PDF version of the book can be found here.
Preface for the internet reprint
This book was first published in 2004 at a time when frivolous cases under IPC Section 498-A had started like wildfire all over the country. However, very few people had the courage or will to resist the mass misuse of this draconian law. There were, no doubt, attempts by some well meaning activists, advocates and judges to point out the vulgar abuse of a law meant for the relief of suffering women, but their voices were muted by a chorus of women activists who hardly understood the implications of this misuse. One of the major reasons why people were scared of this law was the bogey created by vested interests, including the police, that the accused and all the family members could be immediately arrested and brought to a police station without any preliminary prima facie investigation. This was not a fact as was clearly brought out through a judgment by a Division Bench of the Apex Court way back in 1994.
The enactment of an ill-conceived law like 498-A, probably has a political background about which very little is known. However, it is being whispered about in most circles and it may very well be true. During the post-Janata tenure of Indira Gandhi after the tragic death of Sanjay Gandhi in an air crash there was a persistent fight between Indira Gandhi and her widowed daughter-in-law, Maneka Gandhi. Eventually the latter was thrown out of the Prime Minister’s house. Maneka Gandhi sat on dharana outside the house for quite some time and the media made a big issue of it. This brought an adverse publicity for the Congress party in general and the Prime Minister in particular, especially among women. The Prime Minister was advised to adopt some fire-fighting measures to avoid damage in the forthcoming elections. A quick remedy was the hasty enactment of a law that was neither well worded nor properly defined, so that the ruffled feathers of women could be assuaged.
Since the first publication of this book some qualitative changes have taken place in understanding and execution of this law. Earlier the law was primarily misused either to avoid a divorce or to seek revenge. When it was seen that the law did not avoid divorce but helped the same, a new dimension came into existence. This law was used as extortion for receiving huge amounts of money as a bargain for withdrawal of the case. In this process the police and advocates developed a vested interest since they also had a share in the booty. No wonder, in 2001, one frivolous case under 498-A was registered in 53 minutes in the country, while in 2010 one case was registered in 33 minutes. The numbers of frivolous cases have multiplied at an exponential rate and the consequent convictions have declined in the same proportion. In fact there are hardly any convictions under this law alone.
A positive qualitative change is that there is a lot of consciousness about the misuse and a resistance as well. More and more people are getting aware of the dimensions of the law and its misuse and insist on their rights that are blatantly abused by the police. A Yeoman service is rendered by some blogs and websites that help young men and their families and advise them. In particular, I always recommend people to visit the website of this anonymous gentleman who himself suffered under the law but valiantly fought it out and created a 498-A Portal entitled A Guide to Surviving IPC 498A.
Supreme Court has time and again under numerous judgments insisted that there can be no automatic arrest of any person under this law flouting the provisions of Cr.P.C. in spite of a lot of noise by some so called women NGOs. Every sufferer should know this and fight it out and not succumb to any undue and illegal pressure.
There has been a lot of demand for this book though I am conscious of the fact that it is dated. It has probably a historical value since it appears to be the first book written on the subject. It was no doubt penned by a lay man who had hardly any knowledge of the law and legal practice. That seems to be the reason that a number of research scholars working in universities and law colleges want to have a copy. It is not possible for me to revise it and bring it up to date, nor am I competent to do so. So on persistent demand I am putting it as such on the net.
S. K. Shah
August 26, 2016
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