How to Fight against the Misuse of 498A

Posted by komalku on September 7th, 2019

An Indian marriage begins with 7 weighty promises between a bride and a groom is so often contracted by dowry. A dowry is a sum of money and movable or immovable property gifted by the bride’s parents at the onset of marriage. The term dowry is often used interchangeably with terms like “dower” or “bride price,” but differs significantly. Of course, swapping the names makes it easier to hide bad intent.

A dowry or dahej is politely expected by the groom’s family until of course, they are not quite satisfied. From there on, cue the demands. Now those very civil prisses switch to a bargainer act, one that you must have encountered at a fish market. At this, the bride’s helpless parents in fear of social constructs like reputation and their daughter’s happiness, give away all they can.

The marriage proceeds as the assets are transacted. Except that the poor lack much, but the greedy lack more.

Once in her new home, the newly-married woman now listens to these complaints at her every slip-up. She is taunted, called out, beaten up, and misbehaved with. Why? Because her parents did not “gift” them enough.

This is a preview of Indian household settings. This has been happening since the stringent social system was designed.

However, determined campaigning to empower women in 1980s paved the way for the poorly formulated enactment of the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983, altered the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Under the section 498A, a non-bailable and cognizable offense in cruelty against a woman by her husband or her in-laws, under which they shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of three years and shall also, be liable for a fine.

This cruelty imparted two meanings. That the perpetrator is punishable if one, she was hurt physically. Or second, if she was harassed or forced for more dowry. This made the dowry law stronger than the divorce law in India. Stronger, in women’s favor. Which as it turned out was, worse for the society.

The gender-biases of the law inclined towards its rampant misuse. And so, it happened. While it could not reach out to the deprived brides in rural areas, it fell into the laps of deceitful, privileged women. Our judiciary discovered that the hand which blocks also strikes. The defense became the offense.

Marriages run their natural course. When the compatibility issues, affairs or sexual problems create a rift, women begin blackmailing to extort money from the family. As a result, innocent husbands and naïve parents are trapped by the prejudice of the law.

In 2013, 38,166 cases ended up in acquittal and only 7,259 convictions. In 2009, out of 89,545 cases filed, 8,351 cases turned out to be false, the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) data suggested. Often people say, “Men deserve this.” But isn’t the saying, an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind? This war will never cease if we keep punishing others on someone else’s account.

Historically, the Constitution of India has always favored the weak. And it must. For justice bears the absence of equality. Past inequalities are rewarded by equal opportunities, which are sometimes too “equal.” Hence, in 2017, as prevention to the misuse to keep the balance intact, The Honourable Supreme Court has said that there will be no arrests under Section 498A unless the District Family Welfare Committee report would say so.

But they soon ricocheted back to the same, accepting that the error existed in the execution of the law and not the law per se. The Chief Justice of India said, “The fault lies within the investigating agency which sometimes jumps into action without application of mind.” But this was simply judiciary brushing off accountability from its shoulders and shifting blame to the police executives.

Men have almost nothing as a shield upon separation. But In such a powerless spot, what is an innocent man and his family supposed to do? A suggestion is to primarily stay at arms’ length from such a woman. Once you do that, there are reassuring actions you can take to safeguard yourself from a false allegation. In that spirit, here are the pre-emptive measures recommended by detectives and lawyers:

  1. Bring Proof: Every piece of information that you can gather, gather it. Any recorded discussions, chats, calls, e-mails, letters, bills that can be collected is effectual. Evidence is the only thing standing between you and the truth. These pieces of evidence should prove facts such as that you never forced her to leave the house, you or your family did not demand any dowry before or after the marriage, you never mistreated her. Other than that, much more powerful evidence would be something that speaks against her. For instance, a recording of her threats to you, her mannerisms or her ill-treatment towards your family. All can prove to be essential to the case.
  2. Highlight her Extramarital Affairs, if any: So often women of such nature already have a new lead when they choose to leave the house. An ex-lover, current boyfriend, or someone she had an affair with during the marriage. The evidence of the existence of their relationship can also be beneficial to your case. It might be difficult to retract such information, but using the help of the best private investigators, you can be successful. This proves her infidelity or nature of quick disposal, displaying a poor character in the eyes of the court. With such proof, you can be proven innocent.
  3. Highlight Their Motive: Whenever a woman would threaten to file a false case under 498A, it is obvious that she wants something in return. An oblique motive regarding money, children or more, based on which she is settling a score. This deal or this benefit that she would obtain from filing a false case needs to be highlighted. A gain that she is acquiring from this situation has to more than just spite. You must remember to bring it into the notice of the lawyers and the judge. This ulterior motive once proved with substantial evidence can rightfully free you from all the fake allegations.
  4. Testimonials: Before you and your wife came to bad terms, there may be some sacred or special moments that you both have shared. In such events that look good in your favor, there must be the presence of friends, family or neighbors who can give testimony. A testimonial is one of the strongest moves you can pull in the court. Birthday or anniversary parties, dinners, or simple gestures do not go unnoticed. The presence of people makes it all more accepting. In a society like India, everyone knows about each other’s up and downs. Being an innocent party, you can surely find someone who can vouch for you or family.
  5. Contract of Dowry: This is an anticipatory move that you should take before the marriage. A contract mentioning the dowry that you have received from the bride’s family or an agreement on the fact that no dowry was taken at all. This signed agreement helps you further in life. If a false allegation befalls on you, you would have something solid in your favor. Then your wife-to-be cannot falsely exaggerate or lie to the court about any kind of dowry-related issues. This is a defense that can shield you later in your life. Trust is a rare thing in today’s world. While signing a contract might feel strange about the event of your marriage, it is in the best interests of both the parties.
  6. Staying Ahead: Stay ahead of your wife, the police, and the court. Be ready with all the evidence beforehand. Before more than one allegation befalls on you, being prepared can save you from the drill. In doing so, you will save your time, the court’s time and the mental trauma. As they say, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. DDS Detectives can lend you a helping hand when might feel overwhelmed by the situation you are in. Whenever you are looking for a detective agency in Delhi, arrive at the one-stop full-service DDS Detectives located in Nehru Place.

We always find a reason to disregard men’s rights. It is vindictive on our part because we want to punish someone because we were punished too. It is an extreme form of bullying and sexism that we impart. Feminism has come a long way. Along with which, have fashioned pseudo-feminists or third-wave feminists who are vocal privileged women demanding rights they already have. As a result, the toxicity has grown in both males and females.

Evolutionally, we need to remember that men were too victims since the beginning of time. Men have felt too ashamed of reporting the crimes against them. They were wired to ‘act like men.’ Domestic violence against men goes unreported while male rape is a phenomenon unheard of, but is widespread.

We have to deal with the problem, and not take sides. Otherwise, the cycle of vengeance will never come to end. There is hope in the world, as long as there are men who fight for women’s rights too and women who fight for men’s rights too.

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