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Doubt in the authenticity of real offences

Section 498A of IPC, a woman-oriented law under which offences for dowry harassment are registered, has ironically not helped those it was intended for. Rather it has acted as a catalyst in expediting quick divorces and disturbing the balance of the family system.

The rampant misuse of the 498a is at the cost of diminishing faith in the authenticity of real offences, which is a dangerous trend. In a typical case of 498a abuse, a woman – nay a wife goes to the police station and gets an FIR lodged against her husband, in-laws & any other relative of her husband, whether or not he or she is residing in her matrimonial home.

These people are immediately arrested based solely on the complaint of the wife without so much of a primary investigation to check the authenticity of the complaint. The whole family’s morale, dignity and social standing is reduced to ashes in one go.

Divorce in India is not easy, even if it is by mutual consent. Section 498a, a woman-oriented law by its very definition, is an effective tool to secure quick divorce. The modus operandi in most cases of misuse is to lodge an FIR u/s 498a & then to file for a maintenance amount which is usually granted to a woman till such time her divorce comes through.

Then follows application for divorce & alimony in a civil court citing cruelty as a ground, under the Hindu Marriage Act, which is not difficult to get once 498a is filed, since civil cases are based on presumptions also and a woman filing a dowry harassment case is presumed to be subjected to cruelty.

Even if the husband and family are acquitted of all charges u/s 498a, the divorce (rather the ground for divorce) and alimony amount stays unaffected unless, of course, it has been contested against earlier. Needless to say, the wife filing the false case goes scot-free.

More often, out-of-court settlements are practiced and the cases are withdrawn in return of a hefty “lump sum” amount sometimes including a share in the family property. This, therefore, is a “wife-centric” law and not a “woman-centric” one as is made out to be, since in any given family arrested, there are women members too.

The need of the hour is a movement of mass awareness to give justice to the victims of abuse of the law, which has already begun considering the number of “men against dowry act misuse” organizations springing up all over the country.

As a woman, I am deeply saddened & embarrassed by the continuous exploitation of a law meant to support us. Another dark side of this abuse is the suicides committed by the accused and family owing to the social disgrace & mental trauma the whole episode brings about – not to mention the loss of jobs or marriage proposals for members of the family & expenditure on litigation.

The tax payers’ hard earned money and the extremely valuable time of the judiciary is being wasted on the prosecution procedure of false cases under this section. Surprisingly, this issue has not been given the attention it deserves by the government although time and again the judiciary as well as the print media has commented about the misuse.

The section has been termed “draconian” and its misuse “legal terror”, which does not suffice. A lot needs to be done at both the micro & macro levels to curb this extortion racket and give the genuine cases the attention they deserve.

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Categories: Other news
  1. Col K S Johar
    February 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Its no doubt people are taking undue advantage of this act.It does not mean that all the husbands,Father-in law/mother-in laws and their relatives are dirty-crook, characterless/bed peoples. I feel there is very little lag period between the newly married couple to understand not only to husband but also the new atmosphere of new house and surroundings,they boldly put up complaints.mainly because before the marriage their brain is washed to the extent (May be by parents)that husband and in-laws can never be true to her.WHAT A SHAME to the society.In the past a soldier usually used to remain away, alone is solitary state and constant work pressure round the clock,from his wife/parents for nearly 10 months a year, they have not lost the respect to/from their parents and full honor from wife.What is needed is teaching to young generation about making the family rather then trying to boss each other.All young couples,before marriage, need proper education, counselling from elders may be from recognized specialist to learn how to live and make good couple and new atmosphere.After all they are making future not only for themselves but also for society.

  2. Praveen Goswami
    February 14, 2011 at 5:21 am

    I need to write the agony, loss of self respect by a frivlous and false comlaint by my supposedly daughter and her father. Whose sole aim is ro money by charging false case of demanding dowry. The girls who has RETIRESD HAS FOUND THIS AS A Source of income. While the is making twice as much as my son and raked in 25 lakhs from us. What a legal way to rip us up lEGALLY not BLONDE BUT extortion. When the court hear about it thry donnot listen, I approached the Gov. too to be be more investigative WHEN THE CHARGES ARE LEVELLED. lIE DETECTOR AND Brain MAPPING SHOULD BE DONE. Then if the charges are found false the girl and her family should be made to pay both in kind and punishment.

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