“A Happy Marriage is a Harbour in the tempest of life, an Unhappy Marriage is a tempest in the Harbour of Life”
It’s Wedding season going on in India and people are spending there money and paying Dowry (Strihi Dhan/Dahej) to the best of there capabilities. Marriage in India is all about Time, Money and Emotions. But Money factor these days is playing most important part in this institution. People choose Family on the basis of the family or the aura surrounding the family, and not the individual himself or herself. ‘My son is marrying so-and-so’s daughter’, ‘My daughter is marrying so-and-so’s son’. We tend to focus not on the groom or the bride but on the label attached on him or her. In some castes/communities people have rate of Dowry Fixed. It is a common feature for unmarried government servants to seek dowry relevant to the market rates of their post. These rates are sky-high, with an estimate of dowry rates for a bachelor IAS Officer (Indian Administrative Services) being as high as Rs 50 Lac to Rs 5 Crore (up to USD 1 Million).1 Due to this lots of Litigations related to Dowry & Deaths by Dowry are pending in Courts. Section 304B of I.P.C , 1860 talks about Dowry Deaths. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 provides for prohibition of Dowry in any form. The Government has decided to make it mandatory for couples to notify the list of gifts exchanged during their wedding ceremony. Failing this can invite heavy penalty including a three-year term in jail for not only bride and groom but also their parents. The rule will come about through an amendment to the existing Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 (DPA).
Upset over the “gross misuse” of the Dowry Prohibition Act, which aims to accord relief to real victims of dowry harassment, a Delhi High Court judge has hit upon a unique idea that at the time of marriage, the families of both the bride and the groom should prepare a list of articles and gifts being exchanged. Representatives of both sides should then sign the list to make it authentic. This will discourage parties from moving the court with false claims of harassment.
The evil system of dowry is still in practice and culturally approved and socially recognized. Dowry is public all condemned but privately followed in practice. The belief that the evil of dowry which is deep rooted in the Indian society can be eradicated by just making laws is no more stands true. The first Prime Minister of India, Late Pandit Nehru, who played an active role in social engineering, had said that, ‘ Legislation alone cannot eradicate the deep rooted social problem.
The laws enacted to eradicate the evil system of dowry from the society should be supported and backed by the public opinion. If progressive legislations lacks the support of public opinion it is no more than a waste bundle of papers and are regarded as dead law; As is case with the Indian Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, It must be asserted that a social reform should be done in consonance with social thinking, behaviour and after creation of a strong public opinion, as laws could only be effective when they are hacked by major section of the society.
About the Author
Kush is a practicing lawyer at Delhi High Court. He graduated from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab, India in 2012 and has authored a book titled – Be Your Own Lawyer.