Rights Of Husbands In Dowry And Cruelty-Based Complaints

According to Hindu tradition, marriage is considered one of the most sacred unions in human life (that is unrivalled). Yet beneath this beautiful family veil lies the crime of dowry (one of the most common social wrongs in India), which has been used as a weapon by women to harass, exploit, and extort men for decades.

Note: To put it simply, dowry refers to a practice where the bride’s family pays a hefty sum of cash or valuable items, which are expressed as a gift of gratitude to the groom’s family.

Since a substantial number of victims fall into the category of women, India has likewise passed several pieces of legislation to provide them with help and protection.

These include-

  • Dowry Prohibition Act 1961
  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, in conjunction with other provisions of the Indian Penal Code 1860

Even though there may be some genuine cases, the truth remains the same; plenty of corrupt wives take advantage of these laws to ensnare unfair advantages over their husbands.

Due to this, men are compelled to suffer brutality because they have no protection from this cruelty under the law.

Men/Husbands Are Also Affected

Each year, approximately 40,000 claims are made under Sec.498-A, and five members (on average) of the accused family are cited for assault.

In the last couple of years, there have been some very radical changes in criminal law (to protect women), resulting in the existing laws gaining more teeth.

Laws like [Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 , 498A , 376 , 377 IPC, etc.] are non-bailable & non-compoundable, nullifying the chances of compromise between married couples.

If we talk about [PWDVA Act, 498A of the IPC], this law allows the wife and her parents to file a complaint alleging physical and mental abuse by the husband and his family members.

And if we look into its attributes:

  • Non-Bailable: In this case, the accused husband must go to court to demand bail for himself.
  • Non-Compoundable: Here, the petitioner cannot withdraw the complaint.
  • Cognizable: This is where an accused can be charged and imprisoned without requiring a warrant or an examination.

Hence, it shows that a single complaint (whether genuine or not) from the wife is enough to send her marital family to hell (prison) and mental trauma.

Men Who Faced Section 498A Terrorism

Recently there has been a lot of concern exhibited by the Supreme Court and other High Courts regarding the abuse happening with Section 498A [Dowry and Cruelty Law].

They said the section is intended to function as a shield rather than a weapon for quarreling individuals.

 Arnesh Kumar’s Story (2014)

Here the case was between Arnesh Kumar V.S, the State of Bihar. It was an attempt to guarantee that the police officers would not charge pointlessly at the detainee and that the Magistrate would not approve the detention without any consideration whatsoever.

Due to this, the Court issued the following orders:

  • Police officials will not arrest the accused consequently if a case is filed under Section 498A. They are required to justify an arrest using specific parameters moving from Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • A checklist must be submitted by them that includes certain subclauses of Section 41 (1), (b), and (ii) of the Crpc.
  • The Magistrate has to approve confinement only after the police have submitted a report stating that all the conditions for confinement are met.
  • If a Judicial Magistrate fails to obey the directions, then the High Court (which possesses the authority) can take departmental action.

Rajesh Sharma’s Story (2017)

In this case, Supreme Court provided instructions for preventing the abuse of Section 498A of the CRPC, which was reworded in the Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar V. Association of India (2018).

The directions were:

  • The complaints and offences under Section 498A of the Crpc should be evaluated by a qualified investigator with adequate jurisdiction.
  • If two parties try to make the settlements independently, they can apply to High Court to quash a complaint made under Section 482 in the Code of Criminal procedure, 1973.
  • Regarding foreigners who live abroad, passports should not be arrogated, and Red Corner Notices should not be issued as a routine practice.

Men’s Innocence Remedy

If you’re a man/husband who has been trapped in a false complaint by your disgruntled wife, then there are two options left for you to pursue to free yourself: either rely on Defensive Remedies or Offensive Remedies.

Defensive Remedies

As far as defensive remedies are concerned, there are specific alternatives that men must follow to protect their families:

  • Ensure that you record all your conversations (voice notes, chats, emails, letters), especially threatening ones.
  • Gather evidence proving that neither you have demanded nor accepted the dowry.
  • Gather evidence to support the fact that your wife has left your life unannounced and without any legitimate reason.
  • The evidence mentioned above will benefit you in the trial.

Note: In the unlikely event that a husband’s wife has left his house after all the threats have been made, he has the right to file an RCR (Restitution of Conjugal Rights).

Offensive Remedies

As a guide, here is a list of counter cases that men/husbands can use to bolster their cases:

  • 120 B: Punishment of Criminal Conspiracy -) Here, if a husband believes that his wife is planning to commit a crime against him or his family, he can file a criminal case against her.
  • 506: Punishment for Criminal Intimidation -) Here, a husband can file a complaint claiming that his wife threatened him, his property, or his family with violence.
  • 167: Public Servant Outlining a Wrong Document to Cause Injury -) Husbands can file a suit against public servants attempting to help their spouse with false complaints and framing false documents.
  • Sec 227 & Sec 239 Crpc -) Here, if the husband believes that the complaint filed by his wife is false, he may file a claim against her under Section 227 & Section 239 of the Crpc expressly asserting that the 498A filed by the wife is wrong.
Disclaimer: Above suggestions are applicable on a case-to-case basis, and not be executed without consulting an Advocate.

Summing Up

Now that men and women are essentially in the same societal position, it is high time for the legislation to recognize this.

The incidence of false objections towards men is growing daily, which causes a significant problem because it’s going against basic fundamental freedoms.

This issue is abstruse to anyone; everyone knows how women abuse the provisions of the law to impose unjust demands on their spouses.

Therefore the Hon’ble Supreme Court is additionally reviewing laws (to make them more effective) that protect Indian males.

At the same time, it is also essential to change the social expectations of being “masculine”.

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