The ongoing Martial Rape PIL focusses too much on international laws, and how India too must join the bandwagon. What we must understand is that all laws in other countries are Gender Neutral, which means both husband and wife are equally empowered to file cases of Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence and others against each other.
India has already armed wives with multiple one sided laws such as Section 498A – IPC, Domestic Violence Act 2005, Maintenance from Husband irrespective of educated and earning women, etc. Technically in India, a husband does not face any domestic violence from his wife as per prevailing laws, and the only recourse he has is to file Divorce on Grounds of Cruelty.
The minute such a divorce case is initiated by the man, his wife rebounds with several false charges which are criminal in nature which take precedence and virtually traps the harassed man for life.
On one hand women rights champions in India want to keep aping laws from other countries which only favour women, but they go completely silent when smaller countries like Bangladesh have put in place strictest punishment for wives, if they dare to file false dowry cases.
On May 7, 2018, the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh brought about an amendment to the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 of Bangladesh. The Women and Children Affairs Ministry placed the draft ‘Dowry Prohibition Bill 2018’ before the weekly cabinet meeting to update the 1980 Act, which had been previously amended through ordinances in ’82, ’84 and ’86.
As per the new provision (Section 5) of the proposed draft law, the punishment for filing any false case will be:
- Maximum five years’ imprisonment OR
- Maximum Tk 50,000 as fine or both
Another provision has been changed in respect to the specific amount of monetary punishment stipulated under the law for demanding or giving dowry. Previously the Dowry Prohibition Act of Bangladesh did not specify a monetary punishment for demanding dowry.
According to the new provision, any person demanding or giving dowry will have to face:
- Maximum five years’ imprisonment, which will not be less than one year’s jail term OR
- Maximum Tk 50,000 as fine or both
Furthermore Section 17 of Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 also punishes a complainant who files false case knowing there is no ground for filing a case against the accused with rigorous imprisonment of:
- Not more than 7 years &
- A fine
Nature of False Cases:
Many experts argue that a mere dismissal of a case or lack of conviction does not make it a case of false accusation. Low conviction rates are because of a multiple range of factors, including but not limited to lack of proper investigation, out of court settlement, witnesses turning hostile, etc. Specifically, in cases like dowry and marital crimes, a lot of cases are dropped when the parties end up taking mutual consent divorce or settle their differences amicably leading to cohabitation.
This can be debatable, because such cases are in a way tools to bring husbands and their families to the negotiating table. If a woman is seeking justice, she is fully aware of the timelines and consequences before she files a criminal case. Settling with money or forcing the man to co-habit with her, after filing criminal cases, cannot merely become a reason to not call it a false case.
Section 498-A IPC was introduced in India in the year 1983, which empowers a wife to file criminal cases of cruelty against her husband or any of his relatives (where the relative may or may not even live together under the same roof).
Even after nearly 40-years of this draconian law, India refuses to revisit the same or make suitable amendments. Men and their families are living under constant threat from the wife and her relatives. Unless these ruthless laws are not amended in 2022, Men will oppose any new law, particularly that will once again arm only and only the wives.
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