The Allahabad High Court observed that it is necessary to maintain list of gifts exchanged during marriage to avail exception under Section 3 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

The Court directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to submit an affidavit on the appointment of Dowry Prohibition Officers who are required to be appointed under Section 8B of the Act for the purpose to see that the provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act are complied with.

The bench of Justice Vikram D. Chauhan on perusing Section 3(2) of the Act observed, “The legislature in its wisdom carved out an exception by providing that the presents which are given to the bride or the bridegroom at the time of marriage are not construed as dowry attracting Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. In order that the aforesaid exception is available to an individual, it is necessary that the aforesaid presents are entered in a list maintained in accordance with the Rules made under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The Court perused Section 3 of the 1961 Act which provides a penalty for giving or taking Dowry. The Court stated that as per Section 3(2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, presents given at the time of marriage to the bride or bridegroom which are entered in the list maintained in accordance with the Rules made under the Act shall not be construed as dowry under Section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

According to the Court, the legislature was aware of the Indian tradition as in the Indian marriage system gifts and presents act as a token of celebration and honouring the important event.

The Court emphasised that maintenance of list would also act as a measure to thrash out the allegations of dowry which are subsequently levelled in matrimonial dispute. The maintenance of the list is also important so that both the parties to the marriage and their family members may not level false allegations of taking dowry or giving dowry in a marriage subsequently.

“The arrangement made by the Dowry Prohibition Act may also assist in subsequent litigation between the parties to conclude whether the allegations about the taking or giving of dowry is covered by the exception carved out under section 3(2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.”, the Court added.

The Court noted that while parties to the marriage are filing cases with allegations of dowry, however, no list in terms of Section 3(2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act and Rules of 1985 are being filed by the husband or the wife or their family members.

“it may be a case where no list is being prepared by the parties to the marriage.”, the Court noted.

The Court stated that it has not been brought to its notice that the aforesaid provision is in any manner being monitored or implemented by any responsible officer of the State Government. “Section 3(2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is required to be implemented in its letter and spirit so that citizens are not subject matter of frivolous litigation.”, the Court stated.

The Court sought an explanation from the State Government in the event of non-appointment of Dowry Prohibition Officers.

The Court also sought steps taken by such Dowry Prohibition officers, if appointed, towards implementation of the provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The Court also required the State Government to file an affidavit to the effect whether at the time of registration of marriage, a list of presents as required by the 1985 Rules, is being taken by the officers and being maintained so that subsequently in the event there is a dispute between the parties to a marriage with regard to the presents being given in marriage being designated as dowry, the same can be verified.

Lastly, the Court sought an affidavit from the Government on whether any rules in terms of Section 10 of the Dowry Prohibition Act had been enacted by the State Government.

Cause Title: Ankit Singh v. State of U.P.


Adv. D.K.Ojha and Adv. Vikas Kumar Ojha

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