Skip to content

A Memorandum Protesting Amendments to Law 498A (Please Comment)

December 24, 2010

498A is a significant law in India that is meant to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed.  These cases may or may not involve dowry. To read what the law entails click here.  The law is cognizable (i.e. a police officer can investigate and arrest without a warrant) and non-bailable (i.e. the court has the power to grant or refuse bail). The maximum sentence under this law is only 3 years.

Over the last few years there has been a very powerful, wealthy, lobby of Indian men, many living outside India (married to women from India), who have funded a strong anti 498A drive and have managed to put the law before the Indian administration for amendment.  Their complaint is that many women are making false claims of torture and harassment under this law.  They want the law to be made non-cognizable and bailable.

The 50 Million Missing Campaign will be sending this memorandum (letter below) to the Committee protesting this amendment.  We request that you put your comments in the boxes below supporting our protest.Your email address will not be published. You can also send an email (by Dec 30) directly to rsc2pet@sansad.nic.in.

TO: Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chairman,The Committee on Petitions of the Rajya Sabha

FROM: The 50 Million Missing Campaign

A Memorandum Protesting Amendments to Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Respected Committee Members,

The 50 Million Missing Campaign is an online campaign, for advocacy, support and change, that for four years has been working to raise public awareness about the various factors that have contributed to the systematic extermination of millions of girls and women from India’s population.

We are appalled that the 498A law which is meant to protect women and ensure justice in dowry related cases of violence/ death, should be targeted for change, when the need for legal and judicial protection of India’s girls and women is so dire.

We would like to submit to you the following reasons for why it is imperative that the 498A be not weakened any further, as well as some constructive suggestions. [In the comment boxes below are feedback from the campaign’s supporters]

1) IT IS ALREADY VERY DIFFICULT FOR FAMILIES OF WOMEN VICTIMIZED TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE POLICE


In many cases it is almost impossible for the family of the woman victimized to lodge a complaint or even file an FIR with the police.  This is a problem that even the Supreme Court has acknowledged.  In giving an angry directive in August 2008 Justice B N Agrawal said “In India, officials act only on huntering (flogging). India understands only ‘chabuk’ – this is the meaning of swaraj and this is the concept of swaraj (self-rule).”

Roopa/ click for story

In one of our cases, the victim Roopa had her husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law pin her down and pour acid down her throat.  We managed to get her medical and surgical help, which saved her life, but her father-in-law was a sarpanch, and influential, and the local district court and police in Roopa’s in-laws’ village, in West Bengal, refused to allow Roopa’s parents to file a case. So the HRLN (Human Rights Law Network) – Kolkata, which took Roopa’s case, on basis of inaction of the lower courts and police, finally was compelled to try to file the case at the High Court in Kolkata.

2) THE SYSTEM ALREADY TAKES A VERY LONG TIME TO HEAR A CASE AND ARREST THE SUSPECTS


Even for people who are familiar with the legal system, and may have the resources to hire lawyers, it is an extremely long and frustrating process to even get their case heard and the suspects arrested.

Anshu Singh/ click for story

In one of the cases we have been supporting, that of Anshu Singh, who was only 23 years old, and was killed just 45 days after her wedding, it took Anshu’s parents 8 long months of fighting the system to get a hearing in court and get the suspects arrested. For those eight months the suspects were free to do whatever, go wherever, with no legal accountability. But if it took that long for the Singh family, that is educated, middle-class, and can afford legal help, just imagine how unfeasible it is for other families who are not economically well off, or educated.

3) MISUSE OF THE LAW IS NOT A PROBLEM OF THE LAW BUT OF THE POLICE AND JUDICIARY


One of the arguments made against the 498A is that women are apparently misusing the law to blackmail their husbands and in-laws.  We at the campaign have not come across any such case.  However, we are not saying that this is impossible.  What we are saying is that it is reckless to modify the law that is there for the protection of many, and indeed by the number of women that are violently abused, tortured and killed, is still isn’t sufficient to ensure their safety.

The law as it is — is still grossly ineffectual. And the problem for this ineffectuality, both in the case of “false” cases filed under 498A, and the thousands of cases where it has failed to give justice to women so killed, is police and judiciary system.  If cases are not filed, if the police investigations as well as autopsies are not carried out in time and according to proper procedures, how can the law be effective? It is the job of system to root out false cases through a careful and accountable process. Take other criminal activities for example – theft and assault.  If people start filing false theft and assault cases, would we weaken the laws on theft and assault?  Is that the most rational approach?

4) SO CALLED “FALSE” CASES MAY INDEED BE TRUE


This is unfortunately a very common phenomenon in India.  Women who are subject to torture and attempted murder by their husbands and in-laws often return to their marital homes.

In Roopa’s case, (who we mention in #1) she returned to her marital home just a few days before her lawyers could file the case in the High Court.  The reason women in India do so, is because they face immense social rejection by their neighbors and communities when they leave their husbands or try to prosecute them, even when they are the victims. Roopa was in the hospital for more than one month, and not one neighbor or relative came to visit her in the hospital during that time.  When she was brought come they crowded around her house, like she was some strange animal on display.  After that, they did not visit her, did not ask about her, and continued to spread malicious rumors about the reasons she left her husband.

Any woman who leaves her husband in India, even to save her life, gets branded a “prostitute”.  These are people who have known her family from before Roopa was born, but they treated her with the most inhumane callousness. Roopa began to feel like an out-caste.  She felt ashamed of herself.  Most of these women, through long abuse and violence, already have very low self-esteem.  In a society like India’s, where community approval and standing is such an important factor in social survival, is it surprising that most women choose to return to their husbands?  In a country that tells women “Pati-parmeshvar” (Your husband is God) – and so it does not matter what he does to you, you must obey and respect him, is it surprising that women in India choose to return to their husbands at the risk of their own safety and life? In a country where for ages we have traditions and sayings like – “A daughter leaves her parents’ house in a doli (marriage palanquins) but can return only in a coffin,” is it surprising that many women choose to return to their husbands’ house?

It is not the law that needs changing, it is India’s social attitude that must be changed!  It is India’s human priorities that need to be changed!


5) RECOMMENDATION IN LIEU OF CHANGE TO 498A


In view of the extensive violence that girls and women in India are subject to, one that has led to the systematic annihilation of millions of girls and women, it is critical that the criminal and legal system stands strong in combating such a gross violation of human rights of this one targeted group.  This is unprecedented in human history!

Is there any other human group in the world that has been so viciously targeted and eliminated as have been girls and women in India?

We have a whole social killing machinery here in action in India: female feticide, female infanticide, the deliberated neglect or and often abandonment of infant girls, mob molestations, rape, gang-violence by husbands and in-laws, dowry murders, “honor” killings and “witch” hunts.

India now ranks even lower than our neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Global Gender Equity Index. This is more than a national shame!  It is a national calamity!  It is a human rights disaster of the kind the world has never seen inflicted on one targeted group.  In fact on November 02, 2010, even Supreme Court Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said“The hallmark of a healthy society is the respect it shows to women. Indian society has become a sick society. This is evident from the large number of cases coming up in this court and also in almost all courts in the country in which young women are being killed by their husbands or by their in-laws by pouring kerosene on them and setting them on fire or by hanging/strangulating them.”

Therefore, please do not weaken any of the laws – which have already proved quite inefficient in protecting girls and women.

Instead we recommend that each city and town have a separate police and judiciary wing set up to deal specifically with all the issues impacting on the safety of girls and women we’ve mentioned above.  There should be police and investigative officers, psychologists, a medical team, autopsy team, lawyers and fast-track courts – all of who must have specialized training. This can also be the hub for organizing and monitoring community sensitivity, legal effectiveness, political impact and social responsibility with regards to the safety of India’s girls and women.

Advertisements
42 Comments leave one →
  1. Anagha Sarpotdar permalink
    December 24, 2010 1:36 pm

    I support and endorse this memorandum totally. In Solidarity Anagha

  2. Dr. Marilyn Mehr permalink
    December 24, 2010 2:42 pm

    Please do not weaken this law 498A. The law offers necessary protection of women’s human rights. Thank you, Marilyn Mehr, Ph.D.

  3. Graham Daws permalink
    December 24, 2010 2:56 pm

    The whole world is watching!
    Male or Female, every life has the same value to God!

  4. Melanie Ruefli permalink
    December 24, 2010 4:29 pm

    I strongly disagree with the proposed amendments to Law 498A. All efforts should be made to enforce the law, not weaken it.

  5. December 25, 2010 2:26 am

    How did we get to this point? How could a bunch of men hijack this law and decide they want it changed when the ground reality of violence on women in India is so gruesome? It is very important that women in India start fight back and not take things so passively.

    • Amit permalink
      June 24, 2013 9:41 pm

      498a is being miss used also what about that ?

    • June 25, 2013 11:36 am

      All laws are misused — including laws on theft, forgery, murder, etc. That does not mean you drop that law. It means you hold the legal system accountable. Now if you were really concerned about the misuse of the law that’s what you’d be suggesting. But we think you don’t care about the legal system, you perhaps just like that men in this country have a free license, to blackmail, extort, and kill for dowry.

  6. December 25, 2010 8:54 am

    Not in a country — where there are 50 million more men than women. A gender ratio so screwed that it is now irreversible! 50 million females killed! Do you get it?

  7. Nasim Ansari-Tarun Chetna Pratapgarh (U.P.) permalink
    December 25, 2010 1:06 pm

    Please do not weaken/amendment the 498A act. The law offers necessary protection of women’s human rights. 498A is a significant law in India that is meant to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed.
    I support and endorse this memorandum totally.

  8. December 25, 2010 1:55 pm

    Thank you for bringing this to people’s attention. It’s despicable that men would lobby against this law so that they can continue to victimise their wives without apprehension. I hope justice is served once and for all, with the passing of this law.
    Sapna Shahani,
    Goa.

  9. Busayo permalink
    December 25, 2010 10:11 pm

    I am in support of this memorandum and i am also pleading with the Government of India to stop this amendment.These laws should be enforced and not weaken. Violence against women in India is already soo bad. Let the whole world know that you have human face after all.

  10. December 26, 2010 2:00 am

    Please do not weaken by amendment of this useful law 498A. This law offers necessary protection of women’s human rights and to protect married women from violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws, and ensure justice in case they get killed.

  11. Pooja permalink
    December 26, 2010 5:29 am

    Indian women need to fight for their rights. The men who are fighting this law are despicable human beings.

  12. Saren Nelson,LPC permalink
    December 26, 2010 6:12 pm

    I support the protest against changes in the Law 498A for all women and children the world over. Until we protect all women and children we are no where near civilized!

  13. Laura Peterson permalink
    December 27, 2010 2:51 am

    Women must be protected, when women are safe, children are safe.

  14. Catherine Onyemelukwe permalink
    December 27, 2010 9:35 pm

    Please protect the women of India. Do not repeal or weaken the law that protects women from murder or suicide.

  15. Malcolm Arnold permalink
    December 28, 2010 2:53 am

    May ALL that is divine help people like rita in her struggle on behalf of the voiceless . how can politicians lie straight in bed at night with so much blood on their hands . women are equal we men just have to acknowledge it for our own spiritual wholeness

  16. joyce obrien permalink
    December 28, 2010 6:40 am

    Please do not weaken any of the laws which are already quite inefficient in protecting girls and women.

  17. December 29, 2010 12:50 pm

    Gender Equality is the need of the day!

  18. steve permalink
    December 30, 2010 2:24 am

    This law is killing basic human rights for men and their families. This gender biased law should be abolished . This law totally misued by highly educated and rich girls. Its not helping poor people as they dont have information on this. All these Feminist groups should go educate indian women rather supporting this kind of biased laws. Law can not prevent any event it only reacts to the avent.

    All the cases files under this law in metros are exaggerated and girls come from this metros want quick bucks and they marry any no of men and put them under extrotion bid gogin thru 498a. All these bithes should punished very seriously. If govt can not control its use, it will become people responcibilty to sheild them against the law. If men trun against the nation it will be very drastic impact ….. Tax payes money should be used judiciously.

  19. January 10, 2011 10:39 am

    violence – a worldwide problem …
    http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/violence/
    maybe in every nation …

  20. Sudhiti Naskar permalink
    March 29, 2011 11:02 am

    I support this cause. Ammendement should not be made. If anything should change that is the inaction of police! They have been given the power to investigate, they should use that so that the innocent people are not victimised. Why should the law be amended?

    • emery permalink
      January 25, 2012 12:58 am

      perhaps this discussion of the primary effects while important will not cause people to get over the apathy that they have. maybe someone should take a few minutes to discuss the secondary effects too. secondary effects are likely to include crime, religious tensions, riots, terrorist attacks and possibly even war. I’m not saying that what the campaign has done so far is not important. nothing could be further from the truth but unfortunately more people might care about the secondary effects and might get involved for these reasons. we need all the help we can get regardless of the motivation for it.

  21. Pravin Nair permalink
    January 28, 2012 6:24 am

    This law should be revisited by government, experts in Judiciary and lawmakers and they should include Men’s Rigths organization as well as Women’s Rights organization. Honorable Supreme court of India has also described this 498A as Legal Terrorism. We all know that men as well as women can be criminals. This law assumes that men are criminals and women are victims which is not the case now. Time has changed and hence laws also needs to be changed. Penalty clause should be added to this law to punish women who are misusing this law just to settle their personal score. Because such women are misusing laws genuine and innocent women are suffering as there are piles of cases pending in the court. Such women are wasting time of judges , making mockery of Judiciary and making their innocent husbands suffer. Men or Women whoever does a crime has to be punished , no doubt in that. As of now this law is only punishing men and allowing a criminal woman to walk freely in the society.

    So please ammend this law so that entire society (man or woman) can live in harmony and work towards a better family and a better India.

  22. ash permalink
    May 4, 2012 3:22 am

    is any law enforcement agency going to read this blog or any such blogs elsewh0 ere…when will the change of misuse happen…evil people shud be punished(men or women)
    but men shud not be victimized like it is being done now…a simple straight forward point that
    a person falsely framing this charge should be given a severe punishment cannot be understood by educated lawyers…what a dumb and sorry situation we are in…

    • May 13, 2012 8:33 am

      @ash we agree. And the same should apply to all the laws under the Indian constitution that apply to all the scams etc. that come out every day — and the crimes committed like dowry murders, rape etc. If India was legally a clean country we wouldn’t be in such a sorry state of accounting for the largest ongoing genocide in human history — the female genocide. Shameful!

  23. mumtaz fatima permalink
    May 17, 2012 4:54 pm

    mumtaz fatima
    The law 498A is need not to amend, it is best for those who suffered in the hands of husband and inlaws. We see most of the married women are suffering due to the violence in the house. But they keep their voices silence, they believed that they are the protector of family lives. If they complain the family may be disturb. Unfortunately, if they loose their patience and victim goes to the legal help, as a human being it is her right. No one can stop her.

  24. emery permalink
    June 5, 2012 12:01 am

    they should amend the law to make it even more strict. for example I’m for making those who carry out dowry deaths and honor killings face firing squads.that is the best way to stop this.

  25. VINOD CHAUHAN permalink
    April 5, 2013 4:19 pm

    Vinod Chauhan
    My wife filed false 498a,DV,125 and Property claim. Here on this blog site whoever believe that it should not be necessary to amend 498a law and girls are always innocent then call me on 9408091252. You can see at a glance all the cases are false. I am not blaming all girls but some girls and her parents who are greedy by nature and want to extort huge money from “JAMAI”. If it should not be change then only men have to suffer in false cases and if it will be changed and girls will be punished for false cases then false cases will be less,time of court will be saved and girl who is suffering from violence will get her right from the husband and get justice. I have seen so many victim girls of violence did not get justice due to those these false cases. Everyone looking her like beach even though she is innocent but due to false cases girls they have to suffer a lot. So i am requesting those girl who believes that this law is very useful for them then make it amended and punishable for false complaint by girl so that innocent girls get justice.

    • April 6, 2013 12:06 pm

      Vinod — We’ve said this over and over again. All laws are misused. That does not mean that you will dump the law!! For every false case of 498A there are hundreds of women who are tortured and/or killed. The law is for their protection and needs to be used for that purpose. If it is being misused, like all other laws are, that is a problem of corrupt courts and police. Why don’t you hold them accountable? If a person was accused of murder falsely, they would not be demanding that the law for murder be abolished. They would be demanding that they have been victimized by whoever is framing them and the police and courts!

  26. sandesh permalink
    June 24, 2013 10:08 pm

    498a will give rise to divorce . In porn Adult industry many actors parents are divorced , and these children’s have seen parents hatting each other , I think sure this will give rise to adultery (there are some stories on internet relating to section 498a misuse ) .

    One story I read on paper , I will narrate here , there were two couples , both were beautiful and smart , one day the wife due to some doubt on husband being involved in some affair attempted suicide , but till then husband was home , he took her hospital , she was unconscious , police took her husband in custody did a fine pooja , after few days wife got up , and came to police station to see her husband who was in make up and difficult to make out his face he was also week , so at last wife took husband to hospital . This entire drama was created by wife with out thinking that her husband could be in great trouble .

    Today marriage has become a risk factor for innocent men . ( One of my friend told me “it is safe to marry man then women” ).

    I think some action has to be taken ( not in case of above mentioned unfortunate husband ) to protect the misuse of 498a .

    The only problem it was designed to protect innocent women against evil men, but it is misused by educated women against innocent men . Sharp rise from 2009 – 4 % to now 1/3 rd or more .

    many black mail by wife to husband , against the old aged in laws is happening . Who is going to protect the Aged couples .

    I am sure these women who are dancing with 498a will be one day victim of this .

    I also strongly insist to give compensation to the victims of false 498a minimum 1 lakh .

    • June 25, 2013 11:40 am

      Your statement sounds completely illogical! People from all walks of life get married and divorced. Where does porn come in? And if you notice we are a campaign to end the killing of girls and women. And we tell women to do what all sane people should do when faced with violence and threat to their lives. YOu get out fast! The first priority here is safety not marriage and the great big Indian patriarchy. Do you understand that?

  27. kannan permalink
    November 26, 2013 7:11 am

    The problems of women cannot be solved by puttiing men and their family in jail. In india only 3%percent divorcee. The problem is poverty and huge population. Dowry may be good in certain cases. Women should get jobs wewfare from the govt, marrriages should become more diffiicult and fewer people should marry since many are unhappy in marriage.

  28. Sara permalink
    December 11, 2013 8:49 pm

    Most of the cases that are paraded as “false case” are NOT actually clean acquittals – they are usually “lack of _concrete_ evidence” & “benefit of doubt”. Phone tappings/recordings are _NOT_ being accepted as evidence by the court. What more can be provided in these family cases?? Yeah, I agree it is tough to go just by a phone/voice recording, but by their very nature, domestic crimes usually can’t have more evidence than voice recordings, apart from eye-witness (ear-witness?) of neighbors – which again is tough to get in big cities. But since the dowry case is dragged on for over a decade, no witness would volunteer to come up to court & stand by the victim unless the victim & family are very very dear to them. Sometimes, the case is prolonged for so long that even the one witness who volunteered dies before the case is over, and the victim is left without witness, after which the ready-made “lack of concrete evidence” clause is pulled out to finally close the case. And when that happens, all the other dowry-thirsty and/or violent folks jump up & say “This is a false case. The man is soooo innocent. His time & reputation have been unnnjustly ruined. So scrap this law [so that we can fearlessly carry on with our extortion]”
    If anything, it must be considered to try 498a/dowry cases in a fast track court or special court must be set up just for dealing with dowry/dv cases.

    One more thing is that, in many cases especially among well-educated, middle/upper class working women, even victims of dowry or violence are not immediately interested in using the laws as they know it would drag on for a decade or more. They are more interested in just rescuing themselves physically & protecting themselves from backlash of their husbands who don’t like their wives being bold enough to stand up to them AND in getting back their own gold & belongings which they brought/contributed to the matrimonial home. But the husbands usually have no mind to give it back to them. And THIS is where it starts. Almost all 498a cases from middle/upper class families are filed only at this point (they are NOT fake. They only sought an alternate out-of-court route earlier, which failed, and so they are filing a legal case at this point). The girl asks back her belongings and is ready to forget the harassment & go for mutual consent divorce once she gets them back. But when that is refused, she is left with no other choice but to go to court just to get back her own things. (Ideally, even if the stridhan is returned, it doesn’t nullify the violence inflicted on the wife, and ideally a DV case must be filed even if they get back their stridhan. But in the real world, wives are ready to forget all the beatings they got if they are allowed to walk out peacefully with their belongings. But even that is not being given to them! Women, especially working women, are NOT interested in alimony as long as they can have their own gold & money back. But if they are harassed & made to run around, then they would feel the need to get compensated for all that).

  29. mazid permalink
    January 7, 2014 9:56 pm

    this law of 498a is not helping the true victims of dowry infact because of this law the divorce rate has been 100 times more than it was in the past.Infact this 498 has been become a new good business for the corrupted indian society in which some girls
    \ police\ lawers and even politians are earning huge amount of money and 1000 of innocent families are distroyed in this process. plz help the innocents victims of false dowry cases…why for because of few wicked men 1000 of men getting punishment because of this 498 law.plz stop or change this 498 law.I m a victim too
    still fighting

  30. Gurmit Kaur permalink
    August 27, 2014 10:02 pm

    I totally support 498A law, in fact we should strengthen it and enforce it with more vigour.

    Gurmit Kaur

  31. vanshika permalink
    September 3, 2014 2:58 pm

    instead of being nuisance and making any sort of amendments to 498A, we should work harder on educating people. when i said “educating people”, i mean educating both men and women about what their rights as a human are and how they can seek help from the legal structures. and also, educate, now underprivileged men, about how they can ignore the possibility of such traps and how laws can help them in dealing and conquering such situations. because the major problem that our people are facing these days that those who are being actually discriminated and looted in a marriage (either as dowry or as divorce compensation) are not aware of the ways in which law can help them or are not able to reach the true legal help.

  32. September 6, 2014 10:51 am

    Domestic violence is a world wide epidemic and is wers in India , Africa and China. Non Muslim country’s mostly.

  33. September 19, 2014 10:55 am

    Crime never pays and truth always comes out. Why you fear for making amendments in section 498a ? who is guilty should be punished. Reciprocally if anybody lodge a false complaint should also be punished.

  34. abcd permalink
    September 19, 2014 1:47 pm

    at this rate indian men will stop marrying indian women. 498a has to be amended so that it protects men also — i.e men should be able to file similar case against woman and her family if they are extorting money — since the crime is same as a dowry

  35. Dashrath K permalink
    December 24, 2014 11:37 pm

    The law has to be amended before it becomes a time bomb destroying the social fabric since this is inhuman law where the victims will be more women and children not to forget a strong family values are most important for good society.Gender neutral laws are needed and the real culprits have to be punished.

    • January 3, 2015 1:00 pm

      Inflicting violence and killing your wife for dowry is not “family values” that any child should witness or be taught to accept!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: