Sub: Proposal to put a check on extravagant marriages by making it mandatory for parties to declare their IT – Returns while registering for marriages.
We at Save Indian Family Foundation, an NGO committed to the cause of promoting Family Harmony and Gender Equality would like to propose an action item targeted to tackle the social evil and menace called Dowry. Dowry, as we all know is a big problem in the society and to tackle the same, the Govt. Of India has enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Forty seven years down the line, today we still hear of the word dowry though nowadays we are hearing it in albeit different form and that is “Misuse of Dowry Laws.”
We also have a judgment by the Honorable Delhi HC, CRL.M.C.7262/2006 Smt. Neera Singh vs. State of NCT, where Honorable justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra has drawn the attention of the government to keep a check on marriage spending and make investigations into the income tax returns of the parties involved therein. Excerpts from the judgment,
“Now-a-days, exorbitant claims are made about the amount spent on marriage and other ceremonies and on dowry and gifts. In some cases claim is made of spending crores of rupees on dowry without disclosing the source of income and how funds flowed. I consider time has come that courts should insist upon disclosing source of such funds and verification of income from tax returns and police should insist upon the compliance of the Rules under Dowry Prohibition Act and should not entertain any complaint, if the rules have not been complied with. Rule 2 of the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of List of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985 reads as under:
Section 2: RULES IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHICH LISTS OF PRESENTS ARE TO BE MAINTAINED.
1) The list of presents which are given at the time of the marriage to the bride shall be maintained by the bride.
2) The list of presents which are given at the time of the marriage to the bridegroom shall be maintained by the bridegroom.
3) Every list of presents referred to in Sub-rule(1) or Sub-rule(2)-
a) shall be prepared at the time of the marriage or as soon as possible after the marriage;
b) shall be in writing;
c) shall contain:-
i) a brief description of each present;
ii) the approximate value of the present;
iii) the name of the person who has given the present; and
iv) Where the person giving the present is related to the bride or bridegroom, a description of such relationship.
d) Shall be signed by both the bride and the bridegroom.”
In addition to respecting the above views and demanding strict adherence to the same, Save Indian Family Foundation would like to put forward its recommendations aimed to eradicate the dowry menace right from its roots which are as under,
1) A government order be issued to all the Kalyan Mantapas, Choultries, Temples, Churches, and other registered venues of marriage in addition to hotels and parks hosting marriage functions, making it mandatory for them to ask for Income Tax returns of the parties involved in the marriage.
2) Ensure that the Dowry Prohibition Officer is informed as well the local Income Tax Officer is informed in case the marriage expenses are found to be more than six month’s income of either of the parties.
3) The Dowry Prohibition Officer upon investigation and perusal of the gifts exchanged can impose fine as prescribed in the law on the parties and also seize the dowry articles.
4) The Income tax officer, upon receipt of such request may be pleased to make the necessary perusal of the Income tax records of the parties and upon finding any irregularities or tax evasion may impose suitable penalties or take action as the law in Income Tax Act, 1961 empowers him / her to do so.
Save Indian Family Foundation has been receiving 250 – 300 calls weekly from men and their families who are falsely implicated in dowry harassment cases and their hard earned money is extorted from them legally under the barb and paradoxical veil of Women Empowerment. It has been our experience after carefully going through such cases, that in majority of the cases huge amounts of monies are claimed to be spent either as marriage expenses or gifts and when the marriage falls apart, the same gifts and marriage expenses are converted to dowry and Legal Terrorism is extorted on innocent men.
Due to such malpractices, section 498a of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), coupled with a few sections of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 have begun to be misused to such an extent that this social virus has become an impediment to justice to true and genuine victim women.
As the old adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure”, it is imperative that your good office, in the interest of social justice and family empowerment, takes remedial preventive measures as listed above to eradicate the social menace called Dowry. It is our belief that with such steps, not only can we stop the problem at its source, the malpractice of converting black money into white by way of a lavish marriage will stop and the government shall be in better position to catch hold of the illegal wealth in the country and use it for national progress.
We hope that our recommendations will be taken into serious consideration and the same are implemented with immediate effects.
Thanks and Regards
Public Relations Officer
Save Indian Family Foundation, Bangalore