This blog has no intention to hurt religious sentiments of anyone nor is against the belief of any religion. This blog is based on the news article appearing in various papers, which itself also speak volumes about the bitter reality of today’s world.
The news item based on which this blog finds its substance can be found on the below link. (link active on the day of publishing this blog)
Lord Ram has been accused of Domestic Violence against his wife Sita. This is the headlines in circulation in media recently. Matters remains sub-judiced and it would be wrong to comment more on the matter.
However, this brings us to the issue on the matters of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence may occur in families of every classes, race, religion, culture, etc. The victims could be spouses, children, servants, parents, etc. The perpetrators of Domestic Violence can be anyone who is in a position to exert control of power. It is imperative to make offenders accountable for their deeds but at the same time it is equally important that the innocent are saved from mental trauma and agony and the person misusing the law for personal vengeance is severally punished.
Marriage has always been considered as a sacred institution and there are lots of emotional attachments and family values involved in such relation. With the recent exponential increase witnessed in matrimonial disputes, it is imperative to sensitize the judicial and enforcement mechanism to carefully handle matrimonial disputes. As has been reiterated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar, decided on July 02, 2014 that “There is phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years. The institution of marriage is greatly revered in this country. Section 498-A of the IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. The fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a quite number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.”
Adding ammunition to the weapon of biased laws of 498A and other, was the enactment of the “The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005” (herein after referred to as DV act or Domestic Violence act). The biasness of the law itself was witnessed in the objective of the bill which read as “the Bill enables the wife or the female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage to file a complaint under the proposed enactment against any relative of the husband or the male partner, it does not enable any female relative of the husband or the male partner to file a complaint against the wife or the female partner.” The objective not only discriminates between the male female gender but also creates discrimination among the female gender itself.
Looking at the events highlighted in media, there were two videos (one released in around August 2015 and the other released in around January 2016) that were released in public domain, both the incidents had happened in Uttar Pradesh, wherein Daughter-in-Law were seen beating brutally and mercilessly their bed ridden Mother-in-Law. In one of the videos, Daughter-in-Law had even gone to an extent of electrocuting the Mother-in-Law. Such events clearly convey that the perpetrators of Domestic Violence can be anyone. These incidents that rarely come out in public domain, but whenever they become public, such incident raises a few questions that needs to be answered;
Link to the videos:
Whether the Victims, Mother-in-Law were considered as women as per DV act and whether they are protected under the Domestic Violence Act? Whether these Mothers-in-law were not women under the law of nature and don’t they have a fundamental right of Right to Life, as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution?
Unfortunately not every Women is protected under the Domestic Violence Act, despite of the act being titled as “The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005”.
When it comes to Fundamental Right to life of Mother-in-Laws (also a women), the same remains open to the discretion of the machinery, thereby giving the machinery a power to overrule the basic rights guaranteed to a citizen by the Constitution of the Country.
Further, by virtue of including the words “female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage” the live-in relationships have also been brought under the purview of the DV Act. Since 498A was applicable only in the cases of marriage. Addition of the said words has opened a flood gate of cases of rape filed under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
A common trend witnessed from various legal pronouncements is that whenever a woman wants to get out of a failed marriage, she tends to make this as an earning opportunity with the armor of biased laws favoring her. She cries foul and portrays herself as a victim because she is well aware that, the moment she cries victim she will gather all possible sympathy even from all the people even from those whom she would not have met before. This money minting opportunity is well laid down in the objective of the DV act as well which clearly is skewed and stresses on the financials and property of the husband. The willingness of the woman to move out of failed marriage is thus made an opportunity to extort as much as possible by crying victim. Such facts have also been realized by the courts and the courts have to an extent agreed that the laws made for protection are used for extortion as mentioned in the case of Sumana Bhasin vs Neeraj Bhasin, Saket District, decided on May 27, 2015 “…….the present Act is created solely with a view to provide relief to the victims of Domestic Violence and not to the perpetrators of the same. The testimony of the complainant throws light on the conduct of the complainant and the extent, to which she has falsified and concocted various allegations and has suppressed important facts in order to harass the respondents and had misused the PWDV Act as a tool to extort unjustified money from the respondent no1 for unjustified personal gain. In such glaring circumstances, the Court cannot be expected to be sit as a mute spectator, where the Law, which is enacted solely for Protection of protect victims of Domestic Violence, is being misused and abused and made a tool of harassment and extortion.”
Let’s understand and accept that Domestic Violence is a human rights issue and not a gender specific issue. Domestic Violence is a wide spread social problem and not limited to a gender issue. Decades of misuse of 498A, had given judiciary a fair experience on how the biased laws were misused for vengeance. The potential misuse of the Domestic Violence act was realized at the early stage itself. The warning signals of the misuse of the DV act was raised early by the Hon’ble court in the case of Sunitha vs State of Kerala, Kerala High Court, decided on December 10, 2010, whereby a clear message was conveyed that “Every person in authority dealing with victims of domestic violence has to approach the problem with a spirit of gender sensitivity. There is nothing wrong in the repositories of power showing empathy towards women in distress except in cases where the provisions of the Act are abused for self – aggrandizement or for obtaining undue advantage over the opposite party. This Act which was published in the Gazette in the year 2005 came into force only on 26-10-2006. Even though by providing for very strong remedies to the victims of domestic violence, amelioration of the weaker sex and women empowerment have been uppermost in the mind of the Parliament, everyone concerned should not forget that violence is not to be met by violence. It is very easy to misuse the provisions of the Act and gain an unfair advantage over the adversary. Such tendencies will ultimately turn out to be counter productive.”
The phenomenon of domestic violence on men is a reality and also widely prevalent but has remained largely invisible in public domain. Men by virtue of their gender are made to believe that they are strong and they cannot cry. So until Men learn to express his pain, all the stories will always portray Women as victim. We forget here that even men have emotions and above all “Men are Humans too.”
Various courts right from trial courts to the apex courts has time and again reiterated about the misuse of the laws by women for oblique motive and for personal vendetta. The recent trend after 498A is the plethora of cases under the DV act as well as the cases related to rape laws. Keeping in view the actual changing scenario over a period of time and the way the laws are misused, the Hon’ble court have rightly commented in Loha vs The District Educational Officer, Srivilliputhoor, Virudhunagar, Madras High Court, decided on June 08, 2015 that “Now-a-days, filing cases under the Domestic Violence Act by female members has become a common one and a neutral and unprejudiced law is needed to protect the genuine victims of domestic violence, irrespective of gender. It is no doubt true that the perpetrators of domestic violence need to be appropriately punished and dealt with, but at the same time, protection cannot be withheld from real victims for any reason whatsoever, least of all their gender. One can be certain that there is something sinister about a law, when it intimidates and instills fear in innocent people. When a person, who has not committed any crime, begins to fear punishment under the provisions of a law, it will certainly create panic amidst male genders. The notable flaw in this law is that it lends itself to such easy misuse that women will find it hard to resist the temptation to “teach a lesson” to their male relatives and will file frivolous and false cases. A similar trend is already being observed in the case of anti-dowry law (498-A), which is being misused to such an extent that the Supreme Court has termed it “Legal Terrorism.”
So the question that arises is that till what extent will our Nation, our Law Makers, Media, etc. turn a blind eye to the problem of misuse of law?
Till what extent can we afford to push the harsh reality of misuse of law under the carpet, when lakhs and lakhs of people are suffering? Is suffering of lakhs of people a justifiable remedy under the law?
These are few questions, we as a responsible citizen need to ask ourselves.
It is of utmost importance to make offenders responsible for their deeds but at the same time it has to be ensured that the innocent are saved from trauma and mental agony as well as the person misusing the law for personal vengeance is severally punished. The essential deterrent that requires to be immediately brought in is the need to incorporate the misuse clause whereby the misuser of law is punished, irrespective of the gender, in order to meet the true essence of justice for the needy people.
There is a dire need to have gender neutral laws that can address the problem of Domestic Violence in true spirit in a more holistic manner.
After all why should we only rest in peace? Why can’t we live in peace and why don’t we live in peace?
A life free of violence is every human right irrespective of the gender of the person.
Disclaimer : The contents of the blog are personal opinion and view of the writer. Vaastav Foundation does not hold any responsibility for the contents of the same. Vaastav Foundation promotes Family Harmony and Peace and believes in Equal Human Rights and is against gender discrimination and law misuse