Dowry Laws in India

January 22, 2019
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

LEGALITY : Dowry is illegal in India under the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.

OFENDER : Under the said Act, both taking and giving of dowry is punishable.

PUNISHMENT : The punishment for violating the law is 5 yrs imprisonment and Rs.15000 fine (or the value of dowry given, whichever is more)


  • Any demand made by the groom/his family which involves a direct/indirect deal with the family is considered as dowry.
  • Demand can be in form of cash, property or any other favours.
  • Demand can be made before, during or after the wedding.


  • Includes anything that the bride’s side does not offer on its own
  • Includes anything that the groom’s side may ask for directly, or indirectly by dropping hints
  • Any demand which makes the bride’s side compelled to fulfil it
  • Giving of anything as a pre-condition to marriage, without which the bride’s side anticipates that the marriage might be called off
  • Negotiation for a lesser deal from the groom’s side when the bride’s side is unable to fulfil the actual demand/’real deal’
  • Making the bride’s family fulfil demands as compensation for marrying their daughter after the wedding



In the following scenarios, the bride’s side will not be violating any dowry laws:

  • Gifts of their own choosing by the bride’s parents to the newly married couple without being pressured or asked
  • List of such gift/s should be drawn up by their lawyer along with their cost and a declaration that that they were given to the couple out of their own choosing
  • The groom’s family should have a copy of the said list
  • Any gift for the couple will belong to the both of them



  • Anything gifted by the bride’s parents to her and not to the groom is the sole property of the bride and is called ‘streedhan’ (the wife’s property)
  • Streedhan can be given before, during or after the wedding
  • Streedhan includes property inherited by the bride
  • Also includes gifts given in cash or kind by her own family and/or husband’s family
  • Bride is the absolute owner of streedhan
  • Husband and his family have no right over it
  • In case she leaves the marriage, she will get her streedhan back
  • In case of unforeseen death of the bride, streedhan is returned to the bride’s family.


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