Mediation is useless when it is conducted under threats of violence and false dowry cases.

| May 28, 2013

Recently, Supreme Court of India urged the criminal courts to refer the wife and husband to a mediation center, before hearing the cases of dowry harassment. The objective of Supreme court is to seek the possibility of a settlement between the couple.

Hyderabad: The Supreme Court has directed criminal courts dealing with cases of dowry harassment to refer the parties to a mediation centre before they start hearing the case, if they feel a settlement is possible and both parties are willing.

Now, the courts know it very well that section 498a or the dowry law is misused by women left, right and center in India. For decades, the conservatives in India went on believing that no Indian woman will ever rock her marriage and lie endangering lives of her husband or in-laws. They were all stuck in the world view of woman being a “Sati Savitri” (a woman is Indian mythology, who goes to get extent to save her husband from death). However, when the false cases started rising alarmingly and women roped in not only the husband, but also his distant relatives in false dowry cases, then the courts in India had no option but to start warning people against the misuse of this law.

Needless to say, many women’s organisations (feminists) protested against the judges who started speaking against misuse of these laws. The courts rarely punished any woman for filing a false case. There were many instances where the abused and tortured men and even their parents committed suicide after being falsely implicated in dowry cases. Yet, supreme court and other courts rarely bothers to create a deterrent against women who misused the law. In cases, where husbands commit suicide due to cruelty by wife and in-laws, courts have not taken any proactive steps to curb these crimes and have not ensured to punish these women. In most cases, the police have closed these cases as accidental deaths or mere suicides. Police rarely arrests women even in cases where the abused husband has left a suicide not before taking his life. May be there is a lot of Patriarchal Chivalry in at play, which makes people to sympathize with the abusive woman.

As far as settlements are concerned, the police often tries to make a monetary settlement between the wife and husband, before they register the woman’s complaint against husband. Their motive is not altruistic, but it is aimed at earning a hefty sum of money as commission during such settlements. To further their own corrupt interests, the police go to any extent including getting verbally and physically violent on men and their family members. The Indian courts rarely question such actions of police.

If a husband and wife have marital problems, then they are simple civil disputes, which are to be decided in a civil court or a family court. Now, Indian courts and Indian Government have given open license to present these civil disputes as crimes against women. As a result, the disputes between husband and wife are termed as crimes of a man against a woman. The husband is presumed guilty until proven innocent, throwing all the legal jurisprudence and laws of natural justice into dustbin.

Now, what is the point in allowing simple disputes to get converted into serious criminal cases in first place and then urging the courts to settle these civil disputes through counseling in mediation centers? Why these simple disputes are not kept as simple civil disputes in first place? Why the police is allowed to add serious sections of Indian penal code, knowing very well that the only crime a man did was to marry a greedy and revengeful woman. Without evidence, how can police add all these sections of penal code and abuse the process of law? And how does the courts and Govt remain mute spectators to this abuse of human rights and violation of constitution, while giving mere lip service to the whole issue of “misuse of dowry laws”? In many cases involving nonresident Indians ( NRI ), they are arrested as soon as they arrive in Indian airports to fight their marital disputes and then they are sent to prison followed by media trial.

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