Tuesday, January 27, 2015

498A= The ticking time bomb in our midst

“The quality of a nation’s civilization can be largely measured by the methods it uses in the enforcement of criminal law”. – -The Supreme Court Of India, 1994.
The concept of democracy in India is as porous as India’s border, with respect to loopholes being present. There are fronts where democracy is strong and there are fronts where democracy is turned a blind eye. While India as a whole is deemed better than many countries for having an active exchange of opinion and freedom of speech, the loopholes sometimes make a mockery of what constitutes a democracy. One such is something that even the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of, on it, being a burgeoning problem in Indian society. Welcome to the farce that democracy is with respect to not having gender-neutral laws.
The new legal cocaine/ecstasy pill, which bypasses and leaves no strand of democracy is a law called 498a, which is called the Domestic Violence or Dowry Harassment law. It came by in 1983 to protect women from dowry harassment.  An aggrieved woman just needed to get to the nearby police station and file a 498a if she faced harassment, and her husband and his whole family would be arrested and by the police. So far so good as this meant power to the women in a country that was largely seeing a lot of crimes against the fairer sex.
The moot point was all a woman needed was just to complain and they did not need any proof at that instant. Slowly women realized that they could actually use this to their advantage to settle scores with their male counterparts, if there was any dispute. A new wave of legal terrorism and extortion followed until July 2014, when the Supreme Court passed an order to not have automatic arrests for the 498a unless an investigation was done. But an investigation can just be another reason for harassment, another step for money to exchange hands. 498a is still around and staring at you from the corner, even though a barrier has been put in place.
Here’s how this law was abused over time. When a husband disagrees or fights with a woman, the woman walks over to the nearby police station and files a 498a. Very few policemen actually enquire what’s the problem and are usually paid off by the woman or her family. The husband is then usually pulled out in front of society or office and dragged to the police station. Not only that, in some cases the whole set of distant relatives are pulled in too, including children. The husband is beaten and harassed in a police station and an FIR is filed against him and his family. His job sometimes is lost, his kid taken away by the mother, his parents subjected to mental and physical cruelty in the police station and in the society. By the time the man/husband gathers his composure and finds a lawyer, having suffered harassment in the jail does the damage mentally. The ones who makes it past this stage slowly find their feet, while some men succumb to suicide.
The ‘so called accused’ in these cases might have been on bail – but the injustice of pendency of trial for long periods is the uncertainty and the concomitant anxiety suffered by the under-trial. The under-trial is inhibited in making future plans for his life or executing present ones due to the uncertainty which pendency of trial brings. His confidence starts to erode and at the end of the trial, even if he is honorably acquitted, the scars of the long trial remain. He feels condemned despite the acquittal. Democracy never reaches the man, or it reaches very late when the damage has been done.
Now to add some salt to the wounds, the woman/wife has now gone on to file for divorce pressing huge compensation claims in the forms of alimony and maintenance. With the FIR on the man’s name, he has to pay huge sums of money to the lawyer and the police to get his name off the FIR. If doesn’t go to the FIR stage, the wife extorts her husband for money, otherwise she will create more trouble. In these false dowry harassment cases the husband is a sitting duck waiting to be extorted, for the crime of being a nice husband and a good father.
As any lawyer would tell you, husbands can only mitigate the extent of damage but cannot fight an equal battle legally with a woman. Due to India’s archaic laws women can never be aggressors or perpetrators of crime, but can only be victims, so women can never be brought to book in a mental/physical harassment case. Not only those, the police see each FIR as a means of milking money from the husband and the wife over time. It’s a standard formula for harassment legally possible as an option, and nothing but money can solve the problem.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She will have her revenge and your family will collectively bear the brunt of it. The 498A Wives have a soft corner for your mother and your sister (s). Prepare your mom and sister(s) for special treatment. They may very well see the inside of a prison”-  from http://www.498a.org
Lets look into some specific examples and stories to see how ineffective democracy is in a case like the one below with Rupesh Savant, Varshini Swaminathan and Nitish Shivrayan (*names have been changed to protect identities)
Rupesh was married to Varshini and they had a 2 year old baby boy.  While Varshini always showed traces of evil when she fought, Rupesh’s calm and patient nature somehow kept the marriage from falling apart. Rupesh was paying the EMI for a 3 BHK flat which was also in Varshini’s name. Once the flat was in her name, Varshini drove her in laws out, slapped her mother in law and then decided that in that state of being drunk on woman power it was okay in having a relationship with Nitish, her colleague. Varshini and Nitish used to have sex in the office lift, office basement, at Nitish’s place and even at Varshini’s place, with the 2 year kid kept in the other room, when Rupesh was away on work. Sometimes the kid would need to wait an extra hour at the day care because his mother was having an illicit relationship. When Rupesh discovered this one fine day, when he came earlier than expected, Varshini showed no sign of remorse or regret. She went over to the police station and filed a 498 a along with Nitish for company (acting as her brother). Rupesh and his family were jailed, despite showing proofs of the illicit affair that Varshini had. Varshini also got Rupesh sacked by filing a false FIR of dowry harassment and going to his office and crying. Rupesh is without a job, and the house he paid EMI’s for is now possessed by Varshini’s parents (who are also fighting a court case for misappropriation of funds from their former employer). Varshini and Nitish have settled in the USA working for an Indian company that supplies cheap software coolies to be rented by the hour. Rupesh is literally on the streets and with some help from friends stays at their places for a fortnight and keeps changing places as he has no home, and all his savings had been taken away from the joint account by Varshini, when Rupesh was remanded to police custody. Rupesh has been summoned many times in 2 different cities for false cases against him. Rupesh’s parents died on seeing him in mental agony. All of this because a false 498a was filed and the Indian laws make it comfortable for a woman to get away with crime which in this case is adultery). Rupesh has no sympathy, from his extended circle, as the world believes men must be brave and women cant commit crimes. The only way Rupesh can come out of this non-compoundable case is if he pays off the police and pays of his psycho wife for maintenance, and basically funds his wife’s next marriage, for a crime he has not even committed. Just another day in the life of the extortion racket, being played to the court’s galleries by the tri teams of evil women, corrupt police and greedy lawyers.
Rupesh’s story is one of the thousands of stories lost as it does not conform to the general script templates that news media has a daily orgy on. Rupesh’s minority story wont make it to ‘Satyameva Jayate’, nor will Arnab Goswami question Varshini that ‘The nation wants to know’. Rupesh doesn’t have money in his pockets as he has been out of a job for 6 months now. He has developed a fear psychosis and spends his day staring at his bail papers wondering what percentage of the ordeal still remains. His home, his child and his parents have vanished away because one woman decided to make a mockery of the law 498a. This is just one case. A law meant to protect our women, has armed the women with a nuclear weapon that is spoiling harmony. More than crimes against women, its crimes against humanity that needs to have a proper mechanism for justice. This article however, focuses on the part of democracy that’s a vacuum for crimes against men.
Whether its Rupesh, Peter or Farooq, thousands of such men are subject to crime by women. Like the ‘Farmer Suicides’, the ‘Husband Suicides’ too are on the rise. Every 9 minutes, a married man who is affected by the 498a, commits suicide in India. 64,000 married men commit suicides a year, double that of married women. Complete stats are provided here.
The government in order to appeal to a section of the female vote bank is mulling on a bill that gives an ‘aggrieved’ woman rights over the husband’s ancestral property also to make the extortion racket seem more evil. While we men and women rise up in unison, to fight the men who rape our sisters across the country, its time we raise up in arms to fight against these characterless women and the corrupt section of the police.

Democracy is almost naked and is dancing to the tunes of ‘Munni Badnam Hui’. You get to decide if you would like to disrobe democracy further or join the fight to cover it up. It’s never too late to dream about #betterdemocracy, is it?

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