StreeDhan: The most widespread evil that has plunged into our society even today is the “Dowry System”. Dowry is the property or any other asset that a woman is offered during her marriage by her parents. Often terms like Dowry, Streedhan, and Alimony are associated with the property of a married Hindu woman. However, there is a significant difference between all of these terms. On the one hand, Dowry is illegal as per Indian laws, and, in contrast, Streedhan is legal.
Everyone, especially women, should have a proper understanding of these terms that will help them to settle any dispute in their married life. In times of settlements in court over disturbances in marriage, women lose their part of the property under emotional pressure.
According to the Supreme Court of India, A Hindu married woman has absolute ownership of Streedhan and can utilise it as per her wish. Even if the property is under the custody of her husband or in-laws, they will be deemed, trustees. And they will be bound to return the same when and as demanded by her. A woman has all rights on the property of Streedhan and can demand it from her husband even after separation.
We are here with this article to help you understand the terms Dowry, Streedhan, and Alimony. Here we will also discuss the comparison between Dowry and Streedhan and the laws relating to women and Streedhan.
What is Streedhan?
Before moving to the laws relating to women and Streedhan, we need to understand the meaning of Streedhan. People often misunderstand Streedhan with Dowry or Alimony, but one should know that Dowry is illegal, forceful, and unethical. On the other hand, Alimony is the right of a woman to support herself after marriage separation.
StreeDhan is an Indian word derived from the combination of two words, “Stree” meaning woman and “Dhan” meaning property. So, to sum it up, Streedhan means the property of a woman. Streedhan may include any property or asset such as land or ornaments before or after her marriage.
As per the Indian Laws and Hindu Philosophy, Streedhan is considered wholly as the property of a woman, and she has full rights on all that comes under Streedhan. A woman can utilise all the property or money under Streedhan in any way she wants. The husband or in-laws of a woman are considered as trustees of the property of Streedhan and cannot use it without the permission of the woman. If they use the property, they have to return it as and when demanded by the woman.
Constituents Or Elements of Streedhan
The concept of Streedhan has been there in Hinduism for centuries, but today, it is seen in all forms of marriage, caste, and religion. The word Streedhan includes all kinds of immovable and movable property received by a woman in her lifetime, and it can be during her maidenhood, marriage, or widowhood. The following are the constituents or elements of Streedhan:
- Gifts such as jewellery made up of gold, silver, diamond, or platinum, any immovable or movable property such as land. It also includes precious items, such as cars, paintings, appliances, artifacts, etc. All other gifts received by a woman before, during, or after marriage are a part of Streedhan.
- The gifts which form a significant part of the Streedhan can be received from parents, relatives, friends, or even in-laws.
- The earnings of a woman before or after marriage also constitute the Streedhan.
- Any investments or savings made her a woman are considered as a part of the Streedhan.
- Any property acquired or inherited by a woman becomes the part of Streedhan.
So, in the points mentioned above, we discussed the things included in Streedhan. Let’s see what is excluded from being considered as Streedhan:
- Any item such as valuable jewellery, or car, etc., gifted to the husband of the woman by her parents at the time of marriage or during the course of the marriage cannot be a part of Streedhan.
- Any movable or immovable property bought by the Husband in his wife’s name and not passed on as a gift to her. Such property cannot be treated as a part of Streedhan.
- Earnings of the woman which she spent willingly on household cannot be claimed as Streedhan.
What Can A Woman Do for Streedhan?
Every woman should be educated about her rights and duties towards property and financial stability. A woman should record all the assets that she has received before, during and after marriage. She should keep a record of all the assets that have been sold or used and all those left with her. They should be aware of the security of their property and take necessary steps in order to protect their Streedhan. Here are some of the precautionary steps that a woman can prefer to keep a check on her Streedhan:
- The first thing a woman can do for her Streedhan is to make a list of all the property or gifts that she received before, during, or after marriage from her husband, parents, in-laws, friends, or other acquaintances.
- A woman should also generate evidence proof of the gifts that she received, and the evidence can be a wedding photograph or bills of the items. She should make sure that the bill is made in her name and are well preserved as proof.
- The women should make sure that they have witnesses who can identify that the property was gifted. Eyewitnesses act as strong evidence in the court of law.
- Every woman should take part in family financial decision-making and always keep a record of her Streedhan being utilised by the family members.
- For the security of her valuables, a woman should keep them in a bank locker.
- A woman can ask her parents to gift her an income-generating property rather than an expensive consumer good. The proof for income-generating property can be easily acquired than an expensive consumer good.
- A woman should make sure that all the property and investments bought from her Streedhan are entitled in her name to avoid future disputes.
- Lastly, an earning woman should maintain a separate account for her salary or business-related income.
Tax And Laws On Streedhan
Streedhan is always in the form of a gift, i.e. it is offered to a woman without consideration or return thereof. Hence, there is no provision for Stredhan under the Income Tax Act. In the Indian court of law, Streedhan is used to protect the property possessed by a woman.
As we know, every citizen of India is liable to pay income tax as their duty. Similarly, if a woman is earning and has received property as a gift from her parents, that property would be added to her asset and computed for tax purposes.
Now moving on to the laws of Streedhan, to ensure that a woman’s right to property is safeguarded, The Supreme Court has made certain laws and regulations. As per the laws, any person who tries to prevent women from exercising their rights on Streedhan can be punished and penalised. Some of these laws include:
- Hindu Succession Act 1956: According to section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, Streedhan is the property acquired by a woman during her marriage. She acts as the sole owner of the property, and her husband or any other person does not have any share in the property. If the property is under the custody of her husband or in-laws, then they have to return that property to her as and when demanded.
- Domestic Violence Act 2005: According to section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, If a husband or any other in-laws of a woman deny her to give the property of Streedhan, they could be held under custody and punished strictly as it accounts to economic abuse of the woman. The law is also made to protect women from any form of physical, mental, sexual, verbal, or economic abuse.
- Criminal Breach of Trust, IPC: Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code, deals with the matters relating to dishonesty and misappropriation of Streedhan and protection of woman from breach of trust. According to section 405, if a woman’s jewellery or other valuable items are misappropriated by her in-laws, in such a case, the woman can take legal action, and the court can punish the in-laws.
Comparison Between Streedhan, Dowry, And Alimony
Streedhan, Dowry, and Alimony are there separate and different terms but are often misunderstood. These three terms must be understood clearly to give clarity to a woman at the time of disputes. Streedhan is a legal concept and part of our society that deals with women’s empowerment and property rights. In comparison, Alimony is the right of a woman after the separation of her marriage. The husband is liable to pay a certain sum of money or property to his wife as Alimony to support her and the children after their separation. It is also a legal concept as per the Indian Court of Law. On the other hand, Dowry is an evil and illegal practice in our society. Dowry can be defined as the forceful demand of property or money from the bride’s parents or family during a marriage ceremony.
However, there are laws for all three that safeguard a woman from the Dowry system and help them to exercise their rights over Alimony and Streedhan freely. Let’s see all the differences and similarities between Dowry, Streedhan, and Alimony;
|Basis of Comparison||Streedhan||Dowry||Alimony|
|Definition||Streedhan can be defined as the property or asset that a woman receives during her lifetime. She is regarded as the sole owner of the property.||Dowry can be defined as a system where the Groom’s family demand money forcefully from the Bride’s family during the marriage.||Alimony can be defined as the money or property offered by a husband to his wife to support her after their separation.|
|Received From||Streedhan is generally by a woman as a gift from her parents, relatives or any other acquaintances.||Dowry is received from the bride’s family.||A woman receives Alimony from her husband after separation.|
|Legality||Streedhan is considered legal in the Indian society||Dowry is an evil practice and is strictly against legal practices||Alimony is again a legal concept in the Indian Court of Law.|
|Obligation||Streedhan is given to a woman out of love and affection by her close ones.||The Groom’s parents or in-laws forcefully acquire Dowry.||A husband gives Alimony to his wife as his duty towards her.|
|Rights To Claim||Streedhan can be claimed legally by a woman at any time, maybe before or after marriage.||Dowry has no legal rights to be claimed by any person.||Alimony can be claimed by a woman only after separation from her husband.|
|Requirement to claim||As per law, to claim Streedhan, the property should solely belong to a woman.||Dowry can not be claimed as it is illegal.||Alimony can be claimed by a wife only if there is a substantial difference between the income of the husband and wife.|
|The Time to Avail||A woman can avail of Streedhan at any time.||Dowry should not be availed or claimed by anyone, but the Groom’s family mainly claims it during the marriage.||Alimony can be availed by a woman only after separation from her husband.|