Marriage in India is steeped in traditions and deep-rooted cultural belief practices are passed down by word of month and in some case, with the changing times. There is, however, one custom that stubbornly resists change the dowry system in India, It has roots in medieval times when a gift in case or kind was given to a pride by her family to maintain her independence after marriage. During the colonial period, it became the only legal way to get married, with the British making the practice of dowry mandatory.
A dowry is transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter. 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’s parent’s dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride’s family to the room or his family, ostensibly for the bride. Similarly, dower is the property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the times of marriage and which remains under her ownership and control. Dowry prohibition Act, 1961 was enacted to prohibit in giving or taking of dowry and related offences.
Dowry death, in 1986 a new offence know as dowry death was inserted in the IPC by the virtue of section 304-B. The provision under sec 304-B are more stringent than provided U/s 498-A of IPC.
Causes of The Dowry
Various reasons have been suggested as cause of dowry practice in India. There include economic factors and social factors.
There are many economic factors that contributes towards the system of dowry. Some of these includes inheritance systems and the bride’s economic status.
Some suggestions point to economics and weak legal institutions on inheritance place women in disadvantage with inheritances beings left only to sons. This leaves women dependent upon their husbands and in laws. Who keep the dowry when she marriages. In 1956, India give equal legal status to daughters and sons among Hindu. Sikh, Jain families under the Hindu succession Act.
Dowry gave, at least in theory, women economic and financial security in their marriage in the form of Marble goods. This helped prevent family wealth break up and provided security to the pride at the sometimes. The system can also be used as a premortem inheritance, as once a women is presented with morals gifts, she may be out off from the family estate. For many, dowry has become a greater financial burden on the family, and can leave families destitute based on the demand from the groom. The demand for dowry has increased over time.
Social factors valuable in the marriage, decreasing the chance of dowry over the bride price system. north, marriage usually follows apatri local (lives with husband’s family) system, where the The structure and kinship of marriage in parts of India contributes to dowry. In the groom is a non-related member of the family. This system encourages dowry perhaps due to the exclusion of the bride’s family after marriage as a form of premortem in heritance for the bride.
Types of Dowry crimes
Dowry is considered a major contributor towards observed violence against women in India. Some of these offences include physical violence, emotional abuses, and even murder of brides and young girls prior to marriage. The predominant types of dowry crimes relate to cruelty (which includes torture and harassment), domestic violence (including physical, emotional andsexual assault), abetment to suicide and dowry death (including, issues of bride burning and murder).
Cruelty in the form of torture or harassment of a woman with the objective of forcing her to meet a demand for property or valuable security is a form of dowry crime. The cruelty could be in the form of verbal attacks or may be accompanied by beating or harassment in order to force the woman or her family to yield to dowry demands. In many instances, the cruelty may even force the woman to commit suicide and it has been specifically criminalized by the anti-dowry laws in India.
Domestic violence includes a broad spectrum of abusive and threatening behaviour which includes physical, emotional, economic and sexual violence as well as intimidation, isolation and coercion. There are laws like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 that help to reduce domestic violence and to protect women’s rights.
Dowry deaths and dowry murder relate to a bride’s suicide or killing committed by her husband and his family soon after the marriage because of their dissatisfaction with the dowry. It is typically the culmination of a series of prior domestic abuses by the husband’s family.
Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide by hanging herself or consuming poison. Dowry deaths also include bride burning where brides are doused in kerosene and set ablaze by the husband or his family.
Dowry Death (Section 304-B)
Where the death of woman is caused by any burns of bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven year of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called Dowry Death, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven year but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
For the purpose of this sub-section, Dowry shall have the some meaning as in section 2 of the dowry prohibition Act, 1961.
• Death of woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury nor otherwise under normal circumstances.
• Death should have been occurred within 7 years of her marriage.
• The woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassments by her husband or any relative of her husband.
• Such cruelty or harassments should be or in connection with, any demand for dowry.
• Such cruelty or harassment should have been subjected soon before her death.
• It death of women caused under the above circumstance, the husband and husband’s relative will be presumed to have caused a dowry death and be liable for the offences, unless it is proved otherwise.
Under section 304-B (2) of IPC whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a terms which shall not be less that 7 yrs. but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
Classification of Offence
The offence U/s 304-B is
• Non- compoundable
• Tribal by Court of Session
Dowry Death and Evidence Act, 1872
Section 113-B presumption as to dowry death
When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with any demand for dowry. The court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.
For the purpose of this section Dowry Death Shall have the same meaning as in section 304-B of IPC.
• Hansraj V. State of Punjab
In this case SC held that term normal circumstances apparently means not by natural death.
• Rameshwer Das V. State of Punjab, 2008
In this case Sc held that, pregnant women, woman would not commit suicide unless relationship with her husband comes to such a passed that she would be compelled to do so, accused is liable to be convicted on the failure to prove his defense.
The dowry at present is source of both joy and curse in the society. It is also a joy to the husband and his relatives who get cash, costly dress and utensils, furniture, bedding materials, etc But, it is a curse to the brides parents who have to bear enormous cost to satisfy the unreasonable demands of the bridegrooms party. A demands of dowry does not diminish even after marriage. In some instances, the in-laws of the bride are very much ready to inflict harassment, insults and tortures both mental and physical.