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Wife can claim return of ornaments from husband after divorce only if she can prove husband was entrusted with it

Wife can claim return of ornaments from husband after divorce only if she can prove husband was entrusted with it

Binitha Vs Hareendran

Kerala HC



About/from the judgment:

The High Court recently ruled that a wife's gold ornaments kept in a locker under her name does not mean that she entrusted it to her husband or his family, and the process of recovery of ornaments cannot be initiated during divorce proceedings.

A division bench recently said that if there is lack of sufficient evidence that the gold ornaments provided to the wife at the time of her marriage were entrusted to her husband or in-laws, it would not be possible to recover them under the Prevention of Dowry Act of 1961.

The High Court dismissed an appeal filed by the wife (appellant in this case) against a family court order that denied her plea to get back the dowry money and gold ornaments that she claimed she gave to her husband when they were married.

The appellant (wife) and the respondent (husband) got married on 18.08.2002. The wife stated that on the day of their engagement, her father gave Rs. 5 lahks to the respondent. On the day of the wedding, 100 sovereigns worth of gold ornaments were given to the appellant. Also, Rs 1 lakh was given to the respondent to book a locker in the name of the appellant, where it was kept. My father gave Rs 2 lakhs to the respondent so that he could buy a house in the appellant's name, the woman claimed.

In 2010, the husband filed a petition for a decree of dissolution of marriage, and the wife filed a petition for the return of gold ornaments, other items, and money.

Before the family court, the appellant asked for the return of gold ornaments and the dowry money. The Family Court dismissed her plea on the ground of lack of evidence.

The main question that came up before the high court was whether or not the dowry money and gold ornaments could be taken back. This was because Section 7 of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 says that it is illegal to give or receive a dowry.

The High Court referred to the case of Bobbili Ramakrishna Raju Yadav and others v. State of Andhra Pradesh and another [(2016) 3 SCC 309] and said that Section 6 of the Act says that the person who gets dowry items must give them back to the woman in whose marriage they were given within three months of the date of the marriage and if he doesn't, he will be guilty of the offence of dowry under this Section.

However, the high court refused to interfere with the findings of the Family Court.

At the outset court said that “once it is proved that gold ornaments were entrusted by the wife to the husband, the burden is on the husband to prove, what happened to the gold ornaments and if it was taken by the wife when she left the matrimonial home, the husband must prove the same”.

However, after analysing some more precedents, the high court ruled that keeping the wife's ornaments in a locker under her name does not amount to entrustment.

So, neither the whole gold ornaments nor any part of them was given to the husband and if there is a situation where the husband was entrusted the ornaments, the wife can ask for them back, the court held.

Read the Judgment


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