When a girl is getting married, she has so many dreams for the new phase of life. But so is the case with the boy’s side. The husband dreams of having a life partner who lives happily with his parents and siblings. The parents-in-law dream of having a daughter-in-law who takes care of their son and loves them as her own family. Those mother-in-laws are usually in daily soaps who wish to have puppet-like daughter-in-laws. In fact, educated parents wish to have a sensible partner for their children regardless of whether it is a son or a daughter.
Husband and wife are regarded as the two wheels of a bicycle whose coordination is a must for a smooth ride. If one of the wheels blocks, falling off is predictable. Things often end up fuming if marriage does not work. It is sensible for couples to have a peaceful ending through mutual consent divorce. Not all, but there definitely are some girls who do not believe in amicable outcomes but plan revenge against the in-laws. Police and legal professionals sometimes play a major role in making them believe that they can extort lakhs and crores from their husbands by cooking up a story of a fake dowry case accompanied with domestic violence. In such cases, the husband and his family end up being victims of laws since women are presumed to be the victims even before a complaint/ FIR is lodged. For such victim families of false dowry cases in India, the blog below assists on how to legally proceed to prove their innocence before the court of law. However, consultation with advocates is a must to have case-specific legal advice.
How to Fight Fake Dowry Cases in India?
Dealing with False Dowry Cases in India - Before Trial
- Intimation to Authorities - If the wife is threatening to proceed legally against husband and in-laws for fake dowry cases in India, one may intimate the same police authorities through family lawyers. The intimation letter contains details of threat calls or communication clarifying apprehension of a false legal action in this regard.
- Anticipatory Bail - There is a provision under Section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which allows grant of bail in case of apprehension of arrest, commonly known as anticipatory bail. Possibility of a person being criminally accused of dowry harassment under Indian Penal Code or Dowry Prohibition Act, or if an FIR is registered and arrest is sceptical. For that purpose, anticipatory bail lawyers must be approached for grant of bail for husband and family members to ensure that no arrests take place.
- Deletion - Wherever at the stage of early investigation it seems that the name of the accused can be deleted through Police or Magistrate, lawyers apply for deletion. However, it completely depends upon the facts of the case whether a false dowry case is obvious on the face of it or not.
- Quash FIR - If the husband or his family members are able to prove that the said case is one among false dowry cases in India, they can apply for quashing of FIR proceedings by high court. The CrPC Section 482 grants such special powers to the high courts if the parties are able to prove against facts of complaint/ FIR.
- No Settlement - Sometimes, innocent people against whom fake dowry cases are instituted tend to safeguard their reputation by settling things financially with the wife. Lawyers often advise their clients not to settle matters through money until the case is finalised through higher courts. Otherwise, if things proceed legally, the wife has another weapon through such financial settlement to prove in-laws guilty through their acceptance.
Dealing with False Dowry Cases in India - During Trial
Proof Required for Dowry Case
- Particulars in Complaint - Fake dowry cases in India are usually lodged just to harass the husband and family. That is why the complaints and FIRs usually lack the genuine facts which become obvious on the face of it. For example, physical presence of family members is necessary to prove allegations against them as a family, but a complaint is lodged against a sister-in-law or brother-in-law residing 200 KM away from the matrimonial home. In such cases, proving only facts can relieve the accused persons if there is absence of specific accusations.
- Proof of Gifts - It is always advisable to the groom’s side to make a list of gifts like electronic appliances, jewellery, etc. which the bride’s parents and family gift her (legally termed as Streedhan). This is crucial proof required for dowry case. Along with that, bills of expensive gifts or jewellery given to the wife after marriage also help prove the affectionate stand towards the daughter in law that the husband’s duty to maintain wife is being fulfilled, and that they do not need to demand dowry.
- Medical Tests - If along with the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, provisions of dowry harassment under 498A of Indian Penal Code are also invoked for physical violence, conducting medical tests is a must. This way, reports will reveal lack of injury due to fake accusations and the case goes in favour of the husband proving a false dowry case in India.
- Behaviour through Neighbours - Husband and family should also coordinate with a bunch of neighbours who as a witness can support their stance, their conduct and how their demanding dowry from the daughter-in-law is something unthinkable.
- Threat Proof - Husband’s side should be prepared with evidence of chats, calls or any form of communication to prove threats of the wife to proceed with a fake dowry demand case if things do not go as per her wish or her particular demands are not fulfilled.
Aftermath of Fake Dowry Cases in India
Courts usually do not do anything even if the wife is proved to have lodged false cases and husband/ others are discharged/ acquitted. The apprehension behind such leverage is that punishment may lead to silence of women whose case is genuine but are unable to prove before the court. However, the husbands who are victims of fake dowry cases in India may proceed legally against the wife through following pathways:
- Divorce - If a false dowry case is lodged against the husband and his relatives by the wife, it is clear that continuation of relation as a husband and wife is not a priority from her side and divorce case is usually proceeded with simultaneously. But if that is not the case, the husband may prove one of the grounds for divorce in India as applicable. Usually, the husband can prove mental cruelty by wife through all such fake cases since it affects the person’s mental peace, social reputation and also puts a toll on finances. Divorce may put an end to the agony of the husband in the name of such marriage.
- False Information to Public Servant (Police) - Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code provides for punishment in case someone furnishes false information to a public servant while he/ she was under oath or otherwise supposed to speak up the truth. A woman is supposed to complain against acts that are actually true apart from being legally prohibited.
- Injury to Reputation - Section 504 of IPC provides punishment for intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace. Wherein facts can be proved that involving brothers or sisters of husband is baseless and just to harm their reputation and career, the section can be used against fake dowry cases in India.
- False Charges to Injure - Section 211 of IPC punishes false charges of offence made with intent to injure. When the whole family of a husband is involved in a false case of dowry, the intention is to injure the family reputation, and eventually their physical and mental health. Thus, the provision under Section 211 may be invoked.
- Extortion - IPC Section 383 defines the act of putting another person in danger of physical or financial injury to him or his beloved one and thereby forcing such person to do things which he otherwise would not have agreed to. If the wife threatens husband or his relatives of lodging a fake dowry case just to have some unreasonable demands fulfilled, this is extortion. The husband can sue her if there is sufficient proof required for dowry case in this regard.
Time for ‘Men’s Rights’
It's a pity on the groom’s side in India that whenever things do not go smooth after a boy’s marriage, there are plenty of laws for married women’s rights in India which can be her weapon to harass them. Failure of a marriage does not only mean that the groom and his family are at fault. Even if we particularly talk about dowry, if the groom's side demanding gifts from the bride's side is wrong, girls deciding the groom based on his salary/ family wealth should not be celebrated as well. Misuse of provisions like domestic violence, 498A and dowry harassment has become a wife’s legal package to harass the husband and his family, and draw a lot of money from them. It's high time that lawmakers look into it and bring some neutrality in such matters assuming that men can also be victims in a marriage.
Fake Dowry Cases in India: Frequently Asked Questions
Q- How many false dowry cases are there in India?
A- For NCRB data report on false dowry cases in India statistics from 2001 to 2012, Click Here. The number of fake dowry cases per year is also reflected which were declared so based on facts or law, as the case may be. Even if preliminary investigation shows some hints of the case being genuine, the percentage of fake dowry cases in India strengthens with the number of acquittals or discharges every year.
Q- How do I fight false dowry case?
A- The strategy on how to deal with false dowry cases varies based on facts of the case, the extent to which the complaint is false or the legal loopholes. Based on all this, lawyers for domestic violence dealing with matters of dowry plead before the courts.
Q- What is the punishment for false dowry case?
A- There is no direct law providing an answer to ‘what is the punishment for false dowry case?’. However, Section 211 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides for punishment for false charges of committing an offence against another person with the intention to cause injury - imprisonment of upto 7 years or with fine. Also, the Section 177 of the same Code lays punishment for furnishing false information to a public servant, which in this false dowry case is the concerned police officer through whom the complaint was registered - imprisonment of upto 6 months or fine or both. Such cases need to be proceeded with and proved by the wrongly implicated persons in the court of law.
Q- How do I get rid of false 498A case?
A- If you are a victim of misuse of section 498A, you should consult with a suitable lawyer who holds expertise in such cases. Expert criminal lawyers will analyse the complaint by the wife against her husband and/ or in-laws and find loopholes which may help prove the 498A false case. He/she may go for deletion of names of the family members if facts allow so. In case there is scope of proving innocence from the very beginning, the legal professional may seek quashing the FIR with the concerned High Court under Section 438 of CrPC. If things are not that easy at the beginning, facts can be proved during trial as well.