Allahabad High Court

Allahabad High Court: In an application filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, (‘CrPC’), Vikram D. Chauhan, J. took note of the fact that there were an alarming number of cases pertaining to allegations under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (‘DP Act’), amid matrimonial conflicts, that were being filed before the Court, and suggested that a list of gifts being exchanged at the time of marriage should be maintained, to avoid the allegations of dowry which are subsequently levelled in matrimonial dispute. Further, in view of the same, the Court issued certain directions.

The Court referred to provisions outlined in Section 3 of the DP Act, which deals with penalties for the exchange of dowry and according to Section 3(1), individuals involved in giving, taking, or abetting the giving or taking of dowry are subject to imprisonment for a minimum term of five years, along with a fine not less than fifteen thousand rupees or the value of the dowry, whichever is higher.

The Court further referred to Section 3(2) of the DP Act, which provides exceptions to the aforementioned penalties and states that gifts given to the bride or groom at the time of marriage, as long as they are recorded in lists maintained according to the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985, are not considered dowry. These rules, enacted under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, specify the procedure for maintaining lists of gifts exchanged during marriage. Rule 2 of these rules delineates that both the bride and groom must maintain separate lists of presents given to them during the wedding ceremony.

The Court said that the legislature carves out an exception, stating that gifts given to the bride or groom during marriage won’t be considered dowry if they are recorded in a list according to the DP Act’s rules, which acknowledge the tradition of gift-giving in Indian weddings and aim to prevent false dowry allegations.

The Court further suggested that such a list would serve as evidence to resolve any dowry allegations that may arise later in matrimonial disputes and commented that such an exercise was intended to prevent both parties from falsely accusing each other of giving or taking dowry after the marriage.

The Court directed that gifts exchanged during marriage without any dowry demand were to be listed and signed by both the bride and groom and Dowry Prohibition Officers were supposed to be appointed under Section 8-B of the DP Act to ensure compliance.

However, the Court noted that some parties failed to create such lists and as such there was no indication that the enforcement of the provision was being overseen by any State authority and hence, in view of the same the Court issued the following directions:

(i) The Court directed the Chief Secretary of UP to confirm whether Dowry Prohibition Officers had been appointed as required by law, in the absence of which the State Government was directed to justify such non-compliance.

(ii) In the event such officers are appointed, the State Government was directed to detail their actions in enforcing the DP Act, including the preparation of gift lists as per Section 3(2) of the Act.

(iii) The State Government was also directed to disclose any orders issued for implementing the 1985 Rules and the number and hierarchy of appointed Dowry Prohibition Officers.

(iv) The State Government was directed to file an affidavit to the effect whether at the time of registration of marriage, list of presents as required by the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985

(v) Further, the State Government was directed to file an affidavit to the effect whether any in terms of Section 10 of the DP Act had been enacted by the State Government.

[Ankit Singh v. State of U.P, 2024 SCC OnLine All 1618, Order dated 08-05-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Advocates for the Applicant: D.K.Ojha, Vikas Kumar Ojha

Advocate for the State: G.A.

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One comment

  • The Allahabad High Court recommends that couples keep lists of gifts exchanged during marriage to avoid false dowry allegations 🎁📝. The Chief Secretary of UP is to confirm the appointment of Dowry Prohibition Officers as mandated by law and report their enforcement actions 📋🔍. This ensures traditional gift-giving remains while preventing misuse and false accusations 👰🤵. Read more: SCC Online

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