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Legislations, The Law

DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961

To expunge the social evil of dowry, The Dowry Prohibition Act was enacted on 1st May 1961. It lays down provisions to punish the giver and the taker of dowry. This legislation prohibits the request, payment, or acceptance of dowry in any form. It applies to all the people and religions of India.

By: Himanshi Jain, student of Final year LL.B., Balaji Law College, Pune

Any young man, who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonuors womanhood.” – Mahatma Gandhi 

The concept of dowry is prevalent in society since time immemorial.

Thousands of unnatural deaths of newly wedded women have been labeled as kitchen mishappening. 

Objective 

 This Act aims to stop the malpractice of demanding and giving of the dowry in the form of value as a consideration for marriage in Indian society.

Definition of Dowry

Section 2 of the Act lays down the definition of dowry and implies that dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by parties to the marriage, or their parents before or at or anytime after the marriage.

However, it does not includes dower or mahr if the parties are Muslim and the Muslim personal law applies to them. 

Penalty 

Section 3 and Section 4 of the Act lays down the penalty for giving, taking, demanding, or advertising dowry.

Who could initiate the proceeding?

Section 7 of the Act states that the proceeding for Dowry could be initiated by the following:

  • Police
  • Aggrieved person
  • Family, Relatives, and Friends
  • Any recognized welfare institution or organization

The offense of dowry is non-bailable, non-compoundable, and cognizable in nature.

Other Laws Related To Dowry

Apart from the Dowry prohibition Act, 1961, several provisions of the  Indian Penal Code, 1860 also provide for penal provisions to dowry which are:

  • Section 302- Punishment for murder
  • Section 304B– Dowry death
  • Section 306- Abetment of suicide
  • Section 498A- Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty

Analysis

The sole motive of this act is to provide legal protection to married women against victimization by her in-laws and also to safeguard the interests of women. But even after years of the passing of this Act, dowry is still a common practice amongst all the communities in India. Dowry related violence is not merely physical but psychological as well. Women are still abused and ill-treated for dowry. There is a lack of knowledge about the existing laws and the prohibition of dowry.  But there are always two sides to a picture. There has been an increase in false dowry cases. Some women use it as a weapon to harass and humiliate their husband and his family. This is where the question arises that somewhere or the other, the law lacks an effective implementation. Thus, it becomes important for both men and women to become sensitized towards the issue of dowry and even more for women who misuse the protection granted to them.

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