Touch me not !
The article published on 20 June 2015 titled: “Woman fined rupees one lakh for misuse of law” is considered to be an exemplary one for those, who intend to take the justice system for a ride. But before gearing up to celebrate the triumph of the justice system, let us just consider the following scenario. Suhani, while making chapatis for her husband, was suddenly called by him to the dinner table and as she bent down to serve him, she was slapped by her husband on the cheek with a suggestion coming from him that “from next time, put adequate salt in <g data-gr-id="82">dal</g>.”
Suhani does not cry but the next morning she approaches the police and shows them the video of the assault and gets her husband and in-laws booked under the domestic violence act. She is given a hefty maintenance and is assured of a better life.
Only if that were true, the world would be such a better place to live in for women. But that’s not what happened. Suhani did book her husband and in-laws for domestic violence but due to the absence of bruises, fractured bones and a video of the assault, the judge fined her rupees one lakh for misuse of law for domestic violence.
She went back to her husband’s house where she is scorned at, more than ever.
So, will it be correct to deduce that, if a woman does not knock at the court’s door, she continues to live in hell and if she does then she is misusing the law and the hell is let loose on her. The very laws made to protect her, incriminate her.
A man can convert to Islam in order to be bigamous or <g data-gr-id="79">polygamous</g> but that is not at all termed as manipulation or misuse of law because people have the right to practice any religion. A man can have his wife declared insane in order to get rid of her, that’s perfectly within <g data-gr-id="77">legal</g> limit. A fraudulent NRI teases the legal system beyond the seven seas where he cannot be touched. But if a woman alleges physical and verbal abuse then she has to prove it. There is no alternative because the evidence must prove beyond doubt that she was abused. And if she can’t then that means she is misusing the law.
It is rather surprising as how one can expect that a woman, who is in the most vulnerable situation, gathers witnesses and <g data-gr-id="62">evidences</g> against her own abuse. Whom should she name as a witness to her <g data-gr-id="64">abuse-the</g> mother-in-law, the father-in-law or the other members who were involved in the abuse? What should a woman do when she is getting harassed? Should she <g data-gr-id="65">handover</g> the camcorder to her <g data-gr-id="60">mother-in-law to</g> film her abuse?
What kind of example does the recent case of PWDV act in, which the woman was slapped with <g data-gr-id="73">a rupees</g> one lakh fine, set for the victims? Does it encourage the common man to approach the law when wronged by the society? Does it preach that the laws for women are more beneficial to the men than the women? Does it prove that there is speedy justice for the men but no respite for the women? Last but not the least, does it also mean that lack of evidence is the misuse of law?
The verdict was intended to set an example for others, thinking on the lines of misusing the law. As such pursuing cases are considered a burden in India, given the pace at which cases are resolved by the Indian judicial system. If a couple more verdicts like these would follow, it would surely keep the female victims at bay.
Fines are punishment for contempt of court, perjury, misrepresentation of facts or just being plain
guilty. When there is a lack of evidence or just a circumstantial evidence then the cases are just dismissed. But how can a person, <g data-gr-id="69">specially</g> a woman, be fined for her inability to produce evidence? Laws are made for our protection. But what will happen if those very laws are turned against us? How can a woman protect herself in her matrimonial home?
The equation is one against many. She is alone while her husband has the backing of his parents. If there is any act of violence, how must one accrue witnesses and tangible <g data-gr-id="66">evidences</g>? Extreme physical violence, if reported immediately, can lead to arrests on the basis of bruises and injuries. But what about continued mental abuse, which a woman goes through, all her life? How does one get a tangible evidence for something that leaves no scars, bruises or gaping wounds?