The Center For Social Research (CSR) is headed by Ranjana Kumari. Here is another example of the intellectual prowess of this organization. CSR sponsored a study on the effectiveness of 498A in 2005, following the JD Kapoor judgment of 2005. They needed to disprove his arguments in some manner or the other. Here is the link to the CSR study.

I don’t hate women and I condemn domestic violence of any kind. I know what domestic violence is, I have experienced it.

What I am against is the co-option of a real issue and the pursuit of a narrow self-serving agenda in its name.

I am openly calling for an investigation into the assets and finances of persons like Ranjana Kumari.

Other women, who were the pioneers in the fight against dowry have realized that the use of coercive laws, whose enforcement is in the hands of corrupt organizations like the Indian Police, do not help in eliminating or preventing domestic violence. This is what Madhu Purnima Kishwar says in her report “Violence against women: Good practices in combating and eliminating violence against women”, an Expert Group Meeting Organized by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, in May 2005.

I highlight a few points she makes about the abuse of 498A:

  • Way back in 1988, I had pointed out, in what came to be a very controversial article, that there was already a distinct trend to include dowry demands in every complaint of domestic discord or cruelty, even when dowry was not an issue at all (see Manushi No. 48). The police as well as lawyers were found to be encouraging female complainants to use this as a necessary ploy to implicate their marital families, making them believe that their complaint would not be taken seriously otherwise. With the enactment of 498 A, this tendency has received a further fillip. Mentioning dowry demands seems to have become a common ritual in virtually all cases registered with the police or filed in court
  • Many cases have come to our notice whereby the woman uses the strict provisions of 498A in the hope of enhancing her bargaining position vis a vis her husband and in-laws. Her lawyers often encourage her in the misguided belief that her husband would be so intimidated that he will be ready to concede all her demands. However, once a family has been sent to jail even for a day, they are so paranoid that they refuse to consider a reconciliation under any circumstances, pushing instead for divorce. Thus, many a woman ends up with a divorce she didn?t want and with weaker, rather than strengthened, terms of bargaining. Several women?s organisations, with long years of experience in intervening in such cases, find to their dismay that their help was being sought in patently bogus cases. Several police officers also admit that a good number of cases are of dubious standing.
  • However, many feminists think that Section 498A has indeed served women well and proved extremely useful as a deterrent. They argue that without it women may not be in a position to see their complaint through to its logical end. It is indeed useful in bringing the husband to the negotiating table. Since the offence is non-bailable, the initial imprisonment for a day or two helps to convey to the husbands the message that their wives are not going to take the violence lying down. No doubt, some women feel compelled to use this method, to arrive at a speedy divorce and settlement of alimony because they feel that they won?t get justice through the civil courts, given their tardy and unpredictable functioning.

I rest my case !! Moving on to the CSR report….

The report says:

  • “Nearly five crore (50 million in a country of a close to 500Million women) married women in India are victims of domestic violence (DV). Only 0.1 percent (1 out of 1000 DV cases) of these are being reported. Out of 100 cases that are ordered for investigation under 498A, only in 2 cases the accused get convicted”.
    • How does this statistic compare with other countries ? I’ll let you know as soon as I compare some numbers.
  • Reconciliation in 498A cases takes place at every stage including the police station, Crime Against Women Cells and courts.”.
    • Reconciliation is normally settling the case by extorting cash where everyone gets a cut, including the cops. This is true especially in the cases where the “reconciliation” takes place in the police station.

  • “In a majority of the cases before a victim filed the complaint under Section 498A, the minimum period she suffered physical and mental torture, was for about three years.”
    • This is a lie. An examination of the cases being filed shows a length of time, from the time of marriage, sometimes running into days, if not weeks before the filing of a 498A.
  • “The trial process is quite lengthy and the proportion of pending cases is quiet high (out of the 40 cases based on victims’ interviews which went for trial in court, 28 cases are still pending). In the cases tracked, the normal trial period was between five to ten years.”
    • This is precisely why the law is being abused. Once a family finds itself accused in this law, their lives are tied up in trying to get out of it for many years. People have been killing themselves, unable to bear the suffering this causes.
  • “It was found that it was difficult to prove physical and mental torture. In all the eight cases in which the accused were acquitted, the victims were found to have suffered physical and mental torture, but as there was not enough evidence to prove torture, the accused were let off.”
    • This is precisely what I have been saying. There is always wear and tear in a marriage. If people don’t get long, mediate a decent settlement and go about your ways. Innocent families get entangled in a 498A for years and then are exonerated as there is no evidence of a crime committed. Think about the scope for the abuse of this law. There are no penalties for filing a false case.
  • “The cases where the accused were convicted had been filed under Section 498A along with section 304B (Dowry Death) and 302 (Murder), which are applicable after the death of the victim. There were no convictions in any of the cases registered only under Section 498A. It has been found that out of 30 cases there is not a single case where the accused has been convicted only under Section 498A. The accused have been acquitted (11 cases) by the court where the prosecutor failed to provide evidentiary proof of cruelty, mainly mental, inflicted on the victim as provided under Section 498A IPC. It is difficult to prove cruelty when the victim is still alive. This makes conviction only on the basis of Section 498A, difficult. Only in cases where Section 498A is used along with other Sections is the conviction rate high.”
    • Murder can be proven and guilt needs to be established beyond reasonable doubt. This makes a lot of sense. But turning an allegation into a criminal offence is scaling the heights of stupidity How about opening more mediation cells to reconcile differences? Anyway, a new domestic violence act has come in. Why not amend 498A so that the abuse of this law is put to an end?
  • “The study also has observed that 6.5 percent of the total cases studied through victims’ interviews were found false at the level of investigation. Many of the accused, police, judges and lawyers, categorically said that ‘educated and independent minded women’ misuse the section.”
    • It is more than 6.5% of the cases. No attempt is made to have a comprehensive survey done or gather statistics to get a real picture of what is going on and how to make laws effective, not coercive or open to abuse. If this happens, the likes of Ranjana Kumari will be out of a job or least or be deprived of her high flying, influential life in the limelight with free trips to foreign countries.
  • “On the basis of the interviews conducted, we can conclude that victims find the Section somewhat useful and felt the need for further strengthening it. In the perception of the NGOs, the provision (498A) is the only Section, which acts as an effective redressal mechanism for victims of domestic violence.”
    • Hello? This akin to saying that we are not having enough convictions in cases involving allegations of murder. So let the law be amended so that it is easy to hang people on the basis of an allegation of murder.

Forget domestic violence, thanks to the likes of Ranjana Kumari, entire families are being subjected to what the Supreme Court has labeled as “Legal Terrorism”. The likes of her do not allow a sane balanced debate to take place. If you want to see how she debates, you can check out this clip from YouTube. She doesn’t give the other guy a chance to speak.

The case they are debating about is covered at this blog. The link is here.

I have received hate mail on account of my views. I just say one thing to my detractors, that you and your offspring, experience the agony that a draconian law like 498A can inflict. If this is what it takes to understand what it feels to be falsely accused under 498A, then yes, you need to experience it first hand !!

Here are some numbers (2005) from the Ministry Of Home Affairs, published by Hindustan Times:

“According to data provided by Ministry of Home Affairs, there were 58,319 registered cases and 134,757 people underwent arrest under 498A and A and Dowry Prohibition Act. That is on average 2.3 people were arrested in every complaint of woman. There were 358 children and 4,744 senior citizens arrested. Out of 129,655 cases, approximately 18 per cent (23,337) were not charge sheeted and hence suffered only because these acts are non-bailable