What does Dowry mean legally & how may a victimized lady defend herself?

What does Dowry mean legally & how may a victimized lady defend herself?

In Indian homes, the word "dowry" is quite pervasive and widespread. It is a practise that has infected Indian society as a parasite and undermined the lovely institution of marriage. It is not a recent practise but has been practised for centuries, and because of the impact it has on Indian society, one can try to lessen it but not completely remove it. A number of laws have been passed to forbid the practise of dowry, but their reach is less extensive than the practise itself.

The practise of dowry has a number of negative impacts on society and has reduced the magnificent institution of marriage to a simple exchange of gifts and demands for expensive assets in return for marriage. So, If you are a victim of the Dowry or someone who knows a victim of the Dowry case, or is looking for the best Lawyers for Dowry Case, Law Chef is the platform for you. Following are a few social ills that the dowry system itself brings about:

  • Female foeticide
  • Suicide by Young Girls
  • Not giving education to girls

What does Dowry mean legally?

According to section 2 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the term “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.

  • By one spouse to the other spouse during a marriage,
  • At or before [or anytime after the marriage] [in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include] dower or Mehr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law applies, by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person (Shariat).

Who would be an offender under the law?

Both receiving and giving dowry are prohibited under section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. As a result, both the bride's family and the bridegroom's family would be required to consent to the payment of dowry.

Legal framework that may help a victimized lady to defend herself :

  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  1. Penalty for giving and taking dowry (Section 3) :Section 3 states that anyone who offers, takes, or aids in the giving or taking of dowry after the Act's implementation will be punished with a period of imprisonment of at least five years and a fine of at least Rs. 15,000 or the amount of the dowry, whichever is greater.
  2. Penalty for demanding dowry : In accordance with Section 4, anyone who directly or indirectly requests dowry from the parents, relatives, or guardians of the bride or the bridegroom will be subject to a sentence of at least six months in jail and up to two years, as well as a fine that might reach ten thousand rupees.
  • Indian Penal Code, 1860
  1. Dowry Death (section 304 B)- Section 304(B) reads as follows-If it can be proven that a woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry shortly before her death, such death shall be called "dowry death," and such husband or relatives shall be deemed to have caused her death. Such deaths shall occur within seven years of a woman's marriage and shall be referred to as "dowry deaths."

Anyone who commits dowry death will be punished with a sentence of imprisonment that must not be less than seven years but may go as long as life.

  1. Husband or relative of husband subjecting women to cruelty (section 498-A) – Section 498- A reads as follows-A woman who is subjected to cruelty by her husband or a family of her spouse faces up to three years in prison and a fine.
  2. - "Cruelty" as used in this section means:

Any intentional behaviour that puts the woman in grave danger of committing suicide, inflicting serious harm on her, endangering her life, limb, or health (whether physical or mental), or harassing the woman with the intent to coerce her or any relative to meet an illegitimate demand for property or valuable security or because the relative has failed to meet the demand.


  • Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Presumption as to dowry death (Section 113 B) – Section 113 B reads as follows-When the question is whether a person has committed dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman had been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.

Explanation – For the purpose of this section “dowry death” shall have the same meaning as in section, 304B of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).


The practise of "DOWRY" is ingrained in Indian culture and cannot be completely abolished. The thinking, mentality, and mentality of Indians are the main reasons why this practise cannot be eradicated. In India, parents educate their sons to the point where they may demand a sizable dowry for him when he marries.

The amount of dowry a guy receives depends on his level of education and financial stability. Similar to this, girls' parents would give them a lot of education so that their daughters can marry into a wealthy household. They do not hesitate to give dowry because it is now considered customary and because, despite several laws, very few perpetrators are brought to justice.

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