Did you know in every 77 minutes a woman becomes a victim of dowry death and India witnesses around 500 suicides every year because of dowry harassment. This social evil is widely accepted and performed in various communities in the country. In fact, the Dowry law is taken for granted by many. So how does the law define dowry?
Dowry is any property or valuable security give or agreed to be given by one party to another in marriage. The demand should have been made to the bride’s family by the groom or his family directly or indirectly before or after the court. So If the groom or his family ask for any money, good or gifts from bride then it will be considered to be invalid and will come under the ambit of Dowry Prohibition Act of, 1961. Which says that any request, payment, or acceptance of dowry is prohibited and is made punishable up to 5yrs with a fine of Rs. 1500 or value of dowry asked or even more.
In case of dowry harassment, the victim or any relative of a victim who has enough knowledge of the event can file a complaint on her behalf against the groom or his family. The complaint can be file in a police station after which the investigating officer decides if the complaint needs to provide a statement or be spoken of the event. For better processing, one can take the help of a lawyer or any legal aid society or an NGO or related field.
In cases of dowry harassment, one can be prosecuted under three main provisions.
- Sec 498A of the Indian Penal Code which says cruelty to a married woman by her husband or his family including for the purpose of obtaining dowry is a punishable crime.
- Sec 304B deals with dowry death and describes it as the Death of a woman within seven years of her marriage by burns or bodily injury with evidence of cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relatives in connection with a demand for dowry. The punishment of which is not less than seven years.
- Sec 406 talks about Streedhan, now Streedhan is nothing by property a bride’s family given to her as security it can be a gift, ornament, property anything. A woman can claim streedhan as her own property with a marital household. If the groom forces her to transfer the property then it will be considered as a cognizable and non-baillable offence and will be punished under this section.
It is the need of the hour that we all change our attitude towards the dowry validation, we need to stop normalizing this practice and look forward to better and stricter implementation of laws related to such acts. Each marriage is said to be pure and virtuous in nature and hence shouldn’t be objectified on the basis of such demands. Dowry is a social evil and it’s time that we call together under one object to eradicate such wrong practice from society.