However, dowry cases have dipped in the recent future but the nightmare is far from over. Brides are still burnt for dowry.
According to the Dowry Prohibition Act any person who gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, shall be punished with jail or fine or both. An agreement for giving or taking of dowry is void and cannot be enforced.
The dowry can be in any form of property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by one party in a marriage to the other party, by the parents of either party or by any other person, to either party or to the other person, at or before or after the marriage.
Besides the Central Dowry Act, the State Governments have enacted their own laws to deal with the dowry problem. For instance, the Himachal Pradesh Government prohibits more than 25 people in a marriage party while Punjab has restricted the number of meals to be served to the guests in the marriage i.e. up to two meals.
The Indian Penal Code also punishes the bride burning, cruelty and torture to brides. Section 498A is a strong provision in this Code. Section 198A of Criminal Procedure Code fixes the procedure for the enforcement of such provisions. The Indian Evidence Act also provides that the accused has to bear the burden of proof.
When a case involves a suicide by a woman within 7 years of marriage, or death of a woman within 7 years of marriage under suspicious circumstances, the court will presume that the accused is guilty of abetment of suicide and the Magistrate can hold an enquiry on his own, apart from the police enquiry.
State (Delhi Administration) v. Laxman Kumar, AIR 1986 SC 250 and Paniben v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1992 SC 1817 are cases where the Supreme Court expressed its concern about the dowry deaths and punished the culprits on the basis of the dying declaration of the victims.