People don’t know what to do when a 498A case is registered against them. For those of you who may have an inkling of the impending danger, and are looking for information, I hope to shed some light on how to survive the initial onslaught, which is also the most harrowing and critical part of this ordeal known as IPC 498A.
Man or woman, young or old, regardless of marital status, if you have an estranged `Bahu’ (daughter in law) in your family, whether she is living/lived/never lived with you, you can be jailed under IPC Section 498A based on a complaint in the police station. The objective of the ‘Bahu’ and her parents is to subject you and your family to an ordeal designed to break your will and ensure that you give in to their demands.
A case will go on for 3 to 7 years. Be prepared to fight. Also be prepared to lose some of your most productive years professionally while you are fighting this. Be prepared to lose your hair or watch it turn gray before your time. Be prepared to spend money and lots of it. Be prepared to shed a lot of tears.
I am sorry to say this, but above all, be prepared to watch your parents grow old before their time. Prepare for the worst-case scenario with regard to your parents. If you are innocent, you will eventually prevail. I assure you of this.
If you apprehend being 498A’d, don’t just stand there like a deer caught in the headlights. Recognize the situation for what it is. From the people you talk to and from the online portals you visit, you will learn that this is a law to combat dowry harassment and etc, etc, etc. I’ll ignore this and cut to the chase.
IPC 498A IS AN EXTORTION RACKET
The sooner you realize this, the faster you will be able to take informed decisions in your first steps to fight this. It will take years, but you will prevail. Each case is unique. But they all have a common thread running through them.
I have outlined the common scenario and this is not legal advice but more of a set of general suggestions, observations and opinions based on experience. When taking action, please do so, after seeking the advice of your lawyer.
I am assuming that you are a middle/upper middle class, law-abiding guy who is having marital issues. Your parents may have retired or are close to retiring. You may or may not be part of an extended family living under the same roof. Your spouse may have warned you that she will file a 498A against you for some reason or the other. You or your parents may have assets in some form or another such as cash, salary, property etc. The family of your spouse may be politically connected. If you have kids, you will have to deal with the additional agony of being separated from them.
Now that we have the assumptions of your situation out of the way, lets get to the action.
Let’s start with the motives and instigators.
1. There are several motives for a woman to file a 498A. These are:
• Money: The great motivator. A 498A always leads to great terms for a fat settlement.
• Vengeance: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She will have her revenge and your family will collectively bear the brunt of it. The 498A Wives have a soft corner for their MILs and their SILs. Prepare your mom and sister(s) for special treatment.
• Guilt: She’s done something wrong, maybe even committed adultery and got caught in the act. She wants to cover it up with a dowry harassment case to garner sympathy and to provide cover for her guilt. It also puts her in a good position to bargain from.
• To Marry The Boyfriend: This is a new trend whereby she will file a 498A just to force you into settling the issue with a chunk of cash and to marry the boyfriend.
• Vengeance + Money + Guilt: Do I need to elaborate?
In most cases the instigators are the parents. If her mother was the instigator, you’ve married into a family where the mother is a shrew and the father maybe subservient to her. The woman you married thinks that you should be her slave, because her mother dominates her father. She will file the 498A in retaliation for her failure to dominate you.
If her father is the instigator, the motivation is your money. This is a much easier case to handle, as he needs your money. If the case backfires, he will have a 498A-filing daughter on his hands and marrying her off the second time round will be tough. Potential matrimonial matches are always wary of these filers of 498A cases. If this situation applies to your case, once you withstand the initial onslaught, they will come scurrying for a compromise. Trust me on this.
I need a term to refer to these women who abuse IPC Section 498A. I have settled on 498A Wives. If you object to this, talk to the men and women who had members of their family jailed due to the provisions of this law. I know that I can’t refer to them as Savitris.
498A is a perfect tool for extortion and/or to wreak vengeance on you and your family. The main ingredients that go into making it an extortion racket are:
• The involvement of the heavy handed Indian police force in a domestic dispute.
• The involvement of the overburdened and unregulated lower courts and the convoluted and lengthy Indian justice delivery system.
• The lack of penalties for filing frivolous cases or for committing perjury.
• Political/police influence from the other side. If this is a factor in your case, I kid you not; you are in for an ordeal that will require extra doses of fortitude, courage and patience to overcome.
All these factors will be used to leverage money out of you or subject you and your family to the kind of harassment that can only be defined as torture. The Supreme Court has condemned such cases as “Legal Terrorism”.
Here is the timeline of events:
• The police will take the case.
Think carefully on how you will retaliate. Here are some things you may want to do:
• Think about sending the IT guys after them if they claim to have given you dowry or they call it Sthreedhan. Inform the Income Tax guys through a court order about the claims of money given to you. Here is a link to the location of offices by state. If you file a complaint, follow up with an RTI. I’ve enclosed the judgment by Justice Dhingra about reporting these kinds of complaints to the Income Tax authorities.
• Get your lawyers to file complaints against them in the police station or a writ petition in the court for admitting to giving dowry. Giving dowry is also a crime. I am basing this on the judgment of Justice Dhingra. If they admit to not giving you dowry under this pressure, then be assured you can nail them in a perjury case. Get a your lawyer to pursue this angle. If the police refuse to accept your complaint, get a court order for them to do so. Check the website on info about FIRs. Logic dictates that they will accept the complaint as they can extract bribes from the other side. This is one of the fastest ways to settle the case on your terms.
• Do not compromise as long as the 498A is on. Ask them to withdraw it before they make any attempts to negotiate a settlement. Be unyielding in your stand. They have more to lose than you do. With a 498A daughter on their hands, these morons are running out of time and options. They need to dump her on some pitiful man. They need your money to buy the other guy and recoup the investment made in the 498A case. As time goes by, the age of the 498A daughter will become a factor. It gets difficult to unload her as time goes by.
• Keep an eye out on the matrimonial sites. A surprise may await you there. And it may very well have you in splits ☺
If she filed a 498A to force you into a divorce in order to take off with the boyfriend, file an RCR (Restitution Of Conjugal Rights) and refuse a divorce until this gets sorted out.