As I read this article, wherein Supreme Court judge is calling for hanging of people who burn brides, a hailstorm of thoughts crosses my mind. Being the Public Relations Officer of Save Indian Family Foundation, an NGO dedicated to promote the cause of Gender Equality and Family Harmony; I come across cases of men wronged by their wives on a daily basis wherein men are simply penalized for the mere fact that they are MEN.

One mere complaint of harassment from their wives, whether true or not, lands them in jail along with all their family members named in the complaint without any trial or investigation. Many lose their self-esteem, jobs even; commit suicide as evident from the suicide statistics available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). As per the statistics, 57593 married men committed suicide in 2007 vis-à-vis 30064 married women. Figures for 2006 were 55452 married men vs. 29869 married women while those for 2005 are 52483 married men vs. 28188 married women. Every year more and more married men are committing suicide. But still there is no protection given to men. A major contribution of this comes from the misuse of dowry laws against men wherein a social presumption works against them

Now coming back to the article I’ve referred, Markenday Katju, Justice, Supreme Court of India today made a statement that “Those who burn brides should be hanged.” But, who is going to prove that the bride was burned? Will a man be hanged if his adulterous wife puts kerosene on herself and dies of burning? Or if the parents of the girl kill their daughter and then put the blame on the husband, then will the husband be hung?

And when you make a gender biased statement, “Those who burn brides need to be hanged”, why is it that you are not ready to offer the same level of protection to married men who are burnt alive? What is their fault? According to the NCRB data 3400 married are burnt alive every year on an average.

Further, Justice Katju went on to say that, “They all say that. Every time they burn a bride, they say it was a suicide.” Now this is nothing short of imposing his own assumptions on to the society, a right which he does not have, not even as a Supreme Court judge. First of all, he has assumed that all married women who die of burning are killed by their in-laws. There is no basis for his assumption as death due to burning can happen due to any reason, even kitchen accidents, negligence by women, suicide etc. And it will definitely not be in the interest of justice to hang the husband for these cases but from what views have transpired out of Katju’s statement, it is clearly evident that he has taken a gender obsessed stand which is not acceptable from a Supreme Court Judge.

Justice Katju’s statements are a clear call for the need of Judicial Reforms. Also in addition, before hanging husbands for ‘allegedly’ burning brides, Justice Katju needs to remember that the police force does not conduct a fair inquiry into the incident and merely relies on statements and is thoroughly incompetent in collecting evidences. With such lousy investigation and presumptions working at the back of mind, justice cannot be expected out of courts and in such a situation; “Judicial Reforms” is the call of the day.

With M Veerappa Moily becoming the law minister and talking of “Judicial Reforms” as the first thing to be done, some hope is definitely restored because Judicial Reforms are utmost necessary in today’s times of deteriorating faith on the judiciary. With irresponsible statements coming from the judiciary, it is clearly evident that the intellectual level of the judiciary has severely degraded. SIFF calls upon all the citizens to take part in judicial reforms as that is the only way to reduce crime in the society. Today criminals have no fear of any punishment because either the judiciary is too slow and corrupt or is involved in social service with gender obsessed statements.

Justice Katju had also made controversial statement, Bow down before your wife wherein he told; listen to your wife, even if she sounds unreasonable. Such statements from the judiciary send a strong signal to men that they should not expect justice from the courts and the question still remains open, “Who will save men who are burnt?

My question to Justice Katju, “Can you?”, “Will you?”

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