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Friday, August 25, 2006

Gross misuse of IPC 498/498A and remedies...

Respected Madam/Sir,

Who am I: I am tax(@33.66%) paying law abiding citizen of this country. I am also BTech from IIT and a Computer Scientist currently working for a world renowned MNC. I have taken out precious time out of my daily busy schedule to make you aware of the issue. I hope I can ably convey the issue which has started assuming draconian proportions and expect a favourable response from your side.

498A in Media: 498A, which was conceived with the intent for minimizing dowry related crimes, is a weapon being grossly misused in our urban India for extortion and for settling personal scores. It was also highlighted in a Zee TV program broadcasted in Crime Report section on Sunday, 30 July, 2006 at 11 PM. For clips please see

Constitutional Arguments: The law which was initially meant to be used as a shield for inhumane atrocities against women is increasingly being used to terrorize honest husbands and families and for large scale extortion. Even honorable Supreme Court has termed such activities of misuse of these one sided laws as “Legal Terrorism”.

A lot of our respected judges privately feel that 498A is perhaps the most misused/abused section of all IPCs in our constitution. Even in our parliament, Honorable minister, Mr Shivraj Patil vehemently opposed introduction of POTA for curbing terrorism on the ground that it may be misused, then how is it that 498A which is the most heavily misused section not being reconsidered by our Parliament for last 20 years since 1983 when it was enacted( Is it that the parliament considers all Indian husbands much more dangerous than terrorists. Why then do they advocate about marriage as sacred institution. Is not it just a face wash.

Myth: Misuse of laws in collusion with lawyers is common so why single out IPC498A: The argument that laws are twisted and misused by lawyers does not stand a ground here, because it is not the lawyers but the people themselves who have started misusing and playing with such ridiculous laws. This law has made Judges out of every "daughter in law" and terrorists" out of every husband. There is a myth in our "urban" educated class that dowry(from bride's to groom's) related atrocities exist. 498A is the rarest breed of law which runs on the principle of "Guilty till proven innocent" instead of the normal course of our Constitution which believes in the "Innocent, Till proven Guilty". Another point to note is that 498A is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-boilable, which means is you can be arrested and sent behind bars by police without any investigation/proofs. Any proofs, however perceptible they may be, can be disregarded by police.

The argument that why would wife ever try to falsely implicate 498A also does not hold good, because in majority of cases of misuse of these laws it is at the instigation of parents/family that the girl goes for filing of such cases. The role of girl's parents in interfering and destroying their daughter's married life is probably dated older that the concept of dowry itself. Moreover if you look at ground realities it is the incompatibility between girl and husband's family which becomes the real cause of any dispute. This incompatibility,if not corrected earlier, aggravates and takes of the form of either reported dowry or a false dowry case. There have hardly been any cases since the inception of dowry prohibition act in 1961, where a person has been caught for giving dowry even when the number of persons giving and receiving dowry are exactly the same.The matter of dowry comes up only when a relationship has gone sour and is nearing breakup. It clearly shows that society in general is not against dowry as a concept but uses it as a pretext to launch offensive when the relationships grow sour.Even the much proclaimed and media highlighted case of Nisha sharma was a case where the alleged demand was for additional dowry and not dowry which was already being given. So in principle, neither Nisha Sharma nor her parents were against dowry.

I would however oppose dowry because a lot of black money is transacted in the name of dowry in Indian marriages and a lot of extravagant expenditure is incurred in the name of pump and show in a typical indian marriage.

Repercussions: With, 498A ( and other newly introduced but highly skewed in favour of women acts, enacted by our parliament) the daughter in laws(with connivance with her parental family) have started to wreck havoc on the sacred institution of family and marriage. Such highly biased laws violate our fundamental rights to live with dignity as specified in Article 14 and 21 of our Constitution and are breaking families and putting honest husbands, old and elderly people and even kids behind bars making them suffer from ignominy of being imprisoned for the rest of their life.

These laws are framed with just one and only one assumption

“IF and if ever something goes wrong in any marrige, the fault is husband and his family”

No matter how cruel the DIL can be, she has been awarded a strong protection and encouragement from law to continue all her family breaking activities, and in the end to opt for divorce with either a huge extortion amount (settled out of court) or legally by claiming alimonys and false Stridhan.

The husband and family are left at the mercy of the daughter in law and her parent/relatives. The husbands are being maltreated at the hands of wives. If there wishes, whims and fancies are not met then they threaten the entire family of filing a false dowry case . The family is brought to disrepute both by the law and the society at the wish and whim of of daughter in laws.

Daugther is laws are holding entire family to ransom and terrorising families to succumb to her/her parents wishes by blackmailing and threatning to use these one sided laws.

There is absolutely no way that an Indian husband can quit a bad marriage. He has to either shell out huge, hard earned, post tax money as alimony outside court or he and his family has to undergo the ignominy of spending months in jail and years in fighting a crime he had not committed or both.

Parliament’s Apathy: Not even one clause, has been passed by our parliament which protects the rights of husbands and his family, from a dangerous and mischievous daughter in laws. It goes to show the apathy of our society and elected parliament towards the cause of men/women and elderly.Women organisations running on foreign finds are working hard to rip men of even the basic rights to exist and live with dignity, but our parliament is sitting in oblivion discussing 33% reservation for women.

It clearly reflects for the fact, how low our parliament has stooped in the bid to garner votes from Women organizations, that the new Domestic Violence Act has intentionally avoided the mention to husband and his family’s grievances and has cleverly ommited actions against any atrocities commmitted by daughter in law.

A Striking evidence, which comes from the courts, is that, of all such cases lodged only 2% ever have been proven and 98% turned out to be false. This clearly shows that laws like 498A were framed by our parliament under a irreconciliable bias and prejudice. It is like using nuclear weapons to eliminate mosquitoes.

498A is Anti Women: It should not be hidden from people to see that as the result of these women oriented laws the majority of sufferers are the women themselves as in majority of cases the entire family is jailed, without even the faintest of proofs required form DILs. The imprisoned include kids, god fearing mothers and sisters even if they are married in order so settle personal vendetta. It makes me feel strongly, that women organizations in the name of women rights have started spreading hatred towards men in our society and instead for fighting for actual ground cause of women have actually become mere D-I-L(Daughter in Law) organizations.

There are a lot of practical ways of eradicating dowry menace but none has been sincerely pursued by women organizations else it should reflect in the status of our rural women.Please see this article for details.

The universal goal and single ask to eradicate dowry related crimes is to make women self reliant, aware.

Today a lot of self reliant and aware women exist on our urban areas in copious quatities and hence there is no need for us to thrust them with these biased and one sided laws and unleash injustice, terror and threat to our social fabric. In fact, I would not be surprised to consider that once we relax usage of these laws by educated, aware and self reliant women then more and more people will be willing to get their daughters educated, aware and self reliant right from child hood.

What I mean is

1) Relax usage of women oriented and women biased laws for women who are self reliant, educated, aware. They will have to fetch justice (in case of any untoward incidence) as any other normal individual/citizen in our country. We all know that the moment an individual is financially independent and is aware it is very difficult to coerce and cause any anguish to her as she will have full right to revolt and quit the relation as soon as she realizes any wrongs being planned against her. Any kind of abuse against these women is only as probable as it is against a common man and they have same recourse to laws, judiciary and govt machinery as a command man has. In fact women would still be in an advantageous position given the public sympathy they enjoy over any other male in our judicial system and society in general.

2) Seeing the gross misuse of these laws every groom would want to marry educated and self reliant woman, and you will see the demand for educated, self reliant women sky rocket.

3) With educated and self reliant women in demand the parents of any girl would see that instead of dowry, the education and means of self reliance they provide to their girl child will come in much more handy to her in her future life. They would want her to educate her further and further. Thus this will result into a ripple effect in which women can be brought forth and elevated in our social strata.

4) Even for a married but subsequently divorced girl, because she can choose to quit marriage anytime (in case she feels she is being treated badly), she would be in high demand because of fear of current set of stringent laws and hence remarriage will become less of an issue or an insignificant issue.

5) The only question that remains is to isolate educated, aware and self reliant from remaining ones. I would suggest if you propose a law whereby a woman has an option to declare her financial status/ her dependent status before marriage(and if possible after marriage) before a magistrate, then It will go a long way in helping us in this categorization. The magistrate can take current factors into account (which include her source of income, education, wealth and property in her name e.t.c) and pronounce her self reliant. This can be done at the time of registration of marriage or time prior to that. We as Govt are already looking for making marriage registrations mandatory. This would also act as an incentive to get marriages registered.

In order to save women in remote areas e.g. villages we could add a default clause to this law such that till the time/IF the certificate is not made the women will treated dependent in man. Hence for such marriages, where there is no registration, society would treat wives as dependent on husbands in all cases and she will be privileged to use these women laws as may be required and no relaxation with respect to these laws would be applicable to those poor women and their marital family.

This will also put pressure on Girls parent so that they give their daughter her due share in parental property such that she is made self reliant. To strengthen this you may add additional clause such that any transfer to any property/parental wealth from Girl to others in her marital family can not take place before certain period of marriage has elapsed.

498A Attack on Institution of marriage: The definition of economical abuse and mental abuse (which is some what blurred even in our laws) is often being stretched to hilarious extents.

It has been observed that a high number of divorce cases in urban India are increasingly talking form of cruelties by wives on husband and family in form of draconian 498A.

The law which was meant to be used to protect the highly sacred institution of marriage, is being leashed as a tool to break them. Given the non bailable and non compoundable nature of the law, once a false complaint is filed, andeven one family member goes to jail, there is no scope left for any reconciliation and the marriage is bound to end in divorce. 498A is thus turning out to be a marriage breaker.

A lot of people(no matter how honest and value oriented they were before) coming out of 498A vow never to marry again and opt for live in relation ships, which is making us traverse back towards where west is in terms of culture and values.

If you ask men who have undergone 498A trauma, they will say they have lost total faith in marriage as institution. Some of them vow never to marry even again in life and most of them vow never ever to marry.

As for the girls who initially file 498A in order to settle personal vendetta or for personal revenge, do not realise that in long run it will come to haunt them as no body will ever marry them ever again if he comes to know if their cruel family breaking deeds. But a lot of women who are so selfish, greedy and cruel do not even bother about that as they enjoy luxuries on huge alimony from husband.

Media at Fault: The media (both print and TV) is one responsible for projecting bad image of men and for the apathy of men at the hands of wives. How many of us see the news where a husband commits suicide due to atrocities of wife. Whenever it happens it is termed as his inability towards not being able to manage enough money for his home.

On other hand any atrocities if ever committed against married women by anti social people are highlighted in one and just one cause “Dowry”. The parents of the girl hide behind dowry as it is the most convenient way to take blame away from themselves and put it on husband and his family. Filing a dowry complaint has become a trend and is more easy than ordering for food on platter, if you are aware of laws. This brings us to the fact that all that is required to fight any social maladies is awareness among people and not totally one sided laws like 498A.

This extortion racket in the name is dowry prohibition is gaining more grounds than ever before because of connivance and nexus of greedy girl(and her family), the police and the lawyers. Police gets its share in the final settlement and lawyer either wants to stretch the case or threaten the husband’s family if they do not shell out an exorbitant amount.

Request: I would request media, lawmakers, political class and buerocrats of these to please organize a serious debate about rampant misuse of these ridiculous laws, which is striking hard on the basic fabric of our society, The Institution of Marriage. I would also request newspaper editors to please have a re-look into this growing menace and make people aware of groud realities in our urban areas vis a vis our rural areas and clear any public illusions about dowry and its menace.

As a responsible and dutiful journalist and editor, I would reqest you to investigate any martial dispute/issue you see happening around, highlight the actual truth and not issue a blanket statement in the name of dowry abuse.

I certainly am in favour of highlighting any atrocities(dowry or otherwise) aganist any section in media, but wrapping all other issues in the name of dowry is indeed a bad precedent being set up by media against Indian males in general. Please report dowry only if after your investigation you find the case to be a dowry case indeed. It has become a norm of the day to attach 498A angle to every marital dispute in order to garner undue mileage from both law and the media, which is projecting an indian male in very bad light in the eye of general public and which eventually gets translated into rediculous one sided laws like 498A at the hands of beurocrats and political class who devise such biased laws.

Sincere Regards,

For further apathies arising out of 498A See

Together we can and together we will.


Anonymous said...

rightly said

Akanksha Bahri said...

Rightly said but stuck up bad have a 3 year old son and scared that my brothers wife will put all of us behind bars she lies lies and lies and all of them seems to believe her coz she is a daughter in law I too am a woman my mother too is a woman Which law will protect us from such a wicked mind and dirty cospiracy really scared for my family my son my dignity. What shud i do where shud i go. God even seems small in front of this law