Context:

  • To curb the misuse of anti-dowry law the Supreme Court ordered the setting up of family-welfare-committees in all districts under the supervision of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Explanation: The Dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage. Causes of dowry in India: Greed:

  • Owing to expectations of material benefits from the bride’s family, dowry is demanded for, and at times, when the demands are not met, either the marriage is called off, or the bride is exploited leading to domestic violence.

Illiteracy:

  • With a literacy rate of 74.04% in the country, it is quite valid to consider it the primary cause for different social evils.
  • The communities that are not knowledgeable about the laws and legislation face several atrocities owing to dowry exchange practices.

Lack of Willingness to adhere to laws:

  • The primary reason behind the failure is lack of mass participation.
  • People pay no heed to such laws and make sure to exploit the dowry system to gain material benefits under the veil of a marriage proposal.

Solutions: Education:

  • If we have to reach out across the nation and make sure the mainstream community is at par with the nation’s prospects, education is a necessity.
  • Lack of education leads to irresponsible decisions leading to financial exploitation from a marriage relation.

Government initiative:

  • To ensure that people follow the laws, proper implementation should be carried out.
  • Both the Center and State governments should monitor the sentiments of the community and ensure that no dowry exchange exercises are carried out.

Initiating Mass Media Campaign:

  • Media holds the potential to remove dowry system from the mainstream Indian society.
  • By publishing related news and making the authorities aware of any reported case of dowry related crime, they can keep an effective check upon the prospects.

Law against dowry: The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961:

  • This Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint.
  • This Act prohibits the practice of giving or taking of dowry by either party to a marriage. This law also punishes demanding and advertising dowry.
  • The more serious crimes in relation to dowry such as dowry death and cruelty from dowry demands are punishable under the general law on crimes – the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act:

  • The general law on crime prevention and punishment is embodied in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • The assertion of substantive rights can only be established by evidence which makes the law of evidence occupy a pivotal role in the effective functioning of the criminal justice system.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, was passed in order to provide a civil law remedy for the protection of women from domestic violence in India.
  • The Domestic Violence Act encompasses all forms of physical, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse and forms a subset of the anti-dowry laws to the extent it is one of the reasons for domestic violence.

Accountability:

  • The Union government clarifies that as per the seventh schedule to the Constitution of India ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects.
  • The primary responsibility of prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of crime, lies with the state governments/union territory administrations.

Current scenario:

  • As per the Union home ministry, there were 361 cases across India in the year 2015 under the Dowry Prohibition Act that was declared as false cases by the police after investigation.
  • India’s Supreme Court has ordered the authorities to stop misuse of the anti-dowry law after concerns that a large number of false cases were being filed.
  • On 27th July, 2017, the SC asked states to set up a family welfare committee in each district to address these concerns.
  • District Legal Services Authorities will set up the panels.
  • There should be a designated officer to investigate such complaints and more caution should be exercised while dealing with matters of bail.

Objectives of the panels:

  • The committee will sift the genuine cases from the trivial ones.
  • The complaints police or magistrates receive under 498A must be referred to the panels, which will look into them and submit reports.
  • Till report of the committee is received,
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