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Marital discord: misuse of laws

Indian mythology attributes great respect to married women in society. In modern times, they are insulated against exploitation with a protective cover of IPC. Subjecting a married woman to cruelty either by her husband or his relatives constitutes an offence under Section 498/A IPC with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years with fine. Earlier, Section 406,420 IPC or Dowry Act was implied and there was normal and genuine litigation. With the passage of time and circumstances, Section 498-A was introduced to secure the interest of married women who became victims of cruelty and harassment at the hands of their husbands.

The police was also given unrestricted power to investigate cognisable offence sans the order of magistrate or a formal FIR. Sometimes, the police exercises power which legally does not vest with it. Section 156(3) of CrPC enumerates direction by the magistrate to police to investigate and register the case. The police without conducting investigations, directly registers the case and arrests the husband and his family members. The section is grossly misused in many cases. As a result, there has been an increase in litigation. Often it is observed that false and frivolous cases are registered by the police against the husband and his family members on baseless complaints. The affected party has to bear ignominy, the relation of the newly married couple becomes strained and the two families engage in mud-slinging. Some married women threaten their husbands and family members with litigation and take undue advantage of this provision. To minimise litigation, Section 498-A of IPC should be amended declaring the offence bailable and compoundable so that a compromise could be thought of.

HARI CHAND SHANKER, Advocate, Ambala

Road etiquettes

I would like to express concern over the issue ‘Licence to drive is not a licence to kill’. With increasing population, road traffic has increased many fold. Big cities are becoming bigger and more crowded. Everybody seems to be in a hurry to reach their destination. People have become less tolerant. A driver with a bigger vehicle takes it as a challenge if someone with a smaller one overtakes him. Due to the fast pace of life, we are under stress all the time. In the absence of severe penalties, people ignore traffic rules at their sweet will. The cure of each ill lies in removing the cause. Don’t give yourself a reason to get late, start early from home, drive slowly. Do not carry any stress while driving.


Cement prices

Cement prices have gone through the roof. It is a bad sign for infrastructure development which is yet to reach its peak in the country. News reports indicate that the prices are destined to rise further. The cement manufacturers are celebrating while the builders are fuming. A solution to this simmering problem needs to be found immediately if infrastructural development and housing projects are to be sustained in the country. For the common man, cement has become an out of reach commodity. In a period of just one year, cement prices have risen by more than 30%.

Either the government should bring this essential building material back under its control or a Cement Prices Regulatory Committee (CPRC) should be constituted to control cement prices. Cement export should be banned and import duties should be slashed to increase import of quality cement at a competitive rate with the local price.


A scapegoat?

The arrest of senior journalist Jigna Vora for her alleged role in ‘inciting and abetting’ the murder of fellow crime reporter J Dey of Mid-Day by the Mumbai police once again brings into sharp focus the perils that modern- day journalism poses for its fraternity. An interview with Mumbai underworld don Chotta Rajan presumably landed Jigna Vora into trouble. The argument by the prosecuting authorities that her custody was required to find out the modus operandi of the underworld to exchange information would lead one to believe that on the basis of one interview, Vora became an integral part of the crime syndicate.

By taking her in custody, the contention of the prosecution that they would know the working style of journalists and how they gather information about the mafia, can only be seen as an infringement of all values held dear by the Fourth Estate. The police claim to have strong proof, enough testimonial and circumstantial evidence to back their case against her. Why did the Police Commissioner then say that Vora’s arrest was not an indication of her guilt? If, as the prosecutor argues, the police sought her custody to fill gaps in evidence, why charge Vora under the IPC for criminal conspiracy and murder and relevant sections of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act? The mounting pressure to get results after six months of investigations making no headway could have forced the police to search for scapegoats to close the case in a hurry.

In any case, Vora’s complicity in the crime is yet to be ascertained. Talking to a crime syndicate, in one’s line of duty, is definitely not a crime. If that is the case, the police would always be under the scanner for proximity to their sources and network of informers from the crime world. If every journalist is to be arraigned for snooping and hobnobbing with underworld contacts for his/her stories, we could well write an epitaph for investigative journalism.




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