Be it enacted by Parliament in the Twelfth Year of the Republic of India as follows:
(1) This Act may be called the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint.
In this act, `dowry’ means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly:
- 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, to either party to the marriage or to any other person;at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of said parties but does not include dower 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 Sec. 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
(1) 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 five years, and with the fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the 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 term of less than five years.
* * * Explanation I omitted by Sec.2 w.e.f 2nd October, 1985
(2)Nothing in sub-section (1) shall apply to or, in relation to,-
presents which are given at the time of a marriage to the bride (without nay demand having been made in that behalf):
Provided that such presents are entered in list maintained in accordance with rule made under this Act;
presents which are given at the time of marriage to the bridegroom (without any demand having been made in that behalf):
Provided that such presents are entered in a list maintained in accordance with rules made under this Act;
Provided further that where such presents are made by or on behalf of the bride or any person related to the bride, such presents are of a customary nature and the value thereof is not excessive having regard to the financial status of the person by whom, or on whose behalf, such presents are given.
(1)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:
Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months.
4-A. Ban on advertisement. If any person-
- 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,
- prints or publishes or circulates any advertisement referred to Cl. (a), 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:
Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months.
(1) Where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall transfer it to the woman –
- if the dowry was received before marriage, within three months after the date of marriage; or
- if the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage within three months after the date of its receipt; or
- if the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within three months after she has attained the age of eighteen 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 therefor 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-section (2) for failure to transfer any property as required by sub-section (1)or sub-section (3) has not, before his conviction under that sub-section, transferred such property to the women entitled thereto or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children, the Court shall, in addition to awarding punishment under that sub-section, direct, by order in writing, that such person shall transfer the property to such woman, or as the 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.
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2of 1974),- no Court inferior to that of a Metropolitan magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act; no Court shall take cognizance of an offence under this Act except upon –
- its own knowledge or a police report of the facts which constitute such offence, or
- a complaint by the person aggrieved by offence or a parent or other relative of such person, or by any recognized welfare institution or organization:
Explanation.- For the purposes of this sub-section, "recognised welfare institution or organization" means a social welfare institution or organization recognized in this behalf by the Central or State Government.
(2) Nothing in Chapter XXXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2of 1974), shall apply to any offence punishable under this Act.)
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, a statement made by the person aggrieved by the offence shall not subject such person to a prosecution under this Act.
(1) The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) shall apply to offences under this Act as of they were cognizable offences-
- for the purpose of investigation of such offences; and
- for the purpose of matters other than-
- matters referred to in Sec. 42 of that Code, and
- 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.
8-A. Burden of proof in certain cases: Where any person is prosecuted for taking or abetting the taking of any dowry under Sec. 3, or the demanding of dowry under Sec.4, the burden of proving that he had not committed an offence under those sections shall be on him.
8-B. 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, -
- to see that the provisions of this Act are complied with;
- to prevent, as far as possible, the taking or abetting the taking of, of the demanding of, dowry;
- to collect such evidence as may be necessary for the prosecution of persons committing offences under the Act; and
- 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 (out of whom at least two shall be women) from the area in respect of which such Dowry Prohibition Officer exercises jurisdiction under sub-section (1).
(1) The Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazettee, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for-
- the form and manner in which, and the persons by whom, any list of presents referred to in sub-section (2) of Sec. 3 shall be maintained and all other matters connected therewith; and
- the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to the administration of this Act.
(3)Every rules made under this section shall be laid as soon as may be after it is made before each House of Parliament while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be; of no effect, as the case may be, so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.
The State Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:
- the additional functions to be performed by the Dowry Prohibition Officers under sub-section(2) of Sec. 8-B;
- limitations and conditions subject to which a Dowry Prohibition Officer may exercise his functions under sub-section (3) of Sec. 8-B.
(3) Every rule made by the State Government under this section shall be laid as soon as may be after it is made before the State Legislature.
G.S.R. 664 (E), dated 19th August, 1985.- In exercise of the powers conferred by Sec.9 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961), the Central Government hereby makes the following rules, namely:
(4) The bride or the bridegroom may, if she or he so desires, obtain on either or both of the lists referred to in sub-rule (1) or sub-rule (2) the signature or signatures of any relations of the bride or the bridegroom or of any other person or persons present at the time of the marriage.
Dowry in India
Dowry is another social evil which is affecting Indian society like a disease and there seems to be no solution or cure to this. In fact, dowry is a type of violence committed against women. This is a specific crime committed only against married women.
What is Dowry?
In simple terms dowry can be understood as a demand for money or valuables by the family of the groom from the family of the bride in lieu of their marriage. It is in a sense compensation or value being demanded by the groom’s family for the groom. In all possibility dowry system of harassing women is peculiar to Indian society only. Dowry is another dimension of gender inequality being practiced in our country.
In essence the system is based on the presumption that males are superior and for maintenance of the girl in her in-laws home she must bring a certain amount of money or property.
The system of dowry has become part and parcel of our collective conscience and has been accepted by the society as a whole. In a way it has become a customary rule for the society which is to be followed by everyone. The situation is such that if someone does not take dowry, people start questioning him and try to look down upon him.
Higher the income of groom or higher the status of his family, higher the amount of dowry is demanded. Caste also plays a role in this. Usually, higher the caste, higher the dowry has been the concept. But in recent times, dowry system has become an all pervasive exploitative system and it is only the economic position of groom’s family which is the deciding factor in demanding dowry.
Origin of Dowry
The origin of this social ill can be traced back to the custom or tradition of giving gifts to brides in marriage and this system of gifts was a voluntary system which had its sanction in our religious beliefs that the father of a girl has a duty to give a part of his property to his daughter in her marriage as after marriage she would be going to another home and the son would be getting the rest of the property of the father. So it was considered as a moral duty of father to gift a portion of his earnings or property to his daughter also.
But in earlier times this system was not an exploitative system where any specific demands would be made by the family of bride-groom, it was a voluntary system and family of bride would make gifts according to their capacity.
But in course of time the system of making gifts got converted and changed into an exploitative system of compulsory demands made by the family of groom. And the system took the shape of dowry system. As a societal evil it not only degrades the institution of marriage but also violates and diminishes the dignity of the women.
Dowry Death or Bride Burning
Related to the system of dowry and as an outcome of it is the inhuman practice of Dowry death or bride-burning. Each year thousands of young brides are burnt or killed by their in-laws because they fail to fulfill their ever-increasing demand of money or property.
Records show that there is an alarming increase in cases relating to harassment, torture, abetted suicides and dowry deaths of young brides. Only in 2010, more than 9,000 dowry related deaths have been reported which shows the level of violence being faced by the young brides. These deaths are, in reality, cold blood murders where an innocent girl gets killed only because could not bring the money or property demanded by her own husband and his relatives.
The most disturbing and unfortunate fact in such cases is that in most cases it is the women who plays the dominating role in said crimes and men in the family either act as passive supporters or active participants. And especially husbands have no regards of their matrimonial obligations of protecting and safeguarding their wives.
Dowry Prohibition Act
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1986 makes both giving and demanding of dowry a punishable offence. But despite the Act, dowry system is continuing unabated and in fact it’s increasing by the day.
The humiliation and hardship which the family of the bride has to face is enormous. And this results into and becomes one of the motivations for other social evils such as Female Infanticide and sex-selective abortions. For the same reason female child is always discriminated against in households because they are considered as burdens on the family and to arrange dowry for her marriage the family do not think it fit to spent money on her education or food.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1986 failed to check the evils of dowry system and it also lacked in providing solutions to the ever increasing menace of dowry deaths. So, the Parliament thought it fit to bring a specific provision to deal with the said crime of bride burning. Thus, through an Amendment, a new section i.e. Section 304-B was inserted in the IPC which creates a new offence in the name of ‘dowry death’. The provision in detail provides ingredients which are to be looked into in case of death of a married woman and if those ingredients are there such death would be considered as dowry death. As per the provision, maximum punishment of life imprisonment has been provided for dowry death to the husband or any relative of husband.
Though the said provision is there and cases are being reported regularly but the rate of commission of crime of dowry death is not lessening. Apart from death, various other forms of harassment, exploitation and cruelties are being performed on hapless married women.
Only very few such crimes are being reported because of the societal pressure and fear of break-down of marriage. Also, police authorities are not registering FIRs in dowry related cases due to various obvious reasons such as bribery or pressure from bridegroom’s side.
But above all, it’s the economic dependence and low level of education among women which are the real reasons for women being not able to lodge complaints in dowry or harassment cases. And such married women are bound to bear constant harassment for dowry and suffer in misery with no ray of hope.
Role of New Generation in Eliminating Dowry System
The real problem lies with the society as a whole which directly or indirectly supports and encourages the system of dowry. And there seems to be no ray of hope that the situation would improve in near future. Materialism is the main driving force for the people and in search of the modern day life style and comfort; people are willing to go to any extent, even to burn their own wives or daughter-in-laws.
May be the only hope lies in new generation of young boys and girls who are educated and of modern thoughts. They should come out in open and fight against this social evil and also starts protesting within their own families, if any such incident happens there.
Also, young brides should start protesting if any dowry demands are made by their in-laws and immediately make a complaint to police or proper authorities; they must stop being a victim and start to think themselves empowered as laws are there to protect them and empower them.
Otherwise, legal provisions shall remain there only in statute books with no actual effects in reality.
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