Women Centric Criminal Laws In India – The Need To Make Them Gender Neutral And Stop Their Misuse

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Written By: Sreshta Satpathy

Introduction

The majority of individuals in our culture have always supported women’s empowerment. Women have the upper hand in women-centric regulations in the current period. Things have changed in society from a time when women were overlooked and deemed weak to now when women are valued and not all women are weak. However, society’s perspective remains unchanged, such that when some instances involving women-centric laws are filed, the males are labeled as perpetrators rather than attempting to comprehend the entire scenario.

The DV Act, Section 498-A of the IPC, Section 304-B of the IPC, and the Maintenance Act are all geared toward women. The aforementioned incidents demonstrate that men are not always to blame in cases of cruelty, dowry, and harassment and that women can also be perpetrators. It has been proved that both parties in a marriage can be cruel. As a result, instead of only measures that help one gender, this issue demands provisions that assist both men and women.

The Need To Make Them Gender Neutral And Stop Their Misuse

Men have begun to open up about their pain, torment, and harassment at the hands of their significant other. Yet the fear of being made fun of, fear of not being heard exists in a lot of minds. It’s past time to acknowledge their problem as a social and public health concern and to devise effective tactics and remedies. They require assistance in times of crisis and domestic violence: Violence by a spouse, in particular, is a crisis. Male victims of abuse can be saved with appropriate action, such as recognizing violence against men by women as a public health concern, establishing a helpline for male victims of violence, and providing education, awareness, and legal safeguards. According to preliminary statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act was used to register 16,352,4204 and 531 cases in 2005,2012,2013, and 2014.

Every year, over 10,000 dowry harassment charges are found to be false out of 90,000 to one lakh cases investigated, making these Acts one of the most abused and exploited legislation in the country. While regulations are necessary to defend women’s interests, there have been cases where similar rules have been abused by women for their own gain. There is a good risk that an innocent man will be punished as a result of this process. The sanctity of these rules has been damaged as a result of such blatant abuse. The court issued a few directives in Rajesh Sharma and Ors. v. State of Bihar [(Crl.) No.2013 of 2017] to prevent the misuse of Section 498-A of the IPC.

The court ordered that each district form a welfare committee made up of paralegal volunteers, wives of officers, social workers, and other citizen volunteers. Members of the committee would be responsible for investigating instances involving Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code that are brought to the police stations. The committees will deliberate on the matter and submit a report to the authorities. The accused arrest should be postponed until the committee’s report is received. To prevent the misuse of Section 498-A of the IPC, the court issued specific directives.

The court ordered the District Legal Services Authority to establish a Family Welfare Committee in each district and to investigate domestic abuse cases reported under Section 498-A of the IPC for a month before making any arrests. In the case of Abbas Ahmad Choudhary v. the State of Assam [(Criminal Appeal No. 951 of 2004) November 25, 2009]the court stated that; “We are conscious of the fact that in a matter of rape, the statement of the prosecutrix must be given primary consideration, but, at the same time, the broad principle that the prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt applies equally to a case of rape and there can be no presumption that a prosecutrix would always tell the entire story truthfully.”

Conclusion

Women-centric legislation is designed to safeguard women from societal abuses. It was a requirement when they were adopted, and it remains so today. However, it is also vital to ensure that no one who is innocent is hurt as a result of such regulations in any battle. There is a need to protect women, so there is no harm in enacting women-centric legislation. However, any legislation enacted to assist women victims should not result in the death of an innocent male. The legislation should be written with both male and female rights in mind.

For instance, even though dowry rules are strictly enforced against the groom’s family, there are still situations involving it. The reason for its existence is that it only punishes those who take dowry, not those who give dowry, which is equally illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The people who provide dowry are usually the same people who ask for dowry. As a result, it is critical that the laws be properly executed. Also, it is a difficult task for judges to ensure that society’s attitude that women are always the victims of women-centric laws does not influence them when they are giving their decision.


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