December 1, 2023
symbolizing justice and order

India has had a dower system in place for a very long period. It is the sum of money given to the boy or their family upon marriage; dowry can also include property.

The dowry system dates back thousands of years. It was created to reflect respect for both sides of the family by providing the groom with financial support during the marriage so he could properly care for his bride. Although dowries are still used in society today, their meaning varies with time.

Is the Dowry System Illegal?

  • The legislation made receiving and providing dowries illegal.
  • However, the concept of dowry in law is quite limited and does not include any presents given voluntarily in the absence of demands. As a result, there is now an entirely new lingo for expressing dowry demands that avoids using words.

Dowry System in India

  • According to the Dowry System in India, it is a practice, custom, and tradition involves the bride’s family giving away valuables, wealth, and property to her spouse and in-laws as a consideration or security for a happy marriage. It originated mainly in the medieval era when the bride was required to bring a dowry as a rigid precondition and obligation.
  • In simple terms, it is nothing more than the transfer of parental assets, cash, and treasures to the groom’s family during the time of marriage, which is seen as a security measure and a sign of good faith.

Dowry System and its Effects in India

The major dowry system and its effects in India are:

  • The dowry system has led to the prevalent perception that women are liabilities. They usually experience subordination and receive worse treatment when it comes to things like education.
  • The bride’s family now views the dowry as more of a financial investment that gives them access to influential people and profitable business opportunities. Women are thus treated like commodities.
  • Murders and acts of violence stemming from dowry demands are included in domestic violence. Like domestic violence, dowry-related offenses use physical, mental, and financial assault as well as harassment to punish the victim or enforce compliance.

Dowry System Laws in India: Its Prohibition

Indian Penal Code

  • Not only can dowry concerns be the proper focus of criminal law, but it also covers the violence associated with dowries. 
  • According to Section 304B of IPC, a woman is considered to have died from “dowry death” if she died from burns, physical harm, or unforeseen events within the first seven years of her marriage and it can be proven that her husband or his relatives mistreated or cruelly treated her because of the dowry.
  • It includes punishment for a seven-year to life sentence in jail.

Dowry Prohibition Act

  • According to Section 2 of this act, a dowry is any property or valuable security that is given or agreed to be given in the future, directly or indirectly, in connection with a marriage.
  • This Act stipulates that requesting dowry directly or indirectly will result in a penalty that includes a 10,000 rupees fine in addition to a minimum jail sentence of six months and a maximum sentence of two years.
  • Although this act establishes a variety of punitive and preventive measures, as was to be expected, the goals have not been met.
  • The reason for the lack of success is not only that there are a few flaws in the law, but also that the government has failed to enforce it, as the practice of dowries is too deeply ingrained in society as a whole.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

  • The purpose of the act is to protect women across the country from all forms of domestic abuse.
  • Section 3 of this particular act expressly covers any harassment, abuse, or injury done to a woman in order to force her to comply with an illegal dowry demand.

Indian Evidence Act

  • The burden of proof in the case of dowry deaths has been shifted to Section 113B, which requires the court to assume that the individual who is demonstrated to have exposed the woman to abuse or harassment shortly before her death is responsible for the dowry death.
  • It stipulates that under section 304B IPC if it can be demonstrated that a woman was exposed to abuse or harassment before her death for, or in accordance with, the demand for dowry death.

Dowry System Cases in India

The dowry system cases in India are:

  • In the case of Satbir Singh v State of Haryana, according to the ruling of the Apex Court, the onus of proving innocence transfers to the defense when the prosecution can demonstrate the elements of section 304B of IPC.
  • In the case of Samunder Singh v State of Rajasthan, according to the court, the burning of the bride and dowry deaths cannot be grounds for anticipatory bail.

Not only is the dowry system unlawful, but it is also immoral. In order for the need for dowries to result in “loss of face” for those who make them, society as a whole must become fully aware of the negative aspects of the dowry system.

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