I would like to bring to your attention the rampant misuse of empowering provisions by unscrupulous women for violating the human rights of their husbands and their family. IPC 498a warrants impromptu arrest simply on the basis of a verbal/written complaint of the alleged victim.
This provision is being misued to blackmail the unsuspecting husband and his family to extort easy money (to the tune of tens of lakhs) by unscrupulous ladies who have turned the institution of marriage into a money making enterprise. This is a non-bailable and non-compoundable section and hence the arrested person has to make provisions for running around lawyers and courts. What this entails is a social stigmatization, financial loss, loss of livelihood ,loss of liberty and rendering the victim vulnerable to blackmail and extortion. The victimization does not end with the arrest. If the victim stands up to face this oppression he is dragged into court case which takes 3-5 years to resolve on an average.At the end of this legal battle the verdict loses any significance since the damage has already been perpetrated.
As the commission would appreaciate subjecting a person to such mental torture even before establishing his guilt goes against all legal norms. The Honorable Supreme Court in its judgement of 19/7/2005 in Writ Petition (Civil) Sushil Kumar sharma Vs. U.O.I. and Others has acknowledged the dangers of “Legal Terrorism” due to misuse of 498a. They said,” Dowry Law is a Shield, not an assassin’s weapon.”
Andhra Pradesh High court Saritha Vs Ramachandra reported in I (2003) DMC 37 DB records that educated women are approaching the courts for divorce and resorting to proceedings against in-laws under section 498a IPC, implicating not only the husbands but also their
family members whether in India or Abroad. This is nothing but misuse of the beneficial provision intended to save the women from unscrupulous husbands. It has taken a reverse trend now. In some cases this kind of actions is coming as a formidable hurdle in the reconciliation efforts made by either well meaning people or the courts and the sanctity attached to the marriage in Hindu Religion and the statutory mandate that the courts try to save the marriage through conciliatory efforts till last, are being buried neck-deep.
Judgement of High court of Karnataka Justice Kabbin April 15 2005 CRLP 4121/2005 states that there may arise quarrel between husband and equally or more qualified and earning wife for many reasons and unless such quarrels, where in wife alleges harassment by husbands and relatives, is relatable to dowry demands,such harassment cannot be termed as dowry harassment or violence.
There are tonnes of media articles recording the misuse of these provisions.Some are cited below :-
TimesofIndia article on NRI protest over 498a :-
498a and DV misuse statistics :-
Hindustan Times :-
Khaleej Times :-
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/subcontinent/2007/January/subconti nent_January513. xml§ion=subcontinent& col
Women misusing anti-dowry law: HC
Dowry act misues quite common
Check dowry law misuse by women: HC
Majority of dowry cases are false: SP
Some brides are `villains’, not victims: lawyers
Given these facts and the tremedous mental trauma such a misuse induces on the victim without establishing his guilt or otherwise, I would urge the commission on behalf of thousands of Indians who are caught in this quagmire to safeguard their human rights as enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and which are impinged upon by this law.
The relevant articles of UDHR are quoted below.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, fundamental human rights are violated when, among other things:
- Men and women are not treated as equal. (Article 2) : Men cannot lodge a complaint under 498a.
- Life, liberty or security of person are threatened. (Article 3) : Victims suffer Suicides, Mental harssment , Financial extortion, Loss of freedom
- Punishments are dealt arbitrarily or unilaterally, without a proper and fair trial. (Article 11) : Threat of arbitrary arrest without being given a chance to defend oneself on the basis of a verbal/written complaint of another individual. This itself is teh biggest punishment for law-abiding citizens.
- Arbitrary interference into personal, or private lives by agents of the state. (Article 12) :Arrest of aged parents, relatives (who may have nothing to do with the matter) at odd hours for harassment
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
which India Ratified on 10th April, 1979
Article 10 of this covenant requires that
1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses.
- Misuse of IPC 498a is a guarenteed family breaker which leaves no chance of future reconciliation. It provides a convenient mechanism for unscrupulous ladies to walk out of a family relationship with a huge bounty of their husband’s har earned money.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
which India Ratified on 10th April, 1979 enshrines the following principles which again are violated due to misue of IPC 498a.
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,
Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights,
Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,
(b) Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes: To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks
1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.
4. States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Last but not the least our constitution guarentees the right to equality to all citizens irrespective of caste,creed, sex. In particular everyone is considered equal before law. Then why should one sex be subjected to arbitrary arrest on account of misuse of provisions by another sex when the victims do not have any such provisions available to them. Why are safeguards not put in place to prevent this misuse.
All right thinking Indians will be in conformity with provisons for empowering the women but that is for providing a level playing field to those who are genuinely needy. The commission will agree that misuse of these provisions for petty personal gains by already empowered individuals is unethical,immoral and plain wrong.
I pray to the commission to make provisions for urgent and stringent safeguards in these laws to prevent their misuse for safeguarding the human rights of the victims who are suffering on account of these draconian provisions.The supreme court observation in this regard are noteworthy in Writ Petition (C) No. 141 of 2005 “In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in
all cases wipe out the ignomy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery.”. I urge the NHRC which is the watchdog of human rights in India to take steps to set right the wrong the safeguard the rights of suffering individuals and families whose numbers is swelling by the day.
Thanks and regards,
Source : Mail to NHRC