If you are associated with the Men’s Rights Movement, Nisha Sharma Dowry Case may not be unheard of. However, for the one’s who are getting acquainted with the Gender Biased Laws off lately, here’s a case which should make you question ‘both sides’ in a dowry allegation case.
Nisha Sharma, a resident of Sector-56 Noida, had hit headlines in May 2003 after she refused to marry her groom who allegedly demanded Rs 12 lakh as dowry along with a car on the day of their marriage.
Munish Dalal (groom) and his family members were accused of dowry harassment by Nisha, which had led to the arrest of Munish, his mother Vidya Dalal and also his paternal aunt Savitri Sharma.
Navneet Rai was allegedly the other man in Nisha Sharma’s life who she wanted to marry instead of Munish. Nisha’s family had also approached Navneet for the marriage but when the proposal did not work out, her marriage was fixed to Munish. Nisha who was not happy with her marriage then levelled false allegations of dowry demand. Incidentally, Nisha’s father had filed a case of fraud against Navneet too, who was also arrested.
Court Verdict – 2012
The Gautam Budh Nagar district court in 2012 acquitted Munish Dalal and his family members in the 2003 dowry case. The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Vipin Rai, while dismissing the charges against the four accused (Dalals & Navneet), observed that Nishas decision to call off her wedding was “pre-planned”.
Ordeal Faced by Munish & Family
Munish’s mother Vidya was a widow who worked as a teacher for 36-years at a government school. Following false dowry complaint by Nisha Sharma, the would-be mother-in-law lost her job. Munish then quoted,
My mother gave 36-years of her life to the government’s education department. She had also represented India in hockey, but was put behind bars for no reason. Her career came to an abrupt end and even her retirement benefits were withheld.
Not only this, to set an example, the government had also added this incident in NCERT textbooks which was being taught to Class VI students. Sitting in his West Delhi home, Munish Dalal flipped through a Class VI English textbook and stopped at Chapter 14, titled “Man in Jail over Dowry Case.” Munish then said,
It read “A man was arrested from his Vikaspuri home after the family of his bride-to-be told the police that the grooms family was demanding a large sum of dowry”
The chapter in the book, published by the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), talks about Dalal and the woman who “stood up to him”, Nisha Sharma.
She became a national hero for standing up (against) dowry when she was misusing the law blatantly. Even schoolchildren throughout Delhi read about how I was a man with no principles.
Dowry Case Allegedly Pre-Planned
Mother Vidya Dalal in her statement then said how Nisha’s father D D Sharma had given a matrimonial ad in a newspaper on February 14, 2003. This was the same day when Nisha and partner Navneet Rai allegedly got married at a temple. Her father was fully aware of Nisha’s affair, however, still went ahead with the ad.
According to Vidya, the baarat (groom’s procession) was stopped at the entrance of the wedding venue on May 11, 2003. Nisha’s father started apologising profusely stating how he had not been able to arrange rooms for the groom’s wedding party and Sharma did not take any steps to remedy the situation even when Vidya told him they had been insulted. A heated exchange followed and the groom’s wedding party turned back. While they were on their way home, they got to know that the Sharma’s had lodged an FIR against them, she said. She added,
My son was arrested at six the next morning and I was arrested a few hours later. We spent two months behind bars. Only their family deposed against us.
Munish then said,
I was to get married on the evening of May 11, 2003. The next morning I was in jail. You can well imagine my state of mind.
Recalling the pain for himself and his family, falsely accused groom then quoted,
My elderly mother and 75-year-old aunt had to travel 75 km to Noida for the hearing. In the last nine years (2003-2012), we went to the court at least 320 times whereas Nisha’s family was in court on hardly 10-days.
Munish’s Detailed Statement After Acquittal In 2012
Remembering his horrific days at the police lock up, Munish said,
I was sent to the torture cell for 10-days. I had been beaten black and blue. I still have scars on my arms.
According to Munish, on the first day in custody, he was beaten by police and was forced to sign a blank sheet of paper. Adding further, Munish quoted,
After two months, I finally got bail, that too from Allahabad High Court. Then I met Navneet Rai, who was also seemed to be confused about the turn of events. Subsequently, Sharma’s father filed a case of fraud against him and sent him to jail too. Sharma’s father also refused to accept his daughter’s marriage with Rai.
Munish also shared financial challenges that his family had to go through in those nine years. He then said,
My brother had to close his shop. For nine years, our family had been surviving on the salary of my sister-in-law.
His family was socially isolated amongst friends, relatives and neighbours – who distanced themselves from the Dalals. After getting acquitted, Munish said,
Now everyone has changed their views and they are congratulating me. But in all these nine years, my reputation, my career and the financial blow were too much to handle. I don’t know how each member of my family survived this.
On being asked whether he would file a case against Nisha Sharma’s family, Munish then quoted,
I don’t want to be a hero. I want to live a normal life. Whatever my lawyer tells, I will do it. The ‘Iron Woman’ award that was given to Nisha Sharma after this incident should be taken back and be given to my mother and aunt.
Nisha’s Confession in Court
Nisha admitted to the court that she wanted to marry Navneet. Later, an affidavit surfaced before the media stating that Nisha had married Navneet at a temple on February 14, 2003. Nisha, however, denied in the court that the affidavit was signed by her.
R K Rai, father of Navneet, then said they would seek damages from the Sharma family, however, it is unknown whether the Rais got any compensation later.
Both Munish & Nisha Moved On
Despite court battle continuing, both the parties had moved on since 2003 episode. While Nisha got married a few months after the incident, Munish tied knot with a “simple girl” in 2008 at a temple in Delhi.
Blurred Line Between Gifts & Dowry in India
The customary gifts exchanged or rather given by the girl’s family, when they leave home at the time of marriage is a common practice in India. In fact, in several cases, it is the family of the girl who insists on giving very expensive gifts to their son-in-law (often to project their status), however, the same gets labelled as “dowry” when the marriage fails over the next few months/years.
For example, Indian Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja received an Audi Q7 from his in-laws at the time of his marriage in 2016. The news was spread and shared by media, projecting the standard of parties and lavish celebrations back then. God forbid, if this marriage fails now, will this be termed as Dowry?
While we must all call out and stand up against any Dowry demand by families of Men, we must equally stand up against the misuse of Dowry laws that many women today are using to settle score with husbands and in-laws.
Disclaimer: The above details are curated from mainstream media published over the years.
Author: Nandini Shah is a 3rd year Bachelors of Journalism student and currently working as an intern with MDO.
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