In the country like India, where stringent laws have even failed to completely uproot the menace of dowry from the society, ‘Streedhan’ becomes a necessity of every woman. It is the right of women to claim their wealth any time and use it in whichever way.
Streedhan, as the name suggests, is the wealth and other belongings of the woman which she has brought from her parents’ house before, during or after marriage.
Supreme Court lawyer Kamlesh Jain talks about the legal aspects of Streedhan.
There is a common misconception in the society about this age-old ritual where parents offer their daughter her share during the marriage. Streedhan is very often misconceived as dowry. But the law of the land has a different definition for it.
The Indian law sees dowry as any property or valuable security given or agreed by the bride’s side to the family of the bridegroom before, during or after marriage, by exploiting or threatening the girl or her family.
There are strict Streedhan laws and the grooms’ side may face stringent action under Section 405 & 406 of the Indian Penal Code, if they deny returning wealth when claimed.
Making references of two distinguished cases, Jain tries to put light on the Streedhan laws and laws against Dowry in the country.
• Bhai Sher Jang Singh vs Virinder Kaur, 1979 While hearing the case, Punjab & Haryana High Court had ruled that the groom’s side is bound to return back all the items including property, ornaments, money and other belongings offered by the bride’s side at the time of marriage, if claimed. In the case of denial, the groom’s family is tend to get strict punishment.
The court found that Bhai Sher Jang Singh and his family have committed an offence under Section 406 of IPC by committing criminal breach of trust of the ornaments and other articles owned by Virinder Kaur which were her stridhan and were entrusted to her husband for safe custody and which he has dishonestly misappropriated.
• Pratibha Rani vs Suraj Kumar(SIR 1985,SC page no- 628)
While hearing the case, the Supreme Court observed that the complainant (Pratibha Rani) had suffered by their in-laws when she was harassed and denied her Streedhan by his husband’s family. The Apex Court observed that the case portrays the plight of an estranged married woman. She even suffered large during the legal process, the court observed.
Pratibha Rani was married to Suraj Kumar on February 4, 1972. Rani’s family had given Rs 60,000, gold ornaments, and other valuable items to the Kumar’s family on their demand.
But soon after Rani entered her marital home she was started being tortured by her in-laws for dowry. She was forcefully kicked out of her in-laws house with her two minor children and was denied money and other essentials for survival.
She had lodged two complaints against her husband and in-laws under section125 Criminal Penal Code and breach of trust. The lower court gave judgment in her favour but she got a seatback from Punjab & Haryana High Court.
Things you must not forget
• You must possess the bill details and photocopies of the documents of property, ornaments and other valuables offered as Streedhan.
• Must keep the photocopies of cheques, drafts and other documents used for paying cash as dowry to the groom’s family.
• Keep visual proofs of the list of items offered to the groom’s side.