Dowry laws of India and its defects

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Dowry the term is of great importance for the family of a girl in India. Dowry is one of the major reasons for increasing rate of female foeticide, violence on married women financial stress on the parents of a girl child, imbalance male-female ratio, broken marriages etc. in India. There are number of villages where if a girl child is born she was killed immediately by her own family. Dowry is basically an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage or in present context it may be called as payment of cash or valuable gifts from bride’s family to bridegroom upon marriage. Though the institution of dowry was present in pre-colonial period and it was managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have recourses in an emergency. All the valuables were given to bride not to groom or his family. The prohibition of property rights for women under the British Rule created the menace of dowry system in India.

From the initial days India is fighting against this menace of dowry which took lives of number of young ladies. No doubt number of laws was enacted but the menace of dowry is still present in India. We have law which makes taking or demanding of dowry itself illegal and criminal offence. Government has taken the first effort to combat with this menace by enacting The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, which was amended several times. This act prohibit giving, taking or demanding dowry and also punishes the person who does not follow the provisions. Further Indian Parliament also criminalizes the dowry relating violence against the women, dowry related cruelty by in laws against the women, also specifically provides punishment with imprisonment if a women dies within 7 years of her marriage with some burn injuries and there was demand of dowry before her death made by her husband or in-laws.  Inspite of so many laws the rate of dowry death is increasing. Our laws itself does not provides prescribe time to decide dowry death cases. Measures are taken by the Government and judiciary by appointing special judges to deal with the issue and also by setting up FAST TRACK CORTS. The main reason behind the increasing rate of dowry death is loopholes which are present in our dowry laws. The language used to define the term dowry is ambiguous which means gift demanded or taken at the time of marriage. But if the demand of gift is made after marriage than can it is termed as dowry? And the second reason might be non enforcement of existing laws by the authorities.  The investigation agencies (police officers) do not follow the guidelines and ultimately number of dowry death cases got dismissed in the name of kitchen accident. So we need more stringent laws to deal with this menace as well as the proper trained people to investigate the cases of dowry death. So that every victim of this menace get justice.

 

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