-- Preeti Arora, Law Student --


It's shocking but true. Even today, 21 women die every hour from dowry in India. Dowry system is followed in India since a very long time. The concept of dowry system dated back to the ancient Roman and Greek Civilization. Historically, some areas of Europe, America, East and South Asia have been victimized by the custom of dowry. In spite of modernization and women’s increasing role in the market economy, the practice of the dowry in India is becoming more widespread, and the value of dowries is increasing. Dowry is complete injustice with women and does not give women equal status in society. Because of dowry, men will always be superior to women. This is creating a mess and negative environment in society. Every year thousands of brides are injured, burnt or killed by their family members in the South Asian communities, primarily in India and Pakistan for the reason being that the bride’s father was unable to meet the dowry demands imposed by her in-laws.

Dowry was formerly a method of providing financial help to the newlyweds. The present system of dowry has completely changed the concept of marriage. Marriage was a sacred institution grounded on love and cordial relationship between the husband and wife. Now, it is merely a business between the two families negotiating over dowry demands. Dowry is one of the major reasons for increasing rate of female foeticide, violence upon married women, financial stress on the parents of a girl child, imbalance male-female ratio, broken marriages, inflicting cruelties upon wives and other woman related crimes in India.

Although dowry death and harassment were made punishable under Section 304B and 498A of the Indian penal code (IPC), and there was a dedicated law in the form of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, young women and girls continued to be subjected to severe torture for dowry.

Taking or giving dowry is a crime and illegal in India, under the dowry prohibition act 1961. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 deals with dowry in India.


·       This act prohibits the practice of giving or taking of dowry by either parties to a marriage. This law also punishes demanding and advertising dowry.         

·       It imposes a duty on parties getting married to make a list of gifts and presents.

·       If dowry has been exchanged at a wedding anyway, it imposes a duty on the person who is given dowry to give it to the bride.     

·       Note that the more serious crimes in relation to dowry such as dowry death and cruelty from dowry demands are punishable under the general law on crimes-the Indian Penal Code, 1860.


·       Any person who gives or takes dowry (minimum punishment of five years);

·       Any person who helps someone to give or take dowry;   

·       Anyone who in any way demands dowry;

·       Anyone who advertises and offers to give money or property in return for marrying his son, daughter or relative;

·       Anyone who publishes these advertisements;

·       Anyone who doesn’t hand over the dowry to the bride within the specified time.

The idea behind the dowry system was to make sure the bride will be financially stable after getting married. The intentions were very clear. Brides parents used to give money, land, assets to the bride as a "Gift" to make sure their daughter will be happy and independent after marriage. But when British rule came into the picture, they restricted women to own any property. Women were. It allowed to buy any property, land, or assets. Hence, men started owing all the Gifts given to the Bride by her parents.

This rule changed pure dowry system into a mess. Now parents of the bride were looking at their bride as a source of income. Parents started hating their daughter and wanted only sons.

For more than a century, despite of all words of respect for women there has been an onslaught on their liberties through “bride burning” and “dowry death”. This has caused anxiety to the legislature, Judiciary and law enforcing agencies, who have attempted to reassure them from this social choke. There have been series of legislations in this regards, without much effect. This led to the passing of Dowry prohibition, Act in 1962. Despite of this, large number of 'brides burning ' and 'dowry death' continued. To meet this, stringent measures were brought in Section 304B of Indian Penal Code and the wording in the presumptive section 113B of Evidence Act. it seems , sections of society are still boldly pursuing this chronic action to fullfil their greedy desire. Inspite of stringent legislations, such persons are still indulging in these unlawful activities, not because of any shortcomings in law but under the protective principal of criminal jurisprudence of benefit of doubt. Often, innocent person are also trapped or brought in with ulterior motives. This places an arduous duty on the court to separate such individuals from the offenders, hence the court have to deal such cases with circumstances, sift through the evidence with caution, scrutinize the circumstances with utmost care.

But now as we are living in modernized India, we can eradicate dowry system by taking following steps.

·       Educate our daughters.

·       Encourage them to have their own career.

·       Teach them to be independent and responsible.

·       Treat them (our daughter) equally without any discrimination.

·       Do not encourage the practice of giving or taking dowry.

Effects on the public of the Dowry Prohibition initiative.

·       The parents don’t lay enough emphasis on educating their daughters, as they feel that husbands will support them later.

·       The Poorer sections of society who send their daughters out to work and earn some money, to help them save up for her dowry.

·       The regular middle and upper class backgrounds do send their daughters to school, but don’t emphasize career options.

·       The very wealthy parents who happily support their daughters until they get married and their ability to fork out a high dowry.

Hence education and independence is one powerful and valuable gift that you can give your daughter. This will in turn help her to be financially sound and be a contributing member of the family, giving her respect and right status in the family. So providing your daughter with a solid education and encouraging her to pursue a career of her choice is the best dowry any parent can ever give their daughter.

In the matter of Smt. Shanti & Anr. vs. State of Haryana, 1990 Legal Eagle (SC) 679 : 1991 (1) SCC 371 : AIR 1991 SC 1226, Supreme Court held that." :

where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before the death of the woman she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relations for or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and the husband and relatives shall be deemed to have caused her death and shall be punished under section 304B of IPC. With an imprisonment for a minimum of seven years but which may extend to life imprisonment.

In the recent judgment in 2021, (2021 Legal Eagle (SC) 935) Hon’ble Supreme Court through a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli upheld an important position of law pertaining to Dowry Death and the presumption of guilt in cases relating to it. The ingredients of Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act have been explained.


Misuse of the law has led to an alarming number of innocent women (and men) getting caught in the criminal justice system.

·       Blackmailing the husband to extort money.

·       To implicate the husband in a false case and rekindle with a man she was previously associated with or got into an extra-marital affair with

·       Presumption section 113 B of Indian Evidence Act

·       false dowry cases are filed to harass the husband and to extract money


Dowry system is good until it is considered as a gift given to the bride by her parents. If the groom's parents are demanding money to get married as a “Dowry” then that is completely wrong and illegal. There is an immediate and urgent need for legislative change in Dowry prohibition statue. Society has to open eyes by giving equal status to girl child and saving the girl child. Several decades later, Section 498A remains extremely ineffective qua dowry-related crimes against women and now requires complete legislative change in the said law to make it more stringent and to prevent the dowry to instantaneously stop the dowry deaths.

By Preeti Arora
(Law Student)

88266 70911

Disclaimer :  
Facts and Opinions in this article are solely the personal statements of the Author. Publishers are no way responsible or liable to the readers for any errors or omissions and actions taken by readers by relying upon this article.

30 Jun 2022


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