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B.Com. LL.B (Hons.)


Family Law-II

Under the Supervision of: Dr. Mamta Rana



One of the most widespread social evil that has plagued our modern society is the dowry
system. This evil has already taken the lives of many girls while many continue to suffer
because of it like slow poison throughout their lives. Even though we have to great extent
succeeded in creating awareness, the country in which we live has wide ethnic, linguistic,
cultural diversities. As such in our society people may not pay heed to the calls of any
particular organization when it comes to the eradication of social evils. It is, therefore,
important that the task to remove these evils is carried forward at the individual level in a
big way.
However there is one more aspect which we need to understand and that involves the
right to avail Stridhan. We should be careful that even if dowry is denied, the bride does
not lose her right to Stridhan and in places where she has received the Stridhan, her
husband does not absorb it as his own money. There is a basic difference between
Stridhan and dowry It is pertinent to mention here that under the pretext of a dowryless marriage, patriarchal parents often deprive their girl children of equal rights to
property. The parents should give the daughters share of property in her name voluntarily
to ensure financial security for an independent life, once she leaves her parental home for
good. In many well-off families, dowry has become a tool to deprive daughters of their
rightful share with a car, some gold and some furniture while the lions share including
land, houses, and bank balances etc. are kept exclusively for the benefit of sons

The word Stridhan has been derived from the words Stri meaning a woman and the
word dhana means property. Therefore on combining these two words we get property
of woman her Stridhan. This is a concept, which came down all the centuries from the
Hindu Smritis but has today, engulfed all forms of marriages in all visible castes and
According to the age old Smritis and all old schools of Hindu law such as Dayabhaga,
Mitakshara etc. the following was Stridhan in the hands of a woman whether she is a
maiden, married woman or widow.

1. Gifts made to a woman before the nuptial fire.

2. Gifts made to a woman at the bridal procession
3. Gifts made in token of love by father-in-law, mother-in-law
4. Gifts made by father, mother and brother
This cannot be said to be a complete list so gifts made after marriage by a womans
husbands relations or parents relations and gifts from sons and relations got added to the
list as so did many more as can be seen here. The question as to if a particular kind of
property acquired by a woman was Stridhan or not also depended upon the source from
which the property was acquired, the marital status of woman at the time of acquisition
whether she acquired it during her maidenhood, subsistence of marriage or widowhood.
Gifts and bequests from a womans relations during maidenhood, subsistence of marriage
or widowhood is all to be construed as her Stridhan. Gifts and bequests from strangers
during maidenhood, subsistence of marriage or widowhood is also Stridhan. In effecting
Partition if as an absolute gift or interest in a share is given to a woman whether during
her maidenhood, marriage or widowhood the same amounts to her Stridhan. Property
inherited by a woman becomes her Stridhan or property acquired by a woman by
mechanical arts or by her own exertions during maidenhood, subsistence of marriage and
during widowhood is Stridhan. Property obtained by a woman by compromise or family
arrangement where there is no presumption of her taking only a life interest, becomes her
Stridhan. Property obtained by a woman by adverse possession during maidenhood,
subsistence of marriage and during widowhood is Stridhan. Property purchased with
Stridhan is a womans Stridhan. Gifts made to husband during and after marriage are not
Stridhan. In case of a dispute over who were the gifts made to, more often than not
woman is given a priority over the husband.
For a married woman Stridhan falls under two heads:
1. The saudayika (gifts of love and affection) gifts received by a woman from
relations on both sides (parents and in-laws).
2. The non-saudayika- all other types of Stridhan such as gifts from stranger,
property acquired by self-exertion or the mechanical arts.


In a country like India, where stringent laws have even failed to completely uproot the
menace of dowry from the society, Stridhan becomes a necessity of every woman. It is
the right of women to claim their wealth any time and use it in whichever way. Stridhan,
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.
However it is a common misbelieve prevailing in the society regarding this age-old ritual
where parents offer their daughter her share during the marriage. Stridhan is very often
misinterpreted as dowry even when the law of the land has an entirely different definition
for it. The domestic law perceives dowry as any property or valuable security given or
agreed by the brides side to the family of the bridegroom before, during or after
marriage, by exploiting or threatening the girl or her family while Stridhan is voluntary
gift given by members of bridal side to the bride as a stepping stone to establish her own
property. There are strict Stridhan laws and the grooms side may face stringent action
under Section 405 & 406 of the Indian Penal Code, if they deny returning wealth when
The Judiciary has tried to make references of two distinguished case-laws, in order to put
light on the Stridhan laws and laws against Dowry in the country.
1. Bhai Sher Jang Singh vs Smt. Virinder Kaur, while hearing the case, Punjab &
Haryana High Court had ruled that the grooms side is bound to return back all the
items including property, ornaments, money and other belongings offered by the
brides side at the time of marriage, if claimed. In the case of denial, the grooms
family is tending 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.
2. Pratibha Rani vs. Suraj Kumar

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 Stridhan by his
husbands 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. Ranis family
had given Rs 60,000, gold ornaments, and other valuable items to the Kumars 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
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 favor but
she got a seatback from Punjab & Haryana High Court which was later on given in her
favor by the honble Supreme Court.


1. Application u/s. 405 of IPC
The s. 405 of IPC reads as follows:
Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over
property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or
dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law
prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract,
express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or willfully
suffers any other person so to do, commits criminal breach of trust.
The offence under section 405 can be said to have committed only when all of its
essential ingredients are found to have been satisfied. As in the case of criminal
misappropriation, even a temporary misappropriation could be sufficient to warrant
conviction under this section. Even if the accused intended to restore the property in
future, at the time misappropriation, it is a criminal breach of trust.

In Rashmi Kumar vs. Mahesh Kumar Bhada the Supreme Court held that when the wife
entrusts her Stridhan property with the dominion over that property to her husband or any
other member of the family and the husband or such other member of the family
dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or willfully suffers
and other person to do so, he commits criminal breach of trust.

2. Application under allied laws

A womans right to her Stridhan is protected under law. S. 14 of the Hindu Succession
Act, 1956 R/w S. 27 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 make a female Hindu an absolute
owner of such property. In the case of Pratibha Rani vs. Suraj Kumar, the Honble
Supreme Court of India explained the concept of Stridhan and its legal position under
the Indian Laws. The Honble Supreme Court of India held that:
A Hindu married woman is the absolute owner of her Stridhan property and can deal
with it in any manner she likes and, even if it is placed in the custody of her husband or
her in-laws they would be deemed to be trustees and bound to return the same if and
when demanded by her.
It is, therefore, manifest that the position of Stridhan of a Hindu married womans
property during covertures is absolutely clear and unambiguous; she is the absolute
owner of such property and can deal with it in any manner she likes-she may spend the
whole of it or give it away at her own pleasure by gift or will without any reference to her
husband. Ordinarily, the husband has no right or interest in it with the sole exception that
in times of extreme distress, as in famine, illness or the like, the husband can utilize it but
he is morally bound to restore it or its value when he is able to do so. This right is purely
personal to the husband and the property so received by him in marriage cannot be
proceeded against even in execution of a decree for debt, such being the nature and
character of Stridhan of a woman. If her husband or any other member of his family who
are in possession of such property, dishonestly misappropriate or refuse to return the
same, they may be liable to punishment for the offence of criminal breach of trust under
S. 405 & 406 IPC.

1. 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides for women right to her Stridhan in
cases where she is a victim of domestic violence. The provisions of this law can be
easily invoked for recovery of Stridhan. Under the residence orders: Prov. (8) the
magistrate may direct the respondent to return to the possession of the aggrieved
person her Stridhan or any other property or valuable security to which she is
Again u/s 18(ii) of the Domestic Violence Act the law says that a woman is entitled to
receive the possession of the Stridhan, jewellery, clothes and other necessary items. The
term economic abuse has also been provided under the Act. It includes deprivation of all
or any economic or financial resources to which the woman is entitled under al the
existing customary laws whether payable at the concern of the court or in any other
manner. These resources are however not limited to the household necessities of the
aggrieved person.

3. Application u/s. 498A of IPC not valid

For recovering the Stridhan, if a woman invokes S.498-A, it would be deemed as missuse of that section until the ingredients laid down in that provision are not satisfied. This
is the reason why Courts are continuously warning the estranged wife not to invoke
S.498- A. Section 498-A is a sacrosanct provision to protect the wife to lead normal
life in matrimonial home in the new and often foreign and sometimes hostile
atmosphere. If wifes Stridhan is usurped by the in-laws, then section 406 I.P.C can be
used easily. S.498-A is meant to protect the wives from physical and mental
harassment for any reason including the reason of dowry demand. It does not say, that
refusal of returning Stridhan by husband or his relatives give scope to a wife to invoke
S.498-A. Even civil law suit for recovery of Stridhan can also be used by the wife to
recover Stridhan. If invoking Section 406 is utilized to recover Stridhan and further it is
used only to protect the wives, who are facing physical and/or mental harassment, then
genuine victims will get protection. It should be noted that for recovery of Stridhan there
are other provisions in law, which are equally effective and may not spoil the relationship
of husband and wife beyond repair.


The bride has got an absolute, exclusive dominion over all her Stridhan, received during
the marriage. This includes both movable and immovable property, while she has the
power to sell, alienate or give it away as she pleases both during her lifetime and
thereafter. Her husband and in-laws family members have no rights over a womans
Stridhan. We need to understand that the marriage expenses and dowry are not Stridhan
as held in Ashok Laxman Kale vs Ujwala Ashok Kale.
It is usually practical and preferable that any girl especially educated girls of today
maintain a list of their Stridhan has also become capable of looking after their own
Stridhan in terms of its security such as opening a bank locker in their single names for
the purposes of storing jewellery and instruments of money, property etc. or keeping it
under their lock and key.
Some of the precautionary steps in keeping the check on the Stridhan could involve:
1. The woman should make a list of all the gifts and properties received before,
during and after marriage from her family, husbands family, friends and other
2. The woman should keep evidence for all the gifts received such as wedding
pictures. Also, ensure that the gifts and their bills are in her name and preserve
these bills.
3. The woman should have witnesses statements of witnesses will be important
evidence for gifts of movables (including jewellery) at the time of marriage.
4. The woman should maintain a separate account in her name for her salary.
5. The woman should get involved in the family financial decision-making and keep
a record of bank accounts and the investments made out of her Stridhan.
6. The woman should ensure that the title to the property given to her and those
bought from her Stridhan are clear and that the investments made from these
assets are in her name.

7. The woman should open a bank locker in her name for storing jewellery and
instruments of money, property and so on.
8. It is advisable for the womans parents to gift her income-generating property,
rather than expensive consumer items. It becomes often difficult to give full detail
accounts for the consumer items.


Stridhan that has been given by a womans close relatives, to a certain amount, at the time
of marriage, are not attracted by Wealth Tax. The Stridhan must be without any
consideration in return thereof. It should be written and signed by both parties meaning
thereby that the person giving it and the person receiving it in the presence of witnesses.
However, Stridhan (gift) from persons other than relatives are liable for income tax at the
hand of bride and bride-groom. The High Court of New Delhi in a very important case of
Ashoke Chadha v. IOT, has held that Stridhan in the form of jewelry given over a span
of 25 years cannot be said to be an unexplained investment u/s. 69A of Income Tax Act,
1961. It is a very normal feature in India, for women to receive jewelry in form of gifts
on various occasions during child-birth and marriage and as such a large amount of
jewelry cannot held to be abnormal.



The Karta can grant some property to a member of the family for his or her maintenance.
A Hindu female can also be granted property for her maintenance under a family
arrangement or a partition.
In Chinnappa Govinda v. Valliammal, 15 a father-in-law gave some properties for the
maintenance of his widowed daughter-in-law under a maintenance deed. Subsequently, in


1960 he died. Since he died leaving behind the daughter-in-law his interest devolved by
succession. The daughter-in-law sued for partition so as to get her share of inheritance.
Other members said that she could get her share only if she agreed to include the
properties given to her for maintenance in the suit properties. The Court held that she
need not surrender the properties held by her under the maintenance deed.
Section 14 lays down that any property which a Hindu female gets on partition after the
commencement of the Act will be her absolute property and any property which she got
at a partition before the commencement of the Act will also become her absolute property
provided it was in her possession at the commencement of the Act. The Kerela High
Court in Pachi. Krishnamma v. Kumaran Krishnan observed that the share a woman got
on partition would be her absolute property on account of her pre-existing right to
maintenance enlarged to an absolute title to property by virtue of section 14(1).


In Badri Prasad v. Kanso Devi, where a partition under an award was subsequently
embodied in a decree, certain properties were allotted to a Hindu female as her share, the
Supreme Court said that section 14(2) did not apply. Their Lordships said that section 14
should be read as a whole. It would depend on the facts of each case whether the same is
covered by sub-section (1) or subsection (2). The crucial words in the subsection are
possessed and acquired. The former has been used in the widest possible sense and in
the context of section 14(1) it means the state of owning or having in ones hand or
power. Similarly the word acquired has also been given widest possible meaning. The
Supreme Court was of the view that a share obtained by a Hindu female in a partition
under section 14(1) even though her share is described as a limited estate in the decree or


The test that if the decree or award is the recognition of pre-existing right then subsection (1) will apply and if property is given to the Hindu female for the first time under


an award or decree subsection (2) will apply. It has been applied to the acquisition of
property under an agreement or compromise. This distinction has been clearly brought
out by Mahadeo v. Bansraji and Lakshmichand v. Sukhdevi.
Any property that a Hindu female inherited from a male or female relation was taken by
her as limited estate except in the Bombay school. Section 14 lays down that any property
that a Hindu female inherits from any relation after the commencement of the Act will be
her absolute property.
On her death it will devolve on her heirs under the provisions of section 15 and 16. If any
property has been inherited by her before the commencement of the Act and if it is in her
possession then that property also became her absolute property.


Under the Act, there is no distinction between the gifts received by her from relatives or
strangers and at any stage of her life, and all gifts that she receives will be her absolute
property. Ornaments received by her at the time of her marriage are ordinarily her
stridhan property. A full bench in Vinod Kumar Sethi v. State of Punjab held that dowry
and traditional presents made to a wife at the time of the marriage constitute her stridhan.
In Gopal Singh v. Dile Ram, a widow having a life estate purported to make a gift of the
property before the Hindu Succession Act 1956 came into force.


In Karmi v. Amru 22 A Hindu, under a registered will, conferred a life estate on his wife
Nihali , with the direction that after the death of Nihali , properties would devolve on
Bhagtu and Amru , two of his collaterals Nihali took possession and died in 196. On her
death her heirs claimed property on the assertion that after the coming into force of the
Hindu Succession Act, Nihalis life estate became her full estate. It was held that where


only life estate is conferred under a will, Section 14(2) will apply, and the estate will not
become full estate .But if a will confers on her full estate, she will take absolutely.
Properties given under a settlement to the widow which were to revert to the settlor on his
brother on her death, do not get enlarged into full estate.

Section 14 of The Hindu Succession Act 1956 has abolished certain womens estate and
in respect of womans estate which are outside the purview of section 14, a reversions
right under old Hindu Law still endures.
Section 14(1) has qualified retrospective application, it converts only those womans
estates into full estates over which she has possession when the Act came into force. It
does not apply to those womans estates over which the Hindu female has no possession
when the Act came into force; in such a case old Hindu Law continues to apply.
Section 14(2) uses the words any other instrument. Applying the principle of ejusdem
generis, these words should be read along with the preceding words, acquired by way of
gift or under a will and would thus, mean the instruments under which title to property
has been conveyed to the Hindu female.23

Diwan Paras, Family Law ,6th edn, Allahabad Law Agency, Faridabad 2003
Desai A. Satyajeet, Mulla Hindu Law, 17th edn , Butterworths India, Delhi,2000
Seth D.D., Srinivasans Hindu Undivided Families , Hindu law of Coparcenary
,Delhi Law House, Allahabad , 1972
Chadha Prem Nath , Hindu Law ,Eastern Book Company, Lucknow
Jai Prakash , Supreme Court on Hindu law , Vinod Publications , Delhi .