What’s working – 498A or MHA

Better the less said about the misuse (read intended use) of Section 498A IPC, the most draconian law ever formed to infringe upon the civil liberties of individuals and rip-apart the family system of India. This one law wreaks so much havoc on Indian men and their families that it drives them to suicide. Every year close to 58000 husbands commit suicide, every nine minutes a married man ends his life and in the last 12 years 170,000 husbands have ended their life unable to bear the domestic violence from their wives and in-laws and the apathy of the Government and Society towards them.

Added to that, the Government has formulated Weapons of Male Destruction (WMD) like Section 498A which mandates arrest of innocent persons merely on the basis of complaints without any need to investigate into the complaint or corroborate it with evidence. Not only that, even the judiciary uses the Section to abuse men. Often when the complaint is received, husband and his family are not given bail unless they accede to the financially extortionary demands of wife and her parents.

Husband and his family are literally blackmailed and held hostage in the name of granting bail unless he agrees to pay the ransom (read settlement amount to wife). The judiciary is hand-in-gloves in this extortion business. And the judiciary gets this power from this section 498A which is non-bailable and cognizable – which means, quintessentially no one would ever be questioned either for a wrongful arrest or an unlawful harassment of innocently accused people. This kind of a power comes only from an unconstitutional law like Section 498A.

And it’s the wide, rampant and large-scale misuse of Section 498A that has given boost to the men’s rights movement in India under the banner of Save Indian Family (SIF) movement. Activists of the Save Indian Family Movement have launched a tireless tirade not only against rampant misuse of Section 498A but also against systematic victimization of men being passed off as a social service. They have launched a massive awareness campaign in the media, society and the Govt. authorities to take a stand against “false cases of dowry harassment being filed under Section 498A” in order to realize greedy and vindictive goals.

Taking note of the growing influence of the Save Indian Family movement, the Union home ministry recently issued a directive to all State Governments to stop arresting people arbitrarily in cases under 498A and to keep its misuse (read intended use) under control. SIF activists followed up the directive with the respective state Govts. One such RTI operation with the Karnataka Ministry of Home Affairs revealed some interesting facts.

In a letter dated 25th November 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Karnataka has written to the Union Home Ministry, vide letter no. HD 191 PCR 08 that Section 498A is working well.

Along with this statement, some more interesting statements have been made by the Karnataka Home Ministry as follows,

  1. 1. Section 498(A) IPC is working well. It is totally another matter that several false/exaggerated complaints are filed while women with women genuine problems do not invoke Section 498A: While the home ministry itself admits that, “several false/exaggerated complaints are filed” on what basis, does it come to the conclusion that Section 498(A) is working well? And if at all, women with genuine problems do not invoke Section 498A, then all that happens under this is “False Cases” and even after admitting the fact, the Karnataka Home Ministry does not want to do anything about it.
    1. a. Then why is it wasting tax payer’s money?
    2. b. Moreover, if women with genuine problems do not invoke section 498(A) then why are women with false complaints allowed to wreak havoc on the lives of husbands with false criminal cases?
    3. c. Is not the Karnataka Home Ministry allowing legalized prostitutionalization of marriage in order to cover its weakness in curbing the misuse of Section 498A?
    4. d. Or is it that Section 498(A) has been drafted, passed and implemented with the hidden ulterior motive of allowing false cases? In that case, one would wonder – “What’s working, 498A or Ministry of Home Affairs?
    5. 2. As regards false cases, it is a larger issue. There are provisions in IPC for prosecuting persons filing false cases: So this means that the Karnataka Home Ministry is not going to solve ‘larger issues’? Moreover, the provisions about prosecuting persons filing false cases refer to IPC Sections 182 and Section 211 both which are completely useless. Because in both the sections, the party that has suffered from false litigation (the falsely accused party) cannot invoke these sections. The onus lies on the police and courts to invoke this section. And in 98% of the cases it is the police that assist the greedy wives and their parents in framing the complaint, create false evidences, and tamper evidence of innocence of husband and his family members. So a police force that is hand-in-gloves in spreading the misuse (read intended use), how can it be expected to invoke these sections. Secondly, courts always acquit saying not enough evidence found, they never say, “false accusations and malicious prosecution”. This sheltering always saves the liar woman. What steps has the ministry taken to address these issues? Instead it is washing its hands off saying, “There are provisions for prosecuting persons filing false cases”. Are the tax-payers giving away their hard earned money only for escapist excuses from the ministries and public servants? Again, I pose this question, “What’s working, 498A or Ministry of Home Affairs?
    6. 3. But it (read, punishing of persons filing false cases) is seldom successful owing to cumbersome procedures and ineffective provisions: So the Karnataka Home Ministry clearly admits that the procedure for punishing people filing false cases has failed completely. How callous and irresponsible can it get for a State Level Ministry to sit and admit that a law is being thoroughly misused and they are completely unable to contain the misuse and protect innocent citizens? On top of that, it admits technical lacunae in the legal provisions and washes its hands off whereas it should be taking action to correct the lacunas so that they can be effectively applied to protect citizens – the very objective with which they have been framed (unless there are hidden ulterior motives). Moreover, what steps has the Karnataka Home Ministry taken/recommended so the problem of “cumbersome procedures and inefficient provisions” can be tackled? Again, “What’s working, 498A or Ministry of Home Affairs?

From the letter of the home ministry it is clearly evident that its Section 498A which is working, not the Home Ministry.

I would like to end this saying it’s not Section 498A that’s being misused, it’s a wrong law that is being used.

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