Bride, groom should maintain gift-list during marriage: Allahabad High Court

New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court has held that maintaining a list of gifts received by the bride or bridegroom at the time of marriage as prescribed under Section 3(2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is important to prevent false allegations of dowry at the time of subsequent disputes.

“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 arrive at a conclusion whether the allegations with regard to the taking or giving of dowry are covered by the exception carved out under section 3(2) of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961,” Justice Vikram D. Chauhan said.

Section 3 of the Act provides penalties for giving or taking dowry as imprisonment for not less than 5 years and a fine not less than Rs 50,000 or the amount equal to the value of the dowry, whichever is higher.

Sub-section (2) of Section 3 provides that presents which are given to the bride or the bridegroom at the time of marriage and have not been demanded are not ‘dowry’, provided that a list of such gifts received by either person is maintained in accordance with rules.

Rule 2 of the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985 prescribes the manner in which the list of gifts under Section 3(2) is to be maintained.

“The Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985 have been framed in this respect by the Central government, as in the Indian marriage system, gifts and presents act as a token of celebration and honouring the important event. The legislature was aware of the Indian tradition and as such, the above-mentioned exception was carved out. The above-mentioned list would also act as a measure to thrash out the allegations of dowry which are subsequently levelled in matrimonial disputes,” the court stated.

The court observed that Section 8B requires the appointment of a Dowry Prohibition Officer for the purpose of implementation of the Act, and accordingly, sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary as to how many Dowry Prohibition Officers have been appointed in the state and if they have not been appointed, then explain why they have not been appointed when dowry cases are increasing.

The next hearing of the case will be held on May 23.

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