The Dowry Prohibition Act, an Indian law, enacted on May 1, 1961, aimed to prevent the giving or receiving of dowry. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry includes property, goods or money given by either party to the marriage, by the parents of either party, or by someone else in connection with the marriage. The Dowry Prohibition Act is applicable to persons of all religions in India.

The original Dowry Prohibition Act also established minimum and maximum punishments for giving and receiving dowry and for demanding dowry or for advertising offers of money or property in connection with marriage. The Indian Penal Code was also amended in 1983 to establish specific offenses of dowry-related cruelty, dowry death and abetment to suicide.

Domestic violence is a social and legal concept that, in the broadest sense, refers to any abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, or financial, between intimate partners who often live in the same household. The term is often used specifically to designate physical attacks on women by their male partners, but, although rare, victimized men may be abused by their female partners, and the term is also used for women and men.

Estimated annual figures for the number of women in the United States who are abused by a male partner range from two to four million. Additional statistics indicate that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women aged 15 to 44 and that one-third of American women killed in any given year are murdered by current or former lovers or husbands. Men can also be victims of domestic violence, although instances are both less common and less serious. However, such incidents are less likely to be reported due to the fear of ridicule and the lack of support services provided to male abuse victims.

Perpetrators of domestic violence come from all social, economic, cultural and educational backgrounds. The stress of poverty and substance abuse such as alcohol and drugs contribute to the problem.

There is often no effective solution for women victims of domestic violence. For some victims the constant cycle of violence produces low self-esteem, exaggerated feelings of helplessness, depression and imprisonment, even the belief that they deserve abuse.More physical obstacles stand in the way of most victims. Many are financially dependent on their abusers, and since many abuse victims are mothers, they are especially afraid of being unable to support their children if they leave a violent partner. Many are afraid to report a crime because the police cannot provide any credible protection against retaliation. One of the worst problems is that when women try to leave, the abuser is often the most violent and vindictive; Several women have been murdered by male partners when they tried to win charges or orders of .

Beginning in the 1800s, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a husband’s right, as part of his right to control his wife’s resources and services. The feminist movement in the 1800s caused a major change in public opinion, and by the end of the 19th century most courts denied that husbands had any right to “punish” their wives. But few women had real sources of help, and most police forces did nothing to protect women. The 1967 Training Manual for the International Association of Chiefs of Police stated that arrests in domestic violence cases were to be made only as a “last resort”.

The dowry system can place a heavy financial burden on the bride’s family. In some cases, the dowry system leads to crimes against women, ranging from emotional abuse and injury to death. The payment of dowry has long been prohibited under specific Indian laws, including the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and later sections 304B and 498Aof the Indian Penal Code. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 defines dowry as: “Dowry means any property or valuable security which is given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly by – (a) by one party in a marriage to the other party in the marriage.” ; or (b) by the parents of the parties to the marriage or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person; before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but the persons does not include dowry or mahar to which Muslim personal law applies.”

Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 specifies that the penalty of giving or taking dowry does not apply to gifts which are given to the bride or groom at the time of marriage, when no demand is made for them.

Although Indian laws against dowry have been in effect for decades, they have been criticized for being largely ineffective. The practice of dowry deaths and homicides continues uncontrollably in many parts of India, which has further raised the concerns of enforcement.

According to Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, if the wife makes a complaint of dowry harassment, the groom and his family should be automatically arrested. The law was widely misused, and in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that arrests could not be made without a magistrate’s approval.Dowry was a prevalent practice in the modern era of India and in this context, it could be in the form of payment of cash or gifts from the bride’s family to the groom’s family upon marriage. The practice of dowry varies depending on geography and class. States in the north are more likely to participate in the dowry system among all classes, and dowry is more likely to be in the form of material and movable goods.  In the south, the bride price system is more prevalent, and is more often in the form of land, or other heirloom goods. This arrangement is tied to the social structure of marriage, which places marriage within or near family ties.Dowry also varies by economic level in India. Upper class families are more likely to engage in dowry system than lower class ones. This may be partly due to the economic exclusion of women from the labor market in the upper classes. Penalty for giving or taking dowry. 3. Penalty for giving or taking dowry. If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both. Penalty for demanding dowry. 4. Fine for demanding dowry. If any person, after the commencement of this Act, demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardians of the bride or the groom, as the case may be, dowry, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months. With fine which may extend to

Five thousand rupees, or with both: Provided that no court shall take cognizance of any offense under this section except with the previous sanction of the State Government or such officer who The State Government may, by general or special order, specify in this behalf.The agreement to give or take dowry shall be void. 5. The agreement to give or take dowry shall be void. Any agreement to give or take dowry shall be void The dowry should be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs.

The dowry should be for the benefit of the wife or her heirs. (1) Where a dowry is received by a person other than a woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall transfer it to the woman— (a) if the dowry was received before the marriage, of marriage within one year of the date; or (b) if the dowry was received at the time of marriage or thereafter, within one year from the date of its receipt; or (c) if the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within one year of her attaining 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 whom?

Shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both; But such punishment shall not absolve the person from the liability of his Transfer the property in accordance with sub-section (1).

(3) Where the woman is 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. (4) Nothing contained in this section shall affect the provisions of section 3 or section 4.

Cognizance of offences. 7. Cognizance of offences. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of1898),— (a) no court less than a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class shall try any offense under this Act; (b) no court shall take cognizance of any such offence, except on a complaint made within one year from the date of the offence; (c) it shall be lawful for a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class to pass any punishment authorized by this Act to a person convicted of an offense under this Act.

Offenses to be non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable. 8. Offenses to be non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable. Every offense under this Act shall be non-cognizable, bailable and non-compoundable,

Power to make rules.

9. Power to make rules. (1) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

(2) Every rule 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 in one session or two consecutive sessions. May involve. And if before the end of the session in which it is so laid down or the session immediately following, both Houses agree to make any amendment to the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, the rule shall be shall have effect in such modified form or without effect, as the case may be, although any such amendment or deletion shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.

Repeal. 10. Repeal. The Andhra Pradesh Dowry Prohibition Act, 1958, (the Andhra Pradesh Act 1 of 1958) and the Bihar Dowry Prohibition Act, 1950, (25 of 1950) are hereby repealed.

Dowry under the Indian Penal Code, 1980

The Indian Penal Code, 1980 not only intends to prohibit the practice of dowry in India, but also prohibits violence related to it, which has previously been a regular practice in the Country. Due to the persistent failure of the dowry law in India, Section 304 (B) and Section 498 (A) were added through an amendment in the IPC in the years 1983 and 1986.

There are four circumstances where a married woman is subjected to harassment and cruelty, which is considered an offence. There are four possibilities:

Dowry murder

Section 304 (B), Indian Penal Code, 1980 deals with dowry death in India. Under this, if the death of a woman is caused by injury, burns or unnatural circumstances within seven years of her marriage, and it is proved that she was being harassed by the husband and or the relatives of the husband in respect of dowry shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years.Although the word ‘dowry’ is not defined under the Indian Penal Code, 1980, section 304(b) confirms that dowry shall be treated with the same meaning as in section 2(1), prohibition of dowry Act, 1961 has been defined.

The essentials of dowry death under Section 304(b), IPC are:

Death is either caused by burns, or  by injury, or under unnatural circumstances.

The above type of death has occurred within seven years of marriage.

There has been harassment or cruelty or both for the demand of dowry and it should have been done sometime before the death.

Cruelty to a woman by husband or relatives of husband

Section 498 (a) of the Indian Penal Code, 1980 deals with cruelty and harassment to a woman by her husband or by the husband’s relatives or both. Under the section, it is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine. Cruelty in this section includes both physical and mental torture. Any conduct which is willful and causes a woman to commit suicide or endangers her life, her physical and mental health and her limb, or gives her or any other person dowry, such as money, Forces by demanding goods or property.

Author: Melisa John

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