Section 498a pertains to dowry harassment and reads as under:[498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be pun-ished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
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DOWRY LAWS - Dowry Prohibition Act- A Common Perspective


The Laws to curb the evil of dowry were enacted but it is unfortunate that the same are not being implemented in its true letters and spirit. Dowry Laws are rampantly being misused and innocent families are being subjected to immense harassment. As the dowry laws are being misused, genuine cases suffer in the process. The laws should be made stringent and be implemented properly and must not be used as a tool for extortion and harassment.

Dowry has been considered a social evil and a criminal offence. Dowry Prohibition Act, Section 498a of Indian Penal Code deal with offences related to dowry. Section 304B is related to dowry deaths.

1. What is the definition of Dowry?
Ans. “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 (or any time after the marriage) (in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include) dower or mahr in the case of person to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.
2. What are the various offences and the punishment prescribed for such offences under Dowry Prohibition Act?
Ans. Penalty for giving or taking dowry:
If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more;
Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence for imprisonment of a term of less than (five years).
3. Whether a list of presents is required to be maintained under Dowry Prohibition Act and how is it prepared and what are its benefits?
Ans. A list of presents which are given at the time of marriage to the bride is to be maintained by the bride and the list of presents which are given to the bride-groom is to be maintained by bride-groom. Every such list of presents is to be prepared at the time of the marriage or as soon as possible after the marriage.  The list has to be in writing and it shall contain:-
i) a brief description of each present/gift;
ii) the approximate value of the present/gift;
iii) the name of the person who has given the present/gift; and
iv) where the person giving the present is related to the bride or bridegroom, a description of such relationship;
v) shall be signed by both the bride and the bridegroom.
Giving of presents to the bride or bride-groom is not an offence when they are given without any demand having been made in that behalf and when the presents are entered in the aforesaid list prepared under the rules and where the presents are of a customary nature and the value thereof is not excessive having regard to the financial status of the person by whom or on whose behalf such presents are given.
4. Whether the offences under this Act are non-bailable and noncompoundable?
Ans. Every offence under this Act is non-bailable and non-compoundable.
5. Whether permission of Magistrate is required before effecting arrest of person under this Act?
Ans. No person can be arrested under this Act without a warrant or without an order of the Magistrate.

EXPLANATION-Section 498A of Indian Penal Code

For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—

(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is onaccount of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.]

Section 304B talks about Dowry death and reads

[304B. Dowry death.—(1) Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or har¬assment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.

For the purpose of this sub-section, “dowry” shall have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961).

(2) Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprison¬ment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

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