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Dowry Act and IPC Section 498a Misuse... [Dowry Prohibition Act misuse]

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Society for Promotion of Marital Harmony                      
P.B.No.1021  BANGALORE 560 010                       
HELPLINE:  080- 56969850 
Husbands& Families
victimised by anti dowry laws
IPC 498A, D P Act

Husbands and families,and there are a women, Mothers, Grandmothers,
Aunts, Sisters and Sisters-in-law, cousins and Nieces, affected by the ad
hoc and tardy implementation of the well intentioned acts IPC 498A and
the Dowry prohibition Act and victims of the abuse of the said act by
unscrupulous wives and their families, now have a helpline to share
their woes, come together, acknowledge, rise up, document and bring to
light the abuse of the system by unscrupulous wives and their families that
many innocent husbands and their families bear the brunt of.

Our laws do not recognise the possibility of wives and daughters-in-law
maltreating the husband and old in-laws or other vulnerable members of
her husband's family.There are any number of cases coming to light
where Section 498A has been used mainly as an instrument of blackmail,yet
all the public sympathy goes to the perpetrators of the crime.

In an endeavour to highlight the systematic abuse and the
indiscriminate inclusion of each and every vulnerable member of the family, with the
sole aim of wreaking vengeance, misusing the provisions of the law, as
a bargaining tool, the helpline aims to reach out and network with such
affected people.........
those affected can call:

Ph no.(080)56969850
email: <>
SnailMail: P.B. No.1021
Bangalore 560 010  

Hope for Victimised Husbands
Bitter half  The Hindu 17.07.03
The Hindu Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003
Deccan Herald Monday, June 16, 2003


Sangyabalya Society for Promotion of Marital Harmony
Sangyabalya Society for Promotion of Marital Harmony is conceived and
incorporated as apolicy researac and advocacy group, to seek redressal
of gender discrimination against men by misuse of law, in the wake of
widespread misuse of several well intentioned laws related to dowry,
marriage, domestic violence, divorce and child custody, creating the
erroneous impression that all men are drunkards, irresponsible, greedy for
dowry, abusive and unworthy of the responsibilities of child rearing and
invariably presumed guilty solely on the basis of their gender,
demonizing all men and canonizing all women, making no allowances for human
infallibilities, irrespective of gender.

Without trivializing death, more so, when unnatural, or belittling the
gravity of the evils of the dowry system, the need of the hour is to
sensitize the enforcement and investigating agencies to recognize the
many reasons for marital discord, and distinguish between dowry related
and other reasons and restrain the police, lawyers, as well as, well
meaning women’s organizations from encouraging complainants to misuse well
intentioned laws, simply as a ploy to implicate their marital families,
making them believe that their complaint will not be taken seriously
otherwise, creating a irreconcilable chasm between the couple and
diminishing chances of reconciliation, if any, threatening the very
foundations and sanctity of the institution of marriage. Sangyabalya is about
peaceful cohabitation and does not, repeat, does not, seek to protect or
shield errant husbands or influence the due process of law, but seeks
compliance/implementation of the well-intentioned laws in the true spirit
of their enactment.

#to actively work for creating a dowry free society.
#to create awareness and educate the society about laws related to
Dowry prohibition and  promote compliance of the laws
#to provide for appointment of dowry prohibition officers,
#to raise vigilance and resist injustice caused by false complaints
failed under IPC 498A and Dowry Prohibition Act leading to wrongful
imprisonment of innocent husband / relatives
#to resist injustice caused by the misuse of law in, so far as it
destroys the very foundations of the institution of marriage.
#to ensure punitive action against complainants foisting  false and
malafide cases,
#to establish telephonic helpline
#to establish legal aid clinics to provide succour  to such  victims of
misuse of law
#to provide counseling / emotional support to the victims.
#to establish family counselling centre/s to facilitate reconciliation,
wherever possible.
#to promote resolution of family disputes by reconciliation or
compromise through counselling
#to monitor and expedite Investigations by the police 
#to  analyse complaints so as to understand the gaps in routine
functioning of government in tackling domestic violence and to suggest
correctional measures.
#to cause the complaints to be used as case studies for sensitization
programmes for the police, judiciary, prosecutors, forensic scientists,
defence lawyers and other administrative functionaries.
#to take up cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution
and of other laws relating to marital harmony with the appropriate
#to ensure that cases relating to divorce and child custody are decided
within the statutory six  months and not  7 - 10 years, as is now
#to restrain granting permission to professional lawyers, who have not 
acted as  amicus curaie, in the family courts, as required by law.
#to seek speedy disposal of cases, especially where children are
involved, not  subjecting a child to choose between parents.
#to ensure strict implementation of crimes against justice by swearing
to false  affidavits, in court.
#to institute an award for the outstanding liar on oath
#to review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the
Constitution and other laws affecting marital harmony and recommend amendments
thereto so as to suggest remedial legislative measures to meet any
lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations.
#to monitor non-compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or
instructions aimed at mitigating hardships and ensuring welfare and providing
relief to families, and take up the issues arising out of such matters
with appropriate authorities
#to call for special studies or investigations into specific problems
or situations arising out of unjustified discrimination and identify the
constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal
#to inspect or cause to inspect a jail, remand home, women's
institution or other place of custody where undertrials are kept as prisoners or
otherwise and take up with the concerned authorities for remedial
action, where found necessary
#to undertake promotional and educational research so as to suggest
ways of ensuring speedy disposal of cases and identify factors responsible
for impeding their disposal.
#to make in such reports recommendations for the effective
implementation of those safeguards for the improving the dispensation of justice.
#to make available Disaggregated data  to various
state/central/judicial authorities to facilitate action.
#to fund litigation involving issues affecting a large section of
#to participate and advice on the planning process of socio-legal and
socio-economic development
#to institute scholarships for deserving girl students in line with the
philosophy of the  society, that education is the best dowry for the
girl child.
#to co-opt, collaborate, assist and/or aid persons of ability,
integrity and standing who have had experience in law or legislation, trade
unionism, civil/human rights, management, women's voluntary organisations
( including women activist ), administration, economic development,
health, education or social welfare and experts in the fields of
education, management, organisational structure or sociological movement, for
advancing the frontiers of a civilized society.



The Dowry Prohibition Act, was enacted with the intention of protecting
wives from marital violence, abuse and extortionist dowry demands,
however, the actual implementation of these laws has left a bitter trail of
disappointment, anger and resentment in its wake, among the affected

The truth is, that there were adequate provisions in the IPC Sections
323, 324, 325 and 326 for use against anyone who assaults a woman or
causes her injury.  The Indian Penal Code was amended twice during the
1980s — first in 1983 and again in 1986 — to define special categories of
crimes dealing with marital violence and abuse

In 1983, Section 498A of the IPC defined a new cognizable offence,
namely, “cruelty by husband or relatives of husband”.  This means that
under this law the police have no option but to take action, once such a
complaint is registered by the victim or any of her relatives. It
prescribes imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and also
includes a fine. The definition of cruelty is not just confined to
causing grave injury, bodily harm, or danger to life, limb or physical
health, but also includes mental health, harassment and emotional torture
through verbal abuse. This law takes particular cognisance of harassment,
where it occurs with a view to coercing the wife, or any person related
to her, to meet any unlawful demand regarding any property or valuable
security, or occurs on account of failure by her, or any person related
to her, to meet such a demand.

During the same period, two amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act of
1961, enacted in 1984 and 1986, made dowry giving and receiving a
cognizable offence. Even in this case, where a person is prosecuted for
taking or abetting dowry, or for demanding dowry, the burden of proof that
he had not committed the offence was placed on the accused.
However, no punitive provisions were added for those making false
allegations or exaggerated claims. There is, of course, the law against
perjury (lying on oath). But in India, the courts expect people to 
prevaricate and lawyers routinely encourage people to make false claims
because such stratagems are assumed to be part of the legal game in India.
Therefore, the law against perjury has hardly ever been invoked in India.

Section 406, to be invoked by the woman to file cases against her
husband and in-laws for retrieval of her dowry prescribes imprisonment of
upto three years for criminal breach of trust.  Often, highly exaggerated
or bogus claims are made by unscrupulous families who demand the return
of more than was given as ‘stridhan’, using the draconian sections 498A
and section 406 of the IPC as a bargaining tool.

Furthermore, another Section 304B was added to the IPC to deal with yet
another new category of crime called “dowry death”.  This section
states that if the death of a woman is caused by burns or bodily injury, or
occurs under abnormal circumstances, within seven years of her marriage
and it is shown that just prior to her death she was subjected to
cruelty by her husband or any relative of her husband, in connection with
any demand for dowry, such a death would be called a “dowry death”, and
the husband or relative would would be deemed to have caused her death.
The burden of proof is shifted to the accused party. The basic spirit
of Indian jurisprudence is that a person is presumed innocent till
proven guilty. However, in all these cases the person is assumed guilty till
proven innocent.

The person held guilty of a "dowry death" shall be punished with
imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which
may extend to imprisonment for life. By inserting a new section 113B in
the Indian Evidence Act, the lawmakers stipulated that in cases that get
registered by the police as those of “dowry death”, the court shall
presume that the accused is guilty unless he can prove otherwise.
This is understandable in cases of death because the unnatural demise
of a woman through suicide or murder is in itself proof that something
was seriously wrong in the marriage. But problems arise when the same
presumption applies to cases of domestic discord where the underlying
cause of conflict is not necessarily the husband's violence, abuse  or
economic demands but due to the couple's inability to get along with each

The law was recast, heavily weighted in the woman’s favour, on the
assumption that only genuinely aggrieved women would come forward to lodge
complaints and that they would invariably tell the truth. In the
process, however, the whole concept of due process of law had been overturned
in these legal provisions dealing with domestic violence

With the police as well as lawyers encouraging female complainants to
use this as a necessary ploy to implicate their marital families, making
them believe that their complaint will not be taken seriously
otherwise. It has become a distinct trend to include dowry demands in every
complaint of domestic discord or cruelty, even when dowry was not an issue
at all. This has created an erroneous impression that all of the
violence in Indian homes is due to a growing greed for more dowry.

This tendency has received a further fillip with the enactment of 498
A, mentioning dowry demands seems to have become a common ritual in
virtually all cases registered with the police or filed in court, misusing
the provisions of sections 498A and 406. Even  members of many women’s
organisations themselves acknowledge such abuse. Things have come to
this pass, not just due to police and judicial corruption/apathy but also
because the laws, as they are currently framed, lend themselves to easy

All these amendments placed draconian powers in the hands of the police
without adequate safeguards against the irresponsibility of the
enforcement machinery. There are  any number of cases coming to light where
Section 498A has been used mainly as an instrument of blackmail. It lends
itself to easy misuse as a tool for wreaking vengeance on entire
families, because, under this section, it is available to the police to
arrest anyone a married woman names as a tormentor in her complaint, as
“cruelty" in marriage has been made a non-bailable offence. Thereafter,
bail in such cases has been denied as a basic right.

This law has lent itself to gross abuse, because arresting and putting
a person in jail, even before the trial has begun, amounts to
pre-judging and punishing the accused without due process. Although a
preliminary investigation is required after the registration of the F.I.R, in
practice such complaints are registered, whether the charges are proved
valid or not, and arrest warrants issued, without determining whether the
concerned family is actually abusive, or they have been falsely
implicated. Our laws do not recognise the possibility of daughters-in-law
maltreating old in-laws or other  vulnerable members of their husband's

There are any number of cases where the problem is mutual maladjustment
of the couple rather than abuse by the entire joint family. However, a
host of relatives, including elderly parents, who are not necessarily
the cause of maladjustment, have all been arrested and put in jail for
varying lengths of time before the trial begins. There have been several
cases where judges have refused bail unless the accused family deposits
a certain sum of money in the complainant’s name as a precondition to
the grant of bail.

There have been of instances where the main point of discord between
the couple was that the wife wanted the husband to leave his parent's
home or an old widowed mother and set up a nuclear family. Since the man
resisted this move, the wife used 498A as a bargaining device, without
success though.

Indeed, there have been many cases where the woman uses the strict
provisions of 498A in the hope of enhancing her bargaining position vis a
vis her husband and in-laws. Her lawyers often encourage her in the
misguided belief that her husband would be so intimidated that he will be
ready to concede all her demands. However, once a family has been sent
to jail even for a day, they are so paranoid that they refuse to
consider a reconciliation under any circumstances, pushing instead for
divorce, then they are in a fight to the finish. Thus, many a woman ends up
with a divorce she didn’t want and with weaker, rather than strengthened,
terms of bargaining.

Often, these highly exaggerated or bogus claims  made by unscrupulous
wives and her  family fail to stand scrutiny and many cases do not go
far because the charges are so exaggerated that the cases fall through.
In many instances, out-of-court settlements are made, by presenting,
with mutual consent, a joint petition/ in the High Court u/s 482 Cr. P.C.,
using 498A as a bargaining point by the woman’s family. But this in
itself amounts to using the law as a weapon of intimidation rather than a
tool of justice defeating the letter, spirit and purpose of the law
depriving the truly deserving cases of her legitimate dues....


                         GUILTY BY GENDER?

                        THE MISSION STATEMENT


The premise on which IPC 498a was enacted- presupposing that only
genuinely aggrieved women would come forward to lodge complaints and that
they would invariably tell the truth.

The assumption that all men are drunkards, irresponsible, greedy for
dowry, abusive and unworthy of the responsibilities of child rearing and
invariably presumed guilty solely on the basis of their gender.

The non-cognizance of marital mental and physical harassment faced by
men The ignorance and neglect of sucide by Men caused due to marital
harassment by wife . The chance of Man commiting suicide increases by 50%
after marriage.


The arrest of the accused husband, families, and even remote relatives
without investigation.

The refusal of bail only as deterrent or to set examples. The Judiciary
should dispense justice and not make scapegoats to set examples.

The Money mongering by the wife and her familes leading the death and
suicide of many men in the prime of their lives.

The law that makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

The corruption -atrocities by the police – arresting on weekends,
holidays and deliberate delays in producing the accused before the judicial

The tendency to turn myriad non-dowry related reasons for marital
discord into dowry cases.

The corruption in courts- bench clerks, police and Public prosecutors.

The Throwing out of the husband family from the husband and their life.
The intimidatory tactics of the official marital counseling

IPC 498A be made bailable- no marriage can be saved after the husband
has spent even a few hrs in jail.

Punitive punishment to false complainants with costs and damages. The
taxpayer should not made to pay for malafide and frivolous complaints
and the courts should not be party to settling personal vendettas.

Our laws to recognize the possibility of daughters-in-law maltreating
old in-laws or other vulnerable members of their husband's family

Stronger implementation and proper cognizance of the False complaint
and punitive action with costs, damages and sentence.

Proper cognizance procedures for the 498a cases prior to filing of an

Mandatory Registration of Marriages along with a joint declaration of
the exchange of gifts

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Victims, have faith we will win in the court of GOD.