NFHS MEMO to WCD/PM/Law Ministry/President/CJI/NAC/Law Commission – Regarding proposed amendment to “Protection of women from domestic violence act”
7th Aug 2011/ Bangalore
Hon’ble Minister of Women and Child development
Ministry of Women & Child Development, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi – 110001
Subject: Regarding proposed amendment to “Protection of women from domestic violence act”
About National Family Harmony Society®: “National Family Harmony Society®” NFHS is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) promoting the cause of “family harmony” and “gender equality”. It is registered under “The Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960” and is based in Bangalore. We have branches in more than 16 states and in abroad too. We have approximately 16500 members all over India. To know more about us please visit http://www.family-harmony.org / http://www.498a.org.in.
Recent media reports suggest that your ministry is planning amendments to the “Protection of women from domestic violence act” hereafter referred to as “Act”, which was passed by the parliament in 2005 with good intention to provide protection to women in domestic relationship.
We would like to bring to your kind attention and notice that none other “Act” has gained so much notoriety as this “Act” in a short span of 6 years. The said Act is being heavily misused and abused by unscrupulous and greedy women with an intention to settle score with the estranged husband and his family. Protection and empowerment of women cannot be achieved by harassing husband and his family members. A study conducted by our NGO shows that the said “Act” is being heavily misused by estranged wives by leveling baseless, frivolous, vexatious and scandalous, allegations against husband in case of any matrimonial disputes just with an intention to get monetary benefits.
We believe that certain misandric elements, in the name of pseudo-empowerment of women are all out to destroy the Indian Family System and values with the active connivance of vested interests that are harboring a diabolic design and agenda to destroy our traditional institution of family. These elements are running berserk clamoring for more draconian enactments that are detrimental to the system of marriage and family in addition to the existing laws which are totally anti-men. Our country is already divided in the name of language, religion and geographic region. But these women-biased laws like “Act” are bringing in another dimension of division of our society in the name of gender.
The “Act”, was framed and legislated based on a myth and assumption that only women under go domestic violence. The parliament has not considered the fact the “softer-sex” i.e., Males are equally vulnerable to domestic violence in the hands of a female or another male. Numerous incidents of domestic violence on males covered by press & media, clearly showing the evidence of violence on males, have been ignored by the parliament. It is not appropriate to assume that all “married young women” in our country are Sita Devis. We should not forget that there are enough number of Surpanakas & Kaikeyis in our country. Numerous incidents of crime committed by women can be found in press & media coverage. Some of these media coverage can be witnessed from our website in the below link.
Anybody can be a victim of Domestic violence, including children, infants, teenagers and senior citizens. They can become victim at the hands of their own blood relatives including the mothers of the children and the sons & daughters-in-law of
the aged parents. Senior citizens are mostly abused by the daughters-in-law more so by the misuse of these women-biased laws. Even United Nations Organization has recognized that the misuse of IPC 498A or the “Dowry Law” is the biggest form of elder abuse in our country. Such senior citizens in their twilight years should be protected from domestic violence and abuse.
We wish to bring your notice that this law is being misused by many of the young, educated & greedy women with corrupt intentions to satisfy their greed, grudge & fantasies. This law becomes more lethal when misused along with the Dowry Law or IPC 498A. The case under Domestic Violence Act is usually filed just after an FIR
U/S 498A is registered for the same cause of action. The misuse of the “Act” is so rampant that many of the parliamentarians, courts, Chief justices of various High courts have expressed their concerns over the misuse of this Act.
Surprisingly, the said “Act” recognizes Live-in relationships. A man can have any number of Live-in relationships and similarly a woman can also have many Live-in relationships. This is nothing but a different concept of prostitution and nothing but polygamy. This issue needs in-depth deliberation to ensure that the “Act” does not cover live-in relationships. If live in relationship is recognized then that means that we are promoting polygamy & adultery, thus making the sections 494 & 497 of Indian Penal Code as Un-constitutional.
When an estranged wife claims for the reliefs of Protection, Residence, Maintenance orders as per the existing “Act” and complains and claims for these reliefs, that itself shows that the marriage between husband and wife has broken down and the relationship between them is not cordial and that is why she has come forward to complain. In such a situation it is impossible to think that they can live together again. In such a case while providing reliefs to the woman, the husband should be granted automatic divorce decree order if he moves an application for the same at appropriate court.
The existing “Act” has been designed to provide protection to woman and not to harass the husband. In such a case husband should not be denied of his basic rights of being in a family, cohabiting with a woman and pass on his genes to the next generation, etc. Even those who are accused under much severe crimes like IPC 302 (murder) or IPC 307 (attempt to murder) will be given a liberty to live freely till he is proven guilty. Many of the accused people in the 1984 riots & Godhra riots are freely living while they are still undergoing their trials. Their basic rights of getting food cooked by their wives, having children with their wives are not being denied. In such a case why a husband accused under Protection of women from domestic violence Act should be punished and should be denied of his basic rights? Since the existing “Act” doesn’t have any punishments like not allowing husband to eat food or not allowing him to have sex, etc., the husband should be made eligible for an immediate automatic divorce decree if he moves an application for the same, so that his basic rights are not denied but fulfilled by any other woman who is happy to live with him along with the reliefs being fulfilled under this Act for the complainant wife. Not doing so results in violation of human rights of the husband.
The protection officer in the “Act” does not have any role in investigating the alleged domestic violence, it is only limited to writing down the false statements and filling the report as per the wishes of the wife’s advocate. It is mostly observed that the job of the PO is just to tick mark most of the rows in the DIR on the insistence of the wife. Even the Honorable Supreme Court of India in 14Feburary2010 observed that “in rape cases the testimony of the victim cannot be considered to be the gospel truth, though in normal circumstances her statement has to be relied upon.” So in general to avoid misuse no conclusion should be drawn into the PO report and interim maintenance should not be passed on PO report.
As there is no provision of punishment in the “Act” hence there is no fear in the mind of the litigants and they are indulging in leveling baseless and wild allegations against each other. This is deplorable and results in considerable delay of the proceedings. It has been observed that just to get maintenance wife normally puts wild and imaginary allegations even to the extent of extra martial affairs.
There is no bar on the amount of maintenance an estranged wife can claim under the “Act”. This leads to claiming of exorbitant amounts of maintenance to the tune of lakhs of rupees. Claiming exorbitant amounts of maintenance is nothing but misusing the provision which is meant to protect women. It is impossible to believe that with the current economic conditions prevailing in our country that a woman would need lakhs of rupees of money for basic necessities like food, cloth, and medicines. We have seen cases where the maintenance amounts have been claimed in the range of 25,000/-, 50,000/- to 200,000/- per month. Even the Honorable magistrates, Honorable High court judges and “Honorable members of parliament” are not getting that much amount of money as their salaries. Maintenance includes only the basic necessities i.e., food, cloth, medicines & shelter. In any city in our country these basic necessities will not cost thousands & lakhs of rupees per month. The magistrates are supposed to pass orders ONLY for these basic necessities and other house hold expenses which should never run into thousands of rupees as claimed in some cases. The Act itself mandates that the maintenance amounts should be fair, just & reasonable. But that is hardly followed.
Since mostly estranged wife complain of violence hence, in order to protect these women, the women should be mandatorily accommodated in Govt. sponsored Shelter Homes. The cost for the accommodation may be put on the accused/respondents. The cost will be for her maintenance as per the prevailing rates as declared by the Government.
In view of the above discussion and reasoning we demand following:
- We strongly request to make the said “Act” “gender-neutral” by providing protection to MEN as well.
- We sincerely request to increase the scope of the said Act beyond “young married women” to a cover a much larger section of victims irrespective of their age & gender.
- There is an urgent need to introduce a punishment clause in the “Act” in-line with section 387 to 389 of Indian Penal Code. A new clause should be introduced to protect the rights of the respondents by sufficiently compensating in case of false claim. The clause should also make a provision to return back any interim maintenance amount paid during the trial with 10% interest rate in case allegations are proved false.
- The parliament should clear the confusion on live-in-relation. It cannot take different stands on the same issue of polygamy. Therefore, we propose to remove live-in relationships from the context of this Act OR make sections 494 & 497 of Indian Penal Code as Un-constitutional.
- We suggest/recommend introducing a new clause for protecting the human rights of the accused husband.
- The role of a Protection officer is absolutely unnecessary and should be removed.
- The trial under this Act should be made in compliance to Indian Evidence Act rather than in compliance to Criminal Procedure Code.
- The magistrates shall ensure that interim orders are passed at the earliest and at the discretion of the officers and shall ensure the trial is not withheld over an indefinite period due to non-execution of interim orders.
- The magistrates shall order perjury and contempt proceedings in respect of exaggerated or false allegation in respect of domestic violence, cruelty when such allegations are proved to be false. And spouses making false allegations are to be punished.
- In order to stop misuse of this Act as a black mailing tool, we propose to do camera recording of the counseling/mediation done by the counselors if the accused/respondents wishes so. The counselor has to give the certified copy of this recoding to the complainant woman, accused/respondents and magistrate.
- In order to protect these women, the women should be mandatorily accommodated in Govt. sponsored Shelter Homes. The cost for the accommodation may be put on the accused/respondents. The cost will be for her maintenance as per the prevailing rates as declared by the Government.
We submit that our suggestions are just and reasonable and in the event of non implementation of our suggestions, 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”.
Jai Hind!! With profound respects,
P Suresh, President, M Mahesh, General Secretary,