The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
2. Definition of ‘dowry’.-
In this Act, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.
(a) By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or (b) 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,
at or before 1[or any time after the marriage] 2[in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include] dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.
Explanation II.—The expression “valuable security” has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
(i) The word ‘dowry’ should be any property or valuable given or agreed to be given in connection with the marriage. The customary payments in connection with birth of child or other ceremonies are not involved within ambit of dowry; Satbir Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2001 SC 2828.
(ii) “Dowry” in the sense of the expression contemplated by Dowry Prohibition Act is a demand for property of valuable security having an inextricable nexus with the marriage, i.e., it is a consideration from the side of the bride’s parents or relatives to the groom or his parents and/or guardian for the agreement to wed the bride-to-be. But where the demand for property or valuable security has no connection with the consideration for the marriage, it will not amount to a demand for dowry; Arjun Dhondiba Kamble v. State of Maharashtra, 1995 AIHC 273.
(iii) Any property given by parents of the bride need not be in consideration of the marriage, it can even be in connection with the marriage and would constitute dowry; Rajeev v. Ram Kishan Jaiswal, 1994 Cri LJ NOC 255 (All).
(iv) The definition of dowry is wide enough to include all sorts of properties, valuable securities, etc., given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly; Vemuri Venkateswara Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1992 Cri LJ 563 AP HC.
(v) There had been no agreement between either parties to give any property or valuable security to the other party at or before or after the marriage. The demand of T.V., refrigerator, gas connection, cash of Rs. 50,000 and 15 tolas of gold are not demand of dowry but demand of valuable security in view of section 2; Shankar Prasad Shaw v. State, I (1992) DMC 30 Cal.
(vi) While dowry signifies presents given in connection with marriage to the bridal couple as well as others, Stridhan is confined to property given to or meant for the bride; Hakam Singh v. State of Punjab, (1990) 1 DMC 343.
(vii) Dowry, means, any property given or agreed to be given by the parents of a party to the marriage at the time of the marriage or before marriage or at any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage. So, where the husband had demanded a sum of Rs. 50,000 some days after the marriage from his father-in-law and on not being given became angry, tortured the wife and threatened to go for another marriage, it was held that the amount was being demanded in connection with the marriage and it was a demand for dowry though it was demanded after the marriage; Y.K. Bansal v. Anju, All LJ 914.
(viii) The furnishing of a list of ornaments and other household articles such as refrigerator, furniture, electrical appliances, etc., at the time of the settlement of the marriage amounts to demand of dowry within the meaning of section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; Madhu Sudan Malhotra v. K.C. Bhandari, 1988 BLJR 360 (SC).
(ix) A sum of money paid by a Mohemmadan in connection with his daughter’s marriage to prospective bridegroom for the purchase of a piece of land in the joint name of his daughter and would-be son-in-law is not ‘dowry’ within the meaning of the Act; Kunju Moideen v. Syed Mohamed, AIR 1986 Ker 48.
(x) Where the demand was made after the marriage for the purchase of a car, it was held that it did not fall within the definition; Nirdosh Kumar v. Padma Rani, 1984 (2) Rec Cr R 239.
(xi) Where the demand was made at the time when marriage ceremony was in progress and was repeated after the marriage, it was held that it fell within the definition of dowry; L.V. Jadhav v. Shankar Rao, (1983) 2 Crimes 470.
(xii) Definition of ’dowry’ is not restricted to agreement or demand for payment of dowry before and at the marriage but also includes demands made subsequent to marriage; State of Andhra Pradesh v. Raj Gopal Asawa, AIR 2004 SCW 1566.
(xiii) Demand of dowry in respect of invalid marriage would not be legally recognisable; Reena Aggarwal v. Anupam, AIR 2004 SC 1418.
1. Subs. by Act 43 of 1986, sec. 2, for “or after the marriage” (w.e.f. 19-11-1986).
2. Subs. by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 2, for certain words (w.e.f. 2-10-1985).
3. Explanation I omitted by Act 63 of 1984, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 2-10-1985).