Saturday, March 04, 2006


No eyewitnesses or evidence is required for 498a!!

No eyewitnesses or evidence is required for filing a case under Section 498A of
the IPC, and there is no punishment for filing a false case just to abuse
others. The outcome in such cases is: harassment of entire families by the legal
system at the behest of some abusive wives/daughter-in-laws and at times jail
for no rhyme or reason! Therefore, the abusive wives/daughter-in-laws who file
false cases sleep in peace, without a care in the world.

I am not a young woman but I am, like many other women, a working mother with a
son of a marriageable age who adheres to some professional ethics and has worked
hard to save up enough to put a roof over my family’s head. I am sure all women
my age don’t want to go the way many other mother in laws have over the past 2
decades, had their homes broken, destroyed and taken away by an abusive and lazy

In the 21st century, many such abusive daughter-in-laws will be soon crossing
our ways. And if you fail to submit to their whims and fancies, then they will
not shirk away from using the ultimate weapon of 498A. The will even have you
imprisoned and your family’s reputation and honor destroyed by filing a false
case of rape/domestic violence/dowry harassment. What the heck if you are
innocent? Nobody in the legal system cares. They all want your money. That’s the
message sent out by the lawmakers and the police of the country.

‘Evidence’, ‘Eyewitness’ and ‘Investigative agencies’ seem dwarfed terminologies
making a shallow parody of legal/political/moral fairness in India. Loopholes at
different levels have cleared the path for wives/daughter-in-laws who want to
misuse Section 498A of the IPC.

What’s makes it worse is if the abusive wives/daughter-in-laws have contacts
and are willing to provide everybody a share of the “moolah”. A conscience, some
courage, the passion to stand up for what’s right - nah! These are mothballed
virtues, which have no place in today’s world. That’s the message sent out by
the ill-educated urban women of the 21st century, who did a volte face in the
values of morality, honesty, and decency.

What about the support of your friends and relatives if you are falsely accused
in a 498A case? You may be run over by a vehicle or murdered before hundreds,
but cowardly threads will tie their tongues and festoons for your “in happier
days” photographs. They all will wormhole their way to safety if a 498A has been
filed against you.

I am severely burdened. One more dictum has been thrust on me. My
“progressive” horizon is suddenly bleak.

One may counter that only the wearer knows where the shoe bites. Any sane
person will run for his life from marriage to an educated urban woman of the
21st century rather then let the sword dangle on his head under such
circumstances. But there were hundreds of them who have been programmed from an
early age to respond to a young woman’s tears without a care for the truth.

Today it was some other family, tomorrow it could be one of your sons who
might get taken for a ride by the new-age urban woman who feels that nobody else
but she and her parental family have all the rights. Who will the cowardly turn
to, then, for support, having rendered none themselves?

The lessons then:

Never commit the blasphemy of allowing your son to marry the new-age urban
Indian woman because otherwise you will be running from pillar to post for
justice. It could take more than six years and all your savings. However, the
people with connections (like Chief Minister Hooda and Home Minister Advani)
will always get off with ease.

Please don’t suggest pre- or post-nuptial agreements for my son in these days of
adversity. The members of the NCW may knock me down in a spur of vicious rage
before even I could start thinking about it.

The cumbersome cargo of these spooky thoughts have drooped my confidant gait.
Some mothers might want to scream shame, but what’s the use if you live in India
or if you live abroad and you want your son to marry an urban Indian woman. It’s
all in vain because the Indian legal and political system (controlled by the
corrupt) recognizes no other country's law but expects every other country to
obey its orders.

Society needs to change with the times. The ill-educated urban Indian woman of
the 21st century is even more devious and better equipped to get away with all
kinds of falsehoods (fake tears, fake breasts, fake lips, fake hymens, painted
faces, sugar-coated double-speak talk, natural lies, every ready to display her
wares) than all her predecessors. The unsuspecting male does not realize what
hit him until well after it hits him and his entire family.

Only a united stand will ensure justice for the innocent and result in
punishment for the criminal families who file false 498A cases. There need to be
stronger checks and balances in place to punish such false accusers and their
corrupt helpers.

Will the wives/daughter-in-laws who file false cases with impunity, repeat
that dastardly act again once the legal system starts meting out severe
punishment to the false accusers? Most probably, No.

- A mother whose son is falsely implicated by 498a

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Dowry Laws: Loopholes & Possibilities Of Misuse

Subject : Criminal
Title : Dowry Laws: Loopholes & Possibilities Of Misuse
Author : Mr. Arvind Lakhawat

Dowry laws: Loopholes & Possibilities of misuse…

There is hardly any other malady of greater magnitude, which the
society is facing today than the curse of dowry demand and dowry
death. It is commonly talked of in the society that the newly
married wife is expected to be a gold mine, failing which they treat
her as combustible material, and because of this cruel behavior, the
girl, who comes to the matrimonial home with great expectations and
dreams, has to resort to suicide or be burnt alive by the in-laws.

It is ironic that in India dowry was originally designed to
safeguard the woman and it was the provision of " Streedhan"
("Stree" meaning woman and "dhan" meaning wealth) in the form of
money, property or gifts given solely to the woman by her parents at
the time of her marriage. "Streedhan", an inheritance was meant to
exclusively belong to the woman at the time of her marriage. The
abuse of this custom eroded and aborted the original meaningful
function of dowry as a safety net for the woman and was corrupted to
become the price tag for the groom and consequently the noose for
the bride.

The government has tried to combat the growing incidence of dowry
death by enacting various laws to prevent such deaths from occurring
and to punish those responsible when they do occur. The government's
first effort came with the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. To
increase its effectiveness, the government has twice amended the
Act, in 1984 and 1986. The 1986 amendments require the police and a
judicial magistrate to investigate every unnatural death of a woman
married less than seven years. Currently, the Act prohibits
the "giving, taking, or demanding of dowry." The Act defines "dowry"
as property that is given or agreed to be given to a newlywed by the
other newlywed or either set of parents "in connection with the
marriage." Violations of the Act are "punishable with a term of
imprisonment of between six months and two years, plus a fine of up
to ten thousand rupees or the value of the dowry, whichever is higher

In addition to criminalizing dowry, the Indian Parliament has
criminalized dowry-related violence against women. The Indian Penal
Code, amended in 1983, outlaws dowry-related cruelty by the husband
and his relatives. The Parliament further amended the Penal Code in
1986 to explicitly provide that dowry deaths are punishable with
imprisonment between seven years and life. Additionally, the Code of
Criminal Procedure now mandates a police investigation into deaths
of women under suspicious circumstances that occur within seven
years of marriage. Finally, in addition to criminal laws, the
Parliament amended the Indian Evidence Act, which now creates a
presumption of dowry death whenever a woman is subjected to dowry-
related cruelty or harassment soon before her death.

In spite of legal breakthroughs, shocking statistics on dowry deaths
continued to show up in Indian newspapers. The 90's showed a steady
yearly increase in bridal death tolls with many more deaths
unreported. Like clockwork every 12 hours a dowry related death
claimed to have taken the lives of over 20,000 women across India
between 1990 and 1993. And the dowry death statistical beat goes on…
live, time, emit, evil…

A total of 2988 dowry death cases are pending in the High Courts all
over the country. In addition 13251 dowry death cases are pending in
the subordinate courts throughout the country. The highest number of
dowry death cases comprising 926 such cases are pending in the
Rajasthan High Court followed by 842 such cases in the Punjab and
Haryana High Court 436 cases in the Bombay High Court 397 cases in
the Madhya Pradesh High Court 141 cases in the Himanchal Pradesh
High Court 140 in the Andhra Pradesh High Court 71 in the Patna High
Court and 35 in the Kerala High Court. As for the Karnataka High
Court the combined figure of 2064 cases is pending both in the High
Court and the subordinate judiciary of the State of Karnataka. In
the case of subordinate courts the highest number of 4974 dowry
death cases is pending in the State of Maharashtra followed by 2213
such cases pending in the State of Bihar, 2064 cases in the State of
Karnataka, 1373 cases in the State of Andhra Pradesh, 1349 cases in
the State of Madhya Pradesh, 936 cases in the State of Jharkhand,
705 cases in the State of Punjab, 152 in the State of Kerala and 85
cases in the State of Himachal Pradesh.

While no time limit has been prescribed by law for courts to decide
dowry death cases both the Government and the Judiciary are
concerned with the pendency of such cases. Meanwhile various steps
are being taken to expedite disposal of cases by the courts. These
include amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure increase in the
number of judges or judicial officers appointment of special
judicial and metropolitan magistrates and setting up of fast track

India's statutory laws are ineffective in preventing dowry deaths
and punishing the perpetrators for four reasons:

1. Vague Statutory Language

First, the statutory language is too vague to effectively stop the
practice of demanding or giving dowries. It is actually a problem of
under inclusiveness. As originally construed by the courts, dowry
included only money and property given at the wedding ceremony.
Consequently, the Act did not prohibit gifts demanded after the
wedding. The Act's definition of what constitutes dowry needs to be
expanded to prevent families from evading the Act's proscription
against dowry.

2. Non enforcement of Existing Laws

Equally at fault in the continuing problem of dowry deaths is the
non-enforcement of criminal laws by police and prosecutors. Although
the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued specific instructions to
police officers as to how to investigate dowry deaths, the police
rarely follow these guidelines and frequently fail to investigate
properly. Instead, police often dismiss such crimes as family
disputes and report them as "kitchen accidents." Less than ten
percent of apparent dowry-related deaths are actually investigated.

Even when investigations are carried out they are generally
incomplete. The police fail to take photographs or fingerprints and
often base their investigations primarily on statements made by
relatives. Any witnesses that do exist are intimidated into silence
or are reticent to get involved. If a death cannot be written off as
accidental, the police take months and even years to file a charge
sheet. By this time, any evidence that was available has
disappeared. In addition, prosecutors are often reluctant to
prosecute the alleged perpetrator. Even when prosecutions do
eventually make it to trial, the faulty investigations provide
judges with an excuse to acquit.

Police corruption is largely responsible for such slipshod
investigations and prosecutorial delays. There is evidence that
police are bribed by husbands and in-laws in exchange for agreeing
not to make a formal investigation. It is also not uncommon for
police to conspire with the accused to falsify cases as suicides or
accidents. This falsification may even involve altering the woman's
dying declaration, which is often the only evidence of any
wrongdoing by the husband and in-laws. Such an alteration by the
police may effectively prevent conviction.

Even the judiciary contributes to the small number of dowry-related
prosecutions. Dowry complaints are given such low priority that it
can often take up to one year before the court even agrees to grant
a hearing. Moreover, courts often suppress certain crucial evidence,
such as suicide notes and dying declarations, on technical grounds.

3. Cultural Attitudes toward Women

Cultural attitudes toward Indian women provide the third impediment
to effective enforcement of laws prohibiting dowry and criminalizing
dowry murder. From childhood, an Indian woman is taught that she
will marry the man her family chooses and that she will have to win
over the family into which she marries. Once married, a woman's
maternal family shuns her; she must make a place for herself in her
new family. Moreover, she must serve her husband selflessly, bear
everything without complaint, and never attempt to return to her
maternal family. Hindu religious texts reinforce this theme,
instructing women to remain devoted to their husbands no matter what
their husbands do to them. Social mores dictate that a woman must
never speak out against her husband, and a broken marriage is viewed
as a disgrace both to the woman's family and to her own honor.
Consequently, Indian women rarely seek divorces or accuse their
husbands or in-laws of violence. Instead, they suffer harmful abuse
in silence. Women will not complain about a husband's abuse or even
a murder attempt, refusing to implicate their husbands even on their
deathbeds. As a result of these cultural attitudes, parents and
neighbors rarely offer to help the new bride. Even when a bride has
the courage to seek help, her parents almost always refuse to allow
her to return home out of fear of public humiliation. Thus, the
bride, who has nowhere to turn for help, is placed at great risk of
a dowry-related death.

4. Economic Discrimination against Women

Finally, legalized economic discrimination against women impacts the
efforts to halt dowry deaths by preventing women from achieving
economic independence and freedom from their aggressors. Because of
laws governing the ownership of both real and personal property,
women have "little control over land use, retention, or sale." Of
the personal property laws, only Hindu family law distinguishes
between "ancestral and self-acquired property in the matter of
inheritance." Under these inheritance laws, women are prohibited
from heading households or inheriting ancestral property. Instead,
the only way women can inherit their father's or husband's personal
property is through testation. Although in theory the Hindu
Succession Act gives Hindu women equal inheritance, "in practice,
married daughters are seldom given a share in parental property."
Similarly, Islamic personal law recognizes the inheritance rights of
both sons and daughters, but it mandates that the daughter's share
be just one half of the son's because sons are responsible for
caring for their elderly parents.

In addition to discrimination against women in the matter of
inheritance, women are discriminated against in the area of
employment. No law guarantees women equal employment opportunities.
Because it prevents women from becoming economically independent,
Indian law compels them to remain in abusive relationships, even if
their husbands have tried to murder them. Compounding this problem
are existing laws that make obtaining a divorce difficult and that
fail to provide adequate support for the few women who are

Sunil Bajaj v. State of M.P. is one of those land mark cases which
points out towards the drawbacks of the section 304-B in the sense
of its misinterpretation by the lower courts and use of it as a
weapon of revenge against the innocent persons. In this case Sunil
Bajaj married Suman (deceased) in 1991. He was asking her wife to
bring money from her parents and parents were giving money to her
from time to time. In June 1995 Suman told her mother that her
husband was demanding an amount of Rs. 20,000 and that he had
illegal relations with some girls of doubtful character and used to
bring those girls to his house. Those girls have beaten her also.
That the appellant was ill-treating and harassing her. The
prosecution says that all that cruelty of the appellant led her to
commit suicide by burning herself on August 28, 1995.

In this case the question of law before the Apex Court was that
whether the conviction of appellant was in the interest of justice
under section 304-B I.P.C. in the light of the facts and
circumstances of the case?

It was held by the Hon'ble Justice Shivraj V. Patil:

It is unfortunate that the trial court did not properly and
objectively consider the evidence to reach a conclusion that the
appellant was guilty of the offence u.s. 304-B I.P.C. the High Court
also did not appreciate the evidences as being the first court of
appeal and had disposed the appeal in a summary way, confirming the
order of the trial court. In the light of the above stated facts and
evidences both the courts have committed a serious and manifest
error in not looking that the crucial ingredient of the offence u.s.
304-B was not established that the deceased was subjected to cruelty
or harassment by the appellant soon before her death in the
connection of the demand of dowry. So the judgment of the High Court
suffers from infirmity and illegality.

So the appeal is allowed and the order and conviction passed by the
High Court and the trial court is set aside and the appellant is

Before coming to any conclusion there is a dire need of analyzing
the statutory provisions about dowry death critically.

By analyzing the provisions of dowry death we may deduce following
from various cases that how they have been actually interpreted by
the judiciary:

(1) Once `cruelty' as envisaged by section 498-A is proved, and then
it will not be necessary to prove that cruelty as mentioned, is the
cause of suicide/ dowry death.

(2) The legislature has presumed that cruelty, as mentioned, is the
sole cause of suicide/ dowry death.

(3) The offence u/s. 304-B and S. 306 I.P.C. will be held proved
without any reference to act of accused in the event of suicide/
dowry death. Even the accused may not be intending, planning,
visualizing or anticipating the act of suicide / dowry death.

(4) It will not be necessary for the prosecution to prove that the
suicide/ dowry death was abetted by the accused.

(5) The presumption of abetment will be available, without there
being any evidence of abetment as provided by S. 107 I.P.C.

(6) The presumption, which was discretionary u/s. 113-A of the
Evidence Act, has been made mandatory u/s. 113-B of the Evidence Act
and S. 304-B I.P.C. thus the court is bound to draw the presumption.

Section 304-B of the Penal Code and S.113-B of the Evidence Act
assume that the sole cause of dowry death/ suicide is cruelty as
envisaged in S. 498-A. this assumption is not based on any
scientific data. The Punjab and Haryana High Court in Balbir Singh
v. State of Punjab held that a wife might have chosen to end her
life for reasons, which may be many, other than that of cruelty. The
following causes, other than cruelty, have been held to be cause of
suicide or death, by various courts:

(1) One third of the people, who kill themselves have been found to
be suffering from mental illness.

(2) The motive for the act that operates on the mind of the author
of the act is not always known or is difficult to discover. Thus the
difficulty is to find actual cause of death.

(3) Everybody has different level of tolerance. The coping mechanism
is not uniform. Some are able to withstand various pressures, while
others succumb to them.

(4) A wife committed suicide since two letters from her paramour had
come to the knowledge of her husband.

It is not difficult to find cases where the motive for the death may
never see the light of the day. The proof may have disappeared with
the death of the wife. For the reasons of self-condemning proof, she
may have chosen to keep it secret, where the husband or his
relatives may not be in a position to lead the evidence to it.

Then the conviction will follow under the presumption, though they
are innocent, there is not any cruelty.

The procedure prescribed by law must be fair, just and reasonable,
not fanciful, oppressive or arbitrary. Where an assumption not
supported by any scientific data existed, the law was declared

There is nothing in common between S. 498-A and S. 306 and S. 304-B
of the Penal Code. The motivation of two offences may be quite
different. The ingredients of cruelty (S. 498-A) and abetment (S.
306) or dowry death (304-B) are altogether different. The
circumstances in which the two offences are committed are quite

It would appear that there is no nexus between cruelty in section
498-A and abetment of suicide/ dowry death.

The legislature can provide a more stringent punishment for cruelty
u/s. 498-A but cannot enact law that cruelty will henceforth be
treated as abetment of suicide or dowry death. For example, rape of
a girl of 8 years is even worse than murder, but the legislature
cannot provide that such a rape will be considered as murder.

The S. 304-B provides for a minimum sentence of 7 years rigorous
imprisonment, without providing that for reasons to be recorded, the
court can award fewer sentences. There can be case of ailing mother-
in-law or a pregnant sister-in-law at the time of conviction. Thus
it excludes judicial scrutiny or discretion in showing leniency or

The observation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Balbir Singh
v. State of Punjab is very relevant regarding the misuse of these

These salutary provisions cannot be allowed to be misused by the
parents or relatives of psychopath wife, who may have chosen to end
her life for other reasons than cruelty. The glaring reality cannot
be ignored that the ugly trend of false implications with a view to
harass and blackmail an innocent spouse and his relatives, is fast
emerging. It is time to stop this unhealthy trend, which results in
unnecessary misery and torture to numerous affected persons.

There should not be any factor of sympathy towards the family of the
deceased and that of hatred towards the accused at least in the mind
of the judge to part real justice, not a biased one.

It has been noticed in the cases coming that even when the police
got recorded a dying declaration before a Magistrate and that the
injured wife did not allege any foul play, but after consulting with
her parents and relatives she makes a second dying declaration and
alleges many things. There is no provision in the existing law,
which may act as a safeguard against these types of practices.

In 1995 there was much media exposure about the Ambati family and
the legal encounter with India's Dowry Act. The Ambatis, resided in
the United States and were U.S. citizens of Indian origin. In the
June of 1995 the Ambati groom, a young doctor, married his bride in
India. The bride accompanied the groom back to the U.S. but the
marriage was short lived and the bride returned to India. Months
later when the Ambati family visited India to receive a prestigious
award from the Raja Lakshmi Foundation, the bride filed a claim with
allegations of dowry harassment against the Ambati groom, and his
family. Indian authorities arrested the Ambati family the instant
they revisited India. For almost 4 years the Ambatis battled the
courts of India. In a recent update in The India Monitor it was
announced that the Ambati family "has now been acquitted of all

The article also stated, that, "during the course of the trial the
Ambatis produced a tape " in which the bride's father, " demanded US
$500,000 to drop all the charges". Very soon thereafter the bride "
wrote to the Ministers for Home Affairs and Law & Parliamentary
Affairs that she was " unconditionally withdrawing" all charges
against the Ambati family".

The significance of the Ambati case and its recent legal outcome
illustrates two things. One being the emergence and surfacing of
dowry related problems entering the domain of family law and
matrimonial life on foreign soils, stretching far beyond India's
cultural and social perimeter. More importantly it also depicts the
possibility of the Dowry Prohibition Act being abused.

In Akula Ravinder v. State of A.P. a sort of relief came against the
possible misuse of section 304-B IPC when it was held that death
must be proved to be one out of the course of nature and the mere
fact that the deceased was young and death was not accidental is not
sufficient to establish that death must have occurred otherwise than
under normal circumstances. Thus, there are still many
inconsistencies in law related to dowry, which should be corrected
to ensure its effective and fair implementation.

But the evil of dowry is equally a matter of concern to the society
as a whole and shall have to be curbed. For this some steps may be
taken as following:

(1) We will have to shift to our ancient value based society where
the women were respected as equally as men, perhaps more than men.

(2) The women need to be well educated and economically independent
at the various levels of the society. We hear of no cases of bride
burning in the western countries because their women are well
educated and economically independent.

(3) In dowry death cases the police investigation should be prompt
and impartial instead of being corrupted, and sloppy.

(4) As recommended by the Supreme Court in the case of Bhagwant
Singh v. Commissioner of police, more women police officers should
be involved for proper investigation of crime against women.

(5) Moreover there should not be unfortunate delay in the disposal
of dowry death cases. Guilty should be punished while events are
still fresh in the public mind so that it can work as a deterrent
for the society. For this purpose special courts may also be

(6) Within the purview of law, registration of marriage together
with the list of gifts should be made compulsory. Provision must be
made that any gifts madder after the marriage should also be
included in the list.

(7) Dowry is a social scourge and public opinion has to be mobilized
against this cancerous evils. It cannot be contained by only legal
and police action. The memorable words of Mahatma Gandhi, Acceptance
of dowry is a disgrace for the young man who accepts it as well as
perhaps a dishonor for the woman folk should ring in the ears of
every unmarried young man or woman.

(8) The educated youth can contribute tremendously in curbing this
evil if they try to implement and practice the education, which they
are given.

(9) Besides of general literacy, a legal literacy programme should
also be started to make the women of the downtrodden class aware of
their legal rights.

(10) In all this voluntary organizations can play an important role.

(11) Thus vigorous investigation and prosecution, realistic
punishment of the offenders along with a determined re awakening
movement to curb the evil are required. There are no short cut and
flashy solutions of this deep-seated social malaise.

Disclaimer : The views in this Article is completly that of the
author, may or may not subscribe to the views of the
author. This article is not intended as a substitute for legal
advice. No portion of this article may be copied, retransmitted,
reposted, duplicated or otherwise used without the express written
approval of the author.
The Copyright of the article is with the Author.

About the Author
Company name: National Law University, Jodhpur
Area of expertise: Constitutional Law
Position: Law Student

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Not only NCW are to be blamed

Yes, there is no doubt that NCW has been misappropriating its powers and mandate given to them by the Government through the National Commission of Women Act, and perhaps they would relentlessly continue to make family life in India worse. However, it needs to be understood that as long as the general public will continue tolerating their rotten activities, everybody, directly or indirectly will be affected by NCW. Therefore, instead of blaming only NCW is wrong. The general public too must realise that NCW has been enacting laws that would destroy all family sanctity and not only men, the coming generations will be ruined.
However, a fact should not be ignored that women have abundant free time to wreck their brains out in conspiring such dirty laws in the society. Men on the other hand have family responsibility and have no time in protesting or objecting against such conspiracy.

But, the general public do have a option here.
The people must start writing letters to media houses, tv channels, and newspapers about the atrocities that exists in the society which does not come to the surface because everybody are trying hard to show suffering of only women. People should start writing letters of objection and protest that media must not protect women. A steady flow of letters from people to media house must bring them to senses and they might start realising that NCW has done irreparable damage to the society in the name of gender equality.

People must understand this. Let media know what the general public are thinking and what they really want. Even the Government is frightened from the media nowadays so we must approach media and inform them about the reality.

Satya posting for Mahesh

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