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Presents gifted by parents for daughter's welfare not dowry
Vishnu R Vs State of Kerala and Ors
WP(C) NO. 20219 OF 2021
About/from the judgment:
In a significant judgment, the High Court has ruled 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.
Allowing a petition filed by an aggrieved husband, the court observed:
"...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. "
The petitioner is the husband of Deepthi K.S, the 4th respondent herein. According to the petitioner, he married Deepthi in 2020 as per Hindu customs and practices. After the marriage, they resided together as husband and wife at the petitioner's place.
Later on, their relationship became strained. It is the petitioner's case that Deepthi initiated legal proceedings against him by filing a petition before the dowry nodal officer.
The petitioner argued that the 4th respondent's family deposited all her ornaments in a bank locker in the couple's name. It was further pointed out that the key to this locker was also with Deepthi.
The petitioner argued that 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.
The Court noted that 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.
The Judge further found 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."
Upon the petitioner conceding that he will hand over the gold ornaments to the 4th respondent, and the 4th respondent agreeing to accept these ornaments, the Court allowed the petition.
Read the Judgment
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