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Dowry System In India

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

Written by - Jismy Joy


Dowry is a social evil in our society. It perpetrates unimaginable torture and crime against women and pollutes the Indian marital system. In this following system that cash, luxury items, durable goods, and real or movable property are gives bride’s family to the groom.

The recent series of dowry deaths in Kerala has been raised eyebrows and shed light on the dowry system in India which is still prevalent despite several attempts. The payment of dowry has been prohibited under specific Indian laws including The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and section 304B and 498A of the Indian penal code. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 defines dowry; “ dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to give either directly or indirectly (A) by one party in marriage to the other party in marriage; or (B) by the parents of either party to marriage or by any other person to either party to marriage or any other person; at before or after the consideration for the marriage of said parties, but does not include “Dower” or “Mehr” in the case of a person whom the Muslim personal law applies.[1].

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code says that the groom and his family to be automatically arrested if his wife complains of dowry harassment. The law was widely abused, and in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that arrest cannot be made without a magistrate approval[2]


Dowry promotes gender imbalance:- Due to the dowry system, women are given secondhand treatment in so many sectors like education or other pleasantries. India has one of the largest gender imbalances in the world.

● They are always considered and treated as a weaker sex.

Women’s status in society is reduced:- Some rural parts of India, girls are considered as liabilities.

● None of their views and opinions are taken or given consideration, It happens at every place ( their own homes and also in their in- laws home) and at every sector ( at workplaces).

Affecting career of women:- The larger context for the practice of dowry is the poor presence of women in the higher education, workforce, and their consequent lack of financial independence[3]

● Now the name of the dowry system was converted by the society into “Gifts”, where the bride’s family offers a lots of movable and immovable assets .

● The society never fails to arrange marriages for their daughter, they are ready at this point to take loans also. But fails to give her a good education, a better support for her passions, fails to teach to stand on her own legs.

Objectification of women:- Contemporary dowry is the equivalent of the bride’s family investing in strong connections and opportunities to make money. It turns women into commercial articles.

● From birth to death women’s are forced to be a dependent one.

● When marriage viewed as a process, it is evident that the bride is weighed by the dowry.

Worst financial condition:- some poor and middle-class families lose their life-saving financial demands of the groom’s families. Traditionally in India, the bride’s family pays for the wedding there is always social pressure to do best at any cost from the bride’s side.

● This dowry system always makes every family, wealthy or non wealthy, whatever may be; It makes the family to feel women as always a burden to the family.

Crime against women:-

● Women lacks courage to open up the physical and mental abuse they face, they mostly ends up in a thought that it was their fate.

● In some cases, the dowry system leads to crime against women, including emotional abuse, injury, and even death.


In the statute book, the first all Indian legislation related to dowry prohibition act, 1961, and this legislation comes into force on 1st July 1961. To further strengthen the anti-dowry law and to stop offenses by her husband or his relatives. New provisions were added to the Indian penal code section 498A and section 198A to the criminal procedure code in 1983. The protection of women from The Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2005. This act was added a layer of protection for women from dowry harassment.


This legislation provides for a penalty in section 3 if any person after the commencement of this act, aides or abets the giving or receiving of dowry, he'll be liable to imprisonment for a team which was not to be less than 5 years, and with fine which not to be under 15 thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry; whichever is provided that the court may, for an adequate and special reason to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a team of less than 5 years.[4]

Dowry agreements are void ab-initio and if any dowry is received by anyone other than the woman, it should be transferred to the woman.[5]


According to Indian penal code section 304B define, ‘’ there the death of a woman is caused by burns, body injures or occur, otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death have been be called dowry death, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.[6]

The judiciary also includes murder charges under Section 302 IPC as this allows Court to impose the death penalty on this offense.

Section 498 A IPC was specifically included in 1983 to protect women from cruelty and harassment. Section 498 A was challenged before the Supreme Court of India on grounds of abuse, on grounds that it gave arbitrary power to the police and the court. However, it was upheld in Sushil Kumar Sharma v/s Union of India (2005)[7]

The facts of the case:- A petition was filed under article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950, where it was prayed that section 498A of the IPC, be declared ‘ultra vires' and unconstitutional.

The main issue, in this case, was whether or not section 498A of the Indian penal code, 1860, is unconstitutional from husband or her husband’s relatives to abuse her.

In this case, Court finds that section 498 of IPC to be valid under the Constitution.


Indian evidence act section 113 B says that when the question is whether if a woman commits suicide after being physically or mentally abused in connection with a dowry, it should be brought under the ambit of dowry law, the Court shall presume that such person had caused by dowry death.[8]


For this any act, omission or constitute violence in case it physical, verbal, emotional, economic, sexual abuse and forms a subset of the Anno dowry laws to the extent it is one of the reasons for domestic violence’s.


The practice of the dowry system is illegal and also unethical. The dowry system is a punishable crime in India. But even though the practice of this system can’t be controlled. The following of dowry system makes our Indian society to became more male chauvinistic society, where women were and will be treated as a second gender.

Lets begin the change from within.. from ourselves,

“ I will never give any kind of gifts to my groom’s family”,

“I will never receive any kind of gifts from the bride’s family”

[1] The Dowry Prohibition Act- 1961(Act No.28 of 1961) [2]HTTP:// [3] [4] Dowry prohibition act, 1961 (Act No.28 of 1961) Section 3. [5] Dowry prohibition act, 1961 (Act No.28 of 1961) section 5&6. [6] Indian penal code 1860(Act No. 45 of year 1860) section 304 B. [7] Sushil Kumar Sharma v/s Union of India (AIR 2005 SC 3100) [8] Indian Evidence Act 1872 (Act No. 1 of 1872) section 113 B.

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