Family, the social unit, is the backbone of any country’s progress. The more stronger and stable is the family system of a country, better is the country’s progress. The most unique thing about family is the trust factor. However, in recent times, since the last decade or so, the family system of India is on a downhill. One of the major reasons of that, contrary to popular perception, is not due to modernization or western influence, but it is due to over-indulgence and interference of the Government as we will see it in the article.
Before talking about the interference of the Government, I would like to mention here about the principle of Laissez-Faire. The principle of Laissez-Faire tells that –
“The theory or system of government that upholds the autonomous character of the economic order, believing that government should intervene as little as possible in the direction of economic affairs.”
Similarly, this principle needs to be applied to the family system in India as well – minimize the interference of the Govt. in the family affairs of India. Let us now look at the kind of interference the Govt. of India exercises,
- Section 498A – This section talks about prosecuting people who subject a “married woman” to harassment of such nature that it is either dangerous to her life or limb or abets her to suicide. It is a non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable offense with a luxurious facility of “arrest on demand” of all those who are named in the FIR be it a 2 month old baby or a 92 year old crippled nonagenarian. It is the most luxurious tool available to break a family – just a complaint from a married woman against her husband and in-laws and a family is broken. Moreover, it is pertinent to mention here that Section 498A does not cover any offense that is NOT COVERED by any other section of the IPC. Hence Section 498A is a completely redundant section of IPC which is gender-biased, unconstitutional, breaks families and gives immense power in the hands of the Government to interfere in the family matters.
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act – As if the level of interference of the Govt. and the consequent social damage therein due to Section 498A was insufficient, the Govt. of India came up with another sinister law called, “The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act”. The better the less said about this act, as it tends to criminalize every dimension of interpersonal relationship in an Indian family from a young wife’s perspective. It empowers the young wife to file a case against her in-laws for any behavior of theirs – howsoever moral and justified – to be construed as Domestic Violence against her and prosecute them with cruel and unusual legal procedures. If the husband asks his wife to do job, he is demanding and if he asks her to leave job he is non-supporting, if he calls her wife with some name (even out of love) it’s an offense and numerous other aspects of spousal inter-personal relationship have been criminalized vide the Domestic Violence Act. At the same time – as the name of the Act suggests – any of the above complaints faced by a husband from a wife do not construe as Domestic Violence. Hence, this act tends to over-pamper wives with a nuclear weapon and is a sure shot tool to break the family. Also, the Act empowers a wife to invoke Section 498A through it as well. So, it is very clear that the Act has been properly enacted to break the Indian family system.
- Other maintenance provisions – Apart from these, other maintenance provisions like Section 125 of the CrPC, Section 18 of the HAMA Act, etc. are also completely gender-biased and allow only women to seek maintenance from men. Section 125, of course, applies to children and parents as well wherein they can seek maintenance from their fathers and sons respectively; however, 90% of cases filed under Section 125 are those of wives seeking maintenance from their husbands. To add to the woes, Section 125 is a no-fault maintenance, which means it can be sought merely on the basis of the relationship being established.
Some more laws are in the proposal like the marital rape law wherein the Govt. wants to criminalize the core and basic essence of marriage, the sexual assault law wherein the Govt. wants to know reasons why men are getting in touch with women!
We will now see how this level of interference of the Govt. is unwarranted. It is so, due to the nature of the kind of laws and procedures the Indian Govt. devises. For e.g. although the Govt. created Section 498A highlighting a noble intention of protecting married women from harassment, it missed the following key points either deliberately or unknowingly:-
- There is no procedure defined to ensure that the definition of cruelty as enshrined in the section is adhered to, while filing the case and prosecuting the accused. Moreover, the definition of cruelty itself is vague and there is no procedure established to ensure that it is the alleged cruelty has caused danger to the life and limb of the complainant or abetted suicide and not unrealistic expectations on part of the married woman.
- There is no basis given by the Govt. to rule out men from such protection because the Govt. has not done any study to ascertain whether men fall victims to similar instances of cruelty or not.
- There is an underlying assumption that only the in-laws of a married woman will be inflicting cruelty and not her natal relatives and blood relations as if “wives” and “husbands” are born in entirely different lineages.
- There has been no attempt on part of the Govt. to ensure that it is not providing redundant reliefs quintessentially violating the essence of Article 20 of the Indian Constitution which says that “No person shall be prosecuted twice for the same offense”. In order to ensure this Constitutional Right, the Govt. has to ensure that it does not provide laws which cover similar or overlapping offenses and provide circumstantial reliefs. For e.g. any physical cruelty happening like hurt, grievous hurt, abetment to suicide, attempt to murder, murder, etc. have relevant sections in the Indian Penal Code which are effective enough. For mental cruelty the relief of divorce is available under the various marriage laws and for emotional cruelty like blackmail and extortion too, provisions are available in the Indian Penal Code. And any law that is available to a man is available to a woman – the reverse however is not true. Still the Govt. formulated Section 498A which is completely redundant and uncalled for.
- There has been no attempt on part of the Govt. to study the after-effects of Section 498A, for although various committees have been formed but none of the recommendations have been implemented so far and hence the Govt., thus far has shrugged off its shoulder from this responsibility.
However, it is an undisputed fact that Section 498A has broken more families than doing anything else and this has been reiterated time and again by the High Judiciary as well asking the legislature to “rationalize” Section 498A to minimize the damage it is causing to the social fabric and the family system of India. But non-action on part of the Govt. clearly shows its interference is unwarranted. If a doctor cannot cure a patient, the patient must not, at the very least, be harmed by the treatment either. But here this is exactly the scenario. The patient is getting harmed tremendously and no cure is happening.
Again while formulating the Domestic Violence Act; the Govt. was consistent in its performance. It was successfully instrumental in churning out yet another “Weapon of Family Destruction”. The Govt. did not bother to heed to the following points while formulating the Domestic Violence Act, either deliberately or unintentionally:-
- Once again men were ruled out without any basis.
- The offense of Domestic Violence was not at all defined in the Act.
- The Govt. violated basic law making principles by calling it a civil Act and placing terms like “bail”, “jail”, “arrest” within it and making it compliant with the “Criminal Code of Procedure” popularly known as “CrPC”. It also introduced provisions of invoking Section 498A vide Section 36 of the Act. Hence one tool of family destruction allows invocation of another such tool. Do we need any more proof of the sinister agendas of the Govt.?
- The Govt., vide Section 20 (d) of the Act, violated Article 20 of the Indian Constitution by allowing dual maintenance under this Act as well as under Section 125 CrPC.
- The Govt. violated the fundamental right to fair trial of a citizen as enshrined in Articles 20, 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution by allowing sole testimony of the complaint to be enough to prosecute the accused vide Section 31/32 of the Act.
- The Govt. did not define clearly either the scope of the gender of victims or perpetrators of domestic violence. On one hand, mothers and sisters of men have been left unattended, on the other hand, brothers and fathers of wives have been exempted. The Act clearly says that only a woman in the relationship of marriage with a man can file cases against her husband and/or relatives. Even the Honorable Supreme Court was constrained to remark that the Act is clumsily drafted.
- The provision of “Right to Residence” in the Act is another befooling technique employed by the Govt. to show that it “cares” for women. For a while, even if I assume that a woman is genuinely facing domestic violence, what sense does it make to keep the woman in the same house. Will the Govt. ensure her safety 24X7? And for a woman who is making false allegations, which idiot wouldn’t want to lie if lying gets you rewarded with a property of your choice and social sympathy? This provision is another sure-shot route to break a family. Allow legalized property grabbing provided one lies and the family is broken! In fact, by this provision, the Govt. is perpetrating and promoting Elder Abuse at the hands of unscrupulous daughter-in-laws.
These and many other loopholes in this Act coupled with the common loophole of both Section 498A and this Act of not punishing people who file false cases have started devouring the family system of India leading to a fatherless society.
As mentioned in the beginning of the article that a sound family system is the key to the progress of a country. Not only that, it forms the basis of a crime-free society and a safe and secure nation. For, if there are more children from broken families the greater is the tendency for them to either turn to crime or join Maoist and terrorist groups jeopardizing national security.
The Govt. by shutting down its ears on pleas of citizens about the deteriorating family system of India, is actually contributing indirectly to social crimes and national threat. Family breaking is a direct threat to national security and this issue needs to be taken seriously. And these gender-biased and unconstitutional laws coupled with anti-male societal attitudes are the biggest contributors to the family breaking phenomenon.
We, the citizens of India, give our hard-earned money as taxes to the Govt. from which it runs to serve the citizens and India being a democracy, the Govt. is actually a public servant. We, as citizens have every right to question the Govt. and hold it accountable for any action that is takes and the action results in unintended consequences.
By allowing itself to be hijacked by radical anti-male and misandrist feminist ideologies, the Govt. is silently digging its own grave. With the advent of the internet, a parallel power structure has come up enabling citizens to network, share information and collaborate themselves against unacceptable laws and policies. And if the situation continues like this, in no time power equations will be redefined and the loser will be the Govt. Choice belies with it.
As a citizen of India and a benevolent tax payer, on the occasion of International Family Day on May 15, I ask the Govt. to stay out of my family and minimize its interference in my family. Hey You – Stay away from my family! Do you hear me?
And if the Govt. does not do so, I will go ahead and redefine the family as a social unit which does not have any relationship covered by any law whatsoever and one that does not necessarily mandate blood relationships to exist in a family. Any cohesive social unit which empowers its members to take care of each other based on mutual trust and friendship is a family. And in such a family the Govt. has no business interfering so stay away from my family.