The other side of India’s dowry complaints.
Women in India have been given a fairly rough time by our patriarchal society. Rape, Dowry deaths, workplace discrimination and stunningly unfair treatment by the society at large have been some of the pinch points of their struggle. No wonder laws were then framed out to protect them. But as with many things in India, those laws come with a warning of misuse. Women too can be vindictive, cruel and manipulative and craftily use the very laws meant to protect them, to their unfair advantage. There have been many cases of misuse of the law by women to harass their husbands and in-laws.
But now there is hope for victimized men and their families. The Supreme Court has ruled that if a woman’s complaint accusing her husband and in-laws of cruelty, under section 498A of the Indian penal code, is found out to be false, the husband is then entitled for a divorce.
It all happened because of this particular case between K Srinivas and K Sunita. In 1995, she left their home, he filed for divorce, she retaliated by filing a criminal complaint against him and 7 of his family members under various provisions of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act. Srinivas and his family were arrested and jailed.
Finally some sense prevailed and they were acquitted of the charges in 2000. The judges concluded that Sunita’s criminal complaint was an after-thought and that she intentionally filed a false complaint, just to embarrass her husband and his family.
Srinivas was granted a divorce on the grounds of cruelty and not on irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
No doubt people in India need to be more sensitive to women’s rights. But India’s men deserve justice against this misuse too. All men are not rapists and all women are not victims. Hopefully this judgement is a small step in this right direction for both the genders in India.