DOWRY LINK WITH INHERETENCE Ashok Priyadarshi, Advocate “Anurag” West Boring Canal Road Patna Bihar Patna 800001 Phone 0612 234563
Dowry in the present set up is being recognised as a social evil and an insult to womanhood. In the present atmosphere it is being felt that the younger generation of women should rise in revolt against the begging demands of the male folks. The rationale behind the dowry was to help the newly married couple to start their new life with few handicaps, but with the passage of time it is being treated as a right of the groom and it started acting as a status to the family on the amount of the dowry pulled in the marriage. The feeling today is, with a few exceptions no marriage is settled without finalising the dowry. The demand today doenot move around cash and ornaments, but has increased its arena in the form of cars, VCRS, televisions and such other items, which the groom lacks the ability to acquire by himself. Some have tried to link dowry with inheritance and it is argued that a Hindu daughter is not given any share in the joint Hindu Family Property the dowry compensates her by way Streedhan
and maintain the flow of gifts on all occasions. The Streedhan as defined by Manu and Narada as what ever is given before nuptial fire, bridal procession, in token of love, by brothers, mother, father, husband and the family of the husband. Katyayana adds further and states that neither the husband, nor the son, father, brother, has the power to alien the legal property of the women. The Streedhan cannot be linked with inheritance as it was taken as a gift given to a women at the time of marriage. It is also divided in two classes, Saudayika and Asaudayika. Under the Branch of Saudayika those property were taken of which the lady was a complete mistress and under the Asaudayika where she only enjoyed the usufruct and not the corpus. The dowry with the passage of time has acquired exclusive dimensions. In the olden days the assessment of a father’s capacity to give gift was a silent assessment. With the passage of time it took the form of biding and parents started acquiring in accumulating the gift for their daughter from their earning. In the richer classes dowry assumed a larger volume and was prevalent to an extent as mentioned in the Hindu relics that Parvati’s dowry consisted of slaves, horses, elephant, cattle, grain, jewellery, clothing and vessels.
Balmiki in his Balmiki Ramayan has also spoken of dowry given by king Janak to Sita in her marriage to Ram and that consisted of thousands of cows, richly decorated elephants, horses and chariot, numberless gold coins, male & female attendants. The Modern thinker have compared dowry as the bride price and had accepted the ancient form of marriages prevalent in India which was in various form as Swambar, Work for a bride, Gandharva and Asura form of marriage. It is also felt that the bride price has converted into dowry due to the declining economic participation of women for a very long time and it is believe that with the passage of time as more and more economic participation is there from women the curse of dowry will vanish. Many have tried the justification of dowry because a daughter takes no share in the joint family property thus dowry/ Streedhan was taken as a source of compensating her right to the family. With the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 the daughter now has got a right to inherit from her father like a son from the capital acquired by the father from his personal earning. The right still dose not give a daughter a share in the ancestral property and with the passage of time a loud thinking is being done to amend the law so as she may acquire rights as a son in the ancestral property of her father also. The enactment of the Hindu SuccessionAct 1956 at least stops the arguments of the denial of inheritance and further more with the enactment of the new law giving them right in the ancestral property will at least lesson the burden of dowry falling on the shoulder of the father. Over all it can be said that the right of inheritance is a must to crub, dowry the present evil of the society.