Review of Laws and Legislative Measures Affecting Women
by National Commission for Women (NCW)

No. 1: DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961

  • Existing Provisions
  • Proposed Amendments by Government
  • Suggested amendments by NCW
  • Consequential Amendments Suggested in other Statutes

 Existing Provisions

The offence under the Act is treated as an offence against individual women.S.3 does not prescribe the sentence for the offence, but only provides the minimum sentence.

Not only taking but also giving of dowry is an offence.

Offences under the Act are treated as cognizable offences only in certain limited purposes.

Proposed amendments by Government

Restriction on marriage expenses not to exceed Rs.5,000/- or 2 % of the annual income of the bride's parents.

Suggested amendments by NCW

  1. For a more effective implementation it is desirable to make dowry offences as against eh State.

  2. Modification of S.2 defining 'Dowry'.

  3. Ss. 3 & 4 of the Act (being aggravated forms of the offence related to dowry) to be removed from the Act and included in IPC.

  4. Substitution of S.5 providing for a list of presents given to a bride or bridegroom at the time of marriage.

  5. Ss. 7 & 8 of the Act to be omitted.

  6. S. 8A of the Act to be removed and included in the Evidence Act.

  7. Persons giving dowry are victims and hence it is not fair to punish them

  8. Persons participating in dowry negotiations should be made liable along with persons taking or demanding dowry.

  9. The offence should made cognizable for all purposes.

  10. Substitution of S.7 so as to remove the application of Chapter XXXV of the Cr.P.C,

  11. Modification of S.8B with respect to Dowry Prohibition Officers.

  12. Redrafting of Sub-Section ( 2 ) of S.9 on the following lines:- 'In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for the better coordination of policy and action with respect to the administration of the Act'.

Consequential Amendments Suggested in Other Statues

Indian Penal Code

1( a ).Substitution of Explanation to sub-section (1) of Section 304B defining Dowry on the following lines:

Explanation: In this section and section 498B, 'Dowry' means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly, by the bride or any person related to her to the bridegroom or any person related to him at, before any time after the marriage in connection with, or as a consequence of, the marriage.

Exception - Nothing in the Explanation shall apply to the presents which are given at the time of marriage to the bridegroom (without any demand having been made in that behalf): Provided that such presents are of a customary nature and the value thereof s not excessive having regard to the financial status of the person by whom or os whose behalf, such presents are given.'

b) Modification n sub-section ( 2 ) of Section 498 A:

c) In sub-section ( 2 ) for the words ' a term which shall not be less than seven years, but which may extend to imprisonment for term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to ten years' shall be substituted.

2. In Chapter XXA - ( a ) Sustitution of the heding by 'Of offences against women' ( b ) Insertion of 498B prescribing punishment in dowry offences. The proviso to the section empowers the courts to give lesser punishment for adequate and special reasons.

3. Omit the qualifying clause and the word 'cognizable' alone be retained in S.498.

4. S. 498A to be amended to enhance the punishment from 3 to 7 years.

Code of Criminal Procedure

  1. Immediately before S. 499A in the First Schedule substitution of the Chapter heading by 'Of offences against women'.

  2. Amendment of the First Schedule making necessary entries after S. 498A i.e. nserting S 498A prescribing - 'Taking, demanding or abetting to take dowry' as a 'Cognizable' and 'Non-bailable' offence punishable with 'imprisonment for not less than 5 year which may extend to 10 years and fine not less than 15,000 rupees or the amount of value of the dowry, whichever is more' and empowering the CJM or CMM to take cognizance of the offence.

  3. In the First Schedule, against section 498A. in Col.4, omit the qualifying clause and the word 'Cognizable' alone be retained.

    Consequential amendments of S304 IPC -

    In the First Schedule, col3, the existing entry be substituted by 'imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term not less than 7 years but which may extend 10 years'.

  4. Omit S. 198A.

  5. Amending S.39 to cast a duty on the pulic to gibve information as to a dowry offence.

    1. In Clause ( v ), for the word and figures, 'and 304' , '304 and 304B' shall be substituted.

    2. After Clause, ( xii )insertion of the following: 'Section 498B (that is offences relating to dowry)'.

Indian Evidence Act -

a) Insertion of S.113AA.
Burden of proof lies with the person charged with S498 IPC (Dowry Offence).

General Suggestions and Remarks:

  1. Cruelty to women is taking serious dimensions and hence punishment to be enhanced.

  2. Compulsory registration of marriage and the list of gifts which may be given to the girl be registered.

  3. Amend the Hindu Marriage Act to make registration of marriage under that Act compulsory.

  4. Provide tax exemption on gifts to facilitate parents to settle property by way of gifts openly to the girls.

  5. Marriage expenses in no case to exceed 20 % of the annual income of the bridge's parents or guardians.

  6. Greater emphasis should be placed on the proper and strict implementation of the provision relating to Dowry Prohibition Officers and Advisory Boards by appoint full time officers who shall be accountable to the Advisory Board.

     

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