Know about the Dowry System in India – Act and Procedure

We are excited for our wedding bells. That beautiful bridal dress, that pretty henna in hands, the glittering jewellery, the scented garland seems like a pretty fairy tale which she wants to see as a reality and enjoy every second of her married life. The dowry system in India or ‘Dahej Pratha’ is one of the most crucial phenomena in Indian marriages. Some of us want to know ‘Dahej’ meaning in English i.e. dowry and it is prevalent in Indian society for ages. It is a practice of exchange of material possessions, property and jewellery to be offered or asked by the groom’s family.

Do we ever wonder what all she loses?

Her family, her cupboard, her bed, her room and most importantly her surname. She gives away everything and is ready to come at your home only and only for you.
Isn’t it your responsibility to keep her protected, safe and make her smile every second.

Sometimes this happiness becomes small compared to the horror one ends up facing.

Objective of Marriage

Any discussion on marriage must begin with an honest recognition of your primary goal. The goal is your happiness and prosperity, and nothing that any parent, uncle, aunt, friend has to say about it has any agency over your own awareness of what brings you contentment.

Living together in the subcontinent encouraged us to adopt each other’s customs, and eventually, they became a part of ours.

This isn’t one of those blogs about the social nuisance about weddings nor it encourages divorce or live in relationships.
Whether we like it or not, all of us have come across Star Plus soap advertisement in between our favourite serials. This blog is also something that will make you think about the sad life of a few people after marriage.

The Never-ending dramas around new brides. Their unbearable miseries and the constant struggle to settle into the new family. These are a few constant outcomes of a marriage based on Dowry System in India or ‘Dahej Pratha’. We can take a look at the problems and the solutions.

Getting to know the Dowry

How does Dowry system in India or ‘Dahej Pratha’ works? Dowry, in simple words is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband or his family in marriage.

Dowry is a conditional for the Wife. Which is supposed to be of the woman in case of divorces, abuses or assault.

Jewellery and property possessions have been used in dowry which is frequently inalienable by the husband. Though husband may otherwise benefit from them it is basically a protection for the woman.

Wondering, where all the love is gone?

What about education?

All in vain?

Yes, it happens. Many people marry for Dowry in India.

The Dowry system was eradicated from the Europe in the 19th and 20th Century. Other countries saw rise in Dowry popularity by the end of the 20th Century, even after declaring illegal or discouraged by governments.

In South Asia, parents of the groom demand compensation for their son’s higher education and future earnings that would be shared by the bride.

Few cases which proves Dowry exists:

  • A woman apparently beaten to death by husband and in-laws over dowry. The incident took place in Balheda village in neighbouring Shamli district, police said.
  • Demand of additional dowry of Rs 25 lakh, which resulted in assault by the family of the husband against a pregnant woman
  • Married woman was allegedly beaten to death following a dispute over dowry in Kolkata.
  • Husband with other in-laws thrashed wife allegedly for dowry, ANI reported. The incident took place in Haryana’s Faridabad and a video of the incident has gone viral on social media.

I think these reports are enough that will make us to look into the case again. Reports from metro cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai makes it clear that it exists among well educated people as well.

THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961, (Act No. 28 of 1961)

Any property or valuable asset shared by one party to another party who is in a marriage consideration. Which takes place either before the marriage, during or after the marriage according to the Dowry system in India also known as ‘Dahej Pratha’.

After the commencement of this Act, if any person gives, takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he/she shall be punished with imprisonment of 5 years or a fine of more than fifteen thousand or the dowry amount whichever is higher.

Under the act against Dowry System in India, demanding of dowry directly or indirectly, from the parents, relatives or guardians of a bride or bridegroom shall be punishable. The punishment may include imprisonment from six months to two years and or imposed with a fine of up to ten thousand rupees.

One can complain if it is Abetment to suicide, dowry murder, cruelty, fraud or dowry torture.

How to file a complaint?

A victim, parents or an organization can file a complaint in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate or a first-class Magistrate.

A complaint can be made in the police station or in the ‘Crime against women Cell’. They can investigate into the matter and report to court. Then court takes the matter ahead. (Cognizance is a notice or acknowledgement on which a judge is bound to act).

The Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class may take cognizance himself if such facts come to his own knowledge.

Every offence under this Act is a non-bailable and non-compoundable offence (that which cannot be compromised or settled out of court, between the complainant and the accused, at any stage of the trial). One can approach the right medium and strike against the Dowry System in India.(Dahej)

Women use it as a weapon but what about men?

There is no provision for Domestic Violence to protect a man. Consequently, many women have been misusing the law against their husbands to harass them. Even the government has failed to take necessary steps to address violence against men.

Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, books husband and family against cruelty to woman. Usually, resulting in immediate arrest with proper investigation and punished with non-bailable terms. In false cases, the husband and his family is considered accused till they are otherwise proven innocent.

Three years is the maximum punishment for the guilty.

In case of false complaints against you by your wife, you have two alternatives – defend your allegation and hold on for the judgement or do a counter case against your wife and prove her wrong.

  • Record conversations (whether voice, chat, email, letters, etc.) and keep them safe. Keep every evidence secured and safe. It should not be in front of anyone who is not an authority.
  • Collect evidence of not demanding dowry or any kind of activity related to torture
  • Collect evidence to present that the female has moved out of marriage bonds without any consent
  • This evidence will be fruitful in the time of getting anticipatory bail or notice bail from the court.

Summarizing the Issue

Write letters to the media, human rights organizations, etc., telling them about the use and misuse of Section 498A.

Use social media platform for reaching the masses. It will be helpful in seeking attention from the society towards the misuse of the law.

Not all men are the same, some may be the sufferers as well. Their eyes also shed tears; pain can also be real. They become the sandwich between two superheroes of his life one her mother another her wife. Please stop stereotyping and fight for the right not only for male dominated society or feminism.

Although the violence against women is more prevailing the Dowry System in India (Dahej Pratha) is the cause for destruction of many families and households. Eradicating the dowry system in India is the only alternative to a better society and healthier relationships based on happiness and prosperity.