In India, you’re better off being born male. But every now and then, the dice is heavily-loaded against men
A successful model’s suicide is a lot more captivating than the poverty and debt related suicides that occur routinely across India, so almost two weeks later we still get a daily update on Viveka Babajee. Was she a jilted lover or a manic depressive struggling on the fringes of Mumbai’s glittering modeling scene?
A combination of anti-depressants, loneliness, financial issues and a boyfriend dodging a commitment can be lethal. But my sympathies are with Gautam Vora, Babajee’s alleged fiancé, who must be negotiating with lawyers and cops as I write this, fearing that at any minute he could be arrested for abetment to suicide. Though unlikely, if charged and found guilty his life is effectively over: Section 306 carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Even if proved innocent the stress of getting entangled in a criminal case, another trial by the media, and going down for posterity as “the guy who’s girlfriend killed herself” is enough to finish one off, at least temporarily. All this for a girl he knew for a month. Vora must be cursing his luck. And his lack of judgment.
One of the perks of being adults is the right to start and terminate relationships as and when we like, outside of marriage. Amicably, preferably. Promises in relationships are routinely broken, flouted and misused but in normal adult equations, suicide isn’t part of the deal. Ditching someone might be morally wrong but in the course of a lifetime it’s a crime many of us have been guilty of.
In India, where society and laws are a jumble of complicated contradictions, you’re way better off being born male. Once in a while though, with some of our gender based laws, the dice is heavily-loaded against men. If you reverse the suicide scenario, for example, let’s say a man hangs himself after a failed relationship blaming a girlfriend, I don’t see her having to seeking anticipatory bail. I’m not sure if such a precedent exists in India. The only case that comes to mind is when actor Rekha’s husband Mukesh Agarwal hung himself in 1991. Rekha wasn’t even questioned. Then there is the draconian, anti-dowry law, 498A where even a hint of dowry allegations by an unscrupulous woman to the cops can land a husband and his extended family in jail for an indefinite period. Sexual harassment accusations are equally prone to misuse. And almost nobody believes a man over a woman. A male friend of mine, who runs a successful export business, hired an experienced buying agent, twenty years older than him. Within six months he figured she was dipping into his cash and cutting deals on the side. When he confronted her she threatened to call the cops for attempted rape. Even his lawyer advised him to write off the money saying in the situation the police would turn extortionists and it would do irreparable damage to his reputation.
Coming back to Babajee, she was talking marriage with a guy five years younger who she’d known for a month. She was either a die-hard optimist or exceptionally confident. I happened to have spent some time with MTV anchor Nafisa Joseph, who also committed suicide in 2004, after a failed relationship with a Mumbai businessman, ironically enough, also called Gautam. Joseph was bubbly and well-mannered with a fragile air about her. It turns out her fiancé was lying about being divorced, which tipped her over the edge. Her utter self-absorption that surfaced in the two days we hung out in Gwalior prevented her from seeing everything she had going for her; a successful career, supportive parents and a bright future. At the risk of sounding horribly trite, success and good looks is no magic wand for happiness. Nor does it guarantee an ability to cope. Even a complete lack of perspective can do you in. firstname.lastname@example.org
Memorandum regarding in-ordinate delays in Family Court’s in disposing cases
Hon’ble Chief Justice of Karnataka
High Court Buildings, High Court of Karnataka, Bangalore.
We are part of the “National Family Harmony Society” which consists of patriotic litigants before Family Courts in Karnataka. We have been spearheading a movement against the Legal Weapons of Family Destruction and fighting against Misuse, and abuse of family laws and judicial system in all its forms and Manifestations.
We beseech you to save the valuable lives of young spouses who approach Family Court, Bangalore for judicial relief lest the faith we repose in the judiciary is lost. Your personal and valuable intervention in setting right the gross injustice being done in the matters of matrimonial conflict will go a long way in the history of Judiciary and saving the institution of FAMILY.
After the enactment of the Family Courts Act, 1984, Family Courts have been set up in Karnataka with the ostensible object of saving the institution of Marriage and resolving Matrimonial Discord in a speedy manner.
We are constrained to bring to your notice that there is inordinate delay in disposal of matters brought before the Family Courts. For all practical purposes, the inordinate delay in the disposal of Matrimonial cases by the Family Courts is causing a great harassment to the spouses. The litigants, instead of getting relief, are being tortured by the system, rules, procedures and the legal fraternity. They are destined to waste their time and the prime of their youth at the corridors of the Family Courts for years together.
As per media reports thousands of cases are pending for disposal in the Family court. A typical case of divorce takes 5-6 years in the trial court then obviously the party who lose case goes to High court then Supreme Court. By the time divorce is granted both the parties are at the verge of dying.
We file child custody application for our “minor” children and by the time the lower court decides the matter and then high court and then Supreme Court, our children becomes “major” are of marriageable age and the “Child Custody” application becomes meaningless. We struggle long years to get some order with regard to the visitation but by the time order is passed our children would have forgotten us.
The only reason we go to court for our cases on “our date” is to get “next date”. We console our-self in the court hall after looking at hundreds of people who are also waiting there only to get “next date”. Only work which our Family Courts are doing is to give “next date”. Even most of the time the arguments which are happening in the court is with regard to what should be the “next date”? Judges are so much overloaded with huge pile up of cases that they are struggling to even give “next date” as both parties normally do high pitch arguments to get “next date” which is suitable to them.
Following are some of the adverse effects of such excessive delays in the disposal of cases by the Family Courts of Karnataka:
- The Youth and vigor of Young Women and Men are lost by the time the Family Court renders it decision – be it Just or Unjust.
- The family Court cannot restore the Youth and Vigor of the Young citizens/spouses nor compensate for their loss of youth.
- Statutory mandate of law for disposal of cases by 6 months and day to day hearing is not at all followed by the Family Courts
- Fathers are denied custody as a rule rather than an exception. If at all visitation is ordered to the fathers it is limited to 30 min and 1 hour in a month contrary to the requirement of UN resolution that no Child should be denied access to either of the parents
- By the time (nay years, nay decades,) our Courts render Justice or injustice, the women and men who are forced to seek justice lose their Youth and Vigor in the best part of their life which no Court can restore.
- Due to repeated adjournments of the cases, litigants are forced to take leave frequently often from the office and are on the verge of losing their jobs.
- Due to in-ordinate delay litigants are wasting the prime of the youth in running around the court corridors rather than for any productive work.
Honestly concerned about the draconian methods of implementation of the family-related laws, lack of credentials of implementing agencies and monitoring Courts, and the Tsunamic effect it has on families, we have embarked upon a “Dharmayudh” to save the traditional Indian Family system from extinction.
In order to alleviate the sufferings of the litigants of family courts, we wish to present the following list of proposals and suggestions to your kind self:
- Additional 6 more family courts in addition to the existing 4 family courts should be opened without any further delay to cope up with the huge pendency.
- The Family Courts shall ensure that all matrimonial cases be disposed within a period of Six months.
- The Family Courts to officially suspend the practice of summer vacation to the benches till the time limit of Six months is met.
- The Family Courts to officially state that no new cases to be taken till the old ones are disposed.
- All long-pending (one year and above) cases should be transferred to the Fast Track Courts to dispose of within a time limit.
- Induct more judges and extend the court timings to late evenings.
- Family courts should start an evening shift in addition to the regular day shift.
- Due to the heavy pendency of the cases Family Courts should operate on Sundays also with additional judges.
- Family Court records must be computerized so that old cases can be disposed on a priority basis and cases can be tracked scientifically.
- As there are overload on the court on a particular date and less-load on some dates hence the practice of giving dates in the open court must be stopped. Instead dates must be given by the computer section like in Supreme Court or judges should be given computer training and computers must be installed so that dates are given in a scientific way.
- The tendency of one party to drag the cases to delay the proceeding must be dealt severely with heavy cost and other means.
- Judges must be sensitized to the fact that they are dealing with the cases involving “Human life” who are driven by “emotional issues” in case of matrimonial issues which are very different from a criminal, property or any other case.
We submit that our demands are just and reasonable and in the event of non-implementation of our demands, we would be constrained to go to the streets with Dharnas, Public Fasting and resort to other democratic means of protests.
Please save the family and thereby save our great Nation to retain India a “Vasudeva Kutumbaham”.
With profound respects,
Suresh P Mahesh M
President, General Secretary
AIFWA to protest against arbitrary arrests
HYDERABAD: The All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA) along with the All India Men’s Welfare Association will stage a demonstration near the Women’s Police Station at Basheerbagh on July 6 to pledge their support to the ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ taken up by Maharashtra’s activist Ravindra Gangurde.
The movement, as well as the demonstration, will be in protest of ‘arbitrary arrests of ordinary law-abiding citizens’ under IPC sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act and other related laws, said Uma Challa, president of All India Forgotten Women’s Association, in a press conference here on Sunday.
Describing the aforementioned acts as ‘wife-centric’, Ms. Challa said the arrests without evidence or investigation amounted to violation of rights to life and liberty.
Citing the National Human Rights Commission’s observations, a memo issued by the Police Commissioner towards checking arbitrary arrests, and the web page titled ‘Abuse of 498A’ on the Police Department’s website, she said innocent citizens were nevertheless illegally detained, humiliated and subjected to blackmailing and extortion.
Plea to men
She urged men to free themselves from fear of humiliation and social stigma, and be prepared to court arrests and go to jails, so as to exert pressure on the authorities. The demonstration will be held between 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.