Dowry Act a tool to tame husbands

Dowry Act a tool to tame husbands
Filed for quick action, most cases resolved mutually
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Is the Dowry Prohibition Act being misused? The answer seems to be in the affirmative if statistics with the Woman and Child Support Unit (WACSU) of the Chandigarh police are to be believed. For, only 81 complaints (six per cent) of the total 1,374 investigated in 2009, a majority of which were under the Act, translated into the registration of a case.

Sources in the WACSU said a majority of the complainants were unable to prove the dowry harassment charges levelled on the spouse and his family.

“A close look at a majority of the complaints filed under the Act reveal that the reasons are more to do with temperamental differences, undue interference of parents and other social causes. Yet, a majority of the complaints are filed under this Act for quick action against the husband and his family. Many a time, such cases get resolved mutually, either with the party accused accepting to pay the amount demanded by the complainant or by agreeing on a divorce. The Act has become a tool to tame unruly husbands, indulging in drinking, extra-marital relationships, gambling and other such activities, leading to the ruining of married lives,” said a police officer.

Citing a case, a police official recounted how a city resident initially demanded Rs 25 lakh from her estranged husband, but later, agreed to withdraw her complaint after settling for half the amount demanded. WACSU claimed to have achieved considerable success in working out compromises between couples.

The success rate for effecting compromise between couples was 36 per cent in 2009 and about 45 per cent (494 out of 1,106 complaints) in 2008, the police said. In addition, 208 couples agreed to divorce mutually in 2009. Only four per cent (41) translated into registration of cases.

In another instance, the relationship between a couple soured within a few months of their marriage. The wife filed a complaint under the dowry Act even while verbally confessing that her complaint was motivated by a perceived threat from her husband’s aggressive behaviour. The story had a positive ending, with the husband promising to mend his ways. “Our motive at the unit is to save marriages. We make every effort that a marriage survives. People come to the police after exhausting all social means to resolve the issue. Both sides have to wait for years to get justice through litigation. We try our best through several counselling sessions to resolve the issue amicably,” said UT SP (Operations and WACSU) RS Ghumman.

Year Complaints Compromises Cases registered

2001    510   197     36

2002   770   314    40

2003   840    444    47

2004    847    433    61

2005    897    365    66

2006    1022    460    87

2007    1181    475     131

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