Archive for February, 2007

Possible changes in 498A ?

February 16, 2007

1. Gender Neutrality – All laws should endeavor to punish the guilty and protect the innocent, irrespective of the gender. Given the existing social situation in the country, cruelty by wife and her relatives towards husband and family are rampant. There is no recourse for these husbands and families who are at the mercy of the vicious wife. We suggest that the law be made gender neutral to protect the interests of any innocent, be it a man or a woman. We stress that the gender specific words like “husband” and “wife” be replaced by gender-neutral words like “spouse”.

2. The law be made bailable and compoundable – We suggest that the law be made bailable and compoundable, unless grave physical torture is evident, to prevent harassment of innocent families.

3. Stringent punishments for abusers of law – One of the primary reasons for the misuse of this law is because there is absolutely no penalty for filing a false case. The punishment for misusing this law should be equally stringent. Once a complaint has been found to be false or malicious, severe penalties, including prison term and fine, should be imposed to discourage misuse of this law. The argument that this will discourage genuine victims of dowry harassment to not come forward is fallacious, as it has been comprehensively proven that the majority of the cases filed under this section are false.

4. No Arrests unless absolutely necessary – An arrest on a criminal charge has grave consequences – social, mental and financial, for the individual. Unless there is irrefutable evidence to suggest that the complainant is in grave danger, no arrests should be made. Also, senior citizens, minors (children below the age of 18), pregnant women and people with medical conditions should be excluded from arrests. The final decision in this regard should be taken by an authority, not less than the Superintendent of Police of the District, who too should have general instructions to apply his mind judiciously in each individual case on its merits and then pass suitable order(s) in writing.

5. National Commission for Domestic Harmony – In its overzealousness to protect women rights, the National Commission for Women is working towards ridiculously gender-biased legislation, which is encouraging the disintegration of family as a unit and is against the basic paradigm of justice and social wellbeing. We urge the government to establish a National Commission for Domestic Harmony to protect the rights of men, women and children and to work for the welfare of families and the society in general.