Dowry or Stridhan is not a new concept in India. The parents of the bride used to give valuable security in the form of cash, jewelry, etc. depending upon their capabilities to secure the financial status of the girl, which was termed as a ‘Stridhan’ and was later assumed as dowry. It actually became a form of insurance in case the in-laws mistreat the girl after marriage. In this post, we are trying to understand the options left for a girl if in-Laws are asking for dowry.
Dowry Protection Act,1961
Although in the year 1961, dowry was prohibited, it still continued to be institutionalized, especially in upper-caste families. The most crucial point to be kept in mind here is both taking and giving dowry is illegal in India, and the parties involved can be punished.
The case can be registered under Section 4 of the Dowry Protection Act,1961, along with Section 498(a)of Indian Penal Code,1860. The Application can also be submitted to the Magistrate under Section 12 of The Protection of Women from the Domestic Violence Act,2005. In such a case, the Magistrate will dispose of the matter within 60 days after the first hearing and will appoint a Protection Officer to investigate the matter further.
What to Do if Family or In-Laws is Asking for Dowry?
- The moment dowry is demanded, immediately report to your nearest police station as both taking and giving dowry is a criminal offense.
- Collect all the possible and relevant evidence which includes any audio/video recordings or any witnesses which can support the commission of the offense.
- In case the police officer does not register the complaint, an application can be submitted under Section 156(3) read with Section 190 of CrPC to the Judicial Magistrate.
- Every Family Court of any district has a Dowry Protection Officer(DPO) who can also be contacted in these matters. One can find the information about the DPO can via the Family Court of your respective district.
Who Can Complain?
- The girl/ would-be wife (Dowry case can even be filed before marriage.)
- Parents/relatives of the bride
- Any recognized welfare institution or organization
Place of Registration of Dowry Case Post Marriage
If the marriage has taken place and the Dowry case has to be filed, the following jurisdictions are ones where the case can be registered:
- The place where the demand for dowry was made i.e., the place of action
- Where the husband and the wife have last lived together
- The girl can even register the case at the place where her maternal parents are living
What if the Police Doesn’t Register the Dowry Case
Although the police officer is dutifully and legally bound to register the case of the complainant, there are still times when the complainant has to return empty-handed. In such a case, the following steps can be taken to register an FIR if Family or In-Laws is Asking for Dowry:
- It is your right to ask a proper justification from the police officer and the reason behind his rejection of the complaint.
- If he does not follow the rule, one can always approach the senior officer i.e., SP, DIG, or IGP.
- In today’s technology-friendly world, media is playing a commendable job in seeking justice. The complainant can even take the help of media to both reveal the truth and pressurize the authority to take requisite action.
- NGOs, Human Rights Activists, etc. are another helpful gate to knock.
- The last and the most important option is to make an application under Section 156(3) along with Section 190 of Code of Criminal Procedure, thereby asking the Judicial Magistrate/ Metropolitan Magistrate to order the Police to register the FIR.