Agreement for Giving or Taking Dowry Shall Be Disallowed: A Legal Perspective
Dowry is a social evil that has been prevailing in Indian society for centuries. Despite being banned under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the practice continues to be rampant, leading to countless cases of harassment, torture, and even death of women. To curb this menace, the government has now proposed to make an agreement for giving or taking dowry invalid and unenforceable.
In a recent notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the government has proposed to amend the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure to make an agreement for giving or taking dowry a non-bailable offence, punishable with imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to Rs.15 lakh.
The proposed amendment is a welcome move, as it will help in curbing the widespread practice of dowry and ensure that offenders are punished severely. However, the question that arises is whether such an agreement is legally valid in the first place.
According to the Indian Contract Act, 1872, an agreement for giving or taking dowry is void. This means that any agreement, whether written or verbal, that involves giving or taking dowry is unenforceable in a court of law.
The Act defines dowry as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given, either directly or indirectly, at or before or any time after the marriage in connection with the marriage of the parties.
Therefore, any agreement that involves giving or taking dowry is in violation of this Act and is hence void. It is important to note that even if such an agreement has been made, it cannot be enforced in a court of law.
Moreover, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code makes it a criminal offence to harass a woman for dowry. Anyone found guilty of such an offence can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years and/or fine.
In conclusion, an agreement for giving or taking dowry is not only a social evil but also a legal offence. The proposed amendment to the IPC and the CrPC will go a long way in curbing this menace. However, it is important to note that such agreements are already void under the Indian Contract Act, and any attempt to make such an agreement is illegal and punishable under the law. As a society, it is our responsibility to eradicate this practice and ensure that women are treated with respect and dignity.