MANU/SC/0042/1998
- (2007) 11 SCC 205; AIR 2007 SC 2045; MANU/SC/2650/2007
- (2008) 64 AIC 458; 2008 CriLJ (NOC 339)97)
- (2008) 13 SCC 233; (2009) 3 SCC (Cri) 537); MANU/SC/7907/2008
- (2008)12 SCC 51; (2009) 1 SCC (Cri) 317; AIR 2008 SC 982;
- Pragnesh Parmar dowry death and law Indian scenario published on 2nd
- C. Veerudu v. State of Andhra Pradesh: (1988) 2 AP LJ 75; 1989 CriLJ (NOC
- (2008) 15 SCC 497; (2009) 3 SCC (Cri) 1094; 2008 CriLJ 4683;
- (1998) 3 SCC 309; 1998 SCC (Cri) 740; AIR 1998 SC 958; MANU/SC/0104/1998
- Latha K.S; dowry death implications of law published on January 1998
- (2005) 2 SCC 388; 2005 SCC (Cri) 511; AIR 2005 SC 785; MANU/SC/0076/2005
- (1997) 9 SCC 759; 1997 SCC (Cri) 759; AIR 1997 SC 1873;
- (2006) 1 SCC 463; (2006) 1 SCC (Cri) 417; AIR 2006 SC 680;
- (1996) 3 SCC 301; MANU/SC/1117/1996
- (2008) 41 OCR 558; MANU/OR/0785/2008
- (2009) 17 SCC 243; (2011) 1 SCC (Cri) 989; MANU/SC/0953/2009
- Crime in India, 2016 - National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home
Affairs, New Delhi, India
Legal Search Engine Referred - SCC Online
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Sneha Anchalia
Authentication No: FB32980277478-18-0221