Nowadays Legal Terrorism has been categorically visible that plentitude of cases have been marked against men wherein they have been at the receiving end of matrimonial disputes. Undeniably there are women who suffer dowry deaths, harassment, and cruelty at the hands of men and their relatives, and Sec 498 A of the Indian penal code was inserted in 1983 to counter that. But it’s also seen that what had to be a protection for women also became a tool and lethal weapon to be used to settle scores against their husbands as well as relatives of the husband when things turned sour between them. One can’t ignore that women’s relatives play an integral part in not letting the steam off the dispute and creating allegations against the husband and relatives to get back at them with legal artillery.
Today I shall unfurl how men can protect themselves when they are trapped in false cases under sec 498 A which are primarily about cruelty and harassment of the wife by the husband and relatives of the husband as it’s a cognizable, non-bailable offense and punishable by three years under the law.
Recent judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India which supports the conduct to be kept by the authorities while dealing with complaints of cruelty against women are stated as follows: Arnesh Kumar vs the State of Bihar has given guidelines that no immediate arrest should be made in these kinds of complaints where punishment is less than 7 years and unless and until reasonable satisfaction has reached after conducting a proper investigation as to the genuineness of the allegation. There are no automatic arrests but a procedure has to be followed under sec 41 of the criminal procedure code. A proper investigation is key and most vital.
In addition, Sushil Kumar Sharma’s judgment finds arrest unconstitutional and ultra vires on innocent men who are victimized by unscrupulous women making false accusations. Police don’t have arbitrary powers to punish the accused it’s the duty of the court to decide.
Discharge of accusations can be done at the point of framing of charges during the trial which shall keep the husband and relatives engrossed in a false case for years and undue stress shall be borne in the process.
A better legal remedy is to approach the Hon’ble High Court in the jurisdiction to quash the first information report. It becomes imperative to get the names of relatives concerned to be freed of this torture of false implications in the case hence a writ petition should be filed in the Hon’ble High Court making only them the party to the petition and keep yourself as the only respondent to the case instituted. This is usually done with evidence that no steady allegations could be framed and most are vague and vicious. Another good ground could be the territorial jurisdiction of the matter though Sec 498 A is a continuing act which means that in case the woman wants she can file the case from her parental home state too but the catch in this is that some incidents via some form of communication should have occurred in the near past in the home state and then the limitation of the act would be calculated from that last incident which is 3 years to be precise. As this is a criminal offense the accused should be present on all dates and an application under Sec 205 CRPC could be submitted to the magistrate to dispense the personal attendance of the accused and to appear through his counsel.
Most importantly the definition of cruelty has to be explained properly as any random incident cannot be termed cruel. They are many precedents of the court to prove that. Its only willful conduct of the husband and his relatives which drives a woman to suicide or cause grave injury or danger to her life or health both physical and mental and harassment to coerce her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. As per the dowry prohibition act both giving and taking dowry is punishable under the law.
Always remember that Article 11.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states that everyone charged with a penal offence has a right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has all the guarantees necessary for his defense.