In a significant verdict, Kerala High Court has held that presents given to the bride at the time of her marriage for her welfare will not count as dowry under the ambit of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The court allowed the petition of the aggrieved husband.
“Presents given at the time of marriage to the bride without any demand having made in that behalf and which have been entered in a list maintained in accordance with rules made under this Act will not come within the purview of Section 3(1) which prohibits giving or taking of dowry,” observed Justice M.R. Anitha.
The couple got married in 2020 under Hindu customs. They resided together for a period and then their relationship started getting bitter. Respondent 4, wife initiated a legal proceeding against the dowry nodal officer.
Advocate K.P Pradeep, Advocate Hareesh M.R, Advocate Rasmi Nair T, Advocate T.T Biju, Advocate T. Thasmi and Advocate M.J Anoopa, representing the petitioner, argued that his wife’s family had deposited the gold ornaments in a bank locker in the couple’s name.
“District Dowry Prohibition Officer does not have jurisdiction to entertain the petition since the allegation levelled is that the ornaments which were gifted to her for her well being were kept in a bank locker and not yet returned,” contended the petitioner.
The bench noted, “The very averment was that the ornaments gifted to her for her well being were retained in the locker in a bank under the control of respondents. Therefore it was held that presents given at the time of marriage to the bride without any demand having made on that behalf will not count as dowry.”
Justice Anitha further said that the Dowry Prohibition Officer will have jurisdiction to pass direction under Rule 6(xv) of the Rules only if it is found that the ornaments directed to be returned to the 4th respondent constitute dowry.
“In the absence of such finding, the Dowry Prohibition Officer will not get any jurisdiction to give direction under Rule 6(xv). Hence the impugned order passed is not sustainable in law and is hereby quashed,” noted the High Court bench.