Bollywood superstar Akshay ‘Khiladi’ Kumar has dazzled many of us with his martial art stunts and seven-times Grand Slam winner Leander Paes whose quicksilver reflexes have won praise even from legendary Matina Navratilova, are both facing their opponents in Indian courts these days, both are accused under the various provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005 (DV Act) . As much sensational as it may sound, the only point I am writing this column using the names of well-known sons of India is to bring home the point that it’s not only an average Joe who is feeling the brunt of these ill-crafted Gender Biased laws, but it’s also the people whom we might consider high and mighty have to face the music of Indian Court rooms, once a lady whispers anything against men. Today, men in India are more sinned against than sinning.
DV Act was drafted with the persistent efforts of Women Organizations especially Lawyer’s Collective, a women’s rights organization, brought in force on 26th October, 2006. Apart from widening the amplitude of the term violence, it also provided unique well-intentioned provisions like Protection order, Residence Order, Maintenance, Child custody as well as compensation orders. Like with most women-centric laws, this was also without any misuse clause as the women organizations fear that any misuse act will dilute the act and was having stringent criminal punishments. Thus, both our Khiladis are stung by the wide interpretation of the term “relationship in the nature of marriage” under the DV act and though they may come of it unscathed, the women filing these cases cannot be prosecuted under the same act, even if it is proved that their cases were false and frivolous.
Successive Governments have tried to woo the women vote bank by providing them with various quotas and making severe and stricter laws. Both these are misconceptions and are bound to fail the women and then the entire country. Let me start with quota, what we really need is reservation of 50% seats for Women in the Legislature and Judiciary; forget quota and they don’t even have a committee to investigate sexual harassment if it occurs within these eminent functions of the country, which is mandatory as per the new Prevention of Sexual Harassment law in 2013. Now on the severity and strictness of the punishment, what readers need to understand here is the basic difference between how civil and criminal courts treat evidence. While in civil remedies, preponderance of probabilities is taken as a good rule to adduce a judgment, however for a criminal case the evidence has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Also, higher the punishment, stricter the proof of evidence against it. What they fail to understand is that as much as these laws are feared, the conviction rates are lowest across all the criminal offences according to NCRB data. So much so that these laws have become a laughing stock in themselves with rampant misuse across India. Now gang wars are not fought with knives and guns but with allegations of such gender-biased laws like molestation on rival gang members.
So my dear Fems, you have been fooled all these years and it’s time to wake up before a lady moves to a Police Station to file a rape report, and she is sent to a Mahilla Thana to get counseling!
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