Misuse of dowry laws in India sign now

Responsible department: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs

I solicit your kind attention to the escalating menace of false dowry cases against Non-resident Indians (NRIs). It is a matter of serious concern that laws promulgated by the Government of India, claiming to accord protection to women, are being increasingly misused by unscrupulous women for deriving personal gains by ruining lives of NRIs and their families.

Section 498a of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is one such provision which claims to provide protection to women against cruelty and dowry related harassment. Unfortunately, this law has become an easy tool in the hands of women who misuse it with the malicious intent of threatening, extorting money, and wreaking revenge on NRI husbands and their India based families. Misuse of IPC 498a has been acknowledged and condemned by various authorities in India:
1. In response to a Public Interest Litigation filed in July, 2005, the Supreme Court of India acknowledged that there are many instances where women are filing false 498a cases. It cautioned law enforcement officials to take necessary precautions so that innocent citizens are not victimized. It stated that any misuse of the provisions of this law amounts to Legal Terrorism.

2. The World Health Organization, in its Report on India clearly cited Section 498a as one of the major reasons for growing Elder Abuse in India.

3. The Centre for Social Research (India), in a study on the implications of Section 498a of IPC states that 98% of dowry cases are false and baseless.

Misuse of the provisions of section 498a, has far reaching consequences on the personal and professional lives of innocent NRIs in Australia and their India based families:

1. Getting falsely implicated in a criminal case destroys their reputation in their social and professional circles.

2. Some lose their hard-earned jobs and are forced to relocate to India to fight long-drawn legal cases in order to prove their innocence.

3. NRIs, who unwittingly land in India for various reasons are arrested, ill treated and exploited by the police and the legal system.

4. The passport of a falsely implicated NRI is invariably seized as one of the conditions for granting bail, and subsequently, the NRI is required to furnish enormous amounts of security in order to retrieve his/her passport.

5. NRIs who choose to remain overseas due to the fear of legal harassment are either declared "proclaimed offenders" or threatened of being declared "proclaimed offenders".

6. Red corner notices are issued by the Government of India, through the Interpol, seeking the extradition of several innocent NRIs, thus equating innocent citizens with dreaded criminals like Usma Bin Ladan or Dawood Ibrahim.

7. NRIs and their families also suffer immeasurable economic hardship and emotional trauma due to false criminal cases.

8. Such legal harassment creates a fear psychosis among NRI men who find it difficult to repose faith in marrying women of Indian origin.

I am requesting you to make recommendations to the Government of India to redress these problems. Section 498a of IPC and the Domestic Violence Act are standing examples of gender inequalities in Indian Law. Australians and their families who are trapped in false criminal cases are undergoing constant mental harassment and are spending their valuable time, money and effort to fight prolonged trials. This trend is impeding the progress of extremely talented, intelligent and resourceful young Indians in India and abroad.

Please refer to the following websites for more information on the issues discussed above:

1. www.498a.org - A website that provides information about various aspects of IPC 498A, its misuse and serves as a support system for victims of this law.
2. http://www.498a.org/contents/Publicity/moiaBooklet.pdf - The booklet on marriages to NRIs, prepared by 498a.org.

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Justice, rights and public orderIn:
Petition target:
Hon’ble Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Australia

Petition community:
Australian Indians


498a, dowry law, false cases, human rights violation, indian origin husband, indian penal code


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