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The Dowry System In The Present Era

The dowry system includes giving the groom's family cash and a few other things for the pay-off household, it is sentenced by society. The Dowry Prohibition Act has been set up in India since 1961, however the act of settlement went on unfazed. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, any act to take or give dowry is punishable in India.

At the point when it isn't requested inside and out, it is suggested that the bride's family should give 'gifts' and accommodate a specific way of life for the husband to be and his family. Be that as it may, tragically paying little mind to the endeavours made by the national government notwithstanding various social groups, this heinous framework stays to be important for society.

Supporters of the dowry system may furnish you with various improper causes to help the activity; nonetheless, reality remains that it does additional hurt to the society. This research paper will look into the aspects about how the system still exists, the dowry laws, in brief, about recent dowry cases and how it affects the society, I would also touch upon the judicial aspect, relevant sections and how the Indian society views this macroscopically.

Dowry system in India is prevalent because of a few critically illogical reasons which would be discussed further in this paper; there would also be discussion of suggestions on how India as a country can eradicate dowry system as a whole.

Overview of why the dowry system still exists

The Indian society still suffers of this problem. It does not matter what caste the family or the bride belongs to, how educated they are or how their financial condition is, dowry as an evil still exists in a larger part of the society.

In Prakash Kaur v. Harjinderpal Singh 1, the Court held that:
The demand of dowry is an act of cruelty because it is the negation of the matrimonial obligation which one spouse has against the other.

The dowry system can put a tremendous financial burden on the bride's family. In 1961, the Indian parliament passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, this act removed the condition of providing dowry as an essential for marriage.

Despite this and the fact that India is still a "low income generating"/developing country, dowry is still prevalent2. Sometimes, the dowry system prompts wrongdoing against women, ranging from psychological abuse and injury to even deaths. India has a disturbing pattern that sees 20

Women pass away consistently because of harassment or badgering over a dowry - either killed, or constrained to end it all. Numerous components like ignorance, gender disparity, illiteracy and absence of severe lawful rules have brought about this system. Women are viewed as a liability regardless of whether they are employed and earning well. They stay a liability until they get married off unwillingly (in majority of cases dictating dowry).

Generally, individuals who demand dowry have no self-respect and are proven to be psychological sociopaths, They have children that are incapable of supporting themselves monetarily without the "gifts" paid in real money or kind by the bride's family. Then again, they cause you to feel like they are agreeing to a "mediocre bride".

So, they need you to pay for getting your less-than-ideal bride. To them, they are mentally, physically, emotionally and most importantly, financially helping you out by choosing the girl on the grounds that their son is the ideal groom. A few brides' family have to pay dowry out of the fear that the groom's family would dishonourably bow out of the wedlock. The fear that their daughter would be abused if a legitimate dowry isn't given.

This is like insurance cash to the groom's family. The groom's family is somewhat purchased. Dowry, commonly known as 'dahej', is acknowledged as standard in most Indian social orders. This is very clear when one goes to a wedding and see individuals appreciating the gifts more than blessing the newly married couple. In any case, there is no friendly criticism of the culprits of dowry. Society offers an enormous go-ahead to dowry.

The Mentality That Exists In The Indian Society Is The Phrase:

What will the society say? Giving dowry, according to the bride's family, will display their egos as "superior" in the society and there won't be ill-talk about them. Another justification of the presence of the dowry system is the parents' authority over their children's lives. They take each significant choice for their children, be it identified with their careers or relationships and marriage.

National Crime Bureau of India, as late as 2017, recorded almost 7000 dowry linked deaths a year3. Dowry deaths rose from around 19 every day in 2001 to 21 every day in 2016. These are the revealed dowry deaths here. There are numerous that go unreported. Generally, dowry deaths are of two types,

Abetment to suicide; The daughter-in-law was subject to cruelty and harassment by the husband or his family or his relative, to the extent that she was driven to take desperate measures.

Murder of the daughter-in-law by criminal conspiracy of the husband's family; It refers to killing committed by her husband and his family before long the marriage due to their dissatisfaction with the endowment. It is ordinarily the culmination of a progression of earlier maltreatments by the spouse's family.

The guilty parties are not always punished. This generally happens due to the inability of the prosecution to gather and produce enough evidence. The way that most suicides and murders are brought about are by kerosene stoves. This focuses to the lower-middle class urban foundation of the individuals who are involved.

Judicial Aspect of the Dowry system.

Direct participation when the offense was committed is not mandatory. When somebody asks for dowry and creates an environment which leads to the victim killing themselves, they can be convicted under Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In the case of The State of Andhra Pradesh vs Raj Gopal Asawa and Anr4, the victim had committed suicide within seven years of her marriage as she was subjected to cruelty in relation to the demand of dowry.

The Court held that the direct participation in the commission of an offence is not required and hence convicted the accused under section 304-B of The Indian Penal Code. In the case of Ram Badan Sharma versus Territory of Bihar, The Supreme Court of India expressed that any place, regardless, Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code is established and demonstrated with proof, the assumption of sectiton113B stands up and applies consequently thus, the burden of proof is on the respondent to give proof to prove himself, not liable.

Measures being taken to help the aggrieved

The Government has been taking various efforts to eradicate this deep-rooted evil. The government understands extremely well how grave a situation dowry death can pose to be. The policy makers have been issuing instructions to the state governments and union territory administrators. A joint committee consisting of both houses of the Parliament was referred this matter, after grave discussions the committee went in depth during the proceedings; which held in focusing sole attention of the public and the policy makers against this evil.

Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made highly intellectual observations which have been quoted by the committee stated above.,

"Legislation cannot by itself normally solve deep-rooted, social problems. One has to approach them in other ways too, but this legislation is necessary and is essential so that it may give that push and have that educative factor as well as the legal sanctions behind it which help public opinion to be given a certain shape5."

The committee's observations/ recommendations examined and questioned the workings of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. These observations were made after collecting numerous reports from the state governments and the union territory administrators. Something very disturbing which came up during the discussions of the committee was the Criminal Law Act, 1983 (2nd Amendment). This act primarily amended the Indian Penal Code to include certain provisions for punishment for cruelty to those women who are married. Also, it was directly pointed toward managing the issue of dowry suicides and dowry deaths. The committee also suggested that the definition of "dowry" in Section 2 of the 1961 Act be modified.

Recently, in June 2021, the Kerala Government declared 26th November as Dowry Prohibition Day. All male government officers are supposed to give a declaration of not having taken dowry.

Laws relating to dowry (prohibition in India)

Section 304b Of The Indian Penal Code

Section 304 B of the IPC scribes that if a woman dies within 7 years of the marriage (by any injury, burns, accident) or later on in the investigation (if carried out) it is revealed that the spouse had caused the death; by cruelty, harassment or by mental intimidation in connection with demand of dowry, the death would be considered as a dowry death.

There are certain ingredients considered as essential for a death to be considered as a dowry death; it should be caused by bodily injury, burn marks or by any other circumstances. As stated above the death must be within seven years of marriage. The cruelty or mental intimidation should be on basis of or in connection with dowry.

The punishment for dowry deaths is a minimum of 7 years imprisonment or a maximum of life imprisonment.

In the Kunhiabdulla and another vs. State of Kerala 6 case, the Supreme Court of India stated that, "The determination of the periods which can come within the term 'soon before' is left to be determined by the courts, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Suffice, however, to indicate that the expression 'soon before' would normally imply that the interval should not be much between the cruelty or the harassment concerned and the death in question.

There must be existence of a proximate and live link between the effect of cruelty based on dowry demand and the death concerned. If alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb the mental equilibrium of the woman concerned, it would be of no consequence."

Section 498a Of The Indian Penal Code

Section 498A relates with harassment subjected to demand of dowry. When a woman is subjected to harassment from her in-laws', husband or immediate relatives; by either demand of money, property or any kind of monetary support, then the person accused (husband/in-laws or both) would be convicted under section 498A of the Indian penal code. In order for a case to be covered under Section 498A of the IPC, one has to be 'relative' of the husband by blood, marriage or adoption.

In the case of Rajeev Kumar v. the State of Haryana, the appellant used to fight on petty issues and give beatings to his wife, which drove her to commit suicide. She had indicated in her dying declaration that she was being harassed by her husband with demands of dowry on account of which she sprinkled kerosene on herself before setting herself ablaze. This is therefore, a clear case of both, Section 498A and 306 of the IPC.

Section 113a And 113b Of The Indian Evidence Act

Section 113 A deals with the wrongdoing that is Presumption as to abatement of suicide by a married woman and Section 113 B manages the assumption as to dowry death. If it can be proved that a woman died because she was subjected to harassment or cruelty by any person, in relation to any kind of demand for dowry then the Court will assume that such person is responsible for her death.

In Kamesh Panjiyar v. the State of Bihar, there was no evidence that the death was due to normal reasons. Evidence of the prosecution witnesses fully establish the demand of dowry and ill-treatment of the deceased shortly before the date of occurrence. "Though attempt was made to show that had the accused been guilty he along with his family members would not have tried to get treatment for the deceased´┐Ż

The accused person and others were trying to create a smokescreen. If the death was normal as claimed by the accused, nothing was brought on record to explain the injuries on the neck of the deceased. The evidence on record clearly establishes the commission of offence by the accused."

Relevant landmark cases
In 2004, Reema Aggarwal vs Anupam and Others7. This is a landmark case with respect to the interpretation of the word "husband" within the meaning of sections 498A and 304B, Indian Penal Code, 1908. Reema was married to Anupam. After the marriage, she was hassled by her husband Anupam, mother-in-law Chanchal, father-in-law Som Dutt and brother-in-law Sanjiv Kumar with no explanation. Further, regularly they requested that she bring cash from her parents.

It was likewise said by her that it was her subsequent marriage and it was additionally the second marriage of Anupam. On 13th August, 1998, all the four named above said to her that she ought to consume something to take her life. From that point, all the four accused persuasively poured acid in her mouth. She began vomiting and mohallawalas accumulated there.

Reema was taken to Hospital in an unconscious state. At trial however, they were acquitted on the grounds that there was no evidence presented that the appellant and first respondent were legally married. Both parties were in fact on their second 'marriages'. The Supreme Court however held that this interpretation of the legislation frustrated its intentions.

The Court held that "The term husband has been defined to mean and specifically include such persons who contract marriages ostensibly and cohabit with such women in the purported exercise and role as a husband. Such person would be amenable to be punished under Section 498A. A person indulging in bigamy comes within the sweep of the said provision and there can be no impediment in law for liberal construction in this regard."

In 1996, S. Gopal Reddy Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh 8. The Supreme Court was of the opinion that the expression interest for 'dowry' was to be flexibly deciphered. For this situation, this implied that any 'request' of cash, property or important security produced using the bride or her guardians or other relatives by the spouse or his folks or other relatives or the other way around would fall inside the ambit of 'dowry' under the Act, even where the interest isn't as expected referable to any legitimately perceived case and is in consideration of marriage. Marriage in this setting incorporated a proposed marriage and, more particularly, where the non-fulfilment of the interest of endowment prompts the marriage not taking place by any means.

Dowry related health problems in India

Problems like dowry have many aspects and layers of abuse related to them; especially in countries like India, where development is a continuous affair. If a family is taking dowry, they're not necessarily accepting the bride unconditionally and hence there is no guarantee that the family would not ask for more monetary support in the future and moreover harass the bride mentally. Synonymous with dowry deaths; female foeticide, high infant mortality, maternal mortality, malnutrition of women and female children are issues that can and should be read together and are interconnected 9.

A wife can be traumatized both, physically and mentally, if the husband or his family is not satisfied with dowry given to them. Accordingly, many such problems, collectively mental, physical and emotional arise along with the demand for dowry. To comb this issue out, the next section discusses on what can, should and is being done.

Given in the section below are some preventive measures and suggestions targeting the dowry system in a critical manner.

Gender Equality:

The primary reason for existence of the dowry system in India since the ancient times is the presence of an exceptionally patriarchal society. Gender equality is a much needed "behavioural trait" for Indians in particular; this being a herculean task in India, every major change takes years to get completely accepted in all the strata of the country. Gender equality is one such major change required to eradicate this evil, the basics of topics like gender equality should be taught to children in schools so that the next generation turns out socially literate and problems like dowry are not present in the near future.

Making Women Independent:

Women in India have been playing an important role by giving back to the society in all aspects; the economic factor can largely be influenced by the power of the "public". Women in Indian households, when being tortured and harassed (with cases related to dowry demands) don't always speak up, this leads to the harassment being taken to critically dangerous levels; even if we consider 30 percent of the cruelty victims speaking up and taking action the number of dowry death cases would go down considerably.

According to the national crime bureau (2019 records) a woman is subjected to cruelty by her husband (and in-laws) every four minutes6, these numbers are alarming and for them to go down, people have to be aware, not to be tolerant to such behaviour (harassment, torture, cruelty).

Broadcast media campaign dispersion

Media campaigns help bring forgotten despairs of the world back to light, it can be considered as one of the best instruments to ignite a person's inner emotions; this attribute comes in handy while trying to fight an evil like the dowry system. Broadcast media in India holds the power

to abolish the dowry system from the Indian society completely; for this, there needs to be proper execution. "The effect of the mass media is not to elicit belief but to maintain the apparatus of addiction."- Christopher Lasch

Dowry cannot be seen as a thing of the past until it is completely rooted out of the Indian society; the sooner it ends the better it would be for the society. It is not just the monetary factor which comes into place and is seen at the face value of a case whenever a victim files a case; a lot of other aspects are behind the dowry cruelty cases, things like psychological, mental, emotional and physical distress. The legislation is doing its part in trying to reduce the number of cases that keep increasing per year; but there has to be effort from every sect of the Indian society.

  • Prakash Kaur v. Harjinderpal Singh 1984 Del 66
  • The State of Andhra Pradesh Vs. Raj Gopal Asawa and Anr, (2004) 4 SCC 470
  • Kunhiabdulla and another vs. State of Kerala (2004) 4 SCC 13
  • Reema Aggarwal vs Anupam and Others 2004 3 SCC 199
  • S. Gopal Reddy Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh 1996 SCC (4) 596
  • 1996CriLJ3237: AIR1996SC2184

  • Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Mahima Dhingra & Mr.Vidhan Singh
    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: SP227215028686-29-0922

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