NEW DELHI: In a bid to prevent the growing misuse of the anti-dowry law, the Centre is mulling to introduce penal provisions in the Act to ensure punishment/penalty to those who make false charges.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is also set to give more teeth to the Dowry Prohibition Act by strengthening the existing provisions and widening the definition of dowry.
“The rise in the misuse of the anti-dowry law has come to our notice. In some cases, women falsely implicate their husbands and in-laws for various other reasons. If the allegations turn out to be false, the case is closed. So there are plans to change some provisions under which the misuse of the Act may invite punishment or penalty,” said a ministry official.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had directed the state governments to instruct police not to automatically arrest upon the registration of a case under Section 498A of the IPC (dowry harassment), but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under Section 41 of the CrPC.
The apex court had also expressed concern over the misuse of the anti-dowry law by “disgruntled” wives against husbands and in-laws and noted that the Act was being increasingly used to harass in-laws.
According to officials, the amendments might include widening the definition of dowry by changing the words “in connection with marriage” to “given before the marriage, at the time of marriage and at any time after the marriage”. They said there was also a proposal to link certain provisions of the Domestic Violence Act to the Dowry Prohibition Act to provide quick relief.
Notifying the list of gifts exchanged during the wedding might also be made mandatory and failure to do so could invite heavy penalties, including a three-year jail term, not only to the bride and groom, but also to their parents.