Dowry which is also know as Dahej refers to those durable goods, cash or property that the bride’s family gives to the groom and to his family. It is considered as an essential condition of a marriage. This system creates a financial burden on the bride’s family. In Hindu marriage Kanyadaan is an integral part wherein Kanya means ‘daughter’ and dana means ‘gifts. It first originated in upper caste but later on it was followed by almost each and every family irrespective of caste, religion etc.
There are various causes to demand dowry. Some people demand it in the name of tradition or custom. According to them it is a tradition that has to be followed by the bride’s family. Some family voluntarily ask for the dowry. Earlier people used to think that giving dowry will build their reputation in the society but eventually dowry became a show off concept. In many rural areas this practice has increased due to lack of knowledge and awareness. Literacy rate is low in most of the underdeveloped area which is one of the key reasons of increasing dowry demand. People are unaware of laws related to dowry because of which they come under pressure of groom and his family and give them so many valuable things which many of them can’t afford.
In greed of dowry the husband and his families harass the woman so that they can extort the gifts and other demands. This evil practice creates mental as well as physical trauma. In India there are many cases related to dowry death, bride burning and murder suicide.
The laws related to Dowry death in India
The Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Evidence Act are amended as per the criminal law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 and it was approved by the President of India to deal with dowry death cases.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
Section 304B and 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 is related to cruelty and harassment against married women leading to the commission of an offence.
Section 304B states that where the death caused to any woman by burns or bodily injury, or because of any other unnatural circumstances within seven years of her marriage, and it is shown that such woman was subjected to harassment or cruelty by her husband or his relatives soon before her death in connection with demand for dowry, such death shall be called “Dowry Death” and whoever commits dowry death shall be punished for a term of seven years which may extend to life imprisonment.
ESSENTIALS OF DOWRY DEATH UNDER SECTION 304-B
Death must be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise because of any unnatural circumstances.
The death must have taken place within seven years of her marriage.
It must be shown that soon before her death the woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relatives.
Cruelty or harassment must be in connection with demand of dowry.
Here the dowry shall have the meaning as assigned to it under Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
When the husband or husband’s relatives subjects the woman to cruelty or harassment, then whoever commits such act are sentenced to three years in prison and fine.
Under Section 498A the word cruelty means both mental and physical torture. Any willful conduct which likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause danger to her life, limb or health, mental or physical or harassment to coerce her or any other person by making an unlawful demand for dowries such as property or any goods.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Section 174 and 176 of CrPC deals with the investigations and inquests related to the causes of unnatural deaths. Generally, the police conduct the enquiries but in certain cases it is also done by the magistrate. The 1983 amendment act makes mandatory for police to send the body for post-mortem examination if the death of woman which has been occurred within seven years of marriage in a matter of suicide or any suspicious matter.
INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872
Burden of proof in dowry death is under Section 113B. Section 113B states about the presumption to dowry death.
In spite of making so many provisions dowry system has not stopped in our country. Enactment of strict laws will control the situation but will not end such evil practice due to lack of awareness.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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