New Delhi: The Supreme Court has decided to do something about the big fat Indian wedding. It has asked the Centre to consider making it compulsory for families to disclose wedding expenditure. Both sides of the family can submit wedding expenditure to the marriage officer concerned, the court has pointed out. According to the court, the Centre should consider amending laws to make this possible.

The rationale is that the move will act as a disincentive for dowry and also check lavish spending, which is often done under societal pressures. This will also nip in the bud false cases registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act. ‘’We may consider the question whether details of expenditure incurred on marriage should be jointly furnished to the jurisdictional marriage officer to avoid future disputes about the allegation of demand of dowry,” noted the court in its order. It further said that a part of the wedding expenditure could even be deposited in the wife’s bank account to meet certain future exigencies.

“A further question whether a part of such expenditure should be kept in a deposit in the name of the wife may also be considered,” stated the order. The court has issued a notice to the Centre and sought its view on the issue. It has also asked the Additional Solicitor General to assist the court in the matter.

The SC was hearing a marital dispute wherein the estranged wife had levelled various allegations against the husband and his family. The other side had denied demanding or accepting any dowry. During the hearing, the top court observed that disputes over demands of dowry were a common feature in most cases of this nature and, hence, a mechanism could be explored to minimise such contentions.

Incidentally, a private bill to curb wedding expenditure was introduced in the Lok Sabha in February 2017. This bill had proposed that a 10% tax be imposed on wedding expenses, if the cost exceeds Rs 5 lakh. Detractors of the bill, however, felt that no one has the right to question the spending of hard earned money; more so, when one is already paying income tax.

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