Dowry Laws

Dowry in any form in India is prohibited. In India, there are civil laws, criminal laws and special legislative acts against the tradition of dowry. Someone accused of taking dowry is therefore subject to a multiplicity of legal processes. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage", where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to ₹ 15,000/- or the amount of dowry (whichever is higher), or imprisonment up to 5 years. It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various states in India.

In Indian penal Code, 1860, section 304-B was inserted by an amendment in 1986. This new provision introduces the offences of “dowry death” of woman caused by her husband and/ or other relatives of the husband. When the wife dies within seven years of her marriage and such a death is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances, and if it can be shown that the wife was subject to cruelty prior to her death, such death shall be called "dowry death" and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.

In the year 1983, section 498-A was inserted in Indian Penal Code, 1860 that criminalises the cruelty against women by her Husband or relative of husband. Demand for dowry is also considered as cruelty against the woman under this provision.

Under the newly enacted “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act” demand of dowry is also considered as domestic violence.

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