The dowry system includes giving the groom's family cash and a few other
things for the pay-off household, it is sentenced by society. The Dowry
Prohibition Act has been set up in India since 1961, however the act of
settlement went on unfazed. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, any act to take or
give dowry is punishable in India.
At the point when it isn't requested inside and out, it is suggested that the
bride's family should give 'gifts' and accommodate a specific way of life for
the husband to be and his family. Be that as it may, tragically paying little
mind to the endeavours made by the national government notwithstanding various
social groups, this heinous framework stays to be important for society.
Supporters of the dowry system may furnish you with various improper causes to
help the activity; nonetheless, reality remains that it does additional hurt to
the society. This research paper will look into the aspects about how the system
still exists, the dowry laws, in brief, about recent dowry cases and how it
affects the society, I would also touch upon the judicial aspect, relevant
sections and how the Indian society views this macroscopically.
Dowry system in India is prevalent because of a few critically illogical reasons
which would be discussed further in this paper; there would also be discussion
of suggestions on how India as a country can eradicate dowry system as a whole.
Overview of why the dowry system still exists
The Indian society still suffers of this problem. It does not matter what caste
the family or the bride belongs to, how educated they are or how their financial
condition is, dowry as an evil still exists in a larger part of the society.
In Prakash Kaur v. Harjinderpal Singh
1, the Court held that:
The demand of dowry is an act of cruelty because it is the negation of the
matrimonial obligation which one spouse has against the other.
The dowry system can put a tremendous financial burden on the bride's family. In
1961, the Indian parliament passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, this act removed
the condition of providing dowry as an essential for marriage.
Despite this and the fact that India is still a "low income
generating"/developing country, dowry is still prevalent2. Sometimes, the dowry
system prompts wrongdoing against women, ranging from psychological abuse and
injury to even deaths. India has a disturbing pattern that sees 20
Women pass away consistently because of harassment or badgering over a dowry -
either killed, or constrained to end it all. Numerous components like ignorance,
gender disparity, illiteracy and absence of severe lawful rules have brought
about this system. Women are viewed as a liability regardless of whether they
are employed and earning well. They stay a liability until they get married off
unwillingly (in majority of cases dictating dowry).
Generally, individuals who demand dowry have no self-respect and are proven to
be psychological sociopaths, They have children that are incapable of supporting
themselves monetarily without the "gifts" paid in real money or kind by the
bride's family. Then again, they cause you to feel like they are agreeing to a
So, they need you to pay for getting your less-than-ideal bride. To them, they
are mentally, physically, emotionally and most importantly, financially helping
you out by choosing the girl on the grounds that their son is the ideal groom. A
few brides' family have to pay dowry out of the fear that the groom's family
would dishonourably bow out of the wedlock. The fear that their daughter would
be abused if a legitimate dowry isn't given.
This is like insurance cash to the groom's family. The groom's family is
somewhat purchased. Dowry, commonly known as 'dahej', is acknowledged as
standard in most Indian social orders. This is very clear when one goes to a
wedding and see individuals appreciating the gifts more than blessing the newly
married couple. In any case, there is no friendly criticism of the culprits of
dowry. Society offers an enormous go-ahead to dowry.
The Mentality That Exists In The Indian Society Is The Phrase:
What will the society say? Giving dowry, according to the bride's family, will
display their egos as "superior" in the society and there won't be ill-talk
about them. Another justification of the presence of the dowry system is the
parents' authority over their children's lives. They take each significant
choice for their children, be it identified with their careers or relationships
National Crime Bureau of India, as late as 2017, recorded almost 7000 dowry
linked deaths a year3. Dowry deaths rose from around 19 every day in 2001 to 21
every day in 2016. These are the revealed dowry deaths here. There are numerous
that go unreported. Generally, dowry deaths are of two types,
Abetment to suicide; The daughter-in-law was subject to cruelty and harassment
by the husband or his family or his relative, to the extent that she was driven
to take desperate measures.
Murder of the daughter-in-law by criminal conspiracy of the husband's family; It
refers to killing committed by her husband and his family before long the
marriage due to their dissatisfaction with the endowment. It is ordinarily the
culmination of a progression of earlier maltreatments by the spouse's family.
The guilty parties are not always punished. This generally happens due to the
inability of the prosecution to gather and produce enough evidence. The way that
most suicides and murders are brought about are by kerosene stoves. This focuses
to the lower-middle class urban foundation of the individuals who are involved.
Judicial Aspect of the Dowry system.
Direct participation when the offense was committed is not mandatory. When
somebody asks for dowry and creates an environment which leads to the victim
killing themselves, they can be convicted under Section 304-B of the Indian
Penal Code (IPC). In the case of The State of Andhra Pradesh vs Raj Gopal Asawa
and Anr4, the victim had committed suicide within seven years of her marriage as
she was subjected to cruelty in relation to the demand of dowry.
The Court held that the direct participation in the commission of an offence is
not required and hence convicted the accused under section 304-B of The Indian
Penal Code. In the case of Ram Badan Sharma versus Territory of Bihar, The
Supreme Court of India expressed that any place, regardless, Section 304-B of
the Indian Penal Code is established and demonstrated with proof, the assumption
of sectiton113B stands up and applies consequently thus, the burden of proof is
on the respondent to give proof to prove himself, not liable.
Measures being taken to help the aggrieved
The Government has been taking various efforts to eradicate this deep-rooted
evil. The government understands extremely well how grave a situation dowry
death can pose to be. The policy makers have been issuing instructions to the
state governments and union territory administrators. A joint committee
consisting of both houses of the Parliament was referred this matter, after
grave discussions the committee went in depth during the proceedings; which held
in focusing sole attention of the public and the policy makers against this
Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made highly intellectual observations which have
been quoted by the committee stated above.,
"Legislation cannot by itself normally solve deep-rooted, social problems. One
has to approach them in other ways too, but this legislation is necessary and is
essential so that it may give that push and have that educative factor as well
as the legal sanctions behind it which help public opinion to be given a certain
The committee's observations/ recommendations examined and questioned the
workings of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. These observations were made after
collecting numerous reports from the state governments and the union territory
administrators. Something very disturbing which came up during the discussions
of the committee was the Criminal Law Act, 1983 (2nd Amendment). This act
primarily amended the Indian Penal Code to include certain provisions for
punishment for cruelty to those women who are married. Also, it was directly
pointed toward managing the issue of dowry suicides and dowry deaths. The
committee also suggested that the definition of "dowry" in Section 2 of the 1961
Act be modified.
Recently, in June 2021, the Kerala Government declared 26th November as Dowry
Prohibition Day. All male government officers are supposed to give a declaration
of not having taken dowry.
Laws relating to dowry (prohibition in India)
Section 304b Of The Indian Penal Code
Section 304 B of the IPC scribes that if a woman dies within 7 years of the
marriage (by any injury, burns, accident) or later on in the investigation (if
carried out) it is revealed that the spouse had caused the death; by cruelty,
harassment or by mental intimidation in connection with demand of dowry, the
death would be considered as a dowry death.
There are certain ingredients considered as essential for a death to be
considered as a dowry death; it should be caused by bodily injury, burn marks or
by any other circumstances. As stated above the death must be within seven years
of marriage. The cruelty or mental intimidation should be on basis of or in
connection with dowry.
The punishment for dowry deaths is a minimum of 7 years imprisonment or a
maximum of life imprisonment.
In the Kunhiabdulla and another vs. State of Kerala
6 case, the Supreme
Court of India stated that, "The determination of the periods which can come
within the term 'soon before' is left to be determined by the courts, depending
upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Suffice, however, to indicate
that the expression 'soon before' would normally imply that the interval should
not be much between the cruelty or the harassment concerned and the death in
There must be existence of a proximate and live link between the effect of
cruelty based on dowry demand and the death concerned. If alleged incident of
cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb the mental
equilibrium of the woman concerned, it would be of no consequence."
Section 498a Of The Indian Penal Code
Section 498A relates with harassment subjected to demand of dowry. When a woman
is subjected to harassment from her in-laws', husband or immediate relatives; by
either demand of money, property or any kind of monetary support, then the
person accused (husband/in-laws or both) would be convicted under section 498A
of the Indian penal code. In order for a case to be covered under Section 498A
of the IPC, one has to be 'relative' of the husband by blood, marriage or
In the case of Rajeev Kumar v. the State of Haryana, the appellant used to fight
on petty issues and give beatings to his wife, which drove her to commit
suicide. She had indicated in her dying declaration that she was being harassed
by her husband with demands of dowry on account of which she sprinkled kerosene
on herself before setting herself ablaze. This is therefore, a clear case of
both, Section 498A and 306 of the IPC.
Section 113a And 113b Of The Indian Evidence Act
Section 113 A deals with the wrongdoing that is Presumption as to abatement of
suicide by a married woman and Section 113 B manages the assumption as to dowry
death. If it can be proved that a woman died because she was subjected to
harassment or cruelty by any person, in relation to any kind of demand for dowry
then the Court will assume that such person is responsible for her death.
In Kamesh Panjiyar v. the State of Bihar,
there was no evidence that the
death was due to normal reasons. Evidence of the prosecution witnesses fully
establish the demand of dowry and ill-treatment of the deceased shortly before
the date of occurrence. "Though attempt was made to show that had the accused
been guilty he along with his family members would not have tried to get
treatment for the deceased�
The accused person and others were trying to create a smokescreen. If the death
was normal as claimed by the accused, nothing was brought on record to explain
the injuries on the neck of the deceased. The evidence on record clearly
establishes the commission of offence by the accused."
Relevant landmark cases
In 2004, Reema Aggarwal vs Anupam and Others7. This is a landmark case with
respect to the interpretation of the word "husband" within the meaning of
sections 498A and 304B, Indian Penal Code, 1908. Reema was married to Anupam.
After the marriage, she was hassled by her husband Anupam, mother-in-law
Chanchal, father-in-law Som Dutt and brother-in-law Sanjiv Kumar with no
explanation. Further, regularly they requested that she bring cash from her
It was likewise said by her that it was her subsequent marriage and it was
additionally the second marriage of Anupam. On 13th August, 1998, all the four
named above said to her that she ought to consume something to take her life.
From that point, all the four accused persuasively poured acid in her mouth. She
began vomiting and mohallawalas accumulated there.
Reema was taken to Hospital in an unconscious state. At trial however, they were
acquitted on the grounds that there was no evidence presented that the appellant
and first respondent were legally married. Both parties were in fact on their
second 'marriages'. The Supreme Court however held that this interpretation of
the legislation frustrated its intentions.
The Court held that "The term husband has been defined to mean and specifically
include such persons who contract marriages ostensibly and cohabit with such
women in the purported exercise and role as a husband. Such person would be
amenable to be punished under Section 498A. A person indulging in bigamy comes
within the sweep of the said provision and there can be no impediment in law for
liberal construction in this regard."
In 1996, S. Gopal Reddy Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh
8. The Supreme Court
was of the opinion that the expression interest for 'dowry' was to be flexibly
deciphered. For this situation, this implied that any 'request' of cash,
property or important security produced using the bride or her guardians or
other relatives by the spouse or his folks or other relatives or the other way
around would fall inside the ambit of 'dowry' under the Act, even where the
interest isn't as expected referable to any legitimately perceived case and is
in consideration of marriage. Marriage in this setting incorporated a proposed
marriage and, more particularly, where the non-fulfilment of the interest of
endowment prompts the marriage not taking place by any means.
Dowry related health problems in India
Problems like dowry have many aspects and layers of abuse related to them;
especially in countries like India, where development is a continuous affair. If
a family is taking dowry, they're not necessarily accepting the bride
unconditionally and hence there is no guarantee that the family would not ask
for more monetary support in the future and moreover harass the bride mentally.
Synonymous with dowry deaths; female foeticide, high infant mortality, maternal
mortality, malnutrition of women and female children are issues that can and
should be read together and are interconnected 9.
A wife can be traumatized both, physically and mentally, if the husband or his
family is not satisfied with dowry given to them. Accordingly, many such
problems, collectively mental, physical and emotional arise along with the
demand for dowry. To comb this issue out, the next section discusses on what
can, should and is being done.
Given in the section below are some preventive measures and suggestions
targeting the dowry system in a critical manner.
The primary reason for existence of the dowry system in India since the ancient
times is the presence of an exceptionally patriarchal society. Gender equality
is a much needed "behavioural trait" for Indians in particular; this being a herculean task in India, every major change takes years to get completely
accepted in all the strata of the country. Gender equality is one such major
change required to eradicate this evil, the basics of topics like gender
equality should be taught to children in schools so that the next generation
turns out socially literate and problems like dowry are not present in the near
Making Women Independent:
Women in India have been playing an important role by giving back to the society
in all aspects; the economic factor can largely be influenced by the power of
the "public". Women in Indian households, when being tortured and harassed (with
cases related to dowry demands) don't always speak up, this leads to the
harassment being taken to critically dangerous levels; even if we consider 30
percent of the cruelty victims speaking up and taking action the number of dowry
death cases would go down considerably.
According to the national crime bureau (2019 records) a woman is subjected to
cruelty by her husband (and in-laws) every four minutes6, these numbers are
alarming and for them to go down, people have to be aware, not to be tolerant to
such behaviour (harassment, torture, cruelty).
Broadcast media campaign dispersion
Media campaigns help bring forgotten despairs of the world back to light, it can
be considered as one of the best instruments to ignite a person's inner
emotions; this attribute comes in handy while trying to fight an evil like the
dowry system. Broadcast media in India holds the power
to abolish the dowry system from the Indian society completely; for this, there
needs to be proper execution. "The effect of the mass media is not to elicit
belief but to maintain the apparatus of addiction."- Christopher Lasch
Dowry cannot be seen as a thing of the past until it is completely rooted out of
the Indian society; the sooner it ends the better it would be for the society.
It is not just the monetary factor which comes into place and is seen at the
face value of a case whenever a victim files a case; a lot of other aspects are
behind the dowry cruelty cases, things like psychological, mental, emotional and
physical distress. The legislation is doing its part in trying to reduce the
number of cases that keep increasing per year; but there has to be effort from
every sect of the Indian society.
- Prakash Kaur v. Harjinderpal Singh 1984 Del 66
- The State of Andhra Pradesh Vs. Raj Gopal Asawa and Anr, (2004) 4 SCC
- Kunhiabdulla and another vs. State of Kerala (2004) 4 SCC 13
- Reema Aggarwal vs Anupam and Others 2004 3 SCC 199
- S. Gopal Reddy Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh 1996 SCC (4) 596
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Mahima Dhingra & Mr.Vidhan Singh
Authentication No: SP227215028686-29-0922