Thursday, September 08, 2005
Alimony - Are women mis-using the law ?

Manipulation of law is not an uncommon phenomenon in India. One of the tragedies of independent India is that we have not yet learnt to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable laws, between implementable and unimplementable laws, just as we have failed to create a law- enforcement machinery capable of providing genuine recourse to all those whose rights have been violated.

The reason for this post is here :

My housing society is manifested by rich Hindu families, owning multi-businesses, with minimum of 2 cars and atleast 3 servants. About 3 months ago, there was a highly publisied wedding of a rich businessman's son. Lets call them 'Family A'. They have been living in our society of nearly 10 years and they seem overall to be quite a decent well-educated family.

The bride belonged to the film fraternity. Her family owns one of the biggest film production company in India and are looked at with very high regard in Bollywood. I will call them 'Family B'.The girl and boy were engaged for nearly 1 year before they got married. I had met them couple of times before their marriage and they both seemed to be quite happy in eachother's company. The marriage function pictures were all over the papers, with famous celebrities taking part in the celebrations. Family B, gave loads of materialistic goodies as a part of their daughter's trousseau.

However it seems after the 'honeymoon' period got over, their marriage was on the rocks. Three months into the marriage, the girl left Family A' s residence and went back to her family's house.

The reason for leaving were as follows :
1. She couldn't stand her 16 year old sister-in-law.
2. She didn't like her husband's circle of friends.
3. She claimed that her mother-in-law made her do household chores. (which i really doubt because they have 3 full time servants).
4. She did not like the 'housing society' they were residing in.


Inspite of many pleads and requests from Family A, the girl left for Hong Kong cause she was feeling too pressured from them and her own family. She didnot even consider, marriage counselling and decided during her vacation to go in for divorce.

Family A didnot want to take their household matter to the courts and thereby damage their family pride and respect ( however there were rumours that the girl was threathing them with filing police complaint of dowry and physical harrasment). So Family A, decided to settle the matter outside the court with the help of a third party. The third party, is again a very very well-know man in Bollywood and is good friends with both the families involved.

A brief description of the settlement they reached :

1. Family BE takes back everything that they gave to their daughter. ( most of which the girl took back with her the day she left her husband's house).
2. Family A would take care of the financial matters for all the court proceedings in acquiring the divorce.
3. The girl would get herself an apartment within the budget of Rs. 85 Lakhs, which would be paid by Family A. They would also have to pay for all the paperwork involved.
4. Family A would pay Rs. 6 crores as a one-time final alimony.

I simply just don't get this...

Firstly, its the girl who wants to quit the marriage, then on what basis is she making any demands (Okay, she may have her reason, but she dated the guy for nearly 1 year..and was quite aware of his sister, friend circle, etc. so that just don't not make valid reason for a divorce).

Secondly, why the hell are they paying for her apartment.

Lastly, 6 crores in Alimony. WTF !!! Family B has taken back everything they gave their daughter, the marriage barely lasted 3 months, there are no children involved..then on what basis is she acquiring this humongous amount.

Such women simply make my blood boil. I mean, by a great deal of struggle and hard work, womenss organisations, many other individuals have won a measure of social legitimacy in persuading our society, especially lawmakers, to recognise the serious threat to women's lives due to domestic violence, etc. However, if such instances of manipulation of laws become common, we will get less and less sympathy for the plight of women in our society, even for those women who are facing threats to their lives.

We desperately need to check out whether the allegations of abuse/dowry/alimony are indeed genuine, or they are exaggerated and altogether malafide. Those of us who are concerned about expanding the horizons of women's freedom and strengthening their rights, both within the family and in the public domain, ought to be take a stand and stop such cases from re-occurring.

An article that was published in The Telegraph in 2003 is another example where women mis-use the law :

Save me, cries husband

Calcutta, Sept. 12: The boot is on the other foot.

Aniruddha Sen, a central government official, has sought Calcutta High Court's "protection from constant threats by his wife and in-laws to use Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code" against him. This section deals with cruelty inflicted by a husband on his wife and is a non-bailable offence.

Sen, in his petition to the court, said his wife was threatening to move against him under the law because she war aware even a night's stay in jail could jeopardise his career. The petition was to have come up for hearing today but because of a slip would now be taken up on Monday.

Aniruddha (a permanent resident of Jadavpur - the reason the case is being filed in Calcutta - but now posted in Delhi) married a Delhi-resident a few years ago. They stayed together for some time, Aniruddha's lawyer (Kinshuk Chatterjee) said, but found they did not have too much in common.

They have been staying apart for the past few months without taking recourse to any legal move for separation or divorce, he added. Both husband and wife are staying in Delhi, he clarified, but Aniruddha's wife is living with her parents.

The threats to use Section 498A started soon after the decision to live separately, Aniruddha has alleged in his petition. Using the "dreaded section" as a weapon, his wife and her family had "blackmailed" him into paying several lakhs, he has said in his petition.

Besides, the value of articles "extracted" from him - using similar tactics - would run into several thousand rupees, he has added.
His petition, which is to come up for hearing in Justice Pinaki Ghosh's room, says the threats have been regular and are continuing.

Aniruddha went to the local station house in Delhi, his petition says, but police refused to register a case on the basis of his allegations. "The officials explained that they were ignorant whether a case could be filed against threats to use Section 498A,"it adds.

The petition says Aniruddha's "only hope" now is the court. "If women who are tortured by their husbands can get help from the court, why can't it provide succour to husbands who are threatened and blackmailed?" Aniruddha asked. "Does the rule of law apply only to men?"
posted at 9/08/2005 12:55:00 PM | comments (67) | permalink

67 comments:

  1. Important point you make, although there may be more than meets the eye in such cases...

    A slightly off-base take here. 'Gold-digging' is quite a common scenario in the west, and punishing marriage settlements are one of the main reasons many men are loathe to commit. One instance that comes to mind is that of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. His wife was a former a Miss Winston (Winston was the then main sponsor) and when they separated, he had to part with about 15 million USD. Gordon's lawyers underdeclared his assets and were found out - he had about 45 million or so. In any case, I couldn't understand why he had to part with 15 million - after all it was his money and she didn't need 15 million to live her life. I think such divorce settlements are fundamentally flawed.
    - Nanda Kishore
     — Blogger Gameboys, at 9/09/2005 01:28:00 AM 

  2. this is a very dicey issue, for you to have such blanket cover-all solutions.

    A lot of the damage is for other damages that cannot be material. All said and done, the woman in today's society is still ostracized as being a divorcee.

    Now in a scenario, that she will not marry again, bcos of this ostracization, she spends her life as a spinster alone.

    Continuing to play the devil's advocate, if that happens, 6 crores is not a lot of money for the next 60 years of her life.

    There is potentially a big issue about gold-diggers as pointed out in the comment above.

    Alimony (and child support where the case may be) is necessary, and there need to be a system of laws laid down for it. As a concept divorce and alimony thereof are new to india, thus the laws do not exist. Here in the US, it is the other way around. They have made it into a science.

    Infact most marriages now have pre-nuptial agreements, especially between celebrities who have millions in cash and assets. The concept is a little unnerving. Imagine that the first contract u sign even before you are a couple, is about what u will get and keep if and when u divorce. Its like divorce is already an option on the table, and the married for life concept is outa the windown.

    Sad but true !
     — Anonymous arZan, at 9/09/2005 03:37:00 AM 

  3. Kishore - I agree with you, there may be many other issues involved BUT to me it seems a bit rather unfair on the boy's family. I mean these guys were wealthy enough to pay-off the alimony demanded..plus they did it without giving it a fight..just to save their family image in society. But what about other men...who cannot afford all this ? who is helping them ?

    Arzan - Well being a divorcee is looked down upon...but i feel thats more with the middle-class section of the scoiety. This girl involved is around 25 years of age...and i really doubt that she would spend the rest of her life as a spinster. Plus she belongs to a very well known and well-off family...so gettin good guys for her wont be a big-deal.

    Plus 6 crores is a BIG DEAL in India...even if she puts half of that money in the bank...the interest would help her go thru life with ease. For a 3 month marriage...its far more than she actually deserved. and not to forget she is also gettin an apartment.

    Pre-nuptial..as you pointed out a sad subject...but i think its very much needed in today's society..just as a HIV test is a must before marriage.
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/09/2005 11:41:00 AM 

  4. I would agree with sakshi here.
    For her marrying for the second time won't be that difficult.
     — Blogger history_lover, at 9/09/2005 11:59:00 AM 

  5. Very true ! Is there any law that protects the husband from the wife's abuses ?
     — Blogger Jayan, at 9/09/2005 08:39:00 PM 

  6. The husband chooses to be stupid and get an out of court deal - what can we do?
     — Blogger Nilu, at 9/10/2005 12:41:00 AM 

  7. Jayan - i didnot come across anything that discusses 'laws' that protect men in such cases.

    Nilu - I know the guy's family should have taken the matter to the court, however for many people the STATUS in society means much more than MONEY.
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/10/2005 09:52:00 AM 

  8. The yahoogroup saveindianfamily works towards protecting men, their sisters, mothers and grandmothers (in case they face atrocities from wife or her parents).

    Their website is:

    SaveIndianFamily
     — Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/12/2005 11:03:00 PM 

  9. Nice Blog...
    But try to put in more original content.
     — Blogger Prahalathan, at 9/15/2005 03:11:00 PM 

  10. Prahalathan : What you mean by 'original' here??? Do u want to me to make up stories...to put on the blog ??? :)
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/15/2005 03:17:00 PM 

  11. You're all forgetting that the woman can resort to perjury and claim crap like marital rape, or domestic violence. So, going to court is just as bad for the guy.

    Gold-digging in the west can be avoided, but it takes guts. You'd have to dig up some dirt on your wife, and use that against her in court.

    Still, I think the choice of going to a third party was a good one. But why some famous guy whose loyalties are clearly to the girl? Why not a discreet fast-track court, or retired judge?
     — Blogger Shobhik, at 9/27/2005 07:48:00 PM 

  12. Nilu
    you do not realise how much cards are stacked against the boys or men untill you have a first hand experince. Principled people who tried to stand up to this balckmail were thrown in jail. Payoing money or ransom is not something men all the time do . Around 17000 men chose to end teir lifes in suicide according to Madras insituate of development studuies which is three times higher then dowry or 498a deaths of women
    yes Save indian Family and its network of NGOs is aggresively trying to ensure that the deck is stacked equally.
     — Blogger Bharati, at 9/28/2005 12:30:00 PM 

  13. Arzan
    even if the women does not get any money she is not stopped from persuing a career . There are career choices avaible right from journalism , BPO to being a space aeronaut or being head of HSBC bank. The women should not depend on someone to sponsor her life but take charge of her life.
     — Blogger Bharati, at 9/28/2005 12:33:00 PM 

  14. Nice piece. Yes, unfortunately there are far to many women mis-using provisions in the law, to the detriment of those women who actually have a bonafide case.

    Irritatingly, a lot of women support such actions taken by other women because either they feel 'all' guys deserve to be taken to the cleaners or alternatively, it is their fundamental right to be monetarily compensated, even when there may not be a justification for it.

    Of course,a case has to be judged on its merits or demerits. As far as the comment on pre-nuptial agremments go, to my mind, it gets things clear right at the start and I do not see it as a precursor to a doomed relationship.
     — Anonymous Rekha, at 9/28/2005 02:03:00 PM 

  15. Kanti - thanks for ur visit and comment. I understand that the court can be a bad place for the guy in this case...maybe thats why they chose not to go there. However i still feel thy could have challenged her allegations in court...we have to fight some where. As for going to the third party, the man is very-well known to both the parties..so i dont think he was unfair. I feel its more to do with...just closing the matter from the guy side...and fear of being humiliated in the society..that the guy side agreed to the girl's demand.

    Bharati - I agree with most of your points.

    Rekha - I agree pre-nuptial agrement should be taken as a positive and safety step. Thanks for dropping by.
     — Blogger Sakshi, at 9/28/2005 02:39:00 PM 

  16. Large-scale misuse of dowry laws (a.k.a. IPC 498A) by today's modern Indian daughters-in-law.The real picture for you here-

    Misuse of Dowry Laws
     — Blogger Bharat, at 10/15/2005 12:18:00 AM 

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