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
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?"