ISSN : 2581-8465
Author: Rahul Tiwari
Co-Author : Abhishek Pandey
Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Research Methodology
- Laws for Dowry
- Social Atrocities for Man
- Mental Cruelty, Loss of Reputation, Fair Trial and Job
- Role of Society and
- Role of Society
- Role of Judiciary in Respect to Prevent the Misuse of Dowry Laws
- Safeguard Against False Dowry Compliant
The research work done in this study is doctrinal in nature and is qualitative research. Doctrinal research methodology, which is used in this paper, includes various legal principle and concepts of all types, such as cases laws, legal statutes, commentaries etc. The researchers have also studied various judgments of the Supreme Court and High Court for this paper. The paper includes Qualitative research of various national and International books and journal on the same topic.
- NCRB – National Crime Reporting Bureau
- NFHS – National Family Health Survey
- CrPC – Criminal Procedure Code
- IPC – Indian Penal Code
- UP – Uttar Pradesh
- UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund
- CBI – Central Bureau of Investigation
- AIR – All India Report
- Vs. – Versus
- RCR – Restitution of Conjugal Rights
- NRI – Non Resident Indians
- SC – Supreme Court
- HC – High Court
- IEA – Indian Evidence Act
A lot of unnatural deaths of newly married females following disputes over the dowry are a dark spot on our society. This research paper has made an effort to scrutinize and evaluate legal provisions which have been adapted and adopted by the Indian Legal System to minimize nuisance of Dowry Deaths, highlight loopholes and along-with its betterment in the legal system & the society and also to spotlight the available remedies as also how to further augment such remedies. The State has made various strict anti dowries laws such as S.498A IPC, The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 in order to put crimes related to dowries in check. In today’s time Women in the shield of feminism and started to harass their husbands and their in-laws. As many laws being pro-woman and the implementation of these laws can penalize the man with harsh imprisonment has led to gross violation of the laws which was meant to be safeguards. The misuse of dowries laws has created uproar in the society and has also led to suicide of many men. This research makes an in-depth analysis of the cause, effect, consequences, and the recent development with regards to the misuse of anti-dowries laws. At last the researcher through this research has also recommended various suggestions through which the misuse can be curbed.
Key Words – Dowry Death, Dowry Prohibition, Anti Dowry Laws, Section 498A, Feminism, S.498A IPC
Dowry is one of India’s ancient evil social practices. It is something, unfortunately practiced across all communities in India. The societal mindset regarding dowry is very rigid and the practise and the casualties related to it has grown over the years. It has turned into a national crime in which woman of all the class has suffered. The legal definition according to Section 2of Dowry Prohibition Actmeans that it is something which signifies any property or a profitable security given by bride to groom. This definition excludes dower or mahr outside its ambit as it is an essential customary practise in Muslim marriage. Another clarification which said section makes, is that the term “valuable security” is synonymous in the criminal law of the country.
The dowry normally involves cash, costume jewelry, household apparatuses, decorations, bedding, kitchenware and other family unit machines that assistance the newly wedded home. This practise is one of the main reasons which have led to the distortion of the sex ratio of India and increase in social malaise of female feticide and infanticide. This practise is banned under in India. The judiciary has further clarified the definition of Dowry for various legislations and has given judgments which say that offering or actually taking of property or valuable security should be connected to the marriage of the parties, so it is important to have a relationship between the demanding party and offering party. Further it was also observed by the court that if there lays a persistent demands from the bride or her parents for TV and Scooter after marriage, it will be still consider as a crime of dowry.Like other social problems, the crime related to dowry has increased over the years. It includes crimes such as dowry- based violence against women; domestic violence etc. Dowry demands affect the lives of women in every aspect, be they social, economic or cultural. The NCRBshows that 91,202 dowry deaths were reported in the India in the previous decade. One can also safely conclude that there are thousands who do not report the dowry harassment case. It is rightly asserted that is kind of mob lynching against woman not only from man but from the society who have continuously butchered the soul of society, but it is also true that the anti-dowries laws have become a weapon to lynch a soul of a innocent man with various anti-dowries laws by educated women.
LAWS FOR DOWRY
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- This legislation says that giving or taking dowry is a criminal offence and there is a imprisonment of 5 years along with the fine of rupees 15,000 thousands or the amount equivalent to dowry or the higher amount between the two. Mere a simple demand of dowry can lead to six months jail which can be further increased till two years in addition to the fine of 10,000 rupees.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860
- The provision related to death caused due to demand of dowry is explained in the Section 304 B, which states that if a woman dies an unnatural death inside seven years of marriage and the deceased woman was subjected to cruelty or physical torture for the sake dowry, then those cases are referred as dowry death. There is 7 years imprisonment of such offences under the said section. The apex court has further laid down the following guideline for the purposes of establishing the offense under section 304(b),which says that there should be a continuous demand of the dowry along with torture of the victim, the death of the victim under unusual conditioninside seven years of marriage.
- Another section which is provided for the safeguard of the woman is Section 498A. This section provides safeguard to woman against cruelty done by her hsuabnd and his other relatives. This section invites imprisonment up to three years. The meaning of the word “cruelty” is that any willful conduct of her husband and his relatives that causes a woman to attempt suicide, seriously injure her physically, endangers her life, mental torture in relation to dowry, immovable property, and valuable property. The Apex Court in one of his judgmentheld that not only the marriage relationship but also the live-in relationship is also included in the term ‘domestic relationship. There are more than 3.4 lakhs cases pending related to section 498A. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana held that Section 304b and Section 498A are not the same. An individual can be charged under section 304B and get acquittal but can be convicted under section 498A.
- Indian Evidence Act, 1872
- The word “presumption” is an important in criminal law and procedure. It explains the motive of the court of court while initiating a criminal trial. The presumption related to dowry death explainedin section 113B.During trial if it is shown that the victim was suffering harassment due to dowry before her death then in such cases the court presumes that the person has caused dowry death to his wife. The burden of proof lies on accuse invalidate the presumption. It is also important to establish the hypothesis in order to attract the presumption of dowry death, that the deceased was cruelty due to dowry just before her death. There should be an established chain of events, without any alternative hypothesis created, with the demand of dowry, cruelty and the death. The word “shall” makes it mandatory for the court to presume the person who has caused cruelty for dowry is also liable for the victim’s death. The onus to prove innocence shifts absolutely and conclusively on the part of accused in cases where section 113-B of Evidence Law and section 304-B of Penal laws are read together. Another term in the section “soon before her death” is also explained by the Supreme Court that the expression does not imply “immediately before” as both the expression are not synonyms.The first expression implicates the idea of proximity test and no specific and explicit period has been specified. It implies that the interval between cruelty and death is not much and there must be a proximate link between dowry demand the concerned death.
SOCIAL ATROCITIES FOR MAN
The laws discussed above are very strong but the society has witnessed misuse of these laws to a great extent. Until July 2014, Section 498a enabled the police to capture the people alluded to in the grievance with no warrant or examination. The crime of dowry is a non-bailable offence and due to lack of proper safeguards for husbands, they end up losing their job and reputation while staying in jail. On 2 July 2014, the Supreme Court order automatic arrests which is made under the Section 498a to be stoppedand police must look into section 41 of CrPC and satisfy themselves first whether the arrest is necessary or not. Another disadvantage for the accused is that the complainant in case of reconciliation cannot withdraw the complaint. This is one area in the criminal justice system which needs reform and recently an amendment has also been recommended. There are 3, 72,706 cases related to IPC 498A pending in the different courts of India. The arrest made under 498A comprised 6% of the total arrests made under IPC and has the third spot after theft and hurt. Out of these, 10% of cases are found to false or on vendetta and conviction rate under 498A is mere 15% far less than the total conviction rate of the country. Former Judge of Delhi High Court accepted that these anti dowries laws after often misused by the alleged victims to pester their in-laws. He also advised that parents should not solemnise the marriage if dowry is demanded.There are SIFF a famous NGO after analsying these laws, termed it as legal terrorism.There were 10,193 false cases registered in the year 2011, the number increased to 10,235 in 2012 and 10,864 in the next.The complainant doesn’t need to produce any evidence of violation, abuse occurred on her part while complaining under section 498A of criminal law, and here the violation takes place. The law states that the husband, if found guilty will land up in prison up to three years and is also subject to pay fine.Legal cruelty is established and constructed in the mind of the complainant while making the complainant. It is the malafide intention in the mind of the alleged complainant to misuse the procedure and safeguards of laws, which is meant for protection, to distort the fact and use it for personal vendetta. Physical cruelty is tangible and in this evidence is direct and in mental cruelty the court has to apply its mind and discretion to establish the evidence to probe further into the matrimonial dispute. Due to this the apex court held that an allegation against the husband and his family needs to be inspected with great and proper care.
It was observed by the honourable court that these laws have become a tool for women to extort money from their in-laws and ends up having an adverse effect on the mental health of the husband and his family. It is very shocking that today suicide rate is much higher for married man than woman. The suicide rate is 508 per 100,000 people for married man aged between 30 t0 44 and for married woman it is 220 and in the age group of 45 to 59 years the suicide rate is 1812 per 100,000 people compared to 550 per 100,000 for women in same age group. The Malimath committee also reported the same victimization of married under our criminal justice system. These arrests also give excuse to corrupt police officer to blackmail, threaten and extort money from innocent vulnerable husbands. Thus, this law has widely discriminated fundamental right against discrimination on the basis of sex.
- Violation of fundamental right to reputation, dignity, occupation, fair trial of a man along with Mental Cruelty
Many times few dowries cases are reported in the media too and the accused even before been declared guilty losses its reputation and valuable during the trial. Mostly in these cases the media which is not allowed to report the matter which is sub-judice, end up ignoring the law and the accused are declared guilty in the society even before the actual verdict comes out. Without safeguard, these anti-dowries lawsuit have become a weapon for educated woman for exploitation and victimize the accused.
In the case of Nisha Sharma, the alleged victim falsely co complained against the prospective in-laws and husband for demanding dowry, who were later arrested. This was got widespread publicity by media, both at national and at international level and the complainant was projected as a role model of upcoming woman. After the trial all the accused were acquitted and the court found that the complainant charges were fabricated. The false accusation resulted in loss of reputation and a time of 9 years for the accused who was supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but had to face the humiliation till the end. The slow administration also fails to update the development regarding the case in the syllabus taught to students. The misuse of anti-dowries law has also resulted in loss of jobs for the accused before the completion of trial. The private employers, due to fear of loss of reputation and to avoid any legal hurdles removes the employees from the job during trial. Alternatively, the numerous court and police visits also force the accused to leave the job, which puts the accused in the financial distress. These fallacious complain, media trial, misuse of law and incompetency of administration results in denial of fair trial to the victim. The concept of presumption of innocent until proven guilty is violated and the accused the declared guilty in the society before the final verdict of the court.The apex court has observed thatfalse allegation against the spouse, false assassination of husband character amount to mental cruelty. The Apex court has also corroborated that such allegation made not only against the husband, but his family member, colleagues has an adverse effect on the mental health of the falsely accused person and lowers his reputation in the eyes of peers and society. This misuse of law violates the Right to dignity, privacy and personal liberty along with freedom of occupation of a married man protected under Indian Constitution.
ROLE OF SOCIETY AND JUDICIARY
- Role of Society
The role of society is very important in this. The rate of crime is going up year by year and also the misuse of this law. Due to the excessive commercialization the greed has also increased among the people. According to the NCRB reports there were more than 7,500+ cases of reported related to Dowry deaths.
The administration should come forward to spread awareness about the evils of society. Just by making strong will not give the desired results. They need to take step in educating the society. Heavy spending on the marriages should be checked and discouraged and more spending on education and skill development should be give more focus.
Although in recent times the judiciary has taken steps in order to check the misuse of dowry laws, but it has a long way to go. Dowry evils needs to teach in schools and should be part of curriculum, so that it helps in changing the mindset of the youth.
- Role of Judiciary in respect to prevent the misuse of dowry laws
Judiciary from time to time has taken cognizance of the matter which violates the legal as well as the fundamental rights of the citizen. The judiciary has played an important role in curbing the crime of dowry and also the misuse of the law. The Malimath Committee too recommendedthat section 498A should be made bailable and compoundable but I was rejected after the protest of Amnesty international.
The Supreme Court issued strict guidelines which are as followed;-
- Police officer needs not to arrest the accused automatically and instead they should use the provision of Section 41 of CrPC and make the desired inquiry.
- Police officer arresting the accused should make a checklist and present it in front of magistrate for further detention.
- The authorized magistrate will allow the detention only when he/she is satisfied with the charges and will allow detention after recording his/her observation, failing to which will be liable for action.
- This is applicable to section 498A of IPC as well as the section 4 for Dowry Prohibition Act.
- Passports of NRI should not be routinely compounded.
- Appearance in the court can be done through video conferencing.
- The above directives are not applicable for the offence of deaths or tangible physical injuries.
In Rajesh Sharma vs. State of UP, the apex court issues fresh guidelines in order to further avoidance of the misuse of section 498A.
- The family welfare committee needs to be established in each districts by District Legal Service Authority which should have 3 members consisting of paralegals, social workers, and volunteers.
- Every such complaint must be referred to committee.
- Till report of committee is receipted, till the no arrest should be made.
- Complaint under section 498A may be investigated by designated investigating officers of the area.
- If settlement is made in cases relating to matrimonial discord the district/session judge can dispose the proceeding and close the criminal case.
- In respect to NRI impounding of passport should not be a routine or mechanically applied.
- Personal appearance of all family members may not be required and allow the appearance by video conferencing.
Further dealing with 498A, the Apex Court has ordered that all the High Courts of respective States have the power to quash the dowry cases and a third party created by the court cannot execute the functions in its discretion.
SAFEGUARD AGAINST FALSE DOWRY COMPLIANT
It ought to be comprehended that this law is likewise profoundly abused by numerous individuals for individual quarrel. Many women are utilizing the Section 498A and the Dowry Act to record a false objection against their spouses. The husbands of the complainant are arrested without legitimate examination on non-bailable warrants, irrespective of the nature of the complaints. As the onus lies on the part of accused one must resort to the following steps to present his case in more effective manner such as:
- Gathering Evidence in order to quash the complaint or to get bail.
One can resort to recording of the conversation whether it is voice, email, phone etc. Electronic evidence and phone recording are admissible in the court under Section 65-A of Evidence Act.Keep the evidence and the device through which the evidence is collected safe and undamaged in order to prove its authenticity in the court. Through this evidence one can also demonstrate that fallacious nature of the complaint made against himand can also show that the spouse has reported a matrimonial dispute in the name of dowry and also wants to walk out of marriage without substantial reason. This will also help accused in the trial by getting anticipatory bail, quashing of FIR or a regular bail quickly. Anticipatory bail can applied on the ground of false charges, gravity of offences under which the accused is charged and accusation is made with the intent to cause injury, in High Court or the session court.
The High Court has special and ineradicable power to quash such FIR with adherence to section 482 of CrPC.The victim can move to their respective high court to exercise this in order to protect themselves from false dowry police case from their spouse. The High Court has the authority in its inherent power to quash complains to prevent the abuse of court and in order to provide justice to the people. The Apex Court too observed that in order to prevent the miscarriage of justice, the High Court and the Supreme Court has the power to quash such complaints and trial, the court in its discretion feels that continuation of such trial will end in harassing the accused and the accused is likely to be acquitted.
There are various grounds on which a High Court can quash the FIR if the HC is satisfied that the FIR lodged on acts do not constitute an offence or the offences for which the FIR has been lodged never happened or there is no reasonable ground or the allegation are baseless. These quashing of charges are done on various stages such as before filing of the charge sheet by the police, if the FIR is against the natural justice, and if the charge sheet has been filed and if there is no prima facie evidence, insufficient or inadmissible evidence, then husband has right to file an discharge application under section 227 of CrPC to get discharged from the offences on which the false FIR has been lodged. If the trial has been commenced and the discharge application has been rejected then the application under section 232 of CrPC can only be filed for the acquittal.
- Blackmailing complaint and false allegations
The husband can file a lawsuit against the wife in the nearest police station regarding blackmailing under section 503 of IPC. The objection ought to contain the subtleties of pursuing, false claims and the terrible conduct of the spouse.
If the police decline to give an accepting duplicate, at that point one can send the objection to the police headquarters by the enlisted post. The common mistake done on the part of victim of false dowry case or 498A is non-involvement of legal expert and managing entire issue of their own. The legal experts understand the criminal proceeding and the result of such complaints and are in better position to explain the victim regarding the safeguards and consequences.
- Document RCR (Restitution of Conjugal Rights) and avoid monetary settlement
In the event that the spouse has abandoned her conjugal place after all the coercing and undermining, at that point the husband can record the RCR referencing the conditions that she should initially concur with before she begins living with you once more. If the accused husband wants to go for compromise, then it should be done without paying any amount of money to the wife or after final order of compounding the IPC 498A including the divorce decree by High Court or Supreme Court, as by paying the accused himself unintentionally and indirectly accept the guilt and the blackmailing. This will further encourage the wife to commit such acts. These settlements must be written and submitted to court by both the parties along with their legal representatives.
- What is the punishment for filling false FIR?
It is a criminal offence to file wrong police compliant against anyone and it is punishable under section 182& 211 of Indian Penal Code. It is done after the accused gets such complaints quashed by High Court or if the accused is acquitted by the court. The accused has the right to file compliant against the police officer too. The punishment for providing false information to police to cause harm to others is punishable with 6 months imprisonment along with fine under section 182 of IPC. It is observed that common man is harassed by police officer too and their legal rights are violated. In these cases the accused has the right to file an application under section 156(3) of CrPC or to file a complaint under section 200 of CrPC against such police officers for lodging false FIR and the police officer will be held guilty under section 167, 218 and 220 of IPC. Section 167 is applied when the authorised officer frame incorrect documents with a malafide intention to cause injury and this section has a provision for punishment for an imprisonment of three years. Section 218 is applied when the concerned police officer frames incorrect record to protect the criminal from getting any punishment and such acts are punishable for an imprisonment up to three years and fine. When the police officer confines an innocent person for trial on fallacious complaints then such officer are liable under section 220 of IPC which has a punishment of imprisonment up to seven years and fine.
Section 221 of IPC says that if a person with an intention to cause harm to others files a false FIR is punishable with an imprisonment of two years and fine and if the false complainants for the offences punishable with death or life imprisonment or seven years imprisonment or upwards then such persons are liable to punished with an imprisonment up to seven years and fine.
- Other useful section for the people accused of false dowry charges
The accused can also file a case of criminal conspiracy under Sec 120B IPC. The evidence collected by the victim can be used to make a ground of criminal conspiracy against the wife and her parents or the other party helping the wife, for making false charges against him. It is punishable for two years. If the wife is exhibiting false evidence in the court and to police, then he can bring the original and authentic documents to the court and it will make the entire charges false. Providing false evidence and fabricating the evidence are offences under 191& 192 of IPC respectively and they are punishable with an imprisonment up to three years and fine under section 193 of IPC. If a wife or any of her relative gives false testimony to the court then it a criminal offence under section 197 of IPC and it invites the same offence as mentioned in section 193.
The husband also has a right to file a case under section 500 of IPC for defamation. Reputation and respect is the greatest resource of a man. So on the off chance that somebody endeavors to slander somebody using any and all means; one can drag them to court for the damage endured by that Person in view of their lead. They will be approached to pay for the harms to the offended party as pay. The act of filing false dowry complaint by wife violates the presumption to be innocent until proven guilty but his reputation is tarnished in society forever. The criminal defamation is punishable with an imprisonment up to two years along with the fine. The wife making false dowry charge is also libel for punishment under section 506 of IPC for criminal intimidation.
If the wife suddenly enters into house and suddenly starts making noise or create a scene or lies that the husband has manhandled her, then in such cases record a harm recuperation body of evidence against her under Section 9 of CPC. Legitimately, one must issue see around the same time or the following day.
- The accused right to compensation
If the accused is acquitted by the magistrate against whom false FIR was registered then the accused has the right to demand compensation for accusation without any reasonable cause from the person who has made fallacious complaints against him. The scope of compensation is mentioned in the section 250 (2) of CrPC.
is true that Dowry is a social abhorrence and to control this shrewdness
Anti-Dowry Laws been legislated by the State but its misuse is equally cruel.
Our legislature has made very strict and harsh laws in order to control this
crime but its effect and implementation at grassroots level is still a distant
dream. Ladies take the shield of these expert ladies laws to satisfy their
mala-fide expectation. They bug their significant other and his family, the
police just by virtue of their grumbling, without proving with any proof put
the spouse’s and his relatives in bars. Men therefore experience gigantic
mental anguish. The creation of Men’s Commission is also required on urgent
basis with a panel of legal experts who can check into the violation in the
procedure made by woman for personal vendetta. The legislature also needs to
come up with harsh laws such as imprisonment of five years along with the fine
for the damage caused to the reputation of the husband for woman who file false
cases and after the trial are proven guilty by the court. The police personnel
also comes from the same society so they also needs to be given proper training
and counseling so that their attitude and outlooks towards a crime changes and
they work in more unbiased manner while dealing with important and sensitive
manner. It is heart wrenching to see that women today have fallen down to level
where they can‘t be trusted or respected as they used to be earlier in society.
Women by their very nature are innocent, kind, generous, loving and all such
characteristics which made them at par with goddesses. Not all women have lost
their sanity, but because of some all the others face the consequences. At last
the Media also needs to work on their ethical part in order to minimize the
media trial and reporting the matter which are sub-judice.
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Supra 45 Pg.120
 Supra 45 Pg. 110
 Supra 8
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 Supra 26
Rajesh Sharma vs. State of UP (2017) SCC 1265
Social Action Forum for ManavAdhikar vs. Union of India, Ministry of Law & Justice and others. (2018) SCC 1265
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Ibid 66 pg. 985
 Ibid 66 pg. 869
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SomMittal v. Govt. of Karnataka, (2008) SCC 206
Ibid 66 pg. 234
AbasahebHomme versus the State of Maharashtra, (2008) Bombay HC 856
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 Supra 9 pg. 921
 Supra 11
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 Supra 9 pg. 402
Harbhajan Singh Bajwa vs. Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala &Anr, (2000) CriLJ 3297 Punjab & Haryana HC
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 Supra 66 pg. 423
 Supra 66 pg. 318
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 Supra 66 pg. 470
 Supra 66 pg. 475
 Supra 9 pg. 296
 Supra 9 pg. 383
 Supra 9 pg. 385
 Supra 9 pg. 388
 Supra 9 pg. 391
 Supra 9 pg. 917
 Supra 9 pg. 922
 CK Takwani, Civil Procedure with Limitation Act 1963, Eastern Book Company (2018) pg. 39
 Supra 13
 Supra 66 pg. 524