The dowry law — Must know things about the Protection of women against dowry abuse

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In India, there is no greater event in a family than a wedding. In our society, the bride’s parents are put under extreme pressure to meet groom’s family demand and to get their daughters married. A dowry is the transfer of parental property to a daughter during her marriage, rather than at the owner’s death. But now dowry is becoming burdensome for the bride’s family. Antidowry laws exist but are largely ignored and often reporting severe injuries and even death of young brides. A bride’s treatment in her marital home is much affected by the value of her dowry. Increasingly brides are receiving horrible incidents, particularly in urban areas, where a groom’s family makes excessive demands on the bride’s family — even after marriage.

Consequent to the horrible growth of dowry system, it has become a part of marriage. In fact, before fixing a marriage or engagement, dowry is demanded as a precondition. In this extremely commercial world, where nothing matters other than money, why would I lose my chance of becoming a Millionaire overnight? After all, we all love shortcuts which make us overnight rich and this is the one with a sure shot win. This is the common mentality that everyone should be punishable. There is no fear of being outcast or being looked down upon. Interventions such as raised social support at the community level should help to eradicate dowry system.

The practice of dowry is not limited up to the marriage but it continues even after it which is the cause of various social evils. Dowry is the main root cause of various social evils such as curse of physical and mental cruelty on the brides. Considering the ill consequences of dowry and the high rates of dowry-related crimes in India, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code was introduced as an amendment to the Indian Penal Code of 1860 by Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983. In the year 2005, a new law — The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was out that specified the littlest of aspect that can cause severe mental and/or physical harassment to a woman.

What is considered to be Dowry? How can you tell that it is a Dowry Demand?

Any kind of demand made by the groom or his family that involves a direct or indirect (through a third party) “deal” in relating with the wedding, is treated as dowry. It can be cash, property, valuable security or any other favors.

If the bride’s party feels that giving certain things is a pre-condition for the wedding to take place, and they give it because they worry the marriage when the groom’s family starts negotiating a ‘lesser deal,’ — that is still dowry. Or after the wedding, if the bride or her family offering as compensation for marrying their daughter into that family, then these are dowry demands.

When bride’s parents give their daughter some gifts and securities during the marriage, the woman is the absolute owner of her Stree Dhan and the husband and his family have no right to it. If the woman gives her stree-dhan to her husband and or in-laws for keeping, then they are only trustees and must return when she asks for it.

When she dies under suspicious circumstances within 7 years of her marriage, then the property has to be moved to her children or to her parents if she has no children.

A husband or his family members are pretending to be guilty till they prove their innocence in the court. The guilty is punishable by a jail term of up to three years. But the misuse of dowry law has observed in recent cases, verifies to be true.

A common observation is that women file a case over trivial fights and just for the sake of extortion towards the families. When these fake cases are considered without a proper attention the intention with which the provision was enacted will lose its faith and the presumption of the innocence of the women under this provision will be doubted, which will eventually be adverse to the women who are really suffering from torture. Now, if a dowry harassment case is proved wrong or proved that the law is misused, only Rs 1,000 penalty is slapped. But anti-dowry harassment law amendment provides for a Rs 15,000 fine.

The process flow of filing the complaint against the dowry harassment is that the victim can go to the police station nearby and file the complaint.

The offense is a non-bailable and non-compoundable. To get the bail, the accused has to be presented in the court in front of the judge. And by any means the complaint once filed cannot be withdrawn by the person or her relatives.

Also, it is a cognizable offense. Which means the complaint can be registered and investigated before making any arrests.

The complaints through National Commission for Women (NSW) are tackled as:

Investigations by the police are expedited and monitored by NSW. Family disputes are resolved or compromised through counselling. For serious crimes, the Commission constitutes an Inquiry Committee which makes spot inquiries, considers different witnesses, collects evidence and submits the report with recommendations. These investigations help in bring fast relief and justice to the victims of violence and atrocities. The implementation of the report is monitored by the NSW. Also, the State Commission, the NGOs, and other experts are involved in this exertion. The complaints are examined to figure out the gaps in the habitual functioning of govt and to suggest corrective measures.

If you are falsely charged with a case of domestic violence, the following are the measures you can take when framed or before being framed:

1. Enter into a Prenuptial Agreement (Prenup) before marriage. A prenup is a declaration saying that neither of the parties has demanded or given any dowry.

2. Get the prenup duly signed and executed by the parties. Additionally, two witnesses from each party must sign the Prenup.

3. Make a list of the things parents give their daughter at the time of the wedding. The girl has a de facto (actual) right on Stridhan. It includes possessions inherited by the woman from her family or husband’s family, property received by her under a compromise, adverse possession or in lieu of maintenance, property obtained in the partition, and the gifts given at the time of marriage.

Stronger the lawyer, stronger the case. An effective lawyer will be a master excellence as an expert, which fosters a high level of commitment to their work. They have the strong understanding about the law. For getting a bail at the earliest, or making sure that the case gets sorted out as a settlement between two parties, you need an influential lawyer. At the particular time it does not matter whether you are right or wrong. All that matters is how brilliant is your lawyer.

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