The Scope is Breathtaking (India)
By: 498A Crusader
From: The Honor Network
Priority News Exchange Program News Item (PNEP)
This is a report is based on 5 years research and study on the Dowry Prohibition Act and its use and misuse. This research conducted by our own experts of MyNation part of the Save Indian Society Organization, and not funded by any gender-biased organizations. 1500 Plus Families were studied and we have provided the feed back from them and from the reports published by media.
What is IPC-498a?
It is a section of a bill with the following provisions:
Cognizable — The accused can be arrested and jailed without warrant or investigation
Non-Bailable — The accused must appear in the court to request bail
Non-Compoundable — The complaint cannot be withdrawn by the petitioner
A man accused by a lone woman’s word in a complaint is considered guilty until proven innocent, and the burden is on the accused to prove their innocence to the court. This also in addition includes the man’s older parents (ailing of otherwise) to be arrested prior to any investigation. This is an amazing violation of human rights?
When an FIR (First Information Report) is filed under the IPC section of the 498A anti-dowry law by a woman, the accused (which again could include all, or some, of the a family including: the husband and his parents, brothers, sisters, relatives) are arrested and jailed without investigation. The Supreme Court of India has ruled several times that arrests should be an exception, and not compulsory. So then why are there no penalty for disobeying the Supreme Court’s stated orders? Is it not mental cruelty to subject any number of ones family to arrests without even an investigation or grounds for reasonable cause? Police are subjected to gender sensitivity training, where in they are forced to take women’s complaint out of hand and arrest the accused even when they find the case to seem fabricated or simply unclear. And in case the police do not react on a woman’s false complaint, the women groups are given unnecessary powers to take legal action against the officer-in-charge of the police station.
As per our study we have found that it is a custom in India to give support to a bride in the form of gold and or valuables to support her future life with her husband, as a husband takes home the bride’s father’s financial burden or debts. There are certain natural problems in every marriage that are always resolved amicably. In the olden days, men and women used to manage these trivial differences in their marriages, but today’s modern women are not ready to compromise on petty issues, which are part and parcel of a normal married life.
Shobha (name changed) says dowry is not an issue, “Ours was a love- cum arranged marriage.” “I know my father’s capacity and how much he can give.” “And after the marriage there is not a chance of taking any money, so I only told my husband that he what he could take.” “We were happy with that, as it helped us to build our family.” “We should not take Stridhan as dowry.”
In another case Priya (name changed) said, “When we get marry, make a new house and start a family we need money from the girl’s side in the role of her father.” “Thus he should provide something to start the new family, and the man’s side should not be demanded to provide more than what the girl’s family offers.”
We are not talking about the dowry deaths or physical injury cases but about dowry harassment cases that require no evidence and can be filed based on a single complaint by the wife. With an estimated 60,000 such accusations per year and an average of 4 members of the husband’s family falsely implicated in each of these 498A cases, about 240,000 people are directly affected by these false accusations.
Latest Statistics Published on IBN-CNN.
*In 2004, 58,319 dowry cases were registered.
*1,34,757 men were arrested.
*47,828 cases have reached the charge sheet stage.
*10,491 dowry cases were not charge sheeted as they were based on frivolous ground.
*However, 5,739 men have been convicted but more than four times that number have been acquitted (24,127)
The controversial section not only covers dowry, but a wide spectrum of incidents including cruelty, causing injury and danger to mental or physical health.
As of June 30, 2005 those falling under these sections 498 and 498(A) in the first six months this year were numbered 3801 cases (under just these two sections alone).
Thanks to the new awareness levels amongst women many more are approaching the courts today than before. Consider this against the number of cases that are disposed. They are only 2432 cases here. Of them only 164 cases led to convictions. 1449 cases ended in acquittal with the women considering further appeals
This poorly formulated law is inviting women to file false cases, and causing the imprisonment of innocent husbands and his old parents without investigation. They are put behind bar along with other criminals in the over crowded and dangerous jails in the hopes of forcing them to settle by providing support whether justfied or not.. These innocent people undergo stigmatization and emotional trauma even before the trial in the court of law, which leads to emotional, physical and financial torture. Some of the falsely accused have committed suicide after being jailed, unable to bear the social consequences. Helplessness drove these innocent families to commit suicide. What is the Government doing to protect these innocent families?
Result of False Accusations.
As per Recent report from Ahmedabad, Rajesh Hasmukh Desai, a married man, committed suicide. He was falsely charged under IPC 498A. If a woman dies in “any” circumstances within seven years of marriage, police, by default, will arrest the husband and his parents for abetting suicide of a woman or for her dowry death. But in this male case, the police did not interview his wife seriously at all, nor took any action against her. Rajesh’s case file was closed and the actual perpetrator got off scot-free. Why was not the possibility of the wife driving her husband Rajesh Desai to suicide taken under serious consideration in any way? Should she is not punished for abetting her husband’s suicide?
A Study by Professor K. Nagaraj, Senior Economist at the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS)
The distribution of suicides by marital status reveals some alarming pattern. The rates do not vary much between the sexes for the never married. Among those currently married, while the rate for males is about 17 per 100,000 persons, the rate for females is 11.4 per 100,000. Among those widowed, while the rate for males is 21 per 100,000 persons, the rate for females is also significantly lower, at 6.6 per 100,000. Among divorced males the suicide rate is 164 per 100,000 persons, but even in this class, among females the rate is only 63 per 100,000. While the suicide rate for separated men is about 167, for females it is only 41 per 100,000 persons.
Such alarming statistical reports have not yet convinced the Government that men too are victims of domestic violence and not providing them legal protection will only increase the suicide numbers for men.
Despite the recommendations of the Supreme Court of India and the Justice Malimath Committee that the legislative arm should modify the laws such that the innocent are protected. This suggested amendment in the 498A law has been largely ignored. Innocent men and older parents are visiting women cells for help, but they are neglected. Unchecked, this social evil is threatening the foundation of the Indian Family system.
Why do people misuse IPC 498a?
Legal Extortion — When marriage is on the brink of Divorce, she finds no better weapon to harass her husband and in-laws than the 498A. Women will blackmail her husband and in-laws and coerce them to fulfill her demands or else she will file a false complaint against them. The husband knows that the law indiscriminately favors the woman and so he agrees to her selfish demands.
Pre/extra marital Affairs — She marries to satisfy her parents without disclosing her past. When the husband finds out about her affairs, she then files a false dowry case to blackmail him.
Simple Domination — The wife wants the husband to abandon his parents and siblings, so that she can have total control over his finances and social behavior, including his life-style.
Custody – Deny the father and his family access to their child(ren).
Fraudulent Marriages – Many times girl’s family will not disclose actual facts of their daughter, at the time of marriage. Such facts, if known by the groom would have never allowed the marriage to take place. And when the husband stands his ground, the girl and her family begins their legal extortion under these misguided laws.
In-Laws – When modern women are unable to adjust with her new in-laws they find it difficult to dominate her husbands and thus make him dance on her tunes, so they use the filing of a false dowry case to force her will on the union.
Consider a person who works extremely hard to make his career in this competitive world. Then he marries a beautiful and innocent looking wolf who drags him to court. There he is bound to lose all dignity, child custody and above all 50% of his income. He is forced to give out all his savings and family’s investments to this woman. Using his money, the wolf teaches to the child that his/her father was evil. Even as she uses these funds on herself, and pretends the money comes from her and not the child’s father, the child in brought up believing the wolf’s teachings begins to hate the father. He has no little chance to have a happy relationship with his said boy when he grows up.
This is nothing but sheer cruelty in the extreme. This disaster and unending mental trauma is avoidable. Apart from this I’ve seen men being ditched by various girls before marriage. In cities it is common for girls to have many boyfriends, and they choose the richest among them for marriage and later disgraceful action. Rests are ditched. And few weaker among them commit suicide.
Says Amit Agarwal, a victim of 498A.
Out of the 100 of these cases that are ordered for investigation under 498A, only in 2 cases are the accused convicted.
”People generally use this law to facilitate divorce. And often, it’s the lawyers who advise the women to implicate their in-laws under the provisions of this Act,” says Shantosh Singh, chairperson of Women Welfare Counseling Cell.
Often, the number of items given in dowry is inflated to claim a high settlement amount.
“There are only 10 per cent cases based on truth, and people usually come to us and ask specifically to mention the element of dowry in their divorce petitions,” says Amrikh Singh Kalra (Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court).
Here are some examples of women misusing these laws to get even:
NEW DELHI, Oct 18 (PTI) –Laws against violence at home may or may not have come to the rescue of battered women, but some of them have been accused of abusing them to get an easy divorce or settle other little domestic disputes.
According to the available statistical information from the National Crime Records Bureau and information available from NGOs working with victims of violence, there is a general tendency to avoid seeking redresses among the victims of domestic violence. However, when a victim of domestic violence seeks help from any of the agencies, be it family, friends, NGOs, or lawyers, before registering a complaint, at each stage she is asked to reconcile the matter or to put up with the situation. Reconciliation in 498A cases takes place at every stage including the police station, Crime against Women Cells and courts.
We found that in five cases filed under Section 498A the parties settled the matter after agreeing on maintenance and divorce.
In a majority of the cases before a victim filed the complaint under Section 498A, the minimum period she suffered physical and mental torture, was for about three years.
The trial process is quite lengthy and the proportion of pending cases is quiet high (out of the 40 cases based on victims’ interviews which went for trial in court, 28 cases are still pending). In the cases tracked, the normal trial period was between five to ten years.
“It was found that it was difficult to prove physical and mental torture. In all the eight cases in which the accused were acquitted, the victims were found to have suffered physical and mental torture, but as there was not enough evidence to prove torture, the accused were let off.
The cases where the accused were convicted had been filed under Section 498A along with section 304B and 302, which are applicable after the death of the victim. There were no convictions in any of the cases registered only under Section 498A.
It has been found that out of 30 cases there is not a single case where the accused has been convicted only under Section 498A. The accused have been acquitted (11 cases) by the court where the prosecutor failed to provide evidentiary proof of cruelty, mainly mental, inflicted on the victim as provided under Section 498A IPC.
The judicial authorities of India, in numbers of landmark judgments, have taken a serious view of the growing tendency to falsely implicate innocent members of the husband’s family in dowry cases. Describing misuse of IPC-498a law as “legal terrorism”, the Supreme Court said no one could be allowed to unleash frivolous proceedings on this count as the provisions of Section 498A “is intended to be used a shield not as an assassin’s weapon.”
“The stringent dowry laws, meant to deter dowry-seekers, are being increasingly misused by the very people they are meant to protect. The last three years have seen a steep rise in the number of cases of harassment for dowry”.
Only one out of six dowry complaints is genuine
Source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20041013/cth1.htm ]
Most of the time it’s a bargaining tool for women when husband finds her Infidelity.
Adulterous women were responsible for divorces in every 3rd case.
While IPC 498A is supposed to be a law to protect women, ironically it harms many more women. For every male accused of IPC 498A, there is at least one woman (his mother or sister) who is implicated in a crime. If there are more women in the family they too are affected by the guilty until proven innocent method.
There are many reports of married sisters of husband, even pregnant with a baby, placed in jails without any investigation. Children also suffer whether they are jailed along with their mothers, or are separated from them during that time.
Another striking feature of these victim stories is that the complainants, in collaboration with the police make sure that the arrests are strategically planned to harass and demoralize the accused, to make them succumb to the fear of being imprisoned and to extract huge amounts of money thereafter.
Everyone knows there are loopholes in 498A, and media reports, Judges warn and Politician admit openly.
An offence has been committed by the accused upon the sole testimony of the woman alleging abuse. Given that lying in court has never been taken seriously enough to invoke punishment, laws which presume guilt even before the trial has begun are prone to great misuse.
The Minister Renuka Chowdrey (the minister in charge of this unjust system) said
that if 98% of accusation are a misuse is system that is okay? What on earth is going on here?
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