The two MPs call for an amendment to anti-dowry law, say men are scared of marriage and that’s why they prefer live-in relationships.
New Delhi: Two BJP MPs from Uttar Pradesh, Harinarayan Rajbhar and Anshul Verma, are demanding a statutory commission for men, on the lines of the National Commission for Women (NCW), claiming that wives are increasingly foisting false cases against husbands under Section 498A, commonly called the ‘anti-dowry’ law.
The two MPs claim that such is the widespread ‘abuse’ of Section 498A, that young men are ‘scared’ of marriage.
“It is why young men increasingly prefer live-in relationships these days. The law needs an amendment as law enforcement agencies are reluctant to verify the veracity of complaints and end up harassing husbands,” said Verma, who is also a member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice.
Also read: India’s lopsided adultery law: Adverse impact of patriarchy on men or women?
While the two MPs will be in New Delhi on 23 September, to raise the pitch for a ‘Purush Aayog’ (men’s commission), the BJP has distanced itself from their ‘individual demand’ and refused to comment on the issue.
‘498A stalling Mallya, Modi extradition’
Verma, the MP from Hardoi, also said that Section 498A is one of the laws stalling the extradition of absconding Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. He blamed overcrowding of Indian prisons because of 498A, and claimed that a large number of ‘targeted husbands’ are being lodged as undertrials in poorly-maintained prisons across the country.
“The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that approximately 1.5 lakh husbands and their relatives were lodged as undertrials in prisons between 1998 and 2015. There have been 27 lakh arrests under Section 498A during this period. Of these, 6.5 lakh are women,” Verma said.
“The capacity of the prisons is much lesser than that. People like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi are contesting their extraditions by citing these unliveable conditions brought on by overcrowding in prisons”.
The BJP had called for an amendment to Section 498A, claiming that the laws in the country are “blindly” stacked in favour of women.
Section 498A deals with domestic abuse and cruelty against women in their marital homes. In 2017, the Supreme Court had issued guidelines preventing the immediate arrests of those accused, with activists terming it as a ‘dilution’ of the law. The apex court has, however, agreed to reconsider the decision.
‘Damage to institution of family’
Verma claimed there are gangs operating in Uttar Pradesh where women zero in on potential husbands, extort money and lodge fake cases against them. This, he says has made men afraid of getting married and hence the family as an institution is losing its sheen for many of them.
“The institution of marriage rests on trust and with wives threatening to file cases against husbands, it is certain that it will collapse in times to come. The foundation of society will crumble,” he said.
To strengthen his argument, Verma cited the movie Martyrs of Marriage, which he claims is based on a true incident.
“It is a Deepika Bhardwaj movie where a man is happily married but falls ill and his son is tested for DNA. He finds that the son is not his,” he said.
“The wife and her family slap a case under Section 498A. The case goes in favour of the woman and the man commits suicide on video,” said Verma, who is working on a draft proposing amendments to the ‘anti-dowry’ law.
Also read: Maneka Gandhi joins pushback against 498-A, calls anti-dowry law ‘strange’
The BJP MP further said that cases that go to court are never resolved amicably and called for mediation and counselling to be strengthened. “The chances of reconciliation increase when it is done through counselling and not in courtrooms,” Verma said.