In a landmark judgement, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that gifts given by bride's family during engagement function before marriage would not form part of dowry.
Responding to a petition filed before the bench, the Court quashed a police complaint and charge sheet against the petitioners Sunanda Kolkotwar and Bhushan Kolkotwar to punish them for cancelling the marriage and to get back the offerings handed over to them during an engagement. The complaint was filed by the father of the bride-to-be.
It was said that Pankaj Kolkotwar was engaged to a girl of Bramhapuri in neighbouring Chandrapur district on May 22, 2006 at a formal ceremony. During the ceremony, the bride's family had offered petitioners saree and other gifts as per their traditional customs and rituals. After five months’ of the engagement, Bhushan, brother of Pankaj, went to Bramhapuri and asked them for a dowry of Rs 4-lakh. He also warned them that if they did not fulfill the dowry demand, the marriage would be cancelled.
As the bride's family was not able to arrange the money, the marriage was cancelled. However, they lodged complaints with the local Sakkardara police against the members of groom's family.
They prevailed upon the police to register offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act and urged the police to get all the gifts made by them returned.
The police, accordingly, registered offences against the members of groom's family under section 3 and 4 of the Act for cancelling marriage for dowry.
Quashing the cases registered by the police against Kolkotwar family, Justice SS Shinde in his verdict said that if it was customary nature, the traditional giving of presents in engagement functions, they would not attract punishable provisions of Dowry Prohibition Act.