In a significant order, the Kerala High Court has ruled that gifts given to a daughter for her welfare by parents, without any such demand having been made from the groom’s side, cannot be termed as dowry under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The judgement was delivered by Justice MR Anitha while hearing a husband’s petition challenging the order of a Dowry Prohibition Officer. The couple had earlier filed for a divorce.
Pronouncing the verdict in favour of the husband, Justice Anitha said, “The 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 husband submitted before the court that he married Deepthi in 2020 as per Hindu customs and practices but their relationship became strained and his wife initiated legal proceedings against him by filing a petition before the dowry nodal officer.
The man submitted before the court that the wife’s family had deposited all her jewellery in a bank locker under the couple’s name after the wedding and the key of the locker was with her.
In her petition before the dowry nodal officer, Deepthi had alleged that the ornaments given for her well-being at the time of the dowry have been kept in the bank locker and not returned yet.
The husband argued before the HC that the District Dowry Prohibition Officer does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the case as the allegation is that the ornaments have been kept in the bank locker and not yet returned.
Hearing the case, the High Court said that the Dowry Prohibition Officer has jurisdiction in a dowry case if the valuables have been given to any other person than the woman. The court also noted that the husband has agreed to hand over the gold ornaments to his wife who has also expressed her willingness to accept the same.