Archive for the ‘Laws and Rights’ Category


Guest post by Neha Thakkar on role of microfinancing in women empowerment and rural development based on her real life experience in Bordi, a village in Maharashtra.


“The greatest revolution in a country is the one that affects the status and living conditions of its women.”

~ Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Discovery of Indian, Page 160

Year – 2007

We arrived at Dahanu to find Malti Tai (sister in Marathi) waiting for us at the station along with a few other ladies armed with flowers to greet us. We were a group of four people welcomed by around twenty odd ladies to take us to the base camp located at Bordi – a small town situated near the Gujarat-Maharashtra border. This was our third visit to the place.
Bordi looked exactly the same as it did when we had visited for the first time. Our destination was Malti Tai’s hut. Wait, it was no longer a hut. It had proper walls, sans any paint on it. The size of her house was that of a hut, but it looked like a pakka-makaan (a well-built structure). We were really happy for her, our bit had paid off.
There are so many women like Malti Tai who may be dreaming of such a house. To them, size of the structure doesn’t matter; all they need is a shelter that stands during the monsoon and does not burn their skin in summers. But how many women see this dream coming true? Few years earlier, my answer would have been – one in a million. But now it has changed completely. Let me take you back in time when our journey actually started toward this once-upon-a-time hut.

Year – 2005

My law college arranged annual camps each year for a rural area visit. The usual destinations are places around Gujarat-Maharashtra border, situated within Maharashtra. Reason being simple – Charity begins at home. In my first year of college, I was assigned a project on women empowerment and the best means that could be provided to them to achieve that goal. Our Indian women living in rural areas are not aware about their simple and basic human rights. In fact most of us are not aware about all the basic rights available to us, as the citizens of India. Human Rights are those basic standards without which human beings cannot live in dignity. Human rights are indivisible, interdependent, inalienable, irrevocable natural rights which are held by all persons equally and universally with both men and women having equal access to these rights.

“Women have been given certain priorities under various Indian laws and provisions.”

The introductory lecture about my project matter started with this statement. Prior to this, I had heard about women empowerment and a few provisions drafted in the law books for women; but this project made me hunt in those law books about these provisions.

Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979 focuses on the protection of women at the workplace. Article 11 of the  Convention states that, “State parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights in particular; a] the right to work  as an inalienable right of all human beings”. India has ratified this convention in the year 1993. India formulated the concept of human rights during the year 1946. The Constitution of India directs that the International Charter should be interpreted in the same manner as an Act of the Parliament (Article 367[1] Indian Constitution). The Government declared the year 2001 as the year of women’s empowerment.

The Indian Constitution in its preamble has the goal of securing to all its citizens justice, social, economic and political and equality of status and opportunity. The preamble to the constitution sets out the aim and aspirations of the people of India which have been translated into various provisions of the Constitution. The Indian Constitution seeks to protect the interest of women through fundamental rights as well as directive principles of State policy. Our Constitution has various provisions for removing all kinds of disparities and discrimination against women. The Constitution aims at the creation of new legal norms, social philosophy and economic values which are to take effect by striking synthesis and fundamental adjustment between individual rights and social interest to achieve the desired community goals.

Thus there is a constitutional obligation upon the Constitution to see that while interpreting  any proviso of law, the goals enunciated in Part IV are kept in view (Dr. Jaiswal,  Directive Principles , Jurisprudence and Socio –Economic Justice in India, APH Publishing  Corporation ,New Delhi,1996,  Page 6).  The Central and the State Governments have enacted many women specific and women related legislations to protect the interest of women. However, the number of dowry deaths reported in 2004 was 7026, in 2005 was 6787, and in 2006 was 7618 (According to data compiled by National Crime Records Bureau,as quoted in Times Nation, March 11, 2008 Page 13). These statistics do not reveal the suffering of women as cases registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act are not included in the above data. The main reason of crimes against women is their lack of financial independence. Gender inequalities are a major factor impeding progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) seeks to promote various approaches to reduce human poverty by emphasizing equality, human rights and women’s empowerment.

After the first stage of basic research, I came to the conclusion that the problem of discrimination against women can definitely be solved by the way of empowerment. They must be aware of the rights available to them and must be able to have an independent life whereby they are not dependant on someone or do not have to take beating from their husbands which is the most common scenario in the rural areas. My further research gave me an altogether new connection between Women Empowerment and Microfinance.

Microfinance is a new and dynamic approach which has aided in global poverty eradication and empowerment of women by making them financially self-reliant. Professor Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen Bank, promoted it in 1974 in Jobra, a village in Chittagong of Bangladesh, and it has spread all over the world. It is a program that extends small loans and other financial and business services to very poor people for self-employment projects that generate income, thereby enabling them to take care of themselves and their families.

A group of ten students and three professors was shortlisted to visit Bordi – a small town for the purpose of our project. Our aim was to guide a group of 12 women who had agreed to start something on their own. Most of these women had more or less a similar background. Their husbands were unemployed and addicted to alcohol. The wives had no other option but to work as domestic help or in factories located in other towns at very low wages. Their children never got proper education as they could not afford to pay the fees.

When we reached Bordi, we were introduced to those twelve ladies. Now, the biggest disadvantage of having a group of uneducated village ladies is that they have very limited talents. They are too poor to even afford to learn to stitch on a sewing machine. It was a big struggle for us to look for an appropriate profession for these ladies. After giving the whole issue a lot of thought, the best option for the ladies was to start a tiffin service. There were plenty of Government schools around, where children from poor families studied. The Government had decided to provide them free food; and to supply free food, the ladies didn’t have to be educated.

Now there was a surprise waiting for us. We were supposed to teach those ladies how to cook – yes, we were supposed to teach them that. Cooking didn’t involve preparing fancy meals; it simply involved making khichdi or pulao for children as per the standards set by the Government. We were provided with the proper recipes and measurements for the ingredients; we just had to read that out to the ladies for them to remember.

We did not even realize how our weekend passed away staying with them, teaching them and even learning a tip or two from them. It was now time to return to Mumbai and prepare a small project on what we did on our visit to Bordi.

Now, there is one small hitch in case of these visits. Even though you are aware of the real purpose and motive behind these visits, there are many more stages involved to achieve the goal. At the time of our visit, more than 70% of the work was done by our professors and a few human rights activists. The very first step towards women empowerment was to convince these women and form a small group of 10-20 people.

The Government, with the help of institutions like National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) started Self Help Group (SHG) Bank linkage programme. Based on the concept of “self-help,” small groups of women have been formed into groups of ten to twenty and operate a savings-first business model whereby the member’s savings are used to fund loans. The rise of SHGs and more formal SHG Federations coupled now with SHG Bank Linkage have made this a dominant form of microfinance in addition to microfinance institutions (MFI). The significant policy announcements from the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India have supported growth of micro finance sector in India. Today, it is estimated that there are at least 2 million SHGs in India.

Year – 2006

Time flies. When you are studying in a law college you have so many topics to research on and you often tend to lose track of the previous project. Similar thing happened to me too. Not that I had forgotten about Bordi, but I did not get time to research further on the topic on which I was supposed to give a presentation the following year in front of the teaching faculty and students. My final exam eligibility depended on that project. But with many other researches under my belt already, my next visit was not due for another 7-8 months. I kept neglecting that project. But now it was here again. We got the dates for our next visit.

Such trips are bonding times with professors. They are a bit casual with you as they are outside the “classroom and college” environment. They kept visiting Bordi throughout the year due to some or the other work. They briefed us about the progress so far. We were happy to know that the loan had been arranged for and the contract was signed too. Their very first contract was a municipality school in Bordi. They provided food for primary school children for now, as they were on the probation period. At the end of the academic year, the school management will decide whether to continue to render their services. The group was now called “Shakti”.

Our agenda for this trip was to determine the success of SHG for women empowerment. SHGs have faced various hurdles in the past due to the shortcomings they have. The major points of concern that we found out in a general scenario were:

  • Regional Imbalances
  • Quality of SHGs
  • Capacity building of various partners in programme
  • Provision of micro-insurance to the SHG members

These shortcomings have been worked upon from time to time. The implementation of solutions may take time due to the vast population. But the Government has even planned for the future strategy for SHGs. The strategy is:

  • Massive capacity building efforts by other stakeholders. e.g. Banks, NGOs, Govt. Dev. Dept.
  • Banks to own the SHG’s linked with them as their client and nurture them to keep them in good health
  • Training the SHG members to maintain their books of account themselves
  • Federating the SHG’s sustainability
  • Graduation of SHG members to Entrepreneurship
  • Skill development training to improve work efficiency and develop quality product,
  • Ultimate aim is to make her an independent and self-dependent entrepreneur

“Shakti” was the very first SHG in Bordi, thus for them, the journey toward getting work was not so difficult. Our second visit there was the most memorable due to various reasons. The ladies were provided with the school kitchen to prepare the meals for children. They were quite hygienic and that’s saying something knowing the kind of environment they live in. They always maintained cleanliness, discipline, and punctuality. Needless to say, they were good at their jobs. We met with the faculty and they were very happy with the food and services “Shakti” was providing. Malti Tai, one of the ladies was the group leader who represented “Shakti” in front of the bank, the school and any other institution relevant to their work. She came to us with an unexpected query. They were paying the loan which was interest free and spending money on the food ingredients, but they didn’t know how to maintain proper books of accounts. This concern was communicated by one of our professors to the principal of that school. One of the teaching faculties agreed to help out “Shakti” in this regards.

On the second day of our visit, Malti Tai and other ladies took us to their homes. They lived in a poor condition. Malti Tai’s condition was a bit better and her hut did not have cracked walls and roof. She had only one daughter, who was studying in the same municipality school where Malti Tai’s group supplied food. But rest of the houses brought tears to our eyes. Half of them did not even have proper doors. Almost all the ladies had 3-4 children, not enough money to feed them twice a day, no good clothes. You could even see the sky through the roofs. They thanked us profusely for giving them opportunity to do something for their family. Even though I did not play any role in getting things done for them, it felt nice to see initiative coming together and dreams coming true for many. I was overwhelmed when they hugged and thanked me, considering the fact that I was one of those who played a very small part in the programme. This made me realize that no contribution is small. If we wish, we can do something, we can make a difference. If everyone thinks the same way, we will have a new India tomorrow. Our next generation will have a better and more peaceful life.

We left Bordi, this time with a heavy heart and a smile on our face. There was a sense of satisfaction in all of us, which we could not express in words. Our Journey back to Mumbai was a pleasant one.

Year – 2007

Malti Tai’s pakka makan is the result of their hard work and determination. Rest of the ladies have a decent life too. Though for them, it is difficult to reach the pakka makan stage so soon they are happy and content with their lives. They call themselves independent working women. They are proud to be the bread winners of their families. They pay off loan amount regularly now. The second contract talks are going on with another Government school which is the affiliation of the present Municipality school management.

Coming back to Mumbai from Bordi for the third time was the happiest journey for us. I was no longer running away from making a project and give presentation. Upon reaching here, first thing I did was to prepare my project. It went really well. Maybe the reason was that I gave it straight from my heart. My conclusion about the whole experience was that Microfinance Is the key. It helps a lot in women empowerment. There are many equally important aspects too, but Microfinance plays a major role here.

Role of Microfinance in Women Empowerment

Microfinance is a powerful tool to assist the stumbling economies to recover and strengthen, thereby making the lives of millions of poor people more self-respecting and dignified. Microcredit has made women more productive by providing them opportunity to be self –dependent in terms of their finance, helping them earn, making them aware of their rights and making them independent which in turn has empowered them.  Women are now included into socio-economic activities of the country, they are contributing to family income and are a part of decision-making process in the family  and they are able to exercise more control over their reproductive rights.

Microfinance helps in integrating the financial needs of poor people into a country’s mainstream financial system. It has been acknowledged that the development of a healthy national financial system is an important goal and catalyst for the broader goal of national economic development, which microfinance serves very well. Microfinance helps the poor, including women in not just obtaining loans but also inculcating in them habits of savings, investing in insurance policies and money transfer services. It helps them to raise income, be self-dependent, build up assets and have a better life and better standard of living.

A majority of microfinance programmes target women with a goal to empower them. Keeping up with the objective of financial viability, an increasing number of micro finance institutions prefer women members as they believe that they are better and more reliable borrowers. Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad or Lijjat is an organization that has acted as a catalyst in empowering poor urban women across India during the last four decades. Starting as a small group of seven women in 1959, today Lijjat has more than 40,000 members in 62 branches across 17 Indian states. Only women can become members of Lijjat.

Rural India represents a vast opportunity with its largely unmet demand for financial services. ICICI Bank seeks to tap the significant rural commercial opportunity as well as create a social impact on the rural poor. The primary function of RMAG is to provide financial solutions to the vast rural hinterland. The group is thus responsible for all of ICICI Bank’s rural, micro-banking and agri-business initiatives.

Micro Banking: – The Business focuses on establishing a healthy and profitable lending exchange through relationships with select MFIs( Microfinance institutions), and invests in building deeper and concurrent monitoring and control mechanisms to enable healthy growth of the industry. The Group is responsible for managing Commercial Banking opportunities with MFIs. The group also manages the Business Correspondent Network to enable ICICI Bank’s resolve towards financial inclusion.

Probably the most potential solution to ending poverty and enabling people to work their way into a sustainable, improved situation is called microcredit Microfinance. It has proved to be immensely valuable. It has become clear that poor need access to money to send their children to school, to buy medicines; they need financial services to reduce their vulnerability. As a result, worldwide, MFIs have started developing and delivering a range of financial products. This reflects Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – poverty reduction, education, health and empowerment. International year of Microcredit 2005:

Gender inequality is a major factor affecting progress towards Millennium Development Goals. In our country also, micro finance can be a tool for making women self-reliant. These women can provide their children, including girls, with education which in turn can empower them, thereby setting a new trend of independent women, enjoying their full potential. One of the powerful approaches to woman empowerment is the movement of SHGs, which can transform woman from being alive to live with dignity. The empowerment of women and improvement of their status and economic role needs to be integrated into economic development programmes, as the development of any country is inseparably linked with the status and development of women.

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Yes, I did make a difference. A very small deed for the women and a major one for myself.

(more…)

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Recently I came across this case happening in one of my extended circles. A married woman in late 20s alleged that her husband of 10 years is gay and filed for divorce in the court. She claimed that both her daughters (aged 6-yrs and 2-yrs) are conceived off another man because her own husband was incapable of forming a sexual relationship with her due to his sexual orientation.
What I found appalling was that she left both her daughters with the husband’s family and took off to her mother’s. She has now joined a college and is portraying herself as a single girl in order to get married to this other man of resourceful means.

I don’t know how the court has reacted to her allegations specially since if the daughters are not natural-born to her husband, why should he be entitled to their custody? His case is evidently stronger than his wife’s since she’s the one that cheated and left her kids with his family. But in his last conversation to a relative he told that the court seems inclined towards the wife and he may even have to pay compensation for the divorce along with getting custody of the children.

How fair is that to the man and his family is all I ask? Why does he have to pay for his wife’s self-confessed infidelity, insensitivity and ill-attachment to her own kids?

Another case that recently happened in one of my father’s friends’ family is that a newly wed asked for a hefty sum of money to be transferred to her mother’s account or else she’ll file a dowry case against the husband and his family.When the family  did not pay heed to her threats, she filed a case against the husband claiming he is impotent and has an extra-marital affair. The court ruled in her favor and she received a handsome alimony.

When I was a toddler, our neighbors’ son, a doctor got married to a woman who was under a false identity, filed a case of dowry demand  and domestic violence and put the whole family behind the bars in return for heavy compensation in cash. Her false identity was discovered when she was caught doing the same to another family and our neighbors were finally let out of jail a decade later. Justice may have been served late but the family is now living in slums, trying to make ends meet through daily wage jobs.

I am sure these are not the only cases you have heard about.

Women go to the police with a complaint (may be false), but the system provides to record that as a criminal complaint and that data adds in to the National Statistics of Crime Against Women. When male goes with a genuine complaint the police at max can record a Non Cognizable offence against the women. That will never reflect in the statistics. Then how will one guage crime against men? Every 100 Suicides in India have 63 Males and 37 Females. Every 100 male suicides have 45 married males, and every 100 women suicides have 25 married Women. Married women suicides have default arrests of the inlaws under presumed dowry death. Married men suicides entitle wife for a 50% share in property. — Jinesh Zaveri, an advocate on men’s rights in marriage laws.

The biggest threats to Indian men and Indian families is Article 498A of Indian Penal Code , Passed by Indian Parliament in 1983, which is a criminal law (not a civil law):

“Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable.”

498a can only be invoked by wife/daughter-in-law or her relative. Most cases where Sec 498A is invoked turn out to be false (as repeatedly accepted by High Courts and Supreme Court in India) as they are mere blackmail attempts by the wife (or her close relatives) when faced with a strained marriage. In most cases 498a complaint is followed by the demand of huge amount of money (extortion) to settle the case out of the court. This section is non-bailable(you have to appear in court and get bail from the judge), non-compoundable (complaint can’t be withdrawn) and cognizable (register and investigate the complaint, although in practice most of the time arrest happens before investigation). There have been countless instances where, without any investigation, the police has arrested elderly parents, unmarried sisters, pregnant sister-in-laws and even 3 year old children. In these cases unsuspecting family of husband has to go through a lot of mental torture and harassment by the corrupt Indian legal system. A typical case goes on for years (5-7 years is typical) and the conviction rate is about 2% only. Some accused parents, sisters and even husbands have committed suicide after time in jail. — 498a.org, a website to raise awareness on 498A of IPC and it’s increasing misuse by the Indian daughter-in-laws.

One of the most hazardous and disastrous social evils in society along with crime against women is misandry i.e. hatred towards men, and is visible in following forms:

  1.  Presence of anti-male gender biased laws in India.
  2.  Little awareness of men’s issues.
  3. Trivialization of men’s problems.
  4. Male disposability.
  5. Systematic gender-based discrimination against men across policies – either public or private.
  6. No special protection accorded to men from serious issues like incidences of terror from intimate partners, immediate family and extended family.
  7. Gender based discrimination against fathers.
  8. Gender based discrimination against boys in education schemes.
  9. Irrational distribution of responsibilities across the two genders.
  10. No allocation of budget by Government towards male friendly causes and objectives.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) as many as 61,453 married men ended their lives in 2010, compared to 31,754 women. The NCRB report in 2011 concluded that at least 16 people committed suicide every hour and the total figure was 1.35 lakh; Suicides due to divorce and “illegitimate pregnancy” saw a rise of 54% and 20% respectively in 2011. The report showed that 70% of victims were married. While social and economic causes led most men to commit suicide, emotional and personal causes mainly drove women to take the extreme step.

Taking into consideration shortfall in Indian Penal code of basic human right of men and protection, a new law named ‘Saving Men from Intimate Terror Act’ SMITA is on the anvil. This bill is supposed to be tabled in the Parliament this winter session and debate would be held in the Rajyasabha as given to understand from the Standing Committee of the Parliament. — Fight For Justice, a blog on protecting men’s right in India.

SMITA is a joint initiative by the Indian Social Awareness and Activism Forum (INSAAF) and Confidare Research, drafted to protect men and boys from domestic violence from their spouse, girlfriends and parents.

Various forms of abuse against men by the opposite sex have been classified by  them under:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Legal abuse
  • Economic abuse
  • Sexual abuse

The draft bill was sent as a petition to the Rajya Sabha by the NGOs, following which an acknowledgement was sent to the petitioners, paving the way for a discussion on it in the Upper House.

If you are one of the victims of women-centric family laws in the country, you can seek support at NGOs such as Men’s Rights AssociationSave Indian Family Foundation/All India Men’s Welfare Association.
Every coin has two sides to it, without looking at the other, one should not form an opinion. Justice For Women was not a result of misandry but an attempt to protect, save, empower and fight for equality of our own kind.
The purpose of this post is to aware the readers of the threats of women-centric laws to the men in India and to show our support for SMITA. This is not to say that crime against women and inferior status of women in India is a myth.
Everyone deserves fair and just trial. Gender bias deepens division of society based on sex and I believe we would all agree this country needs to learn solidarity, unity and tolerance towards those different from ourselves.

Guest post by Neha on domestic violence, the law, its application and how to defend yourself if falsely accused.
DISCLAIMER: THIS POST SPEAKS ABOUT ONE OF THE MOST SENSITIVE TOPICS – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. I INTEND TO COVER ALL THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS RELATED TO THIS TOPIC WHICH INCLUDE LEGAL ASPECTS, JUDICIAL ASPECTS, ADMINISTRATIVE ASPECTS AND FACTS. THE VIEWS POSTED HERE ARE PURELY MINE. I REQUEST YOU ALL NOT TO GENERALIZE THEM AND ACT PURELY BASED ON THEM.
Part – 1. The Law

So many bloggers on this blogosphere have written something related to women suffering from physical abuse by her husband, so many newspapers and news channels report various news about dowry death, or torturing a woman to an extent that she decides to end her life rather than living in such a terrible state. Such cases which catch the public eye through the medium of media are very few. The numbers in the limelight are not even 10% close to what is actually reaching the stage of a police complaint against the accuse (which is a husband always, that is what I have seen at least). Additionally, there are very few people (again, usually women) who actually file a complaint against the party who has been accused of physical abuse, mental torture and/or dowry demand. Most of them prefer to keep quiet about this due to various reasons like family and society pressure, no or minimum financial support, future of kid/s , inefficiency of legal system and so on and so forth.

My intention for writing this post is not to give anybody a negative picture of either the judicial system or the administrative system. I simply want to put forward the picture that I have seen so far in my practice. I have never been directly involved in these matters – in a lawyer’s term, we call it family court practice – but, I have referred to, studied and come across many such cases that fall within the purview of domestic violence.

Earlier, there was only one section – Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code (popularly known as IPC) which protected a woman who had become a victim of domestic violence by her husband or his relative/s. But in the year 2005, a new law – The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was enacted that specified the smallest of detail that can cause torture and/or physical as well as mental harassment to a woman.

What does the Law say?

Our Judicial system considers the harassment of the women as a criminal offence. Section 498A of IPC says that: S/498-A – Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation-For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means:

(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her meet such demand.

Definition of domestic violence.- For the purposes of this Act, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it –

(a) harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or

(b) harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or

(c) has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or

(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person. Explanation I.-For the purposes of this section,-

(i) “physical abuse” means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;

(ii) “sexual abuse” includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;

(iii) “verbal and emotional abuse” includes-

(a) insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule specially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and

(b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.

(iv) “economic abuse” includes-

(a) deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;

(b) disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and

(c) prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.

Explanation: II.-For the purpose of determining whether any act, omission, commission or conduct of the respondent constitutes “domestic violence” under this section, the overall facts and circumstances of the case shall be taken into consideration.

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Part 2. Applicability of the Law – The Process 

1. The procedure for filing the complaint against the accused is that the victim can go to the police station nearby and file the complaint.

2. This offense is a non-bailable offense. To get the bail, the accused has to be presented in the court in front of the judge.

3. This offense is a non-compoundable offense. That means the complaint once filed cannot be withdrawn by the complainant or her relatives.

4. It is a cognizable offense. That means the complaint has be registered and investigated before making any arrests.

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The first part of this post spoke about the legal aspects of the Section 498 – A and Domestic Violence Act. My intentions for this post are not only to give information about how law works and protects you, but to give you a general guideline on how few precautionary measures can help you to protect your and your family’s interest when any kind of a case is filed.

Applicability of the Law – The Practice 

In case of complaint filed under Section 498-A and Domestic Violence Act, the usual practice that has been followed is:

1. Whether to lodge the complaint or not, it depends on which party is stronger – the accused or the complainant.

2. Even though it is a cognizable offense, in most of the cases the arrests are made immediately after the complaint is lodged. There is no investigation made before arresting the accused party/ies.

3. Stronger the lawyer, stronger the case. Here I am not talking about a knowledgeable lawyer, but i am talking about influential lawyer. It is easy to know the law. A fresh graduate fighting his/her first case can also help you out in these matters, but when there is a question of getting a bail at the earliest, or making sure that the case gets sorted out as a settlement between two parties, you need a good and influential lawyer. That time it does not matter whether you are right or wrong. All that matters is who is your lawyer.

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If you are falsely charged with a case on domestic violence, the points mentioned below are the measures you can take when framed or before being framed:

1. Enter into a Prenuptial Agreement (Prenup) before marriage. Prenup is a declaration saying that neither of the parties has demanded or given any dowry. The jewellery, articles, clothes, vehicles etc. all are given to the girl as a gift by her parents and/or relatives. (If any of you require a prenup copy, then please mention that as a separate comment along with your e-mail id. I will send it to you and not publish the comment containing your id.)

2. Get the prenup duly signed and executed by the parties. Further, two witnesses each party must sign the Prenup as well.

3. Make a list of the articles brought in by the girl at the time of the wedding. The girl has a de facto (actual) right on Stridhan. Stridhan means and includes property inherited by the woman from her family or husband’s family; property received by her under a compromise, adverse possession or in lieu of maintenance; property obtained in partition; and property bought using proceeds from stridhan. However, gifts to the husband by the woman or her relatives will not be part of her stridhan.

4. Evidence plays a very crucial role when a complaint is filed. It can convict the innocent and evict the guilty. Thus it is highly recommended to keep all the documents viz. Marriage certificate, bank statements, Prenup, the list of the gifts received at the time of the wedding, wedding pictures, bills etc. Safely, copy them all and get the marriage certificate notarized so that both the parties have the valid copy of the same.

5. When a woman is physically abused, she should go to the doctor immediately, get the treatment and certificate mentioning the specific reason for the injuries from him. Here, it is highly recommended to go to a government hospital for the treatment as the certificate issued by the government hospital has a stronger legal stand. This point can be raised by a man who has been framed wrongfully by a woman when the case comes in the court. It may or may not help, but can be useful.

6. When a physical or verbal abuse is happening, start screaming and alert your neighbours. This can help you to get witnesses when you do not have sufficient evidences to prove your point. Further, it may help to avoid the damage being done further.

7. The moment you get the idea that there may arise some problem regarding any general or a specific issue; consult a lawyer before hand rather than waiting for the problem to take over first. This will help you maintain peace of mind and nerve when in trouble.

8. If possible, install the recording, itemized bills and caller id facilities on your landlines and mobiles.

****


Post by Zena Costa, sports journalist from Goa:

Domestic Violence Act 2005 is the first significant attempt in India to recognise domestic abuse as a punishable offence, to extend its provisions to those in live-in relationships, and to provide for emergency relief for the victims, in addition to legal recourse.

Why a legislation for domestic violence?

Domestic violence is among the most prevalent and among the least reported forms of cruel behaviour.

Till the year 2005, remedies available to a victim of domestic violence in the civil courts (divorce) and criminal courts (vide Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code) were limited. There was no emergency relief available to the victim; the remedies that were available were linked to matrimonial proceedings; and the court proceedings were always protracted, during which period the victim was invariably at the mercy of the abuser.

Also the relationships outside marriage were not recognised. This set of circumstances ensured that a majority of women preferred to suffer in silence. It is essentially to address these anomalies that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed.

Who are the primary beneficiaries of this Act?

Women and children. Section 2(a) of the Act will help any woman who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the ‘respondent’ in the case.It empowers women to file a case against a person with whom she is having a ‘domestic relationship’ in a ’shared household’, and who has subjected her to ‘domestic violence’.

Children are also covered by the Act; they too can file a case against a parent or parents who are tormenting or torturing them, physically, mentally, or economically. Any person can file a complaint on behalf of a child.

Who is defined as ‘respondent’ by this law?

Section 2 (q) states that any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person is the ‘respondent’. The respondent can also be a relative of the husband or male partner .Thus, a father-in-law, mother-in-law, or even siblings of the husband and other relatives can be proceeded against.

How does the new law define domestic abuse?

Section 3 of the law says any act/conduct/omission/commission that harms or injures or has the potential to harm or injure will be considered ‘domestic violence’.

Under this, the law considers physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, and economic abuse or threats of the same.

Even a single act of commission or omission may constitute domestic violence — in other words, women do not have to suffer a prolonged period of abuse before taking recourse to the law.

How does the law ensure that a wife who takes legal recourse in the event is not intimidated or harassed?

An important aspect of this law is that it aims to ensure that an aggrieved wife, who takes recourse to the law, cannot be harassed for doing so. Thus, if a husband is accused of any of the above forms of violence, he cannot during the pending disposal of the case prohibit/restrict the wife’s continued access to resources/ facilities to which she is entitled by virtue of the domestic relationship, including access to the shared household. In short, a husband cannot take away her jewellery or money, or throw her out of the house while they are having a dispute.

What are the main rights of a woman as recognised by this law?

The law is so liberal and forward-looking that it recognises a woman’s right to reside in the shared household with her husband or a partner even when a dispute is on .Thus, it legislates against husbands who throw their wives out of the house when there is a dispute. Such an action by a husband will now be deemed illegal, not merely unethical.

Even if she is a victim of domestic violence, she retains right to live in ’shared homes’ that is, a home she shares with the abusive partner. Section 17 of the law, which gives all married women or female partners in a domestic relationship the right to reside in a home that is known in legal terms as the shared household, applies whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same.

The law provides that if an abused woman requires, she has to be provided alternate accommodation and in such situations, the accommodation and her maintenance has to be paid for by her husband or partner.

The law, significantly, recognises the need of the abused woman for emergency relief, which will have to be provided by the husband. A woman cannot be stopped from making a complaint/application alleging domestic violence. She has the right to the services and assistance of the Protection Officer and Service Providers, stipulated under the provisions of the law.

A woman who is the victim of domestic violence will have the right to the services of the police, shelter homes and medical establishments. She also has the right to simultaneously file her own complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

Sections 18-23 provide a large number of options for legal redressal. She can claim through the courts Protection Orders, Residence Orders, Monetary Relief, Custody Order for her children, Compensation Order and Interim/ Ex parte Orders.

If a husband violates any of the above rights of the aggrieved woman, it will be deemed a punishable offence. Charges under Section 498A can be framed by the magistrate, in addition to the charges under this Act. Further, the offences are cognisable and non-bailable. Punishment for violation of the rights enumerated above could extend to one year’s imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of Rs 20,000.


According to recent report by the Security and Defence Agenda, a leading defence and security think-tank in Brussels, and McAfee, India is ranked fifth worldwide, in countries affected by cyber crime.

 “Much of the vulnerability is explained by widespread computer illiteracy and easily pirated machines,” pointed out the report titled ‘Cyber Security: The Vexed Question of Global Rules’.

In order to protect and secure yourself, you need to first ask what is cyber crime?

Cyber crime also called Internet crime is crime committed on the Internet, using the Internet and by means of the Internet.

Computer crime is a general term that embraces such crimes as phishing, credit card frauds, bank robbery, illegal downloading, industrial espionage, child pornography, kidnapping children via chat rooms, scams, cyber terrorism, creation and/or distribution of viruses, Spam etc.

 

Cyber Stalking

It is important to know about cyber stalking as well as ways to protect yourself since most of us are still illiterate where cyber laws are concerned. Majority of victims of stalking, be it online or offline, are women, which makes it that much more important to know about our Rights and these laws. 

“Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, the term is used in this report to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim’s immediate family; and still others require only that the alleged stalker’s course of conduct constitute an implied threat. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.”

 

How do Stalkers Operate

  1. Collect all personal information about the victim such as name, family background, Telephone Numbers of residence and work place, daily routine of the victim, address of residence and place of work, date of birth etc. If the stalker is one of the acquaintances of the victim he can easily get this information. If stalker is a stranger to victim, he collects the information from the internet resources such as various profiles, the victim may have filled in while opening the chat or e-mail account or while signing an account with some website.
  2. The stalker may post this information on any website related to sex-services or dating services, posing as if the victim is posting this information and invite the people to call the victim on her telephone numbers to have sexual services. Stalker even uses very filthy and obscene language to invite the interested persons.
  3. People of all kind from nook and corner of the World, who come across this information, start calling the victim at her residence and/or work place, asking for sexual services or relationships.
  4. Some stalkers subscribe the e-mail account of the victim to innumerable pornographic and sex sites, because of which victim starts receiving such kind of unsolicited e-mails.
  5. Some stalkers keep on sending repeated e-mails asking for various kinds of favors or threaten the victim.
  6. In online stalking the stalker can make third party to harass the victim.
  7. Follow their victim from board to board. They “hangout” on the same BB’s as their victim, many times posting notes to the victim, making sure the victim is aware that he/she is being followed. Many times they will “flame” their victim (becoming argumentative, insulting) to get their attention.
  8. Stalkers will almost always make contact with their victims through email. The letters may be loving, threatening, or sexually explicit. He will many times use multiple names when contacting the victim.
  9. Contact victim via telephone. If the stalker is able to access the victims telephone, he will many times make calls to the victim to threaten, harass, or intimidate them.
  10. 
Track the victim to his/her home.

The Indian Government passed Information Technology Act, 2000 notified on 17th October 2000 following United Nation’s adoption of the Model Law on Electronic Commerce in 1997, which was later amended in 2008 with effect on 27th October 2009. The IT Act 2008 does not address stalking. This issue is therefore dealt under “intrusion on to the privacy of individual.”

Sections, under which cyber stalking and breach of privacy are booked, are as follows:

66–A: Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.: Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device, a)Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or b)Any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently makes by making use of such computer resource or a communication device; c)Any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two three years and with fine.

Section 72: Breach of confidentiality and privacy: Save as otherwise provided in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, any person who, in pursuant of any of the powers conferred under this Act, rules or regulations made there under, has secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned discloses such electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.

Section 72A: Punishment for Disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract (Inserted vide ITAA-2008): Save as otherwise provided in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, any person including an intermediary who, while providing services under the terms of lawful contract, has secured access to any material containing personal information about another person, with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or wrongful gain discloses, without the consent of the person concerned, or in breach of a lawful contract, such material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both.

These provisions can be read with section 441 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with offences related to Criminal trespass and runs as follows: Whoever enters into or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property, or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person, or with an intent to commit an offence, is said to commit criminal trespass.

Cyber stalking is generally a bailable offense unless it causes severe defamation, sexual crimes, identity theft or terrorism.

Some of the functioning Government reporting agencies in India are :

  1. cybercrime@kolkatapolice.gov.in
  2. http://www.cyberpolicebangalore.nic.in/
  3. cbcyber@tn.nic.in
  4. http://www.cybercellmumbai.com/
  5. http://www.cyberkeralam.in
  6. http://www.punepolice.com/crime_branch.html
  7. http://www.thanepolice.org

Information for this post has been compiled from wikipedia, http://cybercellmumbai.gov.in/index.html http://www.haltabuse.org/resources/index.shtml and http://deity.gov.in/