Plea on Stridhan: Husband has no right over wife’s assets, says SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court recently held that ‘stridhan’ cannot be a joint property of husband and wife and the former is required to return her assets if used during times of distress.

Hearing a matrimonial dispute, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said a woman has absolute rights over gifts given to her by her parents, parents-in-law, relatives and friends before, during or after marriage such as money, jewellery, land, utensils and others gifts.

The court said she can dispose ‘stridhan’ at her own pleasure and the husband has no control over it. “The husband has no independent dominion over the property as its owner. He may use it during distress but has the moral obligation to restore the same or its value to his wife,” Times of India reported quoting the SC verdict.

The SC also held that a man or his family members could be prosecuted under Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal breach of trust if the ‘stridhan’ is dishonestly appropriated. In such cases, the dispute should not be decided based on proof beyond reasonable doubt as in criminal cases, but on preponderance of probabilities.

The bench was hearing a plea by a woman who alleged that her jewellery was taken away by her husband on the first day of marriage. Later, when the couple decided to separate, she approached a family court which in 2009 passed a verdict in her favour. Her husband was ordered to pay Rs 8.9 lakh. But the Kerala high court quashed the order and held that the woman had failed to prove her ‘stridhan’.

The apex court on Wednesday concluded that the family court’s verdict was correct and directed that the woman be paid Rs 25 lakh as 15 years have passed since the family court’s order, the report in the national daily added.

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