Dowry Prohibition Act 1961- History & Provisions

Background Of Dowry or Dahej

Dowry Prohibition Act 1961: In Manusmruti,  described eight types of marriages in ancient India. These are Brahmavivah, Devvivah, Aarshvivah, Prajapya vivah, Gandharv vivah, Asur vivah, Rakshash vivah and Pisach vivah. According to the Hindu rituals BrahmaVivah is considering the best amongst all of these marriages.

In brahma vivah the bride goes with her husband after marriage with some gold jewelry gifted by her parents. In the old times, it only depends on emotions and capability but it becomes dangerous after some years. The groom’s family demanding more gold, gifts, cash, and whatnot. 

In some cases, situations become worst as brides are hanged or set on fire. In 1961 the dowry prohibition act came into enforcement.  

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

As a bird cannot fly without one wing, then how can a society run with only men community    

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Dahej or Dowry 

 Dowry is referred to as Dahez in Arabic. In the far eastern parts of India, dowry is called Aaunnpot.

The dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the groom as a condition of the marriage. Dowry is essentially in the nature of a payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to the groom’s family along with the bride and includes cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils, vehicles and other household items that help the newlyweds set up their home. 


Dowry Prohibition Act, Indian law, enacted on May 1, 1961, intended to prevent the giving or receiving of a dowry. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry includes property, goods, or money given by either party to the marriage, by the parents of either party, or by anyone else in connection with the marriage. The Dowry Prohibition Act applies to persons of all religions in India.

The original text of the Dowry Prohibition Act was widely judged to be ineffective in curbing the practice of dowry. Moreover, specific forms of violence against women continued to be linked to a failure to meet dowry demands. As a result, the legislation underwent subsequent amendment. In 1984, for example, it was changed to specify that presents given to a bride or a groom at the time of a wedding are allowed

. The law required, however, that a list be maintained describing each gift, its value, the identity of the person giving it, and the person’s relation to either party to the marriage. The act and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code were further amended to protect female victims of dowry-related violence. Another layer of legal protection was provided in 2005 under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Amendments to the original Dowry Prohibition Act also established minimum and maximum punishments for giving and receiving dowry and created a penalty for demanding dowry or advertising offers of money or property in connection with a marriage. The Indian Penal Code was also modified in 1983 to establish specific crimes of dowry-related cruelty, dowry death, and abetment of suicide. These enactments punished violence against women by their husbands or their relatives when proof of dowry demands or dowry harassment could be shown.

  1. Short title, extent and commencement.

(1) This Act called the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It shall come into force on 1ST July 1961.

  1. Definition of `dowry’.

In this act, `dowry’ means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly:

  1. by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
  2. by the parents 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 said parties but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.
  3. Penalty for giving or taking dowry.-

(1) If any person, 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 the fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry.

(2)presents which are given at the time of a marriage to the bride Provided that such presents are entered in list maintained in accordance with rule made under this Act.

  1. Penalty for demanding dowry.-

(1)If any person demands directly or indirectly, from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.
4-A. Ban on advertisement. If any person-

  1. offers, through any advertisement in any newspaper, periodical, journal or through any other media any share in his property or of any money or both as a share in any business or other interest as consideration for the marriage of his son or daughter or any other relative,
  2. prints or publishes or circulates any advertisement referred to Cl. (a), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to five years , or with fine which may extend to fifteen thousand rupees:
    Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months.
  1. Agreement for giving or taking dowry to be void: Any agreement for the giving or taking of dowry shall be void.
  2. Dowry to be for the benefit of the wife or heirs.
    (1) Where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall transfer it to the woman –
    1. if the dowry was received before marriage, within three months after the date of marriage; or
    2. if the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage within three months after the date of its receipt; or
    3. if the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, within three months after she has attained the age of eighteen years, and pending such transfer, shall hold it in trust for the benefit of the woman.

(2) If any person fails to transfer any property within the time limit specified therefor or as required he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend two years or with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees, but which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.

(3)Where the woman entitled to any property dies before receiving it, the heirs of the woman shall be entitled to claim it from the person holding it for the time being.
if she has no children, be transferred to her parents, or
if she has children, be transferred to such children and pending such transfer, be held in trust for such children.

(3-A) Where a person convicted  for failure to transfer any property as required by , before his conviction under that sub-section, transferred such property to the women entitled thereto or, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children, the Court shall, in addition to awarding punishment under that sub-section, direct, by order in writing, that such person shall transfer the property to such woman, or as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children within such period as may be specified in the order, and if such person fails to comply with the direction within the period so specified, an amount equal to the value of the property may be recovered from him as if it were a fine imposed by such Court and paid to such woman, as the case may be, her heirs, parents or children.

(4)Nothing contained in this section shall affect provisions of Sec. 3 or Sec. 4.

  1. Cognisance of offences.-
  1. Offences to be congnizable for certain purposes and to be bailable and non-compoundable.

8-A. Burden of proof in certain cases:  8-B. Dowry Prohibition Officers:

(1) The State Government may appoint as many Dowry Prohibition Officers as it thinks fit and specify the areas in respect of which they shall exercise their jurisdiction and powers under this Act.

(2) Every Dowry Prohibition Officer shall exercise and perform the following powers and functions, namely, –

(3) The State Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, confer such powers of a police officer as may be specified in the notification, the Dowry Prohibition Officer who shall exercise such powers subject to such limitations and conditions as may be specified by rules made under this Act.

(4) The State Government may, for the purpose of advising and assisting the Dowry Prohibition Officers in the efficient performance of their functions under this Act, appoint an advisory board consisting of not more than five social welfare workers (out of whom at least two shall be women) from the area in respect of which such Dowry Prohibition Officer exercises jurisdiction under sub-section (1).

  1. Power to make rules:

(1) The Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazettee, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for-
(3)Every rules made under this section shall be laid as soon as may be after it is made before each House of Parliament while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be; of no effect, as the case may be, so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.

  1. Power of the State Government to make rules.-

The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
Every rule made by the State Government under this section shall be laid as soon as may be after it is made before the State Legislature.


In this article, we have shared in detail about Dowry Prohibition Act,1961. We hope this article helped you in understanding all about the Dowry System. It started as the emotion and personal capability of Bride’s parents to send gifts to their daughter, but later it became a system as “Dowry” or “Dahej Pratha”. This article is also useful for students who are preparing for UPSC and researchers to understand about ‘Dowry’.

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