Indian Media supports 498a and Family Destruction

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Recently the Law Commission was once again tasked with the job of reviewing 498a , and once again recommending if this needed to  be changed.  However the interesting thing is the stand that the media has taken on this whole issue. From the type of media reports of the media a few salient points are amply clear.

Media was thoroughly enjoying the gender war:- Innocent men going to jail, Mothers and sisters being imprisoned, Men coming out with a sense of vengeance. Some men creating ingenious methods like filing cases for giving dowry or thousands of dharnas and press conferences taking place on 498a all made for excellent masala news which the media seemed to enjoy. There is a sense of dissatisfaction in the media that these will cease of 498a becomes billable and people stop suffering. Let us further analyze this paragraph further.

Media’s agenda of family breaking may fail:- Lets face it, media loves to see breaking families. Not only does breaking families leads to more spicy news like increasing crime,  breaking families brings immense financial gain to the media and its advertisers. How ? Here is how ….

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No Arrest in dowry harassment matters!

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Translated from Hindustan Dainik (Click here for the Scanned PDF)

  • No arrest in matters where the maximum punishment is less than 7 years
  • Law commission gave report to home minister
  • No need to review the provisions of stay

The path is clear for the implementation of Cr.P.C. amendments that have mandated no arrest of the accused in cases leading to less than 7 years of imprisonment. Law commission, along with tightening the grip on police officials, has recommended the continual of recent amendements. The commission said it is un-necessary to ponder on the other section – 309. Staying the proceedings or not is a matter of court’s jurisprudence.

Under the new provisions 41-A, the police will not arrest the accused for crimes that are punishable with less than 7 years. In stead, the police can issue a notice ‘informing’ them that they should appear at the police station for investigations.

The commission said that the word ‘may’ should be changed to ‘will’ in the provisions. This implies that sending the notice to the accused should be made mandatory. Commission said this is to ensure that police officials do not benefit the accused under any political pressure or by unfair dealings. The commission also said that if the addressee of the notice hides own identity, then this can be a basis for arrest.

In the report, chief of the commission Justice A R Laxman clarified that the decision not to arrest the accused is equivalent to judicial directives. If a police official mis-uses powers, then he would be liable for contempt of court in addition to the departmental disciplinary action.

AMENDED SECTION 41-A: police will not arrest person accused with offenses punishable with less than 7 years. In stead, a notice will be issued to them. Only on a failure to follow notice can an arrest happen with the orders of a magistrate. Crimes like eve teasing, attempt to loot, and dowry torture will come out of the ambit of arrest. Till now, an arrest used to happen immediately after the registration of F.I.R. because offenses with more than 3 years punishment were cognizable.

Intention: stopping arrest in un-necessary and false cases. Also to reduce the crowd in jails

Opposition: Criminals will lose the fear of law

AMENDED SECTION 309: not to stay the case in the absence of lawyer

Intention: To reduce the burden of cases and controlling the tendency to delay proceedings for a long time

Opposition: lawyers said, this is against the natural principles of law. Accused will suffer because of this.

Letter to Law Minister for Judicial Reforms

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To,

The Honorable Minister for Law and Justice,

Dr. M. Veerappa Moily,

Ministry of Law and Justice,

4th Floor, A-Wing, Shastri Bhawan,

New Delhi-110 001

Subject: Mother of a victimized son demands Judicial Reforms from the Law Minister

Honorable Sir,

No country can progress unless it gives justice to its own people. Today, Indian judiciary is in a dysfunctional state with more than 2.6 Crore pending cases. I a common Indian Citizen request the immediate implementation of Judicial Reforms. This also requires cooperation from judiciary, lawyers, politicians and different State Governments.

A report by Transparency International, the Global Corruption Watchdog organization said in February 2006, “in India 26 Supreme Court judges faced a backlog of more than 30,000 pending cases; over three million cases were pending in the high courts – 350 years of work for the country’s 670 judges at the current rate of resolution”.

I would henceforth request that the Honorable Law Minister include the below recommendations included in the Judicial reform process.

  1. To make IPC section 498A a bailable Law.
  2. To make IPC section 498A a non-cognizable Law.
  3. A circular should be immediately issued to all the Police Stations in the country with specific directions not to arrest any person u/s 498A and 406 without thorough investigation and attempt of counseling where the wife is alive. If any arrest is made, it should be officially signed and authorized by a SP or DCP rank and the police should be made to justify the arrest with prima facie evidence.
  4. The learned court could carefully consider whether the allegations of the bride are indeed genuine at least against the in-laws or other relatives of the husband when it directs investigation under section 156(3) of CrPC for an offence under section 498A.
  5. The Learned court could carefully take into account whether custodial detention is at all needed for the in-laws and other relatives.
  6. Arrest should be made only after getting orders from the Magistrate after primary investigation and producing facts and evidences before the Magistrate
  7. Arrest should not be made before trial in cases where the wife is alive.
  8. Sections 120B, 177, 182, 211, 199, 200, 209, 499 and 500 of IPC should be extensively used against false complainants.
  9. At the stage of counseling before 498A, the parents and/or relatives of the wife should be strictly prohibited to interfere in the family matter of the daughter. If the in-laws are blamed, after investigation, the in-laws should be separated from the son of the family. The husband and wife should be asked to stay separately.
  10. Counseling if any should be brought out of the ambit of police or government officials and be handed over to different NGO’s working in this field hence making sure that it is a real counseling and not a threatening process.
  11. To replace the word “husband” or “wife” with the word “spouse in all related laws, so as to ensure equality in law for men and women.
  12. Make provisions for a man to file complaint when a wife and in-laws harass him and commit cruelty. Create sections 498B and 304C in IPC to protect men and women in his family when the perpetrators of crime are daughters-in-law and their family.
  13. Make provision for penalty on a false complaint by amending IPC 498A. Lodging a complaint u/s 498A IPC has become a tool of manipulation, legal blackmail and legal terrorism in the hands of certain unscrupulous people.
  14. Speedy and fair trial in all marital disputes.
  15. Make registration of marriages compulsory. Gifts at time of marriage must be listed and photographed.
  16. Make extensive use of section 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
  17. Strict conviction of either the complainant or the defendant.
  18. No negotiations be allowed at the cost of money/property/gift whatsoever and the faulty should be severely punished.
  19. For any negotiation or exchange of amounts made, both the parties should be made liable for prosecution on recommendation of a third party.
  20. Ensure fair and unbiased investigation & trial of Dowry related complaints, which is totally in favor of daughter-in-law and disregards the trauma caused to mothers and sisters due to a false complaint. Judiciary and enforcement agencies must recognize the possibility of wives and daughter-in-law maltreating the husband and old in-laws or other vulnerable members of the husband’s family.
  21. Distant relatives not routinely living with the couple should not be allowed to be named in the complaint and excluded routinely.
  22. Fathers should not be routinely deprived of child custody by assuming mother is the best for the child. Child should not be made to choose between parents and joint custody should be preferred.
  23. No Passport surrender and unnecessary travel restrictions should be imposed at the time of bail. Passports should not be impounded and restrictions of going abroad where wife is alive should be lifted with a condition that the husband should appear in the court as and when summoned.
  24. Elder abuse in the name of IPC 498A should be absolutely stopped.
  25. Government employees should not face compulsory suspension in case of arrest due to a false complaint.
  26. Legislation involving domestic issues should be enacted keeping in view the preservation of institution of marriage and not based on gender bias.
  27. 82% of the individual income tax collected in the country is paid by men. Spending is all done for women only. Animals in the country have a welfare ministry. Now is a need for opening of a Men’s welfare ministry.
  28. On the lines of the Crime-Against-Women Cells, Crime-Against-Men Cells are also becoming need of the hour.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,
Indian Citizens

Download the Letter and Post it with your name and address

Marry shades of grey!

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Harassed husbands? The SC’s recent observation calling for a review of dowry laws (on the grounds that they are often misused) might have women’s organisations up in arms but more and more ‘harassed’ husbands have been raising their voices after being falsely implicated. Sriranjitha Jeurkar investigates why many dowry cases no longer remain plain black and white today

My name is Kumar. I am 28 years old. I wanted to marry a poor girl, so that I could help a poor family. When I told my father about this, he suggested that I marry the daughter of one of his distant relatives, from a town in Andhra Pradesh. I believed that when he had chosen nothing but the best for me until now, he could not go wrong in this decision either. I agreed. I didn’t know much about the family, except that the girl’s father was a bus conductor. We demanded no dowry and even agreed to foot the wedding expenses.

It was a perfect wedding. My wife and I lived together for a month and she went back to her home for some rituals. That’s when I realised I had contracted a sexually transmitted disease from her. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents. When I asked my wife about it, she confessed that she had had an affair with someone else and had married me due to pressure from her family. “You didn’t ask for dowry, so we thought you had something to hide too,” she said.

I was shocked. But I wanted to save my marriage, so I asked her to come with me for treatment. She wasn’t interested. She told me that she would give me a divorce by mutual consent if I gave her Rs 5 lakh. And she didn’t want to discuss the matter with her parents because she was afraid they’d take away the money from her.

Still, I was glad she had told me the truth. I told my parents. Then my company sent me abroad for a project. We applied for divorce by mutual consent, and before I left, both of us went to the family court on six occasions. After I returned to India, she went back home saying that her mother was ill, and didn’t return — not even to attend the hearings. All of a sudden, she started saying that she didn’t want a divorce, and demanded that I pay her Rs 25,000 a month as maintenance. She claimed that I was earning far more than I really was, that my family had a lot of property (which is untrue) and said we had thrown her out of the house because she refused to bring Rs 2 lakh from her parents. She claimed that her family had spent a sum of Rs 10 lakh to conduct the wedding. She even went to the extent of saying that we had forged her signature on the divorce petition!

She filed a dowry case, and I was named as an accused — along with my mother, dad, cousin and aunt. I was taken into custody and stayed there for seven days, despite my family producing documents, which refuted her claims. She told me that if I paid her Rs 10 lakh in cash, she would withdraw the case. But she also had another demand —that I give it to her in writing that I am impotent.

My aged parents had to wait for three months to get bail. We were stripped, and our fingerprints taken, as if we were petty criminals.

Until then, we knew very little about the law, and even less about Section 498A. My parents, at one point were on the verge of committing suicide. Due to all the stress, my performance at work suffered. I was terminated. Three years later, the case is still on — and I am still looking for a job. I received three job offers — all of which were withdrawn once they conducted a background check and found out that I had a case pending against me. My future looks uncertain, but there’s one thing I’m sure about: I have lost faith in the institution of marriage. I will never marry again.

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (Dowry Prohibition and Prevention of Marital Cruelty) is aimed at protecting the woman from harassment — from either her husband or her in-laws. But the loopholes in the law have led to misuse by women across the country. The common perception, that a helpless woman is abused for dowry by her husband’s family and the law is her only saviour — is being turned on its head.

Bangalore-based advocate Shankarappa, who has been practicing law for the last 18 years, handling many high-profile cases, says that he has seen at least 120 cases of dowry harassment in his career, “But unfortunately about 100 of the complainants had falsely implicated their husbands and husbands’ families.”

Advocate M T Nanaiah says that approximately 80 per cent of the 600 dowry-related cases he has handled over 32 years have turned out to be false implications. “Most of the remaining 20 per cent cases are mostly small disagreements that arise in every household. They get converted into dowry harassment cases.”

No warrant, no investigation

What is it about the anti-dowry law that makes such blatant misuse possible? First, the entire case hinges on the statement or allegations made by the wife.  A single oral complaint can land the husband’s family in jail. No investigation or warrant is needed before police arrest the husband or his family, or begin proceedings. It is non-bailable; the accused must appeal before the court to seek bail. It is not compoundable: the complaint cannot be withdrawn. Worst of all, there is no punishment against the petitioner if the complaint is proved false. Besides, legal experts argue, since the police do not require any proof before arrest, it takes away a basic human right.

“Once a woman lodges a complaint, the husband and his relatives are implicated. Even the police register complaints without investigation. They drag the husband, aged in-laws and even young children to the station. The charges may be proved false later, but a criminal record is a criminal record, after all,” says Shankarappa.

Lawyers say that most women who file false dowry complaints do so for a few common reasons: to get out of a marriage; to get money, or a favourable divorce settlement; if they had a premarital affair, and were married off by force; for child custody; if they want an attitude change in the behaviour of the husband or the family; to take revenge on their husbands, or in most cases, to get out of a joint family setup.

And ironically, the law that aims at helping women, ends up harassing women too. The Save Indian Family Foundation contends that on an average, 30,000 women are jailed every year in connection with dowry cases. “Once the woman files a complaint, the mother-in-law, sister-in-law are also arrested. Why restrict the law to protecting only the wife? What kind of protection do these women have?” asks Philip, whose family was falsely implicated in a case. Virag Dhulia, a member of the Bangalore Chapter of the Save Indian Family Foundation — an organisation that provides support to harassed husbands — narrates his horror story. “A few months after our wedding, my wife went back to her parents’ home and didn’t return. She said she wouldn’t return unless I agreed to live away from my parents. Then her family filed a dowry harassment case against us,” he says.

Dhulia recalls how his parents, who are in their sixties, suffered for months — the fear of being arrested, anxiety about the regular court visits, and the outcome of the case, the shame and humiliation, all adding to their health problems.

In what is probably the first such instance in the State, Dhulia has filed a complaint against his wife for giving dowry. “My wife has, in her complaint, stated that she and her parents gave me dowry in the presence of their relatives. According to the Dowry Prohibition Act, taking, giving and abetting the giving of dowry is a crime — the giver and taker are equally culpable. I have not accepted dowry; but if as per her claim, she says she has given dowry, then she is guilty too.”

He says that at first, the police refused to file an FIR. “Then I went to the ACMM Court. The magistrate there took cognizance of this complaint and asked the jurisdictional police to investigate into the matter and file a report,” he explains.

Even four months after the court’s order, no action has been taken, Dhulia alleges. “I have now filed an RTI application to get information about the progress of the investigation, but have still not received any info.”

Help is at hand

The social stigma was what prompted Arun Murthy, yet another ‘498A victim’ to set up Sangyabalya — a helpline for ‘husbands and families victimised by the anti-dowry laws.’

The helpline was set up in 2003, after Murthy’s sister-in-law filed a dowry harassment complaint against his younger brother. “She was from an orphanage, and she said we had demanded dowry. It was ridiculous,” Murthy says. After his entire family — including his mother and sister were implicated — Murthy’s brother, a hardware engineer, lost his job and became a mental wreck. “I saw how the system works — people are arrested on Friday evening, so they cannot get bail. They have to stay in jail till Monday. And consider this — if you are a government employee, and you are in jail for more than 24 hours, even if under false accusations, then your job is in jeopardy.”

Murthy then wrote to a newspaper, and received many calls from other victims. That’s when he set up a helpline for these harassed husbands. A few months later, Sangyabalya was registered as an NGO.  “A lot of people are on the verge of suicide after being arrested. We give them moral support.  Sometimes, the lawyers take them for a ride, so we extend legal aid too. But most importantly, it is a collective voice for proper representation of our problems,” he says.

The Save Indian Family Foundation, another organisation that aid people implicated under Section 498A, was first set up as an online community, but later evolved into an NGO. The Foundation now has set up helplines for men in distress. The members of the Bangalore chapter meet at Cubbon Park every Saturday. New members who approach the Foundation are given moral support, and legal advice. “Usually when someone is implicated like this, he tends to feel that he is the only one facing such a problem. When they come here and see that they are not alone, then they feel that they have some support.”

Members of the foundation, who come from various backgrounds — from software to government service — study the law and help each other with inputs on how to fight their cases.

There are several other organisations working for these ‘harassed husbands’, but most of them have common demands. “The problem arises from extravagant marriages. The giving and taking of dowry should be tackled. No one makes it a point to stop this at the source. After all, prevention is better than cure,” says Dhulia.

Murthy agrees, “There should be a mandatory registration of marriages with a record of all gifts exchanged. These gifts are referred to as dowry when things go wrong. And such disputes are family matters. There should be proper counselling available, before the woman goes to the police.”

He adds, “The law in itself is not bad. What we need is thorough checks and balances to ensure that it is not misused. We assume that women are all white and men, all black. We must acknowledge that there are shades of grey everywhere.”

But most important, these organisations say, is to make provision for action against those who file false complaints, and to ensure that no arrests are made without proper evidence. “Once the complainant sends her husband and his family to jail, chances of reconciliation are few. She thinks its a victory. But that’s the only victory, things go downhill from there,” Murthy says.

That probably underlines the need for a thorough review of the law as it exists now. The loopholes have to be plugged, activists say, and soon. For the welfare of the women, so that genuine victims of dowry harassment do not suffer because of those who have misused the law. That is the only hope, for the welfare of hundreds of women across the country.

(Some names have been changed to protect identities.)

Review necessary?

Justice J D Kapoor of the Delhi High Court had recommended a review of the dowry laws. He suggested that Sections 406 (misappropriation of dowry articles) and 498A (harassment for dowry) be made bailable and if necessary, compoundable, in cases where no grave physical injury has been inflicted.

He had observed, “There is a growing tendency to come out with inflated and exaggerated allegations roping in each and every relation of the husband and if one happens to be of higher status or of vulnerable standing, then he or she becomes an easy prey for blackmailing and bargaining.” Some suggestions of the judge are:

Such cases should be investigated by civil authorities, and cognisance taken only after findings. Only police officer above the rank of ACP should investigate harassment and misappropriation of items. A DCP should investigate dowry death cases.

When minor, schoolchildren are named, they should not be arrested or sent to court.

Demanding resignation of Justice Arijit Pasayat & Justice M K Sharma of SC

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This is a swift (but not provocative) response to the recent news article in which Supreme Court Justice Shri Arijit Pasayat and Shri M K Sharma acknowledged that IPC 498A was misused but did not see any reason to remedy the situation.

With this email, I as a representative of thousands of Indian men (and Indian women) of all age brackets and in all parts of globe DEMAND that Shri Pasayat and Shri Sharma resign immediately from their respective positions for their blatant display of irresponsible, immature, unconscionable and unpardonable behavior. IMHO, Shri Pasayat and Shri Sharma have failed to perform their duty and have no business staying there any longer.

The Men, women and Children that I represent while making this demand have been sufferers at the hand of wicked woman who misuse IPC 498A law. I have personally met many 498a Victims men and women of India and counseled few of them.

BUSTING THE MYTH OF SMALL LEVELS OF MISUSE

The Supreme Court bench comprising of Shri Pasayat and Shri Sharma is quoted as “It must be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that administration and application of a particular law would be done ‘not with an evil eye and unequal hand.”

Contrary to the statements of SC, reality is quite the opposite. The law is used without any fear by those with evil eye and aided by Police who use unequal hand against the husband and his family.

  • How about if each Citizen chose to misuse law against terrorism exactly once in his lifetime?
  • How about if each Citizen chose to misuse law against homicide exactly once in his lifetime?
  • How about if each Citizen chose to misuse law against smuggling exactly once in his lifetime?

Would this Supreme Court allow this miniscule misuse? After all, misuse will be below 0.0004% per person assuming average lifespan of 65 years.

As one can readily imagine, if there was even marginal increase in misuse of laws against terrorism and homicide, country would go further in anarchy.

WHAT IS IPC 498A?

IPC 498A with all its myriad usage is a law that is promoting Legal Terrorism and is on wide scale rampage that is crisscrossing across every single family in India. Every single person who has any relation to any recently married male is in danger.

STATISTICS OF SUICIDE?

Statistics tell that every year about 57,000 husbands are committing suicides which is almost double the number of wives committing suicides in spite of the so called dowry deaths then why no protection to men ??

57,000 deaths sounds like a very small number until ones look at their profile of the dead men. Many are well educated men who had reasonably good life and took steps to kill themselves shortly after their marriage. They died in prime of their age causing a loss of a very productive resource of the country (or the world). Many were students of IITs and as such carry lot of investment from the public exchequer. With each dead young man, there are usually 4 more lives being brought on streets.

INDEPENDENT AND VERIFIABLE STATISTICS OF MISUSE

For every one woman, who may have genuine dowry grievance, there are 49 who are misusing the law.

Please refer to the official statistic report compiled wholly using data from NCRB website. I have merely correlated data that is spread across many different reports to form one view. No raw data is imagined.

CONCLUSION

I clearly do not approve any promotion of lax attitude as evidenced from SC comments and hence I have demanded Unconditional Resignation from Shri Arijit Pasayat and Shri M K Sharma effective immediately.

I also urge the President, the Prime Minister, every media and every volunteer to take steps so as to make this happen as soon as possible. I urge all of my members and Volunteers to resend this email until the resignation is extracted.

Here are few more articles that will start the reader of this email in correct direction

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She’s a 11 Timer: Professional Legal Terrorist Arrested

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Twenty-six-year-old Kausar Begum aka Umme Kausar married eleven times, on each occasion conning her man and absconding with his money. The Mumbai police finally caught up with her in the city

Don’t go by the innocent face!

It’s talaq in reverse, and it’s been highly profitable for this profligate woman. Twenty six-year-old Kausar Begum alias Umme Kausar alias Kausar Salma, a resident of HBR Layout, II Block, married 11 men from various Indian cities and abroad. Each time she claimed that it was her first marriage, only to dump the latest victim and, worse, fleece him subsequently using dowry harassment allegations. Finally, the law has caught up with her.

Sub Inspector V S Shelar from Sion police station in Mumbai took Salma into custody and then took her to Mumbai after producing her before the 10th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in the city. The Mumbai police action followed a complaint by Syed Hasham Ahmed, a businessman and her former husband, with the Sion police. Mumbai police have arrested Kausar on charges of IPC 406, 420, 504, 506 R/W34, which include breach of trust, intimidation and intentional insult.

With her parents

“Marriage was just a medium for Kausar and her sister Nazia Begum. Kausar has married 11 men and deserted them within a short period of time. Her family purchased a Rs 2 crore worth bungalow in HBR Layout. Where did the money come from? She even got married to a nawab of Hyderabad and he had to eke out Rs 50 lakh when she threatened to lodge a complaint against his family members,” Hasham told Bangalore Mirror.

Police sources said that Kausar did it with the full complicity of her parents and that she was quite an expert in conning men in this fashion. What makes the case as much sinister as it is scandalous, is that Kausar reportedly is backed by a city DCP who took voluntary retirement and also a network of agents across the country and abroad. Kausar once got married to a man in Dubai whom she then ditched. She and her sister have ditched four men each in Bangalore alone, including the son of a mullah, police sources added.

With Abdul Rafeeq alias Kutty

MODUS OPERANDI

Hasham revealed how the trap was sprung. He was first approached by Rahmat Ulla Belt. “He is an agent and he painted a good picture of Kausar’s family, saying that what they lacked in wealth they more than compensated for with pedigree.

I convinced my parents and got married to her in June 2006. She started harassing me in a month’s time and one fine day she absconded with valuables. Later, her family members called me and started abusing me. Then, they got me attacked in Mumbai and I lost my little finger,” he said.

That was not the end of story. Hasham had to shell out Rs 20 lakh for a final settlement, and then despite that Kausar went ahead and filed a dowry case! “It was at this point that I hired private investigators and gathered information about them.

Kausar and her sister have lodged dowry cases on two former husbands and are claiming maintenance from them,” Hasham said. “Insallah, she has been arrested. It is a relief not only for me but for many young men who suffered at her hands,” he added.

Dowry is a crime

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In case a dowry case has been filed against a man; he needs to defend himself by filing a defense case. He has to prove that he is not guilt of taking dowry. If he says that he has not demanded dowry, then it has to be proved by him. Under the dowry prohibition act, taking dowry is a crime. If a husband takes dowry, it will be like a sales consideration where he is like a commodity being sold.

If a wife claims that the husband bought a car or other items with the dowry money, then he must prove that he purchased them using his own money. But if evidence is produced by the wife against the husband and he does not disprove it, then he will be convicted as per the dowry prohibition act. His punishment depends on the gravity of the situation. If evidence is not given against him, then he will be acquitted.

Also according to section 8a, where any person is prosecuted for taking or abetting the taking of any dowry under Sec. 3, or the demanding of dowry under Sec. 4 the burden of proving that he had not committed an offence under those sections shall be on him.

According to the dowry prohibition act, ‘If any person, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with the fine which shall not be less than Rs 15,000 or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more. Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than five years.

— As told to Ikyatha Yerasala

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