“How should I safeguard myself and my parents from false cases?” – is one of the most common question raised by men — after having given a brief or not so brief write-up of their story of abuse/threats/false allegations/insults/humiliation at the hands of wife.
In many of these instances, the husband and family are already facing multiple cases filed against them, so the question about how-to-safeguard seems to be after the fact. Maybe many people are scared and expecting the skies to fall down as the cases progress forward, so whatever may be the individual feelings, the question about how-to-safeguard still remains there, waiting to be asked, and probably any answer will not be able to satisfy them fully.
The intention behind their question is not merely to find out about how to fight the cases in court, or how to get anticipatory bail etc. Their likely intention is to find out how to nip the problem in bud – no cases should be filed, no calls by police, no fear of arrest whatsoever, no need to visit court, maybe what ‘counter-case’ they can file to safeguard etc. At least those are the hidden questions.
So let me make a humble — or not so humble if it seems so to people, because some people will always be cribbing, and at least I have an audience but these critics don’t – attempt at answering this question: “How to safeguard from false cases from wife?” .
The short answer is: You can’t. You CANNOT safeguard yourselves/your parents, and add to it possibly brother/sister, brother/sister-in-law, uncle/aunts, in some cases nephews/nieces, in rare cases the family dog (e.g. refer case of Mr Somnath Bharti’s poor dog) fully or 100% from false cases from wife.
Let me put above sentence in shorter form once again by lessening the verbiage: You CANNOT safeguard yourselves or your relatives fully or 100% from false cases from wife.
If there are any HC or SC lawyers or judges who think otherwise, we would love to hear from them. Chances are, the higher up you go in judiciary, the more flexible spines are there to be seen when it comes to giving clients advice on marital related cases. “Don’t appear to be adamant against wife” seems to be one such piece of ‘sage’ advice, as if being ‘adamant’ to go through a trial based on evidences rather than mere allegations was against principles of justice and a crime by itself! Or maybe the real reason is the the lack of experience of the advisor in having defended men and their families in marital related cases. Most of their experience seems to be in cutting deals. The practice of higher judiciary in liberal interpretation and usage of CrPC 482 in quashing matrimonial related criminal complaints in the interest of justice and equity (what else?), ensures that higher judiciary is not the place where husbands can expect to get their interests safeguarded. It will be only for those who are adamant, the compromisers will be thrown down the compromise chute, and they will emerge at the other end without their savings/property, and without any legal cases on them either, so they are probably ready to try second marriage, or whatever else in life.
The full blame can’t lie on lawyers or higher judiciary either. Indians in general are masters in cutting deals/taking the shortcut/compromises/zombie-surviving through life. Most want to find a legal loophole, or technique to gain an upper hand… the number of men filing RCR (and lawyers advising to do the same) on wife is a clear case in point: filed with intention that it’s a counter point to wife’s false allegations, but totally backfiring later because law and courts are not meant to judge based on anyone’s future stated intentions, but based on evidences and truth of past allegations – of both parties.
In Part 2 of the article series, I will cover on realistic, do-able, maybe-unpalatable-to-many techniques which can be used to mitigate or reduce the impact of possible future false cases by wife. Many of those will need to be done right from the time of choosing a marriage partner itself, and then implemented diligently with some self-discipline after marriage too. In this article, I will restrict to the legal things.
Basics of how laws were made for protection of married women
Let’s start by some basics first:
- India is a democratic country, supposed to be governed under a constitution and by laws made by lawmakers, who are elected by people.
- Since the laws are made by lawmakers who are elected by people, and not by some monarch, despot, or dictator; it can safely be said that the people who elect the lawmakers have responsibility too in electing the right lawmakers.
- If by chance some bad laws are made for whatever reason, it’s up to the people to recognize that, and then elect a different set of candidates in next election who have already promised to fix those bad laws. After election, it’s very much possible the same candidates who promised earlier to change laws are now not so keen to fix the bad laws. It’s up to citizens to keep the pressure on lawmakers at all times. The process may seem slow, but nothing impossible in it, and it’s not any different in other democratic countries either.
- Laws are made to maintain law and order, prevent injustice, safeguard rights, prevent crime etc. in society. All married women protection laws are also made with the same intent – prevent injustice, safeguard rights, and prevent crimes against married women.
- The criminal laws like IPC 498A, IPC 406 are supposed to be used to protect women from cruelty in marriage, usurpation of stridhan etc.
- The civil (or quasi-civil-quasi-criminal if you like) laws like DV Act, CrPC 125, maintenance under Hindu Marriage Act, HAMA etc. have been made to protect and safeguard interests of women (and children as stated though it’s debatable how giving sole custody to mothers is always in best interests of children).
- There are no sections under Hindu Marriage Act, or under other laws either, which protect or safeguard the rights or interests of a married man.
- Except for DV Act, all these married women protection laws were passed by mostly broad support and agreement in society (at least no one protested). Against DV Act there were some debates and counter-points given, but it was at the level of TV interviews (Karan Thapar vs. WCD minister Renuka Chowdhary), and nothing really on the ground. So the lawmakers didn’t really have any real incentive to spend precious brain-energy and instead they could ignore these counter-views.
- Most of Indian men including married men are somewhat aware that there are no laws to safeguard interests of men, and they are aware that such laws exist to protect women. Except for MRA community, most men are quite ok with such a situation. Many men keep commenting on internet on how bad some women are behaving these days, or all laws are being misused by women etc. etc., but the same men will never be seen in an on-the-ground protest against laws, so their comments are basically not of much interest to politicians, who are more concerned about how people vote, and not about how they comment on internet (unless that could reflect in votes).
So why can’t one safeguard from false cases already filed or to be filed by wife?
Now that we covered the base on how the laws got to be made for protecting married women, we can quickly cover why safeguarding of married man (and his family) from these laws is not possible.
- The intent of laws is to be used for protection, and prevent injustice or crime. Possibility of laws being misused is a point which is recognized by law, and hence there are provisions in IPC and CrPC to punish for misuse of laws, giving false evidence etc. If these provisions are hardly ever used, that’s a separate problem which needs to be solved. Many of these provisions were probably right there from beginning in IPC of 1861, so if Indians after getting independence from British have kept the same IPC but didn’t use the provisions to prosecute false cases, then blame lies on us. Maybe the Indian psyche is to punish the people for crime, but leave punishment for filing false cases to almighty. Whatever be the reason, judiciary and lawmakers have to learn how to do their job properly.
- As mentioned in point 7 in previous section, most men are also aware that there are no laws to protect married men. Hardly any apart from MRAs are raising voice about it. So when a man gets married, he should take some responsibility for taking the risk of facing false cases in future from wife. Everyone above the voting age of 18 has to take some part of responsibility of what laws exist in the country, and what future laws will get passed.
- Now many will raise questions like: “But I didn’t commit any crime…”, “I didn’t ask for dowry”, “My wife is lying that I’m impotent”, etc. etc. Well, the judicial and court procedures will ensure that those who are not guilty don’t get punished (assuming of course they prepare well and have reasonable legal defence), but how can one avoid the trial itself when being accused of something? If the point is that one should be free from being accused of any crime, then please vote for some party which is willing to bring such laws (AAP could fit some of that criteria being the party on the bleeding-edge-of-politics-and-what-else, but even they are committed to cause of women protection so they can’t do it ). If such laws could ever get passed which would prevent someone from even being falsely accused, then the strong and evil will ensure that no one will be able to accuse them of any crime or wrong-doing. They will term it as false accusations, and the cases against them will be closed before even getting filed. Whether accusation is false or true can’t be judged at stage of filing complaint.
- That brings to other point about women protection laws. It’s the men who have been painted as strong and evil, so there is almost zero chance that an allegation against a man can be termed as false right at stage of filing complaint. The other way is quite likely, because it’s possible for the weak and downtrodden to claim that they are being falsely persecuted. Any wonder what happens in real life? — when men go to police to file complaint against wife, they are laughed away!
- The broad problem also is that many men suffer from male vanity. They probably believe that truth is a strong defence, so there is not much need to worry about wife’s abusive behaviour, and once she actually goes to police or tries some such thing, she will face how difficult it is to file false complaint. Well, what could be further from truth? There is a whole cottage industry out there who would welcome and encourage such women to file complaint, and there are incentives for lawyers to take up complaints by married women (certainly there are no disincentives) howsoever frivolous and prima-facie false they may seem to be, and convert it into a DV petition and file in court to ask for maintenance and compensation.
So to summarize: laws are made so that the people who are victims of crime or whose rights are taken away unjustifiably can file criminal complaint, or civil petition to restore their rights. Most men are also aware about such women protection laws, and they implicitly agree that women need to be protected, by not raising voice against such unjust laws. It is not possible by legal means to prevent a criminal complaint from being filed against you, or to prevent a civil petition for maintenance or such reliefs by wife. So there is no way to protect oneself, the only legal way short of C-word is to fight it out in court based on evidences, and of course reasonably good legal preparation overall during the case.
Also, if husbands could safeguard from criminal or civil complaint from wife, then the ‘evil’ husbands (so why would laws be passed if no one ever does any evil) would have nothing to worry about, and they could care little about any consequence of their actions. As to the fact why there are no laws to get justice for husbands from wives (except relief by way of filing divorce), the above points cover the basics of how laws have come into being as they are today. Men are the ones who got these laws passed, and most in fact will continue to sleep till their own head gets hit by the hammer of women protection laws.
Can I safeguard myself by filing counter-cases?
Again this line of inquiry by many shows their lack of knowledge of law/justice, or actually a lack of confidence in law/justice; OR they are pretending to be weak/helpless and trying to find loopholes or legal techniques to make their position stronger; probably believing secretly that the law is an ass to be whipped and controlled by whoever holds the stick, and then trying to find that elusive stick!
One should never ever file any counter-case. The only cases one needs to file is where one has one’s own grouse, or complaint, or relief sought based on cruelty by wife etc. So if wife’s brother and father beats you anywhere, then you can file a complaint of assault in PS. It’s a complaint, NOT counter-complaint. If someone calls you on phone and threatens you, then you can file a complaint to police. Again, it’s a complaint, NOT counter-complaint. A counter-complaint is self-admission of the intention to have filed it only because your wife filed something on you first, thereby making it look like a feeble attempt to get back at opposite party, rather than an attempt to get justice for crime done on you.
Any lawyer’s advise to file counter-complaint should be assessed from perspective of what is there in it for the lawyer. Most likely you will see that lawyer stands to earn well for little work, for probably zero benefit to you.
RCR is not a safeguard, it’s a trap
Husband filing RCR after any kind of allegation by wife in writing – be it in DV petition, in complaint to PS, an FIR etc.; is a tacit admission on his part that if his wife has done any wrong or cruelty to him; it is either of mild nature or something which can be condoned(forgiven) by husband, and by filing RCR such past behaviour of wife will stand to be legally condoned. You can scream and shout all you want in whichever court you go to, to mediator, to your own lawyer; but secretly they will all be laughing or waiting for when you will break down psychologically and get ready to sign on the the compromise deed which wife wants. Again, it shows lack of not just legal knowledge, but throwing away of common sense in favour of idea of ‘hitting back at wife with something’, which is in reality a boomerang which hits only the husband.
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So a short summary once again: laws were made to protect weak, most in society agreed married women are weak and need protection via laws, such laws were passed (by mostly male dominated parliament), many women started misusing these laws, now men asking how to safeguard, sorry… pre-emptive safeguard and preventing of legal cases is not possible, you have to go through trial and fight based on evidence. The only long term solution is to change the laws, make laws gender neutral, punish women who file false cases/perjury (it’s men in general who don’t want it actually), or don’t marry (or go for second marriage) if you want 100% safeguard.