by Virag R Dhulia
Mukul Srivastava (name changed) travelled 9 times in a period of 3.5 months to attend his bail hearings from Chennai to Jaipur by flight spending close to INR 1 lakh for the travels. Additionally, he was made to stay in Jaipur for an extended period of 1.5 months jeopardizing his job and career.
His fault, he was an Indian husband whose wife had implicated him in a false dowry case. He approached the court for bail and he was only given interim bail. Every 5 or 7 days, the interim bail was extended keeping him in a lurch wherein he was neither arrested nor completely safe even though he was cooperating in the investigation fully.
Prakash Gupta (name changed) was arrested by the Bihar police from Bangalore even though he had an anticipatory bail and had to undergo the ordeal of police custody from Bangalore to Patna (where a false dowry case was lodged against him) before obtaining final bail.
IAS officer D K Ravi who recently committed suicide in Bangalore, Karnataka, is also believed to have been a victim of 498A as reports are emerging that he was threatened with a false dowry case. This had allegedly happened when he confronted his wife after it was revealed that his wife had eloped with her classmate in her college days and had married him secretly. This fact was kept hidden from Ravi and he came to know about it after marriage.
These are just some examples which throw light on the dark and gory side of Section 498A – the Dowry Law of India as it gets misused highly.
Misuse of dowry laws is not a recent phenomenon and the judiciary of India is totally responsible for the growing misuse of dowry law and the resultant abuse of innocent men in the process.
“The Government and courts should worry more about men avoiding women altogether than being worried about saving marriages by amending laws. Because, when it comes to protecting innocent men from abusive women in marriages and the resultant frivolous and vexatious litigation, the Govt. and the Judiciary score negative”, says Rajesh Vakharia, President Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF).
“Judiciary and Police, subvert human rights of men when a false complaint of dowry harassment is filed against them”, rues Vakharia as he explains the role of police and judiciary in the misuse of dowry law,
- Police do not issue “Notice of Appearance” when a complaint is received from wife. Instead they call the husband and threaten him on phone forcing him to visit the police station without being officially summoned and then the police do marital counseling when they are neither trained nor authorized to counsel couples.
- Judges do not punish police when they do not follow provisions of Section 41 CrPC and arrest men without issuing notice of appearance.
- Often police visit the office premises of men in order to shame them and jeopardize their job situation. Police also pick up relatives of men who are not even named in the complaint, they are illegally detained by police and forced to give their statements.
- Judges grant interim bail and then keep on extending the bail for every 5 or 7 days and thus the man is neither arrested nor free but keeps on attending court dates without any reason.
- After giving interim bail, the cases are referred to mediation where the man is psychologically tortured to bow down before wife’s demands and if he does not do so, his bail is canceled and he is sent to jail.
- This is nothing short of state sponsored extortion and blackmail which is happening due to the independent and unaccountable nature of the Indian judiciary. Courts and mediation centers, along with the legal fraternity are acting as “agents of wives” and punishing men financially without verifying complaints.
- Judiciary has taken an official stand of not punishing wives and her relatives when they attack the husband and/or his relatives physically. At times, such attacks are either fatal in nature or injure the man severely. Wife and her relatives are given a free license to commit atrocities on husbands and then file a complaint of 498A to cover their own crimes. And, the judiciary accepts this behavior as normal and punishes the husband for 498A and lets off the wife without any punishment.
“It is a very sad fact that instead of working to resolve these procedural hurdles which result in abuse of men under section 498A and its growing misuse, the Govt. is planning to make this law compoundable. It is already compoundable in states like Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. After the law is made compoundable, the misuse of this law in fact increased many folds. So, the Government’s proposal to make the law compoundable will not solve the problem of misuse, but will just compound it. This is like adding salt to injury”, says Jyoti Tiwari, spokesperson, Save Indian Family Foundation and pushes move for judicial reforms.
Instead of reigning in the judiciary, the Govt. is strengthening it believing it to be a holy cow.
- However, Indian judiciary is not a holy cow.
- Today, the law and order situation is in a chaos because of the insensitivity and lack of accountability of the judiciary as the judiciary is least bothered about its dignity.
- Cases linger for years together because judges do not follow the due process in the cases and allow any number of adjournments to the wife when she does not attend the court hearings.
- Judges do not dismiss the cases even if the wife does not attend the cases for years together.
- Judges take months together to merely decide on bail petitions. Bail being a constitutional right and if a man is willing to cooperate in the investigation, there should be absolutely no problem in granting bail. However, judges are forcing lawyers to bring evidence of innocence in the bail itself which is violation of constitutional rights of men.
And with such a state of the judiciary, if we leave decisions like granting bail and compounding cases (Section 320 CrPC) to the judiciary, it will lead to more false cases and it will contribute to the growing menace of misuse of 498A.
This abuse of men is uniform across cities and villages. In fact, being unaware and not having access to basic facilities, the village men suffer more and either bow down or commit suicide being unable to bear the extreme harassment and torture by wife, police, lawyers and judges.
Being a men’s rights organization, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) strongly condemns the apathy and insensitivity of the judiciary and reserves strong objections to 498A being made compoundable. It presses upon the need to make the section bailable and non-cognizable.
Even though, the Govt. has issued multiple directives and circulars directing the police not to arrest before investigation or to issue notice of appearance under Section 41 CrPC, however, all those directives are mere paper tigers and are not implemented in letter and spirit.
Hence, SIFF demands,
- To drop the move for amending 498A to make it compoundable.
- To make Section 498A bailable and non-cognizable.
- To form committees of innocent men, who have been acquitted, as watchdogs to monitor and review orders by judiciary.
- To insert a special provision to punish those police and judicial officers who do not follow the law properly and resort to malpractices under the cover of Section 498A.
- To stop the extortion and blackmailing of men in the name of mediation and counseling.