There is one line from a Hindi Song that reverberates in my mind each time I see a judgment in which either any High Court or Apex Court has given some guidelines for arresting the misuse of 498A. The line is “Jitne Suljhe hai Prashn Yahan, wo Resham jaise Uljhe hai”. Now when in the past any of the Landmark Judgments were passed, whether it was a Preeti Gupta Vs State of Jharkhand [(2010) 7 SCC 667], in which the mediation between warring couple was made compulsory or Arnesh Kumar [(2014) 8 SCC273] judgment in which detailed guidelines were issued to prevent unnecessary arrests, the judgments brought further complications and chaos, the loopholes were soon found by unscrupulous people to exploit husbands and their family members. Judgments did provide relief for certain people, but created layer after layer of exploitation by police, lawyers and court staff.
So, why this judgment is any different? And the impact would be any different? The euphoria and cynicism is all same.
The news this time also broke in the similar vain “no arrest in dowry cases till charges are verified” across different news channels, websites, Facebook, Twitter on the fateful 27th day of July, 2017. BBC announced “India top court orders changes in anti-dowry law to stop misuse” while national newpapers like The Hindu went a little deeper “Panels to sift genuine dowry cases”, even the business newspapers like Business Standard mentioned “No arrest of innocents, proof of cruelty must in dowry cases”. It has to be borne in mind that such or similar headlines were rife when earlier judgments came. I distinctly remember when Justice Gambhir gave guidelines in Chander Bhan [(2008) 151 DLT 691] case, whole feminists raised such a protest that it lasted many days in the newspapers. And don’t forget Feminists tried to get Arnesh Kumar judgment overturned by way of review petition.
And this time it is no different, online news portals like the Indian site of Huffingtonpost went on to say “The SC Order On Sec 498A Addresses The Demands Of ‘Men’s Rights’ Activists”, which of-course burnt holes in the heart of Feminists who decried that “It would not be wrong to conclude then that Supreme Court is caving into pressures from ‘men’s rights’ groups in India who have been feeling increasingly threatened by challenges to patriarchal practices” in www.feminisminindia.com.
Though consistent assault by courts on misuse of women friendly laws finally made even Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi to ask the National Commission for Women (NCW) to create a ‘window’ in its online complaint system where men could bring up instances of false complaints against them. The minister said, in recent months, she had been receiving a rising number of complaints from men about being falsely implicated in cases of domestic violence and dowry. I would consider this an unparalleled outcome of the Rajesh Kumar judgment.
And then comes WIIFM (what’s in it for me) factor? There is a lot of confusion. Whether the courts would take action on its own or do we have to take certain actions? I have always been in favor of being pro-active, when the action suits you or have a better chance of favoring you.
So what does this Judgement entail for a person undergoing 498A case, how will this landmark judgment change the course of my CAW cell complaint, how will this impact my family’s harassment on every date of 498A?
So let me start by raising my hand up and stating that it’s a Laudable and Bold judgment by the Apex Court of India however the specifics on how this will change the procedure of existing 498A cases is not clearly mentioned. But we can all use the beneficial guidelines provided in this Landmark Judgment in our cases to steer them towards more “equitable” horizon.
All the victims of this Gender-Biased Law, undergoing various stages of CAW cell proceedings, should send out letters to the DCP/ SP of the concerned CAW cell and District Legal Services Authority seeking validity of CAW cell proceedings against them in view of this Supreme Court Judgment since there is no mention of CAW cell but formation of Family Welfare Committee to handle such cases by disgruntled wives. Not only victims, but Men’s Rights Groups in various cities and states can write letters on their letterheads to the DCP/ SP concerned and also to the SHOs of the area that the proceedings of all cases where there is no tangible injury of the complainant or death of the victim, should be transferred to the ‘Family Welfare Committee’. You may use this template and it may be modified as per the circumstances and stage of each complaint.
For victims who have mutually agreed for a settlement, should write using this template to the District and Sessions Judge to close the criminal case since the dispute primarily related to matrimonial discord and has been settled. This would save them time and cost of going to the High Court for Quashing of the case. You may use this template.
For victims staying out of India, who already have Red Corner Notice or LOC opened or fear that it may be opened anytime soon, may write to the local SHO with a Copy marked to DCP/ SP and District Legal Services Authority with the this template to stop/ close the LOC alongwith a request to be accorded facility of Video Conferencing to better defend their case. You may use this template.
For victims whose trial is underway, may write to District Judge for clubbing all connected matters to their matrimonial litigation together by using this format. This is the biggest benefit which can come out of this judgment and you may use this template.
All victims should seek exemption from personal appearance/ permit appearance via video conferencing for their family members, especially if they are staying out of station using this template.
Since the Apex Court will be watching the working of the proposed arrangement for six months and the matter will be listed again in April, 2018 so there is a scope of more reliefs and I will keep updating this article as and when I get to know more.
You may get all the templates posted here by visiting “Application Templates”
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