All the characters referred to below are fictitious and bear no resemblance with anyone living or dead whatsoever. Any co-incidence is purely co-incidental and unintentional
Dowry? A sensational word, isn’t it? Evokes strong emotions for the ‘married woman’. Unlawful demands from the husband’s side to the bride’s side like a scooter, car, fridge, cash, jewels, etc. etc. Seems like a scene straight from a social cinema, depicting the ‘married woman’ as a liability. This is what the media has always represented dowry and dowry seeking money mongers as, and so this is what the society has come to know of it.
But the definition of dowry is far wider than that entailed above as put in Indian Penal Code Section 498A as any ‘unlawful demand’ made by husband and / or his relatives. But what is ‘unlawful’ has not been described. It has been left to anyone’s imagination and depends on the intensity of the ‘married woman’s’ tears at time of the complaint.
The other day I happened to meet Jignesh, who has been accused under section 498A for allegedly making ‘unlawful demand’ to his wife. So I happened to chat with him as to what was the need to make any ‘unlawful demand’ from his wife when he himself earned a handsome salary working with an MNC at a prestigious position? Excerpts of my chat with him,
Me: “Well sad to know that you are facing criminal charges, but I fail to understand that when you are yourself so well placed, what made you demand?”
Jignesh: “So you seem to have decided the verdict yourself as is evident from your question.”
Me: “Hey man, I did not mean that.”
Jignesh: “It’s OK, am used to it, but it is a truth that I demanded dowry from her. You heard it right, Yes I demanded dowry but never got it.”
Me: “I see. Do you mind sharing your demands?”
Jignesh: “Not at all. I demanded our cultural values from her; I demanded as much respect from her for my parents, as I have for her parents. I demanded support from her to build my family. I demanded a feeling of oneness with contemporaries and love for the young ones in our family. I demanded restraint and patience to understand each other to build a stronger familial foundation. I demanded an anticipated expectation to be as much loyal and faithful to me as I am to her. Since she and her parents, especially her mom did not have all these, they thought these demands were ‘unlawful ‘, and filed a case on me and my innocent family under Section 498A IPC.”
Me: “I see. Hats off to you and sorry once again for that question, it was just framed badly, not intended that way.”
Jignesh: “That is fine; this is the pill society gives to victims of 498A, the Anti – dowry law. But I have no qualms in saying that I demanded dowry, for if what I demanded amounts to dowry in today’s era of Woman Protection and Woman Empowerment, then so be it. After all times are changing. Definitions of 1960 cannot work today.”