Whenever there’s a discussion over a Hindu woman’s marriage, terms like dowry, streedhan often pop up in our minds. Little do people know that they all are completely different terms. According to the law, streedhan is legal, whereas dowry is illegal. All Hindu women must be properly familiar with the concept of Streedhan and what it comprises of. Streedhan refers to the property that a woman owns or receives during maidenhood, marriage, or widowhood. Many, not so familiar with this concept, end up facing a lot of problems thereafter. So, women should know more about its constituents and ways to how they can protect it. This article will cover all the information related to Streedhan and focus on how women can protect it. We will also learn about the differences between this and some other important terminologies.
The word Streedhan combined itself means woman and property. So, it is the property that the woman owns, in any means. It is often confused with dowry and alimony. But all of them are completely distinct terms. In our society and according to the laws, dowry is illegal, unethical, and forceful. On the other hand, alimony works on the rights of women for support, often after separation. Whatever a woman owns or receives during her maidenhood, marriage, or widowhood, is considered her property or Streedhan. The woman has complete right to gift or give away her dhan to anyone according to her will, without anyone else’s consent.
A husband may be able to use his wife’s Streedhan, but he has to return it to his wife when asked to. In brief, the Supreme Court of India states that a Hindu woman who is the absolute owner of her Streedhan can do whatever she likes with her property. Whenever a woman demands her properties, her properties’ trustees are deemed to return the same. She can demand the same before or after her husband’s separation, and if her demand is denied, her husband and her in-laws are liable to face criminal prosecution.
Streedhan: It’s Meaning
Streedhan refers to the property that a woman owns or receives during maidenhood, marriage, or widowhood. It is the wealth she receives from her mother, father, brother, sister, husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law with love and affection. It is the wealth a woman receives from her maternal side, relatives, etc. during her marriage. It is the wealth she receives from her husband after separation. This also refers to the wealth given to a bride by her parents’ relatives and cousins from the bridegroom’s side. It is the wealth a newly wedded bride receives while she departs from her own family. It is the wealth a bride receives after marriage in her matrimonial house. All of these, taken together, are a woman’s Streedhan.
Streedhan: Its Constituents
The wealth a woman owns and has received as dhan can be money, movable and immovable property, etc.
List Of All The Things That Are Included Under Streedhan
i. All kinds of jewelry (gold, silver, etc.), properties, valuables like cars, painting, artifacts, appliances, furniture, etc. are gifted to a woman. The woman can make a list, get it signed by at least two witnesses, and claim in case of any dispute.
ii. Any gift a woman has received from anyone, like her parents, in-laws, relatives, friends, etc.
iii. Whatever the woman has earned in any legal means before and after marriage. Her investments and saving from her earnings are also included.
iv. A woman has acquired the property by self-exertion, science, and arts, like manual labor, dancing, singing, etc. or mechanical art.
v. Property a woman has acquired during maidenhood and widowhood, or during coverture.
vi. Property that a woman has purchased with her Streedhan.
vii. Property that a woman has purchased under a compromise.
viii. Property that a woman has obtained by adverse possession.
ix. Property that a woman has obtained in place of maintenance.
x. Property that a woman has received in inheritance.
xi. Property that a woman has obtained on a partition.
Things That Aren’t Included Under Streedhan
i. If a woman’s husband is gifted with any jewelry, like a ring or a chain, or any other valuables by her parents at the time of marriage or thereafter, then that is not her dhan.
ii. If a woman’s husband has bought any movable or immovable asset in her name without passing it on as a gift, then it is not her Streedhan.
iii. If a woman has spent her earnings on households, she cannot claim it back.
What A Woman Should Do To Protect Her Streedhan?
A woman should be know how she can protect her Streedhan and save herself from being exploited by anyone in her near future. Below is a list of all recommended precautionary steps she should take to protect her Streedhan-
1. A woman should maintain a list of all the gifts and properties that she has received during her maidenhood, marriage, and widowhood. But the court doesn’t always need to remember or accept anything that can be challenged by law.
2. A woman should open a bank locker in her name for her security to store jewelry, money, property, etc., or keep it under her lock and key.
3. A woman should keep all pieces of evidence of gifts received, maybe in the form of wedding pictures, etc. The bills of the gifts received must be in her name, and she should produce these bills at the time of requirement.
4. Most importantly, the woman should have at least two witnesses, whose statements will provide important evidence for movable gifts during the marriage.
5. A woman should have a separate salary account in her name.
6. A woman should always record all the investments done from her Streedhan and make sure to be a part of the family’s financial decision-making.
7. A woman should make sure that whatever property she owns to date must be clear and in her name.
A Look At The Women’s Rights Over Streedhan
A woman has every right over all of her Streedhan. The possession may be in terms of both movable and immovable property, money, etc. The woman has complete power to sell or give away her properties. Neither does her husband nor do her in-laws have any right over her dhan.
Taxation And Streedhan
If you are a working woman who’s gifted with a property from her parents, then the income you earn from the same shall be added to your personal income, and hence, you’ll be liable to pay tax. But if you do not have an income from any of your assets, you don’t have to pay tax.
Law And Streedhan
Streedhan is considered legal by the law. To provide women with legal protection for the same, several laws and regulations have been made. If there’s a refusal in paying alimony or Streedhan, then these laws come into play, and legal forces come into effect. Due to these legal actions, the court may jail the unwilling payor. Some of the laws that protect women from such a discrepancy are the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Domestic Violence Act 2005, Criminal Breach of Trust, etc.
Did you know?
According to the law, a woman’s dhan cannot be used to pay off debts taken by the husband.
Difference Between Streedhan And Dowry
People have always confused Streedhan with the dowry, whereas both are two distinct terms with distinct meanings. According to the law, dowry is considered illegal in our society, whereas Streedhan is legal as it gives women empowerment to live their lives with full wisdom.
The table below gives a detailed difference between Dowry & Streedhan
Did You Know?
There’s even an anti-dowry law, under which there lies a provision where both the parties can make a list and sign it during the marriage. But practically, these lists are never signed.
Difference Between Alimony And Streedhan
The property possessed by a woman is different from Alimony. In simple terms, alimony is the allowance given by a husband to his wife (in this context) as a support during and after their legal separation, i.e., divorce. Whereas Streedhan is the property a woman owns as an individual at any course of time.
The table below gives a detailed difference between Alimony and Streedhan.
Did you know?
Women should never use these women protective laws like Streedhan, Alimony, etc., to blackmail or harass or involve themselves and others in illegal work.
All in all, Streedhan is a significant asset for every woman. Women should know of ways to protect themselves and their dhan from being misused. If you’ve read this article till now, be very sure that by now, you are completely aware of everything related to it. So, to all the women out there, stay protected, and fight for your right.