Legal Guide

Penalty for Demanding Dowry: Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 

by Digant Sharma · 3 min read

section 4 of dowry prohibition act


Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act says, “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.”

What is meant by Dowry?

Dowry is an ancient ritual that may be found in many nations, beliefs, and historical periods. Dowries are unknown where they came from, but they are still used in wedding ceremonies today. A dowry is a hefty monetary gift given to the bride or groom’s future spouse upon marriage.

The dowry is a gift given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family in appreciation for welcoming her into their home.

Dowry-related cultural concerns

Dowries are commonly thought to be a practice exclusive to South Asian countries and civilizations. Dowry is practiced by many other cultures, including but not limited to Jewish, Slavic, Arab, East Asian, North African, and Sub-Saharan African communities.

Woman price and dowry are frequently incorrectly defined as a man’s payment for a wife or, conversely, the amount a bride pays to be married. These definitions are incorrect because, while anything of value may be exchanged between spouses, it is considered a gift rather than the cost of marriage. Women may use it as security if they decide to divorce their husbands. In certain traditions, the dowry is even the engagement ring.

It is traditional in Indian culture to never show up empty-handed when invited anywhere. The dowry is a present that a bride brings to her new in-laws since, historically, the bride lived with her husband at his ancestral house with his family. Even the economically lowest of households practice dowry and bride price.

This varies depending on culture and religion. A dowry is frequently paid to the groom by the family of a Hindu bride. In Muslim traditions, however, it is the groom who bestows a gift known as Mahr on his wife. Several significant Black African ethnic groups practice the bride price regardless of socioeconomic position. The value of a dowry is dictated by culture as well as other factors such as class or social standing.

In addition to cash, a dowry may consist of jewellery, furniture, property, a car, or animals. Dowries are frequently given shortly before or during the wedding ceremony.

Dowry-Related Legal Issues

Indian Penal Code defines a cognizable felony that is not bailable. It should be made a bailable and non-cognizable offence by the courts. The husband should be granted anticipatory bail so that he has a legal choice if the case is filed on false grounds. Dowry is a cognizable offence; a police officer may make an arrest if he receives a complaint proving that the components of Section 498A of the IPC, which include cruelty to a wife by a husband or/and his family, have been satisfied.

Dowry Prohibition Act

Dowry Prohibition Act was implemented on May 1, 1961, and aimed at prohibiting the giving or receiving of dowry. Dowry is defined as property, goods, or money provided by either party to the marriage, by either party’s parents, or by anyone else in connection with the marriage under the Dowry Prohibition Act. In India, the Dowry Prohibition Act extends to people of all faiths.

Insights into the Dowry Prohibition Act

The original draft of the Dowry Prohibition Act was largely seen as inadequate in preventing dowry. Furthermore, particular types of violence against women were still related to failing to satisfy dowry demands. As a result, the Act was amended later on. It was revised in 1984, for example, to stipulate that gifts presented to a bride or groom at the time of a wedding are permitted.

The law, on the other hand, mandated that a record be kept that described each present, its value, the name of the person donating it, and the person’s relationship to either party to the marriage. To safeguard female victims of dowry-related violence, the act and pertinent provisions of the Indian Penal Code were changed further.

Amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act

The original Dowry Prohibition Act was amended to include minimum and maximum sanctions for providing and receiving dowry, as well as a penalty under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act for demanding dowry or promoting offers of money or property in connection with a marriage. In 1983, the Indian Penal Code was further amended to include specific offenses of dowry-related cruelty, dowry death, and abetment of suicide. When proof of dowry demands or dowry harassment could be established, these enactments penalized violence against women by their husbands or family.

Despite the changes, the practice of dowry and dowry-related violence persists to varying degrees in several Indian communities and socioeconomic classes.

Dowry as an offence

The following is the nature of the Section 498A of the IPC offence:

  • Offences are divided into two categories: cognizable and non-cognizable. A cognizable offence requires the police to record and investigate.
  • Non-Bailable: This means that a magistrate has the jurisdiction to deny bail and detain a person in court or police custody in response to a Section 498A allegation.
  • Non-Compoundable: A non-compoundable case, such as rape, cannot be withdrawn by the petitioner, except in the state of Andhra Pradesh, where 498A of the IPC was made compoundable.


Cruelty to women inside the marital system posed unique obstacles in prosecuting the accused and demonstrating guilt. This was because women typically suffered in silence. Obtaining objective witnesses is especially difficult since domestic violence is generally committed at home, away from public eyes.

Dowry requests by in-laws also led to harassment of women who did not comply. The violence is usually softer and more discrete (e.g., mental abuse) but just as terrible, frequently pressuring the woman to attempt suicide.

Dowry Prohibition, in its current form, was inserted into the IPC by the Criminal Law amendments. This provision intends to outlaw the torture of a married woman by her husband or family. Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act contains details about penalties for those who harass a woman in order to coerce dowry. If a woman is subjected to domestic abuse for dowry, she should seek family law advice.

Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act contains details about penalties. To know more about this, get online legal advice.

Digant Sharma

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Digant Sharma

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