The dowry prohibition act has been in place in India since 1961, but the practice of dowry went on undeterred. When it is not demanded outright, it is implied that the bride’s family will have to give ‘gifts’ and provide for a certain standard of living for the groom and his family.
Dowry is illegal in India under the anti-dowry law. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, any act to take or give dowry is punishable in India. The punishment for violating the anti-dowry law is imprisonment for up to 5 years and fine of Rs. 15,000 or the value of dowry given, whichever is more. Any woman who is a victim of dowry in India must talk to a dowry lawyer to take appropriate legal action against her husband or his family members.
Even negotiations for the dowry for a lesser deal from the groom’s side when the bride’s side is unable to fulfill the actual demand/real deal’ and the act of making the bride’s family fulfill demands as compensation for marrying their daughter after the wedding are all punishable under the law.
The Indian Penal Code lays down the anti-dowry law with regards to dowry deaths, under Section 304B and cruelty or domestic violence for dowry demands, under Section 498A. The IPC makes the crime non-bailable, which means that the accused husband or family member cannot get a bail once arrested by the police.
However, the anti-dowry law is not violated in the following case:
- When the gift is given by the bride’s parents of their own choosing to the newly married couple without being pressured or asked.
- The list of such gifts is drawn up by the family lawyer along with the cost of gifts and a declaration that they were given to the couple out of the parents’ own choice.
- The groom’s family has a copy of the list of gifts and they are given only for the couple’s use.