As per the Dowry Prohibition (DP) Act, a list of gifts given to either bride or bridegroom by either side has to be maintained in a list of articles. So there are supposed to be 2 lists really. That’s the theory, but for all practical purposes no one at time of marriage is trying to follow the DP Act to it’s letter, so this law is followed mostly in breach and it’s a useless law for all practical purposes.
Here are the various possibilities about the jewellery bills shown by wife/in-laws to CAW, court etc:
1. The bills are real, and all the jewellery corresponding to those bills was actually given to wife at time of marriage. In that case, all those will be her stridhan. Very rare though since most people filing 406/498A etc are doing it not to get back anything, but take lot of your money. 93% acquittal rate in 498A -- that’s the proof.
2. The bills are real, but the jewellery corresponding to those bills was never given at time of marriage. That’s a likely scenario, because the bills may belong to jewellery bought for anyone in wife’s family. And unless the bills are dated at a later date than wedding (though gifts can be given later too), it’s difficult for you to disprove that those were not given. Anyway the general principle of law 99% of the time is that the accused doesn’t have to disprove the allegation, but the accuser has to prove the allegation. That’s in theory, in practice, the divorce industry and the System has found clever or even downright stupid ways to trap, snare, misguide, scare the husbands and their families about bail, criminal cases, police and so on that many people don’t even think of these possibilities in a cool-headed way.
3. Many or all the bills are fake. Basically wife’s party has got those bills made from some jeweller known to them or by paying some commission. Many Indians do transactions in cash only, so the jeweller could easily create such bills without getting into problems related to tax paid, and so on.
Scenario number 2 has to be handled by denying, denying, denying continuously and steadfastly. I know of many people who are paying up deposits in courts as a pre-condition to get bail in 406. Here’s the news for you: consider that deposit as gone forever, and the System will try it’s best to extract much more on top of that deposit to grant you that ‘how to get out of these cases’ ‘mutual’ divorce with settlement to wife. Simply because you agreed to this conditional bail which is against all logic and common jurisprudence, but maybe matrimonial cases run on an entirely different form of logic not known anywhere except in Indian courts!
Scenario number 3 can open up possibilities for those who think a little outside the box than constantly asking and worrying about “how to get out of these cases”. Because bills being fake can mean that taxes (Sales tax, VAT etc) on those bills may not have been paid, the goods delivered in those bills may not have been delivered in the first place to jeweller. An RTI to sales tax/VAT department may do some wonders and might prove those bills to be fake or made at later date. The receipt/serial number on the bills will not match up with the usual other bills given to other customers at about the same time. Basically, the jeweller himself should be made a respondent/witness for yourselves and you need to cross-examine him. I see no harm in cross-examining because if he is able to prove true his fraud bills, then you are in a mess anyway whether you call him as witness or not. If you don’t call him as witness, then the court may think that since you didn’t cross examine a crucial piece of evidence, it means you are unable to refute it’s validity and that evidence (the bills) must be true. Use of RTI on jeweller’s sales tax, other license etc can also be tried.
Scenario number 3 opens up possibility of filing Tax Evasion Petition (TEP) on the ‘innocent’ father in law, who maybe needs to be given the joys of being on the receiving end of the law himself.