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Legal Terrorism: Dowry Menace And False Rapes

The purpose of law is to safeguard the people's right and to keep check and balances in the society. The Law plays a vital role in a society, a society without the law would be like a jungle, where there is no concept of safeguarding people's right, dignity, freedom and more. The main objective of law in the society is to stop the wrongful acts, even by way of punishment, to ensure that there should be no crime against anyone, but if someone misuses the law which was meant to be their safeguard, it turns out to be the abuse of that law.

The foundation of laws in favour of women in affairs related to violence, dowry, harm against their body and mental health was biggest safeguard conferred on them by the law of the county. Nowadays it is observed that these laws are widely being misused by some women to outrage their enmity against husband or in-laws,which opined the new dimension of terrorism, known as Legal Terrorism. Therefore we will discuss the emerging issue of legal terrorism and the solutions of how the abuse of these laws can be minimal.

Introduction
The term Domestic violence not only includes physical violence,but constitute a wider definition which includes mental, verbal, sexual, emotional, psychological abuse.

Violence is when someone uses his force on another person to gain unlawful possession over the actions of other person.The exploitation to one's freedom of choice and liberty is also a abuse to that person's rights.In India the practice of demand for dowry is very common, where people from the groom side sets high demand of dowry as a condition for completion of wedding.

The Dowry means a consideration in form of valuable securities such as Cash, Property, Jewellery, Car and Households like Furniture,Electronics etc ,being given by the bride side to the groom side or his family on their demands. Which not only creates an unnecessary burden on the brides family but also violates their rights. The family of bride side or bride makes such demands as a basic condition for marriage. And people who are from weak economic background, finds it difficult to fulfill such unnecessary demands, even for the sake of marriage some manage to get the things done on finance, which nevertheless creates a financial obligation upon them, and sometimes also cause them to be trapped in the circle of debt.

And if the family of bride was unable to fulfill the demand of dowry,the outcome was not less then the non-completion of their daughter's marriage or if the marriage at that time settles at few or less demands,the bride has to face, abuse and violence against her by the husband or the in-laws and other relatives from the husband's side. The laws made in favour of women played a role of survivor in such cases protecting the rights and dignity of a women.

Now a days these laws are being abused by some women for their personal enmity, either in state of anger to take revenge from the husband or the relatives of husband, if wife in indulged in the act of adultery or the motive of getting good alimony and maintenance. It is hard to say the exact reason behind lodging of these false cases, but most common, it is either to take revenge or for the profit to be gained in terms of alimony and maintenance. The registration of false cases of rapes are also a common trend nowadays where the common reason behind such cases are extortion of money or either revenge, being forced by any other person to file such case against someone.

The very famous quote represents the today's world reality that 'A women is innocent until proven guilty and a man is guilty until proven innocent'.

Background
In India, during 60's-80's the exploitation of women was at peak, around 70% of women were victims of the domestic violence and dowry. With the rise in cases of Domestic violence and dowry,and crimes against women, it was the need of an hour to get laws strict in terms of protection of the women. Due to the rising cases related to dowry, domestic violence, rapes, certain provisions of law came into existence like

Section 304-B, Section 354 , Section 376, Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code(1860) ,Dowry Prohibition Act(1961), ,Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (2005).The purpose of which was to give protection to women against dowry practice, domestic violence and cruelty against her, protection of women from offence of rape and criminal assaults. Despite of being a such safeguard for women, many cases nowadays being registered related to these matters are turning out to be false, due to the reason of personal enmity or greed, and the men are becoming the victims of such false cases.

Demography of Crimes
The India still has high crime rate in context of Crimes against Women, there was gradual increase in the cases post COVID period, back in the year 2022,there were 6900 complaints being filed by the women in the matter of domestic violence, which amounts to 23% of the 30,900+ cases being registered by the National Commission for Women (NCW) .As per the survey of National Family Health Survey (NFHS),

29.3% of married Indian women among the age group of 18 and 49,have experienced domestic/sexual violence against them,3.1% of the survivors among the category have suffered the violence during their pregnancy days. In 2021,just 507 cases were registered under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005,while 1,36,000 complaints were registered under the Section-498A(Cruelty by husband or his relatives) of Indian Penal Code,1860.According to NHFS,87% of married women who are the victims of the domestic violence do not access help,despite of having all the remedies available to women against injustice,but still women are afraid to seek help.

Despite of such real incidents, many women abuse these laws by registering false cases against the men,according to the report of National Crime Record Bureau of the year 2021,7 out of 855 cases of Domestic violence which was registered under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act were false and 418 cases out of 21,287 registered under Dowry Prohibition Act were false. According to the recent report of NCRB published in year 2021,the state of Uttar Pradesh tops the list having greatest number of crime rate against the women recording 56,083 crimes against the women, followed up by the Rajasthan having 40,738 cases, Maharashtra and West Bengal. In year 2020,as per the data published by NCRB 3,375 out of 28,046 were closed by the police after finding them false and overall 5,015 were closed due to the reason of being false or they were registered by mistake of fact or law or arising out of a civil dispute and 5,403 out of 9,713 cases were acquitted by the court,rest 3,814 cases were only convicted by the court making a conviction rate of only 39%.

Present state of affairs
The misuse of these key laws is a matter of great concern, where on a complaint of a women related to domestic violence the husband and his family can be sent behind the bars, and to take advantage of that the wife's due to reason to take revenge from the husband or in-laws make such complaints. The estimation of these cases around 40,000 each year where on an average 5 members of the husband's family are dragged in these 498A cases, nearly 2,00,000 are directly influenced by these cases.

In the recent times the courts are also getting aware of these misleading cases,Hon'ble Supreme Court and various High Courts have shown their concern over the increasing menace by overview that "By the misuse of the 498A-Dowry and Cruelty by husband or his relatives,a new form of terrorism has been discovered.The provision was made for the safeguard and not as a weapon´┐Żsays the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

In the case of Swapan kumar Das@Swapan Das and Anr. Vs. State of West Bengal and Anr. (CRR no. 2864 of 2018),where the wife filed a complaint against her husband u/s 498A/307 of IPC, the Hon'ble High Court of Calcutta quashed the case due to lack of evidence and finding misuse of 498A by the wife. The reasons behind such cases are common likewise in cases of false domestic violence and dowry, it is mostly seen the wish of wife to live separately from in-laws and in some cases even from husband,and to accomplish the personal enmity the wife, sometimes not only alleged husband but also his closed relatives, in-laws.The purpose behind fake rapes, is to get compensated by the real victim or to distort his image in the society

Fear Of Marriage Among Indian Men:
Marriage is a holy union between two peoples of opposite genders that binds them together for throughout the life in every happiness and sorrows, ups and downs.

Marriage is believed to be a beautiful match made in heaven by the God,It is considered as sacred knot between two people.As per law also,the marriage is a contract between two support each other in shared household, and marriage is also recognized as a fundamental right under Article 21 of The Indian Constitution.

Despite of having such noble recognition of marriage in India, still the fear of marriage rolls out among the individuals as the false cases of rape and domestic violence are gaining momentum, the fear of marriage among Indian men is also increasing.

Role of Indian Laws:
The laws at that time were made while considering the situation of Indian women of that time,where in the society the women was harassed either by husband or his relatives against the evil practise of dowry,where women was not only physically but also mentally, sexually, verbally and psychologically abused too.Keeping the things in mind the laws were made gender biased towards the women with the intention of giving immunity and protection to the women against such evil acts.The rape laws were also made more strict after the most horrible incident of Nirbhaya gangrape case of 2012,namely Mukesh & Anr vs State For Nct Of Delhi & Ors on 5 May, 2017.

The motive behind making laws strict and gender centric was only to stop crimes against the women, but these gender centric laws also opens the new path for the pseudo feminists. Where if a women is not willing to live with the in-laws, finds a way to trouble them by misusing the domestic violence and dowry law and also opened a new path of money extortion,where a women first gets in a consensual physical relation,and later on name it a rape just to extort money.As these laws are gender biased, giving more power and immunity to a women, they uses them as a weapon for taking revenge or extorting money.

Conclusion
The misuse and abuse of these laws doesn't means that actual crimes are not happening, everyday number of crimes are happening related to dowry death,rape,sexual harassment and domestic violence. Many real victims of these crimes don't even register their complaints and only left with injustice. Those women who play with these laws make the real one's suffer. The gender centric nature of these laws which were for the upliftment of the women in the society is now turned into a curse for the men.

The certain measures should be taken to stop the abuse of these laws:
  • The punishment for a false complaint made under S.498A, S.376 of the Indian Penal Code (1860), Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), Dowry Prohibition Act (1961) should be imprisonment of a minimum of 7 years and a fine, or a maximum of 20 years.
  • There should be a proper enquiry by the Investigating Officer before the issuance of a Non-bailable Warrant by the respective Court.
  • Adultery should be decriminalized and should be made a gender-neutral law.
  • Some women-centric laws, such as those related to mental harassment, should be made gender-neutral.
  • There should be a conclusive enquiry by the police before registering the First Information Report.

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