Skip to main content

Dowry judgment would "encourage" Khap Panchayat, kangaroo courts, vigilante justice: Letter to chief justice

By Our Representative
Several women's organisations have strongly protested against the recent Supreme Court judgment expressing concern over disgruntled wives misusing the anti-dowry law against their husbands and in-laws, insisting the judgment is "part of a backward trend that we have noticed" in the recent past.
Especially referring to the apex court direction  to constitute Family Welfare Committees in every district of the country comprising of three civil society members to look into and report on all complaints of Section 498A, with these committees empowered to give report for the police and the court to act, a letter they have sent to the Chief Justice of India says, this is "both manifestly unjust and unfeasible".
The letter emphasizes that the setting up of these committees to enquire into all cases filed under Section 498A IPC "will cause grave injustice to victims of domestic violence and increase the barriers to accessing justice exponentially", calling them "extra-judicial bodies of questionable competence and cannot take over the functioning of the Police.  
"Allowing their functioning akin to allowing decisions to be taken by Kangaroo courts, Khap Panchayat, or other forms of vigilante justice", it adds.
"These committees will form a wall between victims and the justice system and will interfere and impede the course of justice rather than assist it. They are yet another hurdle that victims have to cross before they can even knock at the doors of justice", the letter says.
Seeking a review of the judgment, the letter says, the judgment "completely overlooks the fact that women are daily recipients of harassment for dowry and of domestic violence, which are perpetrated by the husband and by his family, particularly in cases of dowry harassment."
The judgment says, that no arrest or coercive action should be taken on such complaints without ascertaining the veracity of allegations, suggesting that there is a growing trend among women involved in marital discord to abuse Section 498A of IPC to rope in their husbands' relatives — including parents, minor children, siblings and grandparents — in criminal cases."
The apex court bench of Justices A K Goel and UU Lalit said it was high time such frivolous cases which violated the human rights of innocent was checked, widely being interpreted as a shift from the dominant judicial conception of women as victims who would silently suffer injustice rather than bring disrepute to their family by taking domestic conflict outside the four walls of the home.
Those who have signed the letter include representatives from the All India Democratic Women’s Association, All India Women’s Conference, Centre for Struggling Women, Janwadi Mahila Samiti, Joint Women’s Programme, Nari Shakti Manch, National Federation of Indian Women, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Swastika Mahila Samiti, and the Young Women's Christian Association.
Saying that they are "deeply concerned and dismayed" that the entire judgment proceeds are based on the premise that "women are liars and file false cases under Section 498A IPC not only against their husbands, but also against the husband’s family members", the letter citesthe National Family Health Survey-3 data to say that "around one out of every 3 women are victims of mental, physical and verbal domestic violence".
Foreseeing the relevant chapter of the survey for perusal, the letter says, "Our experience of dealing with cases through the years has also shown that domestic violence is perhaps the most pervasive kind of violence against women and deeply affects their health and wellbeing."
Quoting National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data of 2015, it says, of the 1,13,403 cases of violence under Section 498A IPC filed in that year, of which Charge sheets were filed in 89.4% of cases.
The apex court notes that a “large” number of cases are being filed under Section 498A IPC, accepting the contention that “most of such cases are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues.”
To support its position, the court relies upon statistics from NCRB, two of which are from the years 2005 and 2009 show that the police has found a small percentage of the cases to be false on account of “mistake of law or on facts”. In 2005, the percentage was 8.78% and in 2009 it was 7.08%.
The letter underlined that "these percentages in fact show that in an overwhelming majority of cases, a prima facie case of gross domestic violence has been found and charge sheets have been filed", adding, "It is pertinent to mention that there is no comparison made with false reporting of IPC offences in general."
Referring to the apex court quoting "abysmally low" conviction rates of 14.4% in 2012 and 15.6% in 2013", the letter says, "In our experience, the low conviction rate is not at all indicative of whether cases are false. In many cases, investigation is not properly conducted, statements of material witnesses are omitted, and evidence is improperly collected."
Furthermore, says the letter, as much of the domestic violence "occurs in the confines of home and family, convictions under Section 498A IPC are notoriously difficult to achieve. The basic premise on which the judgment was based was therefore wrong."
In fact, says the letter, "it is a constant complaint of victims that the police are insensitive and gender biased, often minimizing the instants of assaults. Most women victims find it extremely difficult to even lodge a complaint. Rampant corruption is yet another problem."
Pointing out that women’s organizations and groups have been demanding strengthening of the law, the letter says, "It is pertinent to note that the court in this case was not assisted by any person or organization working on women’s issues or acquainted with the lived reality of women’s lives."
Also taking exception to the apex court asking the police only to act in cases in which “tangible physical injuries” and “death” takes place, the letter reminds the chief justice, "Mental torture and abuse and infliction of physical violence, which may not be evident, has not been considered by the judgment though S. 498A IPC expressly covers both mental and physical violence."

Comments

Anonymous said…
Its sad to see that even most educated Indians are so uncivilized that they have zero concept of due process and basic human rights which should be afforded to any person accused of crime (like right to bail, fair trial etc.). Its even sadder to see people like Indira Jaising who are supposedly world renowned spouting crazy non-sense. Any civilized world country would want to arrest someone only after verifying and investigating a crime. Every civilized country grants bail to person accused to crime. My guess is that Indira Jaising and other lawyers opposing this measure know the standard best practices of any civilized society. But why are they still opposing this? Because they are fraudsters and have been faking concerns for human rights of aam aadmi (common people). For these charlatans outrage politics is what they live by. Otherwise why will a so called human rights activists propose unchecked tyranny of state power in case of 498a. Hope she and her peers rot in special hell

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”