Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced three redrafted Bills in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday to replace the existing British-era criminal laws.
The bills that seek to replace the previous criminal codes were introduced in Lok Sabha, the lower chamber of Parliament of India, on August 11 this year. Other than the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the other bills introduced were Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam bills.
These bills are aimed at replacing Code of Criminal Procedure Act (1898), the Indian Penal Code (1860) and the Indian Evidence Act (1872) respectively.
While there will be many changes overall, Voice For Men India lists down two main additions that may have an impact on the men.
The Modi government has added two new sections in the BNS that pertain to women:
- Harming a woman’s mental health will be defined as ‘cruelty’
- Jail term for anyone who reveals the identity of a sexual assault survivor without their permission
Largely, most of the provisions of the IPC have been retained, adding new offences and removing offences that have been struck down by Indian courts. The bill also seeks to increase penalties and punishments for several offences. The bill has been examined by the Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
1] Harming Woman’s Mental Health Vs Section 498-A IPC
What is Section 498-A IPC?
Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.
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 purposes of this section, “cruelty means”—
(a) any wilful 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 to meet such demand.
In a nutshell, a married woman in India can at any point in time accuse her husband and every single member of his family (even distant relative) of ‘cruelty’. Once the woman approaches police to file her complaint, the husband and his family will be summoned by giving a notice under Section 41-A CrPC.
This is the most crucial point of legal extortion as filing the FIR solely depends on how husband’s version is perceived. If an FIR is filed, husband and his family including old parents, grandparents, even college going nieces and nephews have to run around courts to secure anticipatory bail.
A jail term of three years was prescribed for a husband or the married woman’ in-laws if they treat the woman cruelly. However, there were no repercussions on the woman (wife/daughter-in-law), if the case was concluded to be false and motivated.
While many men who have been trapped in false matrimonial cases were hoping for this most archaic and abused law under Section 498-A IPC to be diluted, the Union Government of India has just added more nuances without realising the impact on ground against men and their families.
Over the years, multiple Courts including Supreme Court of India have termed the misuse of Section 498-A IPC as “Legal Terrorism”. The most recent comment came from the Calcutta High Court in August 2023. Read below:
READ ORDER | "Legal Terrorism" Unleashed By Women Misusing Section 498-A IPC: Calcutta High Court
▪️HC: "The legislature has enacted the provision of Section 498-A to strike out the dowry menace from the society. The criminal law allows a complainant to file a criminal… pic.twitter.com/uTrPimtsFP
— Voice For Men India (@voiceformenind) August 21, 2023
Harming woman’s mental health a ‘cruelty’
Section 86 of the BNS now includes harming of a woman’s mental health in the definition of ‘cruelty’. Since the earlier version did not clearly define what amounts to “cruel treatment” to a woman, the new definition has been significantly extended and considers the woman’s mental health in addition to her physical well-being.
Voice For Men India Take:
The biggest point in contention here is why is this Section not made “Gender Neutral’? The Government of India had a classic chance to be progressive in bringing in gender neutrality while amending the colonial laws, however, it has miserably failed by adding yet another one-sided law, where the definition of ‘cruelty’ will be subjective and left to the interpretation of the investigating officer (IO) and the judiciary.
As it is there is no NCRB data on domestic violence against men or their sufferings due to daily abuse and nagging by wives. This new addition arming only the female spouse, sends out a message that ‘wife is always the victim’ and ‘husband is always the perpetrator’.
Over the years, most men who suffered the wrath of the misuse of Anti-dowry law under Section 498-A IPC, kept cursing the Indian National Congress (INC) for systematically breaking down the family culture in India. Sadly, this move by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government with full majority, unleashes another traumatic era for men and their families in the decades to come.
Women (50% of Indian population) deserve justice, but that does not mean Men (50% of Indian population) do not deserve equal and fair laws.
2] Revealing Identity Of Sexual Assault Survivor
The second addition to the BNS is about revealing a sexual assault survivor’s identity. The bill now reportedly prescribes two-year jail sentence if anyone reveals the victim’s identity from court proceedings without the victim’s permission.
Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code lays down the provisions barring the disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences.
“Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376 (rape), section 376A (rape leading to death or making victim go into a permanent vegetative state), section 376B (sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation) , section 376C (sexual intercourse by person in authority) or section 376D (gang rape) is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.”
The only circumstances under which the identity can be revealed is either:
(a) by or under the order in writing of the officer-in-charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation; or
(b) by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the victim; or
(c) where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next of kin of the victim.
In the case of the third exception it is further stated that it only applies “provided that no such authorisation shall be given by the next of kin to anybody other than the chairman or the secretary, by whatever name called, of any recognised welfare institution or organization”.
Voice For Men India Take:
The bill does not aim to protect the identity of the accused until conviction. #MeToo India campaign that ran extensively in 2018 before the onset of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, was a classic example of nameless faceless women / handles publicly shaming men with one-sided stories. While all incidents cannot be termed as false, what happens to the dignity of those men who had been implicated purely to settle score?
In our opinion, identity of the victim and accused must be strictly protected until final verdict of the Court. If an accused is shamed in media even before a trial, the identity of the alleged victim must also be made public, where cases turn out to be blatantly fake or propelled.
LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS BELOW:
Harming Woman's Mental Health Defined As Cruelty | How Will This One-Sided Law Impact Men?@narendramodi govt had classic chance to be progressive, sadly, this move unleashes another traumatic era for men in decades to come@AmitShah@ArnazHathiramhttps://t.co/KYOzMK1qE8
— Voice For Men India (@voiceformenind) December 14, 2023
Marital Rape Law | Advocate J Sai Deepak | Voice For Men India | Other Side
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