Legal Remedies available to a Husband against False Accusations for Cruelty & Domestic Violence: Lawyers Advice
Domestic violence against spouses is an age-old issue, but it is only after the advent of electronic and digital media that we are getting aware about them. However, it may be noted that most of these cases reported deal with the violence suffered by a woman in the hands of men. Our media fails to recognize the domestic violence suffered by men, who share same fundamental rights with women. One of the biggest reasons for such biased reporting is the failure to understand that men too are Human Beings and misandry, or prejudices against men is a reality.
Few Pivotal Points which are to be kept in mind by the Discontented Husband while making any complaint against domestic violence: –
Sadly, it is difficult to get the exact number of cases registered by men against domestic violence, as the same are severely underreported and it is tough to figure them out. One of the major reasons for the same again is the societal stereotypes of men where he has been portrayed the strongest gender. This social stigma against men has made him a silent victim of domestic violence. Since, our Indian legal system does not recognize any law to protect a husband from domestic violence. It is a bit challenging for him to report the incident to the concerned authorities. Therefore, for husbands there are some crucial points which are to be taken in consideration while reporting such cases. These are as follows: –
- It is important for the victim (Husband) to explain the abuses faced by him in the complaint, he will be filing. The abuses may either be verbal or physical or in some cases, both forms are present in varying degrees.
- In cases where there have been instances of abuses for extorting money from husband or his parents, such incidents are to be added in the complaint.
- It is certainly important to have a witness who no matter what supports the aggrieved throughout the trial. Basically, he should maintain his stance on the fact that the person has been harmed by the woman. The witness can be husband’s parents or in case there are no parents, his siblings or friends.
- Suppose the wife registers a false Dowry case against the Husband and his relatives. Then, following steps should be taken by the husband to counter her claims and consequently prove himself innocent: –
a. First, getting the list of all the gifts and ornaments exchanged and also the monetary transactions made from the financial statement.
b. Second, it is important to tally the transactions reported in the complainant filed by her with the list you prepared to determine its factuality. This shall be done by filing a Right to Information (RTI) to get the bills which were attached to the complaint filed by the wife.
c. Now, in the case some falsity is discovered in the transaction reported by his wife in her complaint, he may collect this an evidence to present it before the court. Here the husband is open to file a case under Section 191 of the Indian Penal Code for False Evidence and 120B for Criminal Conspiracy.
d. In cases where the wife has made any forgery in the marriage documents attached to her complaint, then the husband may file a case under sections 468, 471 and 474 of the Indian Penal Code for committing forgery with an intention to cheat and a reason to believe the falsity of the documents submitted.
Application of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is like an armor for a discontented woman and the same should not be used a weapon against the Husband and his relatives: –
Recently, number of false accusations made in respect of domestic violence and dowry has severely gone high. And fortunately, our Judiciary is now very much aware about the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. For instance in the case of Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar (Criminal Appeal No. 1277 of 2014), the wife accused her husband of demanding dowry and then throwing her out of the matrimonial home. The husband even failed to get an anticipatory bail and it was later through Special Leave Petition that he approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The court in this matter observed the following things: –
- Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is cognizable and Non-Bailable Offence.
- Its application was although meant as an armor for discontented women but the same woman is unreasonably using it as a weapon against the Husband and his relative.
The Court observing the matter gave a proper guideline which was to be followed while making any arrest under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. According to the court no arrest shall be made on without a prima facie assessment i.e. no arrest shall be made merely on the allegations made against a person or a group of people. Lastly, the court asked the magistrate to remain careful enough so that no unreasonable detentions are carried out casually.
Such unreasonable arrests are in their entirety against the basic principles of personal life and liberty of the citizen. However, looking it from the perspective of husband and his relative, they are enough to cause severe mental trauma and breakdown. To conclude from the aforementioned case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, no arrests should be made except according to the process provided by the law.
Coming to cruelty and violence, such incidents are no more uncommon against the husbands. One of the most basic forms of domestic violence is cruelty. Now, cruelty although does not have an exhaustive definition to it yet it may be defined as a willful or unjust act or conduct executed with the intention to cause danger to the life of the spouse. It may be noted that other than life, causing severe danger to mental health and limbs also amounts to cruelty. In one of the important cases of Smt. Mayadevi v Jagdish Prasad (Appeal (Civil) No. 877 of 2007) under the Hindu Marriage Act, where the respondent (husband) registered an application of Divorce against his wife that the same inflicted cruelty on him repeatedly by not providing him adequate food. Furthermore, she even threatened to make a false accusation of Dowry against him and his parents. The Supreme Court of India observing the matter held that no matter whether it is husband or wife, any form of mental cruelty faced by either of them in the hands of the other provides them a ground for filing a divorce. Thus, not only wife but even Husband were granted the liberty to file a divorce in cases of cruelty.
Since the section 498-A which was meant to act as a shield or armor was now being used as a weapon against the Husband and his family. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Rajesh Sharma & Ors v State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr (Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 2013 of 2017) considering the depth of the issue passed a number of directions to curb the misuse of the section of the law. Firstly, it was passed that no arrest shall be made unless the Family Welfare committee which was to be set up by the District Legal Services Authority in all districts, looks into the report. This report was to be received by the committee from the magistrate within a span of one month. This new development came a big relief to the Husbands and their family members. Another big development held was that the appearance of the family members and especially the members residing outstations before the trial was not required. Also, the court was ought to exempt their personal appearance and the same also applied in cases of video conferencing. However, in Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar and Another v Union of India Ministry of Law and Justice and Ors. (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 73 of 2015) in the year 2018, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that the setting up of Family Welfare committee by the District Legal Services Authority in every district was beyond the scope of the Indian Penal Code. Thus, its constitution was termed impermissible. Nonetheless, the Hon’ble Court gave directions with regards to arrest to the investigating officers. According to the court, the said officers were to be guided by the principles given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in important landmark cases like Joginder Singh v State of UP and Ors., D.K Basu v State of WB and Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar and Anr. Basically, to summarize, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India directed that no arrest shall be made on the ground of the same being a non-bailable and cognizable offence. Furthermore, the arrest cannot be effectuated on mere casual allegation against the person or the group of people. Rather a proper prima facie investigation is to be carried out to check the authenticity of the complaint. And, in respect of personal appearance of the family members or members residing outstation, the Hon’ble Supreme Court asked that an application can be filed under Section 205 or 317 of the Code of Criminal Procedure depending upon the stage at which such exemption is pursued.
Frivolous accusations made under the Section 498A in the name of cruelty are enough to put a Husband in mental depression and abetting him for suicide: –
Notwithstanding, any matter before any court in India, the two most important factors considered while dealing with a case are, securing justice or meeting the ends of the justice and preventing the abuse of the procedure of the court. Since, there have been increasing number of cases filed misusing the provisions of Section 498A, it becomes extremely important for the courts to deal with the matter with utmost carefulness and caution. Sometimes, frivolous allegations are made only to abuse the procedure of the courts. For instance, in Manju Ram Kalita v. State of Assam (Criminal Appeal No. 299 of 2003), the wife accused her husband of both physical and mental cruelty registering a case against him under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for determining the meaning of cruelty referred the case of S. Hanumantha Rao v. S. Ramani (AIR 1999 SC 1318) where the same discovered that ‘cruelty’ alleged in the complaint under Section 498A should be established in the context of the same and not some other provision of law. Furthermore, it was held that for establishing a case of cruelty against the husband, few things are to be considered by the court. These things are namely, the conduct or the act of the husband, seriousness of his conduct or was his conduct serious enough to drive a woman to commit suicide and was the episode of cruelty towards the wife continuous in nature and was not remote to the time of registering the complaint. Lastly, setting aside her complaint it was held that petty quarrels cannot be a basis for registering a complaint in the name of cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. These false allegations and frivolous complaint against the Husband and his parents are in one-way domestic violence. Here, he has been alleged for something he never committed. These brutal episodes are enough to give him a mental breakdown and sometimes even abet him to commit suicide.
It is the right time for our government to formulate a proper law, or amend the existing law of Domestic violence to suit the needs of male spouse. Unreasonable arrests and torture are throwing our husbands into mental depression and even forcing them to commit suicide. Domestic violence in the form of mental cruelty or physical harassment against the male spouse and his relatives needs a serious addressal. It is the society which has created stereotypes against men that embarrasses him to lodge any complaint for any domestic crime committed against him. It is high time that laws are to be framed without any biasedness. For an egalitarian society, we need laws based on proper framework of gender equality. The shield given to a woman under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code to protect herself from violence in her matrimonial home is now increasingly being used by the same woman to harass her husband and his relatives. Now, the social stigma against men creates an obstacle in the path of the man to register his complaint. He has fear that even if he is proven innocent, he shall not be accepted by the society. Fortunately, we have some examples (mentioned in the above paragraphs) of husbands and his relatives getting justice in later stages of the case. However, justice delayed is justice denied, thus we need a law where justice is served in time bound manner.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Aniket Pandey