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Unjust Humanity
Virag
Supreme Court changes law for Domestic Violence - Boon or bane for men? 11 October, 2016
We live in 21st Century which is also known as the age of technology and one of the most stunning, path-breaking and unprecedented technological advances has been the internet which has provided a never-before accessibility to data and information. However, at times, it is overwhelming and one gets over-saturated with data, information, happenings, current affairs, news and just decides to give everything a flyby.

Something similar had happened to me since some days. I was simply ignoring all news to a very large extent and thus ended up ignoring an important news which sought to have deep ramifications in our fast changing society, especially in India, where we are always in a delirious attempt to ape the West in a bid to be called 'modern'. While, it's debatable whether we are actually becoming modern by simply aping the West or not but meanwhile, lets concentrate on what happened when I apparently missed a bus of current affairs.

Missing the bus was fine, but the fact that I was confronted with that fact of me having missed the bus was incorrigible and it set the ball rolling. And it so happened, that one of my friends and well-wisher asked me if he could expect an article from me on this very important topic which I seemed to have overlooked. So, I just decided to give it a shot. And it was a shot in my brain, when I actually gave it a shot.

Cutting the long story short, here's the background of the above narrative. Very recently, the Honorable Supreme Court of India heard a Writ Petition which challenged the definition of Section 2(q) of the "Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act", henceforth referred to as DV Act. Without getting into too many legal nitty-gritties, here's a layman version of the whole development.

A mother-daughter duo files an application under DV Act claiming that they were subjected to Domestic Violence by their brother-son and his wife along with other siblings of the brother-son. This was in 2007 in Mumbai. The original petition was hence withdrawn with a liberty to file fresh petition and in 2010, another petition was filed.

In that case, a counter petition was filed that DV Act is not maintainable against women. In this case, the woman charged with Domestic Violence was the daughter-in-law, and the magistrate had disallowed the petition. The order was challenged in Bombay High Court and the High Court allowed the discharge thus upholding the view that only male members of family could be tried under DV Act.

After that, the mother-daughter duo filed another writ petition before the Supreme Court challenging the definition of Section 2(q) of the DV Act. The Supreme Court, after a well-reasoned order upheld the contention of the mother-daughter duo and final conclusion that now stands is that, the DV Act can be applied on female relatives as well, as long as one male is an accused.

Let's look at the legal ramifications of this judgement before we talk of social ramifications.

Legal:

Coming back to our never ending penchant to ape the West, even the DV Act is a result of this tendency. In 1994, the USA passed the "Violence against Women Act (VAWA)" and then based on same lines, the Indian Feminists also demanded a law for Indian women and by 2002, a full raging debate was going on about whether India should pass a law for Domestic Violence or not.

There was also a heated debate between Arun Jaitley and Indira Jai Singh. Indira was vouching for a single incidence of violence to be construed as domestic violence whereas Jaitley said that it would be preposterous to do so and called for a pattern of recurring violence to be construed as Domestic Violence. For various political reasons, the bill lapsed and subsequently, the UPA-1 Government formed after 2004 general elections passed the law as per Indira Jai Singh's definition of Domestic Violence.

It is also pertinent to mention here that Indira Jai Singh, who is also the architect of the DV Law in India, incidentally heads Lawyers Collective, an NGO which specializes in women's rights. Having a law that is vaguely defined and caters to a very sensitive emotion of the society can be extremely beneficial to the legal fraternity as the cases filed would be very high in number, keeping the legal profession always green. And with the DV Act, Indira Jai Singh headed Lawyers Collective, just achieved that. No wonder, Indira was in favor of a single incidence of reported violence to be construed as Domestic Violence.

And so, by 26 Oct 2006, we had a law. 15 days away from a decade to the DV Act, we are gifted by a judgement by the Supreme Court which greatly widens the ambit and ken of the DV Act by allowing mothers and sisters of a man to file cases against the husband and his wife. By laying down a general legal statute that any woman related to a man who is accused of DV, in any form or relationship can be tried under DV Act, the Supreme Court has just opened a can of worms for Indian families, especially for men. It is anyone's guess as to why it is being done.

For reasons varying from the stark differences that exist between the American Family System and the Indian Family System (especially joint family system) to judicial lackadaisical approach to institutional corruption, the feminists were but unhappy of the results obtained from the DV Act so far. In India, the DV Act became yet another tool for maintenance but it was not being effective in usurping husband's property the way western women had gained from the law. Feeling let down for their "aggrieved" sisters back home, the feminists were constantly cribbing of a mediocre implementation of the DV Act.

Finally, their lordship rose to their pleas and passed a judgement which alters the very definition of the DV Act and strikes down the words "Adult Male" from Section 2(q) of the Act, a section which defines, who all can be tried under the Act. Now, theoretically speaking, every member of the family can file case on every other member by just including the default sacrificial lamb - the convenient male accused - and have run of the mill. The resultant multiplicity in cases under DV Act in coming times is going to benefit the legal fraternity and the feminist NGOs, who can now use bloated and inflated numbers of cases for more funds.

Social:

They say, man is a social animal. This statement has profound socio-political repercussions. Firstly, the man here is the ceremonial male - the perennial sacrificial lamb in every social situation and the animal instinct of reckless violence has also been accorded to the male in society. And therefore, it is almost ubiquitously and stereotypically assumed that in any incidence of violence a male is a necessary, if not a sufficient requirement. DV Act is no exception to this age-old chronic social behavioral and thought pattern.

India's DV Act is also based on the premise that a victim of violence is always a woman and the perpetrator is always a man. The recent Supreme Court judgement however, says, that women can inflict violence on other women, but that too would be at the behest of a man. And no prizes for guessing that a man can never be considered to be a victim of violence - verbal, emotional, sexual, physical or economic - at the hands of a woman.

In fact, the very basis on which DV Act was passed in India was due to a survey conducted by the United Nations which heavily suffered from optimistic bias. As per that survey, 70% of Indian women faced domestic violence in matrimonial homes. But, the UN had conducted the survey only on newly married young daughters-in-law in Indian families wherein typically there are 4-5 members like the newly married young woman, her husband, her sister-in-law, brother-in-law, his wife and parents-in-laws.

However, the UN never considered it necessary to find out if any of the other relations were suffering at the hands of the daughter-in-law or the husband was suffering at all.

On one hand, the UN, the feminists and the society wants the entire family to be tried under DV Act, but no one is bothered to find out the truth. And if someone thinks that a single woman like the daughter-in-law cannot harass an entire family then, in that case, the person is totally disconnected from reality. Last week, an entire family of a defense personnel committed suicide owing to torture by daughter-in-law in Ranchi. And this is not an isolated case. Such cases are a norm which is being concealed from mainstream media owing to faux-pas and yellow journalism stemming from paid media wherein the feminists are diverting a large chunk of their funds to publish news which suits their agenda of male hatred and a divisive society.

Coming to publishing of news, even in this particular case, a covert strategy has been applied which we shall see now. As it was mentioned earlier that feminists are dissatisfied with the way DV Act is being implemented in India, hence, this judgement was deliberately reported as something which allowed the husband and his family to be able to punish the daughter-in-law. As a result, the millions of families that were reeling under the torture of the daughter-in-law welcomed the news and the judgement without understanding the reality.

To understand the reality, let me cite a case here. This was a case of a young woman who had held her entire in-laws family and husband at ransom by threatening them of a case under DV Act. Fearing backlash, the entire family was dancing at the whims and fancies of this young woman. Unable to bear the torture and exasperated with the never-ending daily domestic squabbles, the mother finally moved the court against the son and the daughter-in-law under DV Act.

And the court ordered the son to pay maintenance to his wife while ignoring the actual plea of protecting the old mother-in-law from the young abusive woman. The order by the court was not only wrong, it was illegal. The court had ignored the main plea of the petitioner and had directed one defendant to pay to another defendant (who was the actual culprit).

So, all those who are thinking that they will be able to punish their abusive wife with this Supreme Court judgement, think again. A plain reading of the judgement tells us the following key points:

1. Men will always be domestically violent and need no protection.

2.  Men's family (including female members) helps the man in perpetrating domestic violence onto the wife (daughter-in-law) and hence, they all are liable for punishment.

3. The prime purpose of the DV Act is to protect women from domestic violence and will always remain so and in this context, "woman" means daughter-in-law.

These and many other salient points are there which are totally contradictory to the way the judgement is being reported by media. Very covertly, it hides the viciousness against husband's family and is being projected as an "Anti-Daughter-in-law" judgement but remember, society loves the daughter-in-law and will continue to love it till men unite and speak for themselves. Until then, such judgements are a bane and never a boon!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Virag R Dhulia, a software professional, has been a prominent men's rights activist. He has been engaged in creating awareness about the abuse of men and their families through anti-male and gender biased laws like Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act etc. He has been instrumental in networking with fellow men's rights activist both across India and abroad and has played key roles in organizing events to create awareness about abuse of men by the society. A book titled, 'The Secrets of Manhood' authored by Virag has been published. This book is a collection of short articles which focus on issues and problems faced by men and how men are victims of social stereotypes.
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