Dowry is a major social menace in India. Every year, countless women are victims to dowry harassment. Some are subjected to torture, while others are found dead in suspicious circumstances.
The Indian legal system, has the following laws in place, which can be used while filing an FIR against the accused-
1- In 1983 section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was introduced to deal with all forms of domestic violence including those which arose from “demand for property from the women and her family”. This in other words dealt with demand for dowry and also included different acts of torture that the in laws indulged in with the wife. These included beating and abusing her, sexual violence, use of cuss words, false imprisonment etc. This can lead to imprisonment for upto a maximum of 3 years.
2- When a woman commits suicide because of dowry related harassment within 7 years of being married section 304-B of the IPC which was amended in the year 1986, should be used to prosecute. The period of seven years has ostensibly been kept to ensure that the limitation period for filing suspected dowry related complaints are high.
3- Section 406 of the IPC is meant to protect “stridhan” – wealth given to bride on the eve of her marriage by the family to ensure her well being in the future. If such wealth is misappropriated by the bridegroom and his family, a non-bailable and cognizable offence is committed which can result in imprisonment for three years with fine.
4- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) too deals with dowry related violence and provides remedy for the same. Though this is largely a civil suit that orders protective decrees for protecting women, if such decrees are not followed the court can initiate criminal proceedings against the erring party.
5- The Dowry Prohibition Act (1960) is a landmark legislation that exclusively deals with tackling dowry exclusively. Section 2 of this act defines dowry as “give and take of any valuable property”. Section 3 and section 4 of the act deals with the punishment for giving, taking and demanding dowry. The imprisonment ranges from 6 months to 5 years and fine ranges between 10,000 rupees to the amount of dowry demanded.
In case police officials refuse to file an FIR, the State Commission for Women(SCW) can be reached , you can find the telephone and other related details of the respective SCWs over here-
Similarly, when a man or his family, or both have been accused of dowry harassment, they can file a counter FIR under the following legal provisions-
- Sec 120B Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Punishment of Criminal Conspiracy – The husband or the in laws can file a legal case alleging criminal conspiracy from the wife or her relatives.
- Sec 167 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury – If you believe that the police authorities are helping your wife in making false complaint and framing incorrect documents you can file a case against them alleging their false framing of documents.
- Sec 182 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person – What usually happens is that the public servant in his power does something which might not be the true, in short, a false information is circulated so as to depress the evidence.
- Section 191 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Giving false evidence – If you suspect that your wife or anybody is presenting false evidence against you in the court of law or police station, you can file a case alleging that the evidence which are being used to prosecute you are false, which consequently make the whole charges false.
- Section 197 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Issuing or signing a false certificate – Perjury is a crime, one can’t sign a false certificate and allege it to be true. Hence, if someone suffers because of the wrong certificate, he can prove himself innocent after showing sufficient evidence.
- Section 471 in The Indian Penal Code – Using as genuine a forged [document or electronic record]. –Whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any [document or electronic record] which he knows or has reason to believe to be a forged [document or electronic record], shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such [document or electronic record].
- Section 497 in The Indian Penal Code – Adultery – Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
- Section 500 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – defamation – Reputation is man’s biggest asset. So if someone tries to defame you by any means, you can drag them to court for the harm suffered by you because of their conduct. They will be entitled to pay you damages to you in terms of compensation.
- Section 504 The Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace – Whoever intentionally insults, and thereby gives provocation to any person, intending or knowing it to be likely that such provocation will cause him to break the public peace, or to commit any other offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
- Section 506 Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Punishment for Criminal Intimidation – You can file a case of criminal intimidation against your wife alleging that she threatens you to do harm to you or your family or your property. Yet again, evidence is the only thing which can support your case.
- Section 227 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – If you believe that the complaint registered by your wife is false you can file an application under sec 227 stating that the 498A case filled by your wife is false. If you have enough proofs, or if she does not have enough proof to substantiate the charges, chances are that the judge just dismisses the 498A case as it is a framed one.
- Section 9 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – Damage recovery case – If she breaks into your home, creates a scene, and goes to ” protection officer ” and lies that you abused her “physically, emotionally or economically”, file a damage recovery case under Section 9 of CPC against her. Legally, you must issue notice on the same day or next day. The suit will continue for a long time. It has no risk.
By Saurabh Kumar