What are some cases/stories where women have misused Indian laws, which were actually made to protect them?

What are some cases/stories where women have misused Indian laws, which were actually made to protect … by Anonymous

Answer by Anonymous:

My cousin was jailed for 3 days …

…for pointing out that his wife was having a couple of extra marital affairs. Beat that!

What I am going to share is applicable for everybody in India. I urge everybody should read this start-to-finish at least once. This is the ground reality of India, much different from what we read in our books and newspapers..

In the end, I share how this system help the corrupt.

The story goes on like this –

Brother doctor, his wife a software engineer had an arranged marriage. Some 6 months into the marriage, he finds clear cut and substantial written proofs that his wife was carrying on (before and after marriage) extra marital affairs with a couple of guys in her office.

Cutting the long story short, he chose to end the relationship and checked with some divorce lawyers in the area. As per at least 4 senior lawyers, in case a woman is unwilling, a man asking for a divorce from a woman will invite troubles for the whole family and he will be implicated in a false IPC 498a case. This section is a non-bailable and non-compoundable (means can't be withdrawn even by the complainant).

As per Indian laws, while a man can be booked and jailed for adultery (IPC 497), a woman can NEVER be booked for adultery, she can only be an abettor in adulterous relationship but she can never be put behind bars even if you have the video of herself having hard core sex with a man/men!

(I don't want to go into the debate of whether adultery should be a crime or not but whatever it is, the law should be equally applicable for both the sexes.

While a man can be jailed for adultery, a woman can never be jailed for adultery in India)

My brother chose not to pursue the contested divorce and rather tried going for mutually agreeable divorce. He tried roping in some of his relatives in between to get this done. Now, here comes the bummer – the lady's family had put two conditions – Either pay them a Crore (around $200K) OR be ready to face the music.

Even for a doctor, $200k is a big amount in India. He chose the latter. (On another note, I guess the amount never mattered here, it was about principles for him since he was not at fault, it made no sense for him to part with his money.)

In India, almost all criminal lawyers keep a template of IPC 498a complaint ready with them.  They just need to change names of various family members in that template and an FIR is lodged. In his case, allegedly he used to ask her 25 Lakhs ($50k) dowry.

When the police wallah (IO – Investigating Officer) landed up at his home, I was at his home incidentally. IO clearly said, without any remorse, that he could make out from the FIR itself that it is a false case but I have got orders from my higher-ups to prepare a charge-sheet against the guy.

The brother in the mean time met a lot of higher police officials with conclusive proofs of his wife's extra marital affairs but all they could direct him was to show the proofs in court!

True to his words, the IO later had put lots of spices in the charge-sheet.

My brother applied for a 'Stay on Arrest' from High Court (HC). The judge didn't allow his stay just-because-he-was-a-husband. Not accounting for merits of the case, nothing.

He surrenders before the lower court concerned as advised by the HC and applies for bail. Now the court concerned again refuses to entertain his bail plea -again- just-because-he-was-a-husband. They didn't read allegations or the actual merits of the case.

He was incarcerated for 3 days in jail!

There is such a rampant misuse of this law that some girls have made it their profession. The parties that get benefited the most in such cases is – Police and Lawyers.

The stats at Fight Against misuse of Dowry law (IPC-498a) reveal that 98% of the 498a cases filed are false. In urban areas – and especially among the educated women the extent of misuse is rampant.

When this false case was lodged, we tried contacting some media organizations but they are only interested in covering stories where a woman(read bride) is victim.

Do you remember Nisha Sharma's dowry case in 2003 where she was made a queen overnight and became a darling of media?

She was even felicitated by the prominent state Governments across India for her boldness.

After 9 years of trial, the court found that her case was false. She made her to-be-husband the scapegoat so that her affair is not caught in her family and "samaaj"

When she lodged the case in 2003, it was across all newspapers and all channels covered it prominently but when the same case was found to be false in 2012, none of the media organizations cared to give this news the same prominence.

This is a glaring example of a system wide failure and the greed of those involved. Below I would like to mention the roles of various govt bodies and what we have witnessed first hand –

Role Of Police – Due to the extent of misuse of this law and criticism all around, Govt of India tried setting Women Cells for pre-counselling before registration of FIR but these cells have failed in their job since they act as an extortion tool. Either husband's family has to bow to the demand of girl or be ready to face the jail.

In almost all dowry cases a FIR is registered even if the police know that the case is false. They fear the wrath of media since a 'bride' is involved. In this case, SSP said, if I don't file the case women organizations would go on a dharna and the case would get highlighted in media so better you fight it out in the court. We will have to register the FIR.

Another reason is lure for easy money. A common man would dread a thought of having a Police jeep at his doorstep. Our corrupt police finds this a very easy way to extort thousands and even lakhs of rupees from such people.

Main money goes for taking out some names from the FIR.

Remember in all cases, husband's name would never be taken out from the FIR. 

This rate is dependent upon your profession, your citizenship status (NRI) etc.

In many cases, Police has mindlessly filed this non-bailable section against children as little as 3 years old to senior citizen as old as 85 years old. I personally got to know of an 80 year old grandma who was dragged in this case and is fighting in High Court for her stay application.

When you are taken to judicial custody (ie the main Jail) (Remember – Police custody and Judicial custody is different), you will be presented with various luxury options –

  1. Rs 1k per day and you would not be asked to do any work. You will get bottled water, better quality Rotis/food etc.
  2. Rs 10k and you can stay at your hotel in hiding while the jailer will record your attendance in the jail! You are strictly forbidden to come out in open during this time.

Role of Lawyers – If you meet ANY criminal lawyer off-the-records in a casual setting, (s)he will tell you numerous stories about how the system is extremely biased and the extent of the misuse of this law by married girls and their families.

Get the same lawyer on media and (s)he will take a U turn. The same lawyer who would tell you umpteen stories about the misuse of this law and that it should be abolished would start giving arguments in favour of this law in front of media. The misuse part is almost always refuted with "Which law is not misused, why talk only about this law?"

If I can answer this question – the reason behind this is simple:

  1. It is perhaps the only law in India which puts the onus of proving himself innocent on the accused rather than the usual practice of putting the onus on the complainant to prove the other party guilty.
  2. It is perhaps the only law which doesn't require proof of any kind for the allegations put forward by the bride. There is an instant jail the moment FIR is registered.
  3. It is perhaps the only law in India, where you take people from the mainstream of society – doctors, engineers, CAs, IAS officers and put them to trial without hearing their side. Something as simple as a court notice is dreaded upon by such respected class of people. The unscrupulous lawyers and police would then take advantage of this generated fear and fleece money like anything.
  4. There are cases where people have lost their jobs, their onsite assignments. In some cases it becomes difficult for the nubile sisters/brothers to get married.

It's a huge money maker for all lawyers. Even our Supreme Court in one of its landmark judgement has termed this law becoming a tool for legal terrorism and have asked the government to review it. Many a times it has gone in the parliament too for review but –

  1. Any modification is vehemently opposed by women organizations and
  2. Most of the times you would see that top posts in our parliament is occupied by lawyers and they would never want to monetarily harm their fraternity in any way.

On a particular TV debate we heard a head of women organization arguing

"If they have not done anything why are the men fearful, let them face the trial and come out clean"

While I can go on-and-on replying to this – a single word answer is Harassment

The kind of harassment one feels – just after the FIR – from the police, lawyers and during trial has driven many men to suicide. Read about Syed Makhdoom on Google and how he was driven to suicide due to a false case against him. He has shot a very emotional video of him just before he was about to commit suicide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrGmSI-xdTk

It has prompted Suhaib Illyasi to direct a movie called 498a: A Wedding Gift.

On the same debate when someone pointed that there should be a strict penalty on those ladies who file false cases, the same feminists would again oppose it saying it would stop the bechaari abla naari from filing these cases.

These are the double standards you will see all around. Have your cake and eat it too!

Role of Judiciary – The lessons you read in your Civics books in 9th -10th standard would go for a toss when you reach the courts and how they actually function in India.

Most of the times, the courts in India impart decisions based on the mood of the judges on a particular day – especially where a bail/stay application is to be heard. Such applications are disposed off in a matter of 2-3 mins, if you're lucky you may get 5-6 mins, so it's a hit and trial game in bail and stay cases.

Lawyers often wait for a bench to change so that they can get their case in a bench known for giving particular type of judgement. Often you will find that the decision comes as an emotional response without considering merits/demerits of the case. This includes High Courts and to some extent Supreme Court as well.

At all stages in the court, the accused would be asked to give money to get the work done. You will be asked to give money –

  1. So that the public prosecutor doesn't speak much against you.
  2. So that the munshi expedites your files in court.
  3. So that after the bail, you can get the bail copy quickly from the clerk. Remember this clerk sits right behind the room of the judge and he will openly ask you for money. (If anyone from media is reading this answer – Visit any judge clerk's room at around 4:00 – 5:00 PM, it would be a great place for a sting operation.)

For all those reading this answer, I would request you to up-vote here and share on Facebook/Twitter/Google+ so that the story reaches as many people as possible and can prepare the bachelors amongst us to be careful.

There are so many other interesting facts and conversations that we had with lawyers/police etc that I can write a small eBook. Let me know in the comments section below if you want to read them and I will add those in my answer.

====================================================

Updates

Ok, I can see some requests pouring in for an eBook. Till the time that doesn't come out I will bore you with bulletted updates below.

  • At a tea time conversation with one of our HC lawyers on misuse of 498a, he had an interesting anecdote to share –
  • There was a lady who married 7 times. 6 times she filed a false 498a case and earned a hefty compensation from the husbands to "settle" the case. The 7th boy came to our lawyer for his case. When the matter went to high court, do you know what was the first thing the judge said in the court room? "ah, this lady is so unfortunate she had to go through 6 failed and dowry abuse marriages!"
  • Thankfully the 7th guy was courageous and came up with solid proofs about the misdeeds (not only the proofs of 6 "failed" marriages but also some other proofs which showed her corrupt) of 498a lady and was soon able to win the case.
  • One of our lower court lawyer's munshi (clerk) has this to say about the biased laws – "Bhaisahab, agar mein aapko yeh saare act padha doon naa, aap apni biwi se yeh bhi nahi pooch paoge ki khana mein aaj namak kam kyon hai " (Translation: Brother, if I make you read the marriage related laws, you would feel terrified to ask your wife, why has she put less salt in the food) (This clerk has been working with our lawyer for more than 23 years now. Though he was not LLB by profession but with his experience he knew equal to if not more than our lawyer.
  • On the surface, his statement may seem a bit exaggerated but this is the kind of fear it has instilled in the people who have seen the misuse of this law from close quarters.)
  • We also got a chance to meet the jailer for sometime in a casual setting. Contrary to our pre-conceived notions, the guy was quite polite and sounded well read.
  • He told, I have been a jailer for last 13 years in various jails, I have seen people from all walks of life being jailed in 498a cases. We can make out with a single reading of an FIR whether the case is true or not.
  • I can assure you, 99% of these 498a cases that I have seen in my career were false. Most of the times, this law is either 1) used by the girls parents to extract money from their rich sons-in-laws OR 2) the girl would use it to hide her affairs. OR 3) Probably to settle scores after a fight with husband.The irony is that, this law is not used by the real victims of dowry harassment  The real victims are not there in the urban areas rather they are in rural areas but they never dare to step into a police station to file a dowry case. You should be happy that a case is filed on you in 2012 (a lot of awareness is there regarding its misuse.) In the 90s there was a straightaway 1 year jail term for the husband before even the 1st hearing.!!
  • For those of you who don't know, there are entire forums dedicated to this very cause http://www.498a.org/forum/ You can read stories after stories of harassed husbands and their families.
  • One of the victims has recently come up with a book Just Married: Have You Applied for Bail? This book is getting rave reviews on FlipKart. The author is a software engineer working at Tatas. As per the author it is a must read for all unmarried guys in India.
  • Supreme Court has taken the bull by its horns and taming it: No arrests under anti-dowry law without magistrate’s nod: SC – The Times of India
  • Ok, let me test your practical law-IQ
  • Let's say you get a news from a source that a (false) FIR has been filed against you in a non-bailable section. What should be your first step?
  • Option A: Since you have not done anything wrong, you should go to the police and tell the truth.
  • Option B: Go in hiding and plan for the next move.
  • Option C: Do Nothing. Since the FIR is false, police will see through the truth when they conduct investigation.
  • Answer: In a world, where police is non-corrupt, the ideal answer could be A or C but in India as a rule you SHOULD ALWAYS go for option B.
  • Go in hiding and apply for anticipatory bail or Stay on arrest as the case maybe.
  • Again, common sense beats me here – Our system allows you to be on the run from a government setup (Police) and ask for reprieve from another Government setup (Courts) while you are in hiding!!
  • So next time when you read newspapers that a person is escaping arrest after an FIR, you should not assume he/she is guilty. Even if a FIR is false, if  Police is able to catch you in a non-bailable case, you will be jailed first and asked for reasons later.
  • [Update Apr 2015]: My brother has filed a divorce case in late 2013 – she and her greedy parents are asking for a hefty "one time alimony". After going through the ordeal, my cousin says he won't give a penny to this lady even if that means fighting for another 20 years! Taking advantage of the laws made for women, this highly paid lady filed a maintenance case on my brother around mid of 2014. My brother and his lawyer made a very strong reply and this greedy lady lost the case. While pronouncing the judgement, the lady judge rebuked her for not coming up with "clean hands" before the court; since she didn't disclose her actual salary (to extort money from my brother.) Divorce case is still pending as she is now trying all available tricks under the belt to delay the hearings!
  • [Update May 2015]: To falsely implicate my brother, The lady's father had claimed spending Rs 50 lakhs in marriage, bro filed a complaint with Income tax deptt. which conducted an enquiry. Income tax dept has now sent a recovery notice of Rs 16 lakhs on him.
  • [Update Dec 2015]: Bro has won the divorce case as well on grounds of cruelty.

Please upvote and share this answer with your friends/colleagues and save them from legal terrorism.

What are some cases/stories where women have misused Indian laws, which were actually made to protect them?

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