The Dowry Prohibition Act

Though there are a lot of complaints from aggrieved husbands and in-laws about the heavy misuse of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the Union ministry of women and child development is further contemplating to amend it and give more teeth to the law by strengthening the existing provisions and widening the definition of ‘dowry’.

However, from various judgments from the Supreme Court of India wherein several judges criticized the law, it looks though there are thousands of genuine dowry cases, thousands of cases of fake cases are also reality. The Dowry Prohibition Act has become the simplest way to harass and get the husband and his relatives arrested.

The two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad observed that in some cases bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.

The Government may tweak the law to reduce misuse

The women and child development ministry sources say that the recent rise in the incidents of misuse of the anti-dowry law has come to the notice of the ministry. The source says that if the allegations turn out to be false, the case gets closed and for that discussions are going on about changing some provisions which are prone for misuse.

The ministry may introduce penalty and punishment for the misuse of the act. Like Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, various sections of the Dowry Prohibition Act have also been misused. The recent judgment by the Supreme Court on the IPC 498A wherein it held that the cops must give reasons before arresting the accused has prompted the ministry to take cognizance of the misuse of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Objections by victims of the Dowry Prohibition Act

Victims of the Dowry Prohibition Act argue that there are vague definitions of dowry and streedhan in the law. Also, as the Dowry Prohibition Act (Section 8A) states, “Where any person is prosecuted for taking or abetting the taking of any dowry under Section 3, or the demanding of dowry under Section 4, the burden of proving that he had not committed an offence under those sections shall be on him, shows that the presumption of guilt is on the man.

Also, there are various existing laws that deal with a lot of the crimes mentioned in the Dowry Prohibition Act; thus, there is duplication of the laws. Also, as there are no penalties for false complaints or perjury, many women and their families misuse the law to intimidate and harass the husband and his family members.