Women Centric Laws and Kamaraju’s Innocence

-Pari Agrawal

Abstract:

Women-centric laws are made in order to benefit women who are considered as an oppressed section of society. However, there is a need to see these laws from different perspectives. These laws affect the rights of the males who are being harassed by a false charge against them.

The inequality between different genders has been one of the darkest sides of our society. This is not a modern society-born dilemma, it was created long ago even before our country’s Independence. The Indian society always looked at men as superior to women, thereby leading to the formation of a Patriarchal society in India.

The societal value of women always varied in regard to class, caste, region, etc. There was no uniform treatment that the women received throughout the country. In most parts of the country, women were not treated equally to men in respect of property rights, respect, etc. The variation existed since ancient times.

Keywords: Women-centric laws, Laws, Rights of the males, False Charge, Patriarchal Society.

Introduction:

To protect women from harassment, certain provisions were made to protect them from social evils. One such provision was section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1840[1] which was formed to protect women from sexual harassment and to stop the rising number of rapes in the country. These sections were formed keeping in mind the miserable life of women, and so were highly in favour of female’s protection, making men have a burden of proof on themselves. But in modern days, when there has been a great shift in terms of equality between men and women, there has also been a great misuse of this section for various means such as money, humiliation, revenge, etc.

Laws Favouring Women

The laws are made to protect every individual. But in the past, women were exposed to atrocities committed by men. They were considered a weak and oppressed section of the society so various laws were made from time to time to protect them. But as we see it today, many laws which were made to benefit the females are generally used by them to their advantage in a wrong way by interfering with the right of the males.

There are various laws framed after India’s independence to protect women from the evils of the society namely The Hindu Marriage Act 1955[2], The Special Marriage Act 1954[3], The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961[4], The Domestic Violence Act 2005[5], The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006[6], and certain other provisions of IPC relating to domestic violence.

Hitesha, a beauty influencer from Bangalore, allegedly accused Kamaraj of assaulting and hitting her right in her face, leaving her nose injured and bleeding. She thereby posted a video on her social media handle which went on air and viral in a matter of seconds. Before even listening to both sides of the story, the audience had already believed this lady and wanted to punish Kamaraj in the best way possible. Therefore, before inspecting and gathering evidence, Kamaraj was arrested. However, was she telling the truth?

Domestic Violence towards Women

The laws which are misused most of the time are Section 376[7] and Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code[8]. Section 376 of the IPC deals with the punishment of sexual assault towards women. Whereas Section 498-A of IPC deals with the subjugation of women to cruelty by her husband or her in-laws. The first point that is nowhere mentioned in the IPC is the cruelty towards men which is also a possibility. It is not necessary that only women can be subjected to cruelty, but men can be subject to cruelty too. IPC mentions cruelty by men and not by “any person” which can cover both men and women within its ambit.

Dowry death

Section 304B of the IPC[9] is a provision made to protect the woman from cruelty by her husband and in-laws regarding dowry. It is presumed that if a woman dies within seven years of her marriage and her husband or in-laws demanded dowry, then they were responsible for her untimed death. Again, there is no such rule that if a husband dies within seven years of marriage the wife can be held liable. The law should be such that it protects the rights of each and everyone in the society and not only the females. Also, the reason for the death of the women should be properly inquired thereby not directly putting the blame on the husband and the in-laws as the assailant.

Forced sexual intercourse

The first thing which comes to our mind when discussing domestic violence is women as the victim and men as the assailant and this is where the basic problem lies. Section 375 of the IPC was enacted to help and provide justice if they are forced into sexual intercourse. However, it is also misused by women at times. Consequently, men are not protected against such forced sexual intercourse. Though the ratio of women is far more than men to suffer such offense, even if one person is being affected, justice should be done to him by punishing the offender.

Maintenance of wife by the husband

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973[10] mentions that a person should maintain his wife, children, and his parents who are unable to maintain themselves. If the wife earns and her income is not enough to support her, then her husband should provide for her needs.

Section 37 of the Special Marriage Act[11] provides that the husband should maintain his wife from his property after divorce until there is a change in her status like she is remarried or has turned immoral.

Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act[12] states that a Hindu wife has a right to be maintained by her husband throughout her lifetime.

Section 3 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986[13] states that a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to be maintained by her ex-husband during the period of iddat.

Section 37 of the Divorce Act, 1869[14] provides that the husband should provide maintenance to his wife throughout her life when a decree of dissolution or decree of judicial separation is passed.

The above-mentioned laws provide for the maintenance of a wife by her husband, but no provisions talk about a husband being maintained by his wife. There may be cases where the husband might also need maintenance, but those criteria are not talked about in the above-discussed provisions.

Males at a Disadvantageous Position

There are many laws that put males in a disadvantageous position. They are trapped in false cases most of the time. Legislations made to protect the rights of women are used by them to harass men and sometimes to satisfy their ego. For men, the authorities are very strict and have to face severe atrocities at the hands of the police authorities. Also, most of the crimes against women are cognizable and non-bailable which makes it all the more difficult for innocent males.

After Hitesha, when Kamaraj explained the other side of the story, the tables turned drastically. The audience understood that they made a mistake as they were blinded by stereotypes. Kamaraj stated that when he went to deliver the food parcel at Hitesha’s residence, she refused to accept it as it was an hour late and thereby demanded free food. Being denied by the delivery boy, who had no authority to do so, she started abusing him and hitting him with her footwear. In order to same himself, Kamaraj pushed her with his hands. While doing so, Hitesha got hit with a ring which she wore in her own hand.

Conclusion:

The lawmakers had a one-sided vision in respect to section 375 and The Criminal (Amendment) Act of 2013[15]. They only thought about women’s safety but did not build up any remedy for safeguarding innocent men in society. Thus, the debate is usually on what can we do to safeguard innocent people from society. Although the provisions of Section 375 cannot be made gender neutral as it will take away the last shred of justice that this section provides, as it will act as a hurdle for women who have to file for a genuine rape case. The question then arises: What can be done?

In such cases, the legislature and judiciary need to work together to provide a proper balance between the men and the women by ensuring they get served properly by the virtue of justice. The principles used for providing justice in rape cases are quite old. Living in a dynamic and vibrant society, laws should be formed in such a way that it suits the need of the hour and can be more efficient in the coming times.

To ensure that the virtue of justice stands, the judicial and legislature need to focus on the “Perjury in rape case” policy. This policy should be formulated in such a way that it can provide justice to the victims against whom false cases of rape are filed. The punishment of imprisonment should be long enough so that women would get a sense of what they will face if they make false accusations against any innocent men of the society. Furthermore, they should be ordered to compensate damages suffered by men during the trial which may include court fees, litigation fees and other liquidated damages.

The damages provided and the punishment of imprisonment suffered by the women will ensure that the men can get back the dignity lost by them during the trial. Moreover, when women suffer imprisonment, it will send out the message loud and clear that the accused was innocent, the truth will fly high and will help them to recover easily from the trauma faced during the trial. However, it may not be acceptable for all but still, these principles will serve in the best interest of “Justice” and will be more efficient in today’s society than the principles already in use.

In the story of Kamaraj and Hitesha, Hitesha should be punished as she wrongfully accused Kamaraj due to which he not only lost his job, but also tarnished his image in the society. Also, the courts and the police officials should make sure that no one who is innocent is punished just because a woman says otherwise. It is also important to punish the women in any way whatsoever in order to teach them a lesson and make sure that the stigma to only listen to the ladies without listening to the males has ended.

Image Source: https://crimeknowsnogender.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/save-me-from-abusive-wives-rampant-misuse-of-women-centric-laws-in-india/


[1] Section 375 in The Indian Penal Code, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:01 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/623254/

[2] The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, INDIA CODE, (20th March 2021, 10:02 AM) URL: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/1560?locale=en

[3] The Special Marriage Act, 1954, INDIA CODE, (20th March 2021, 10:03 AM) URL: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/1387?locale=en

[4] Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT, (20th March 2021, 10:04 AM) URL: https://wcd.nic.in/act/dowry-prohibition-act-1961

[5] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:06 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/542601/

[6] The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, INDIA CODE, (20th March 2021, 10:07 AM) URL: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/2055

[7] Section 376 in The Indian Penal Code, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:09 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1279834/

[8] Section 498A in The Indian Penal Code, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:09 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/538436/

[9] Section 304B in The Indian Penal Code, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:12 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/653797/

[10] Section 125 in The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:13 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1056396/

[11] Section 37 in The Special Marriage Act, 1954, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:14 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1708335/

[12] Section 18 in The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:16 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1727980/

[13] Section 3 in The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:17 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/976981/

[14] Section 37 in The Divorce Act, 1869, INDIAN KANOON, (20th March 2021, 10:18 AM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1799408/

[15] Criminal Law (Amendment), Act 2013, UN WOMEN, (20th March 2021, 10:21 AM) URL: https://evaw-global-database.unwomen.org/fr/countries/asia/india/2013/criminal-law-amendment-act-2013

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