The system of dowry in marriages has been haunting our society for a long time. This is a social curse, which has gone unchecked, though time and again it has tormented the people in general. It has become a routine affair that we come across news-reports on dowry deaths and agony of women, which reflect the evils of the dowry system. It is like a scar on a healthy society. Dowry is primarily an evil associated with marriages in Hindu society, but the practice has made inroads in many sections of the Muslim and Christian communities also. The menace has also permeated into the Sikh community, but not to the extent as among the middle and upper class Hindus. Despite legal restraints, dowry continues to be a basic component of marriage system although its form, magnitude and the associated atrocities on the women vary according to the customary norms of the different communities. Degradation of society due to system of dowry and the unconscionable demands made by greedy and unscrupulous husbands and their relatives, resulting in an number of suicidal and dowry deaths by women, has shocked the legislative consciousness.The available literature on evolution of Indian culture and civilization reveals that although the ancient writers pretended to record their revered admiration for the womanhood yet in actual practice women have always been suppressed and exploited by the dominate male members of the society. Law of Manu insisted that woman must constantly worship her husband as God. In the male dominated society, woman has always been kept in subjugation by her husband because by nature, she is supposed to be weak and meek. A metropolitan Magistrate or a judicial Magistrate of the first class can try any offence under this Act. A police officer, any person affected by the offence or parent or other relative of such person, any recognised institution or organization recognised for the purpose of making complaint can make complaint to the court. A court also can initiate a trail on the basis of its own knowledge of the facts of the offence. Dowry is considered a cognizable offence for the purpose of investigation. That means the police officer can investigate the case as soon as a complaint is lodged in the police station. But he has no power to arrest the accused person without a warrant or without an order of a Magistrate.


The fight against the institution of dowry will have to be carried out simultaneously on several fronts. Though legislation is necessary but it will not put an end to dowry, howsoever deterrent punishment may be prescribed for those who demand dowry. The co-operation of the people can be sought only by creating public opinion. The success of all social legislation depends upon the support of the general public. Social understanding may be created by bringing the evils of dowry to the notice of the people through moral as well as formal education. Although educated people also demand more dowry, sometimes for their further studies or for meeting their responsibilities fulfilled. But, youth should be taught the importance of new social values which can be attained only after getting education. The change in the ideas of the people can be brought about by using mass media also. Inter-caste marriages can be suitable for eradicating this social evil. It is high time for Hindu society to put an end to this evil practice which has driven many an innocent Maiden to commit suicide. Marriage is a sacramental union, not the business. The sanctity and sublimity of marriage lost by dowry demand.



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