Marriage as an institution has always been highly placed in the Indian sociological scenario. It has been always been seen as the first step towards settled life and laying the foundation of family. But as they say, “All human troubles start from the inability to sit quietly in a room,” this so called sacred institution has its own dark side. Where, on one hand, marriage provides a platform to two individuals coming from totally different backgrounds and albeit different mindsets to come together, understand each other and be each others support in life, financially, morally, spiritually, emotionally and physically, it has its own uninvited share of problems. The most talked of and debatable of the problems associated with marriage is DOWRY. Sometimes the girls’ family give dowry as a pre-assumption that the boys’ family shall keep the girl happy and sometimes it is seen from the boys side as compensation to take care of the girl. With increasing reports from the media about the torture meted out to the Indian Daughter-in-law about dowry harassment and deaths due to it, the Govt. of India formulated the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 and introduced Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code in the year 1983, wherein harassment of the ‘wife’ for dowry was named as a criminal offence and extremely strict measures were provided within its ambit to protect the ‘Married Woman’ from the clutches of money-hungry dowry demanders. It just required a written unverified complaint from the girl or any relative on behalf of the girl to file a criminal case against the ‘HUSBAND’ and his family members and they would be arrested immediately and sent to judicial custody until either they were bailed out or chargesheeted and trial ensued. But it was a very big catch there, since the provision gave the police discretionary powers of arrest, and that too on an unverified complaint, as also filing a false complaint under this offense and leveling false accusations against the HUSBAND and his family did not attract any punishment on the girl or her parents, a lot of false complaints have started pouring in.
The police have a field day as they get a golden chance to make money from both sides for settling the dispute and the girls’ side get an upper hand as they can now extort money from the husbands’ family using the criminal case, the fear of police, arrest, and social stigma associated with jail as a weapon. Cases where money is not a prime concern, such a false case has been used by the girls’ side to get their unjust demands conceded, like staying separate from the boys’ parents, siphon boys’ hard earned money to girls’ parents if the boy is rich / well to do, or to end a relationship where the ‘expectations’ of the girl were not met, or to break a marriage to marry someone else whom the girl is in love with, or to get custody of children, and a plethora of such reasons. But it is not always the girls’ side that has to be blamed, many a times it has been found that the girls and their family have been ill-advised and misguided by unscrupulous and insincere lawyers who are out to make their own money. There have been cases where the judges also force the boy to compromise. And in such cases and many more, the girls repent for having taken such a step and they hope for reconciliation and want to arrive at a compromise. And so we have the next obvious big question, “What should the man do, reconcile or not with a wife who has a filed a false case of dowry harassment?” So we will take a peek at that possibility, its chances of occurrence and possible / fearful repercussions.
If the boy decided to take the girl back, then on one side it looks like a marriage has been saved and both of them have given a second thought to the relationship despite considerable differences and this shall highlight the importance of the institution of marriage as also shall throw light on the necessity of tolerance, acceptance and adjustment to make a relation work. Also it shall save the courts from being overburdened with another case and both the families from the headache of another marriage. In case the couple had children, they would be spared the tragedy of a single parent, as for a successful upbringing the child needs both the parents as has been corroborated by a study in US that children brought up by single mom have a increasing tendency and majority of them turning out to be criminals when they grow up. It will also set an example to others about how a relation can be saved.
Having said that, let us have a look at the other side of the coin. It has to kept in mind that the dowry case is false and the allegations has been fabricated and a severe breach of trust has been committed by the ‘wife’, leading to severe deterioration of the economical, emotional, and reputational health of the HUSBAND and his family. If a woman can walk into the police station and levy false accusations on the husband and forces him to concede to her ‘DEMAN DS’ deemed as ‘JUST’ by an explanation sounding logic to her ears, taking undue advantage of a law that has been made to protect the ‘WEAKER’ women, this thought of bringing such a woman back into one’s life shall invite justifiable contention. When already she has crossed the line, what is the guarantee that she will not cross it again or she will not cross it again with a larger fury? The first time she filed the complaint in a fit of immaturity and had not done her homework properly and therefore could not get what she wanted and thus offers the bait of compromise to be able to enter the house again and plan a proper route to jail for her husband and her in-laws. She will collect evidence in her favor, humiliate in-laws and instigate them to create a scene of violence, for when a woman gets vindictive she gets very dangerous and ruins everyone around her, including self. She can forge drama that there has been attempt to her life and limb by any means like, cutting her hands, or setting her sari on fire and dousing it and portraying it as act to murder her and all she has to do is to utter the word, ‘DOWRY’ in front of the police and the in-laws are behind bars and in deep shit, even if they are innocent and the woman shall have the power to make them dance at her whims and fancies.
Bringing her back, would also empower her by granting access to your possessions (financial instruments, emotions, attachments) to a serpentine creature, who can misuse them to the core. It will set a bad example in a society encouraging other women to resort to such tactics and rule their husband’s life and family. We need to keep in mind that no law can run a household and once the petty marital discords have been shaded legally, the relationship has been murdered in all practical aspects and it is just a matter of time before it is dead on paper. Even if the couple has children and they reconcile for the children, it will be very hard for the couple to stay peacefully, the grudge shall always remain, howsoever the husband is mature and understanding and those children shall always see their parents fighting and will fail to develop faith in the institution of marriage. Expectations should have a limit. If the woman expects that she will keep dancing and choreographing her husband’s and in-laws’ movements and ultimately when she fails, she should be forgiven and provided one more chance, then it has to borne in mind that the MAN had been tagged a criminal for no fault of his and he and his family has gone through a stage of tremendous trauma, stress and unwanted, unforeseen and uninvited hardships, all thanks to the false complaint filed by the wife. It involves monetary loss (perhaps recoverable), emotional draining (irrecoverable and leaves incurable mental scars), reputational assassination (recoverable only to a certain extent, and that too depends on how the individual handles it and perceives it). There has to be accountability for such huge losses and inflictions and effective means to curb such a menace.
With this note, I leave it to the readers to decide whether they would like to reconcile and die a death every day or fight back the menace, contribute their bit to create awareness and save other families and emerge an overall winner in life. I will end this article with a final analogy. A wife who has filed a false criminal case on her husband to settle petty scores and money extortion can be compared with this situation. Imagine someone stuck badly in city traffic and has an urgent nature’s call to attend to and at the same time feeling thirsty and wants to have water. The water that was present in the body has been marked as waste and he needs to get rid of it and at the same time he needs some fresh water to quench his thirst. As long as the waste water remains in his body, he will feel uneasy and those toxins in the waste water shall start ruining his system slowly. He needs water, but cannot use the water present in his body; he has to get rid of it. The waste water is a wife who files such a case. In order to carry on in life properly, the man has to get rid of such a wife as soon as possible. The fresh water is new life for the man, the definition and demographics of which are context dependent and individual defined.