Yesterday, Justice B Chandra Kumar of AP High Court passed a landmark judgment asking the police not to arrest people accused under Section 498A (Dowry Law) mechanically. While, many people are celebrating this judgment, hailing the decision, I have my own reservations. This is not the first time such judgment has come out.
Since 2002, I have seen umpteen judgments talking about “misuse” of Section 498A and false cases of dowry harassment being lodged to coerce husband and family to a favorable settlement in order to end a marriage that’s not working. In fact, the flurry of such judgments started with the AP High Court itself wherein the AP High Court, in a 2002 judgment of Sarita vs. R Ramachandra had asked Section 498A to be made bailable in order to arrest its misuse.
Twelve years down the line, as we see today’s judgment, we have also seen many other such judgments including a very famous one from the Honorable Supreme Court of India, passed by Dr. Arijit Pasayat, wherein filing of false cases under Section 498A was called as “Legal Terrorism” by the apex court.
However, the moot question is, “Have the number of arrests gone down?”, “Has the harassment of innocent men and their families in police stations gone down?” and the answer to the question is an unfortunate no.
And the state of Section 498A is such shabby not because of the law per se, but owing to rampant social misandry (hatred against men). The definition of Section 498A does not mandate an arrest and it does not say anything about arresting innocent people without investigation or trial; however, the police does that and it just does not stop at arrest of innocent people.
Hand-in-gloves with abusive women and conniving lawyers, the police not only wrongly arrest innocent husbands and their families but, at the behest of their greedy wives who claim to be “tortured for dowry”, initiate horse trading to “settle” the false case in lieu of huge monetary settlement.
Seeing rampant misuse of powers of arrest, Delhi
High Court passed a judgment wherein it mandated mediation in matrimonial disputes before registering an FIR under the notorious Section 498A of the IPC. And such cases started getting referred to “Crime against Women (CAW)” cells in Delhi.
And the buck doesn’t stop here. It was only the “technical arrest” of husband’s family that was prevented to a certain extent – not his harassment or the horse trading.
Keeping the man under the hanging sword of an impending false criminal case, the police/mediators in the CAW cell provoke, humiliate, and intimidate the man while at the same time trivializing, dismissing, belittling and invalidating his abuse in the process.
He is clearly told that if he does not accede to his wife’s demands, he and his family will be jailed, will be denied bail and he will have to fight long pending cases in the courts. He is also told that the law will blindly favor his wife and no one would listen to him. Even, if he has evidences of his innocence and his wife’s abuse on him, the CAW cell does not bother to look at them and only forces and corners the man into a huge financial settlement wherein they too have a cut in it.
The complaint filed by the wife is used as a tool of extortion and often young men are forced to pay huge money to their abusive and greedy wives running up to millions. And, if the man refuses to cough up the money, immediately FIR under Section 498A is registered without any investigation and all those named in the complaint are arrested and have to apply for bail and fight a false criminal case for years together.
And now, a new trend is emerging. A lot of such cases are coming forward wherein wife and her family and relatives beat up husband and their family members inside the CAW cell, in front of police and the police stand there as mute bystanders. Even, when husband’s family complains to police control room, the mediators in the CAW cell downplay the incident saying, “it was a minor scuffle”. Even, grievous injuries inflicted on husband and his family, are blatantly ignored.
Ultimately, most men are petrified seeing the institutionalized misandry and legalized extortion under the carpet of CAW cells and succumb to the extortion. These CAW cells are not mediation centers, they are hotbeds of extortion. And till the time we do not initiate police reforms and stop this state sponsored extortion and harassment of innocent men and their families, these judgments are meaningless paper tigers.
In fact, seeing the anti-male behavior of these CAW cell, I reckon them renaming as “Crime and Women” Cells.