Silver lining for those rooting for gender neutral laws

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A Supreme Court verdict that urged the police not to make immediate arrests following complaints under the anti-dowry law and Section 498A has brought some much needed smile to men’s rights activists across the country. They see it as a pivotal step towards making gender neutral laws .

With an optimistic mindset, they are now waiting to see an amendment of Section 498A, and then its merger with the Domestic Violence Act to bring forth a single law.

It has been awhile now since the demand for an amendment of the Section 498A started coming from various corners. According to some estimates, lakhs of innocent men have found them on the receiving end of these laws without even committing a crime. In fact, the Supreme Court had also termed these unnecessary sufferings by innocent males as legal terrorism in 2005.

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Male activists in the country believe that by taking due legal procedure, the judiciary can play a key role in reducing the number of suicides committed by men due to domestic disturbance.

“If these two laws are merged, it would help avoid duplication of cases. The general trend is to file cases under both sections. This leads to wastage of court time and puts unnecessary pressure on families involved,” said Kumar Jagirdar, founder-president of Bangalore-based Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), Times of India reports.

Meanwhile,  Rajesh Vakharia, Central India president of NGO Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), expressed his opinion on the issue by saying: “In Section 498A, the term ‘cruelty towards a woman’ was never defined. So a mere argument between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can be equated to an attempt to murder of daughter-in-law by mother-in-law. It was this loophole along with the provision of immediate arrest of the supposed perpetrators of a crime that led to blatant misuse of the law.”