Subject: SIFF demands scrapping of Section 498a, even as Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik gets implicated in it.
Save Indian Family Foundation, a men’s rights organization, creating awareness about the “Legal Terrorism” spread by misuse of marital laws like Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act, etc. voices its strong concerns in the matter of a case under Section 498A being filed against Pakistani Cricketer Shoaib Malik.
Marriage disputes before, during and after marriage are civil disputes and they have to be tried under a civil court. It has become a regular habit for women and their families to invoke section 498a for every petty dispute in marriage.
It is dangerous if every marriage or relationship dispute is considered a crime by the Government and it sends police to interrogate, counsel or settle these marital disputes. “What crime did Shoaib Malik commit that he is victimized in this way?” ask SIFF activists.
Whether the claims by Ayesha Siddiqui are false or true, that is up to a family court or civil court to decide and give a judgment. Where do police come into picture? Is Shoaib Malik posing a threat to anyone?
The Hyderabad Police has done a grave mistake by accepting this complaint against Shoaib Malik, taking further action on it and retaining his passport. Instead, they should have simply redirected Ayesha’s family to the family court as it is a civil dispute. Either it is a case of divorce or null and void marriage. But by filing Section 498A against the cricketer, the police has clearly demonstrated lack of knowledge of a law 27 years old.
Recently Government and courts legalized homosexuality and pre-marital sex. So, its time Government stops considering all marriage disputes as crime against women, at a time when the separation and divorce rates have risen quickly almost 7% from 1% a decade back.
The Government must scrap section 498a of IPC on April 16th as soon as parliament meets for Budget session. Section 498a is the most misused section of Indian Penal Code and there will be social unrest unless legal terrorism under this law stops. In 2008, more than 81,000 cases of 498a were registered which resulted in arrest of 37369 women and 127492 men. This law presumes the accused to be guilty till proven innocent.
Scrapping 498a will not harm women because real victims of dowry harassment or cruelty can use the Dowry Prohibition act and Domestic violence act to seek protection and justice. Section 498a is redundant today and it has done more damage to society than helping anyone.
So far as Shoaib Malik is concerned, the section 498a against him has to be dropped immediately and his passport should be returned to him.
Indian Supreme court has warned against legal terrorism due to misuse of this law. Even president of India warned against its misuse. This law considers the accused to be guilty till proven innocent and the burden of proving oneself innocent lies with the accused.
If Government does not send a clear message in the case involving Shoaib Malik, then soon there will be enough women in India, who will claim that they have secretly married movie actors, cricketers and file cases of cruelty against them and then extort money. By not scrapping this section of IPC, Government is facilitating extortion and harassment of innocent people.
On August 15th 2009, in its National Meet at Shimla, SIFF declared the Section 498a of IPC unconstitutional. Government must scrap section 498a of IPC in budget session of parliament before it puts Women’s Reservation Bill for vote in Lok Sabha.
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Public Relations Officer
Save Indian Family Foundation, Bangalore.