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Dowry Prohibition Act

Dowry Prohibition Act 


During the last few decades the evils 
of dowry system has taken an acute form in almost all parts of the country and in almost all the sections of society Dowry is considered the major contributor towards observed violence against the women in India .Dowry is a social evil that caused unimaginable tortures and crime towards the women. Their are a lot of cases of dowry death which we hear since a decades .In all such cases we hear how the in-laws ,husband and family members torture the women which results either suicide or in some case she get killed by them . This made dowry as a crime.


In a bid to eradicate this evil from the society, the State Governments of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh enacted "The Bihar Dowry Restraint Act, 1950" and "The AndhraPradesh Dowry Prohibition Act, 1958" for the respective States, but both these enactments failed to achieve the objectives for which they were enacted.Many proposals for restraining dowry were placed in the Parliament in the form of Private Members Bills. During the course of discussions on a non-official Bill in the Lok Sabha in 1953 .
On 24th April, 1959 the dowry Prohibition Bill, 1959 was introduced in the Lok Sabha. After some discussion, the Bill was referred to a Joint Committee of both the Houses of Parliament. The Dowry Prohibition Bill was passed in the Joint Sittings of both the Houses of Parliament and it became an Act - The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961) and it received the assent of the President on 20th May 1961.

What is  dowry

paid by the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom, or his family, to the bride, or her family, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride, or her family, to the groom, or his family. Similarly, dower is the property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the time of marriage, and which remains under her ownership and control.

According to section 2 of dowry prohibition act 1961"dowry" means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either 
directly or indirectly. 
a. By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or 
b. By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the
marriage or to any other person

 In Rajeev v. Ram Kishan Jaiswal, 1994, it was held that   Any property given by parents of the bride need to be in consideration of the marriage, it can even be in connection with the marriage and would constitute dowry; 

Kunju Moideen v. Syed Mohamed, AIR 1986 Ker 48, held that A sum of money paid by a Mohammedan in connection with his daughter's marriage to prospective bridegroom for the purchase of a piece of land in the joint name of his daughter and would-be son-in-law in not 'dowry' within the meaning of the Act; 

Penalty for giving ,taking or for demanding dowry

According to section 4 of dowry prohibition act whoever   gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable 6with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 7five years, and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more.

Madan Lal v. Amar Nath, held that 
The offence is founded in the relationship of the property demanded as abettor with the nature of demand. It should not bear a mere connection with marriage; 

According to section 5 of this whoever 
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.

Harbans Singh v. Smt. Gurcharan Kaur alias 
Sharan Kaur, 1993
Demand of dowry under section 4 is not a continuing offence but every demand of dowry 
whenever repeated constitutes another offence and the date of commission of offence under 
section 4 would be when the demand was made initially and also when the said demand was 
repeated afresh. The offence of demanding dowry stood committed even before the marriage was 
performed and also when the demand was repeated again and again after the performance of 
marriage in respect of the same items of dowry; 

Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs.

The provision rating dowry for the benefit of wife or her heirs has been provided under section 6 of this act which lays down that 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 : 
a. If the dowry was received before marriage, within three months]after the date of marriage, or
b. If the dowry was received at the time of or after marriage, within three months after the date of its receipt, or
c. If the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within after she has attained the age of eighteen 

If any person fails to transfer any property as 
required by sub section (1) within the time limit specified he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a 
term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extended to 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.

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.
Provided that where such woman dies within seven years 
of her marriage, otherwise than due to natural causes, such property shall, - 
(a) If she has no children, be transferred to her parents, or 
a. If she has children, be transferred to such children and pending such transfer, be held in 
trust for such children

Rajeev v. Ram Kishan Jaiswal, 1994 Cri. LJ NOC 255 (All).
Since the woman had died issueless, the articles constituting dowry are to be returned to her parents and not to her husband; 

Who may take cognizance

Section 7 of this provides the court which can take cognizance , according to this section 
a. No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the 
first class shall try any offence under this Act. 
b. No court shall take cognizance of an offence under this Act except upon-
i. Its own knowledge or a police report of the facts which constitute such offence, 
ii. A complaint by the person aggrieved by the offence or a parent or other relative 
of such person, or by nay recognized welfare institution or organisation.

Dowry Prohibition Officers

According to section 8b of this act 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.
Every Dowry Prohibition Officer shall exercise and perform the following powers and 
functions as follows
a. To see that the provisions of this Act are complied with, 
b. To prevent, as far as possible, the taking or abetting the taking of, or the demanding of, 
c. To collect such evidences as may be necessary for the prosecution of persons 
committing offences under the Act, and 
d. To perform such additional functions as may be assigned to him by the State 
Government, or as may be specified in the rule made under this Act.

The State Government may, for the purpose of advising and assisting 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


Dowry is a very common and prevalent word in the society which is related to marriage. It is usually said to be an amount or gifts which are given by the family of the bride to the groom and his family at the wedding. In order stop this cruel dowry system the Dowry prohibition act has been made , with an aim to prevent the women from being torture just because of dowry.