Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Husband, in-laws tortured Mulund housewife: Police

Husband, in-laws tortured Mulund housewife: Police

Nishi’s jumped out of her 28th floor residence at Runwal Pride building in Mulund (West) on Sunday morning. Her body was discovered by residents near the swimming pool at about 10.15am.

After initial investigations, the police have learnt that the victim’s husband, Jitendra, and his parents were physically and mentally harassing Nishi.

Jitendra, 29, father, Mulchand, 53, mother Deepa, 49, sister, Sapna, will be in police custody for further investigation till July 2.

The Jhetwanis have been charged under section 34, 498A and 304B of the Indian Penal Code. “A case of mental and physical harassment has been lodged at the Mulund police station against them,” an officer from Mulund police station said.

According to the officer, Jitendra would get drunk and then torture his wife. Also, her in-laws were harassing her by demanding dowry.

Nishi and Jitendra had fallen in love and then tied the knot in May 2009. But soon after, Nishi was forced to quit her job in a reputed brokerage firm. She had alleged that she was burdened with housework and had no help.

Around three months ago, Nishi had returned to her parents’ home complaining about the dowry demands and the harassment she was facing.

However, Jitendra came after her and assured her parents that he would ensure that she was safe. Nishi’s parents then convinced her to go back to her husband’s house.

The Jhetwanis have a family business of safety valves.



Delhi High Court upholds conviction in ‘honour killing' case

Delhi High Court upholds conviction in ‘honour killing' case

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has upheld the conviction of a man in a so-called ‘honour killing' case in which he had killed his daughter for entering into an adulterous relation with a relative. The court rejected the argument of the accused that the crime was committed on the spur of the moment in the Najafgarh area in West Delhi in 2006.

The prosecution case against the convict, Bhagwan Dass, was that having felt humiliated at his daughter being in an incestuous relationship with his maternal aunt's son, the accused had murdered his daughter.

The trial court had sentenced Bhagwan Dass to life imprisonment on the basis of his statement given to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of the area concerned in which he had admitted his guilt, and he had also got recovered the electric wire with which he had strangled his daughter.

However in his statement before the trial court, Bhagwan Dass had denied having made any statement before the SDM. He also denied that he had murdered his daughter. Rather, he told the court that it was he who had informed the court about the death of his daughter.

The High Court also rejected the statement recorded before the SDM saying that it was inadmissible as evidence as it was recorded before the investigating officer of the case.

The two circumstances which led to rejection of the appeal of the convict by the High Court were his presence at his house when the death of his daughter occurred there and not informing the local police about her death for more than eight hours after her murder.

Counsel for the convict argued before a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Suresh Kait that the case fell under culpable homicide not amounting to murder as he had committed the crime on the spur of the moment when he lost his self control on being told something uncharitable by his daughter during the heated exchange between them.

However, the Bench rejected this argument. The Bench said: “The provocation of the deceased running away after abandoning her husband and being in adultery with her cousin uncle was a fact in the knowledge of the appellant for over a month and surely this conduct of the deceased would not be a sudden or a grave provocation resulting in loss of self control.”

“That the appellant met his daughter after over a month and chose to have a dialogue with her on the emotive issue of how his daughter should conduct herself socially was with sufficient forewarning to the appellant that he had to deal with an obstinate daughter who could not only test his patience to the extreme but could even possibly provoke him to anger and retribution. It is in this backdrop that we are compelled to hold that the appellant may not be entitled to the defence of loss of self control,” the Bench ruled.

The Bench said, “it is apparent that the victim was killed between 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. when she was sleeping. The accused did not specify what was the provocation from the side of his daughter which angered him.”



Trade secrets from a sperm bank in India

Trade secrets from a sperm bank in India

Jyotsna Agnihotri Gupta1

Dr X (pseudonym adopted to protect the identity of the service provider and the sperm bank) is the director of a sperm bank that has been operating since the early 1990s in a large city in India. What follows here is an abridged version of the author's interview with Dr X conducted in December 2001.

JG: Who are your main customers - public hospitals, or also private clinics and individuals?

Dr X: It is mainly private clinics, but [also] individual people; hospitals much less. They're doing [semen collection] on their own premises also. We have a small bank. We get almost 10 donors every day. We try to do our work as thoroughly and as honestly as possible; because there is a lot of ghapla [corruption] in this field - in sperm banks. You may not know about it. As for private practitioners - I don't want to say anything about them - whatever they're doing, it is between them and the patient. But we're doing our work very honestly and extremely meticulously. We take a donor's sample and analyse it, and if it is suitable we ask the donor to come and donate. We do all the checks for infectious diseases, HIV, jaundice, etc. We allow them to come twice a week, at the most. Actually, a donor can keep on coming and donating if his sperm counts are normal, and motility and everything else is good. As compensation donors receive some money.

JG: Do they receive a fixed amount per sample?

Dr X: Yes, it's a fixed amount, Rs 200-something. Mostly we encourage students to come. We don't allow just anybody from the street to come and donate, as in blood banks. In India everybody can go and donate their blood to a blood bank. I don't know about other places. But here, we don't allow [that]. We have a restriction that a person who is donating semen should have at least passed class XII. Mostly donors are students from the university in the vicinity. We pay them. If they come twice a week, they get about Rs 400 to 500, and that is for their pocket money.

Moreover, they also come to know about their own physiology. Male fertility is declining very rapidly. From 1948 to1998 it has gone down by 40 per cent. Males in this country are also getting conscious about this fact, that is why they are interested in coming and donating their semen. Also, they come to know if they have any disease. Because we eliminate diseases - hereditary diseases, HIV, infectious diseases, chlamydia, bacterial diseases, etc. They come very regularly. We take a sample and keep it if the sample is good and free of all diseases. We take their family history also. If the family history does not show, for two-three generations at least, [any] condition which is genetic, only then we take their sample. If someone comes for the first time we ask him to come again after three months, because the time for incubation of HIV and other diseases is three months.... After three months, when we again screen and see that he is free of all these diseases, abnormal conditions and all that, only then we take his semen and store it. We keep it under liquid nitrogen (196 degrees) in cryo-tanks, where it can be stored for 10 to 15 years and remain quite good.

JG: I've noticed different coloured straws in the container. Do you classify semen under certain categories like physiological characteristics and colour of hair, eyes, etc?

Dr X: We categorise on the basis of three main things - colour of hair, complexion and height. We also note their blood group, so that we can match it. Every week we take out this sample which has been kept separately for quality control. We test it again and see the concentration, how much is the survival of the sperm. For it to be workable the concentration should be 40 million per ml. and the motility should be 50 per cent. After keeping it in liquid nitrogen it becomes about 25 to 30 million per ml. So, there is a loss of about 10 million. But usually you require only one sperm to fertilise. But still we give up to 20 million per ml. That's also according to the WHO norm. We don't take samples that are deficient in sperm count; we only take samples which are very good - 100 million per ml or 80 million per ml. Then even if you lose 50 per cent, after loss you get at least 40 per cent per ml. Before we give the sample we do a quality control again, and see how much loss there is and how much concentration there is, whether it is workable or not. If it is not workable, we don't give that sample.

JG: Are donors anonymous?

Dr X: Yes, totally anonymous. We give the donors this “donor waiver form” so that they don't make a claim at some point of time. There might be so many things.... In the lab it is all coded. Only I know; no one else can find out. The donor never comes to know. He can't find out to whom his sample has been given, whether he has a child. Suppose there is a child born in a rich family, he may become greedy, he may want to blackmail [them], but he can't do any such thing. This form takes care of these legalities.

The duration of abstinence needs to be written on the form here. Abstinence should not be more than six days between the first sample and the second sample Otherwise, the sperm count goes down. Even seven days is too much. Even when it is the husband's sample that has to be given to the wife, the abstinence should not be more than three days. I don't know exactly what happens, but more than three days after ejaculation the concentration goes down. One can donate semen at the most three to six days after sexual intercourse. Even these boys who come to donate are asked  how many days abstinence [they have had]. Abstinence doesn't mean that they must not have had sexual intercourse.... I mean masturbation.... They all masturbate in this age. In our days even to utter the word was considered a crime. We couldn't do any such thing, or even think about it.

JG: In Scandinavian countries, since they renounced anonymity, there are very few sperm donors. In the Netherlands there are two systems, there are those who don't mind their identity being known so that when the child is 16 to 18 and wants to know who the father is then he/she can be told, while there are others who donate only on condition of anonymity.

Dr X: There's a big difference between there and here. Here, infertility is a taboo subject. Even those patients who take samples from us and get pregnant will not [have] the delivery done by the same doctor, because the doctor will come to know they have had a child. Patients even change doctors because there's such a ... taboo on it. People [do not want to admit] that they come here, that they have ever been even in the direction of the sperm bank, or they have ever heard of this sperm bank. But at the same time they are so desperate that it is amazing and shocking also, that the father-in-law is coming to donate his sperm for his bahu [daughter-in-law], the jeith or devar [brother-in-law] is coming to donate. I mean, if it was a friend, an acquaintance, or a far relative it would be something else, the real dada [grandfather] is creating his own child - son/daughter, whatever it is. That is how desperate people here are!

JG: Probably they think that at least it is from within the family, rather than someone else's genetic material.

Dr X: Yes, that at least the child's mother is the real mother. We tell them why don't you adopt? There are so many children; but they are not prepared to adopt.

JG: Instead, people are going for IVF which is such a strenuous, long-drawn procedure and not always successful.

Dr X: Its success rate is even lower than artificial insemination by donor. In intra-uterine insemination [IUI] a maximum of six cycles is done. Generally, if it is successful it is within three to four cycles. After that you can keep trying, but it doesn't work. But people are just not prepared to adopt, even from a relative.

JG: Probably adoption has become much less common since these technologies have become more known or in use.

Dr X: Earlier people didn't have alternatives.

JG: Can any individual or doctor take a sample from your bank for insemination?

Dr X: It is only individuals and private sector doctors, because I do not know of any public hospitals that are offering IVF or IUI. We also get husband's sperm for analysis and semen wash. We analyse it, for two things - sperm count and motility. Then we wash it and give it. But the sad thing is that doctors are only concerned with making money; there is no humanity. Please, do not record this.

JG: Please don't worry; I will not disclose your name.

Dr X: When they take the sample and give it to the doctor, the doctor doesn't even take care of it properly. In the liquid nitrogen the sperm is in cold shock; there is no movement, and without movement there is no activity, and there can be no pregnancy. A doctor should keep a proper water bath, maintain temperature at 37 degrees Celsius. You have to keep it for 10 to 15 minutes if you are taking it out of liquid nitrogen; only then it will become conscious, to be motile. After taking it in your hand for two minutes if you say now it is at body temperature - that is not true. There is a big difference between the inside and outside temperature. So, if there is no movement there will be no pregnancy. But they are not bothered to take care of this; this is the most crucial matter. When they take the sample they must keep it at 37 degrees for 10 minutes, then mix it with a syringe, so that the top and the bottom are mixed well. After that you must look under the microscope and see if the count is all rright, the motility is ok. Only then you should inject it. Without doing anything they just keep it in hand for a few minutes and inject it. Naturally, it doesn't work. Then people complain to us. Then we ask the doctors, “What procedure did you follow?” They say, “We keep it in the hand for a few minutes and keep it at room temperature after taking it out of liquid nitrogen.” In liquid nitrogen it is -190 degrees, under cold shock.

There is so much malpractice to make money. They are just interested in getting their money, whether it works or not. The patients come and tell us these stories. They do not know about the shock. They say the doctor did something quickly. Sometimes they can't even feel if anything went inside. So we don't know what they do. We ask the patient, “How do you know if something went inside or not?” They say they can feel if something is going inside. Well, we don't know if it is so. There is a lot of medical malpractice. When the patients complain to us...we corner [the doctors] and tell them, “You do it incorrectly, you shouldn't do it this way.... You earn so much money, at least keep a water bath at 37 degrees. Keep an incubator.” At the most an incubator costs Rs 3,000 to 4,000, but they don't do that.

Let me also tell you... [sometimes] instead of getting semen from our bank, some doctors tell their office boy to get his semen. The office boy brings it and gives it to the doctor. How does the poor patient know where he has brought it from? This is criminal, because he could be suffering from anything, HIV or anything, and without any screening, they inseminate. Our doctors are doing these kinds of things. I'm telling you this, but generally no one talks about this, it is a trade secret.

JG: I read something similar in the newspapers about it.

Dr X: Did you read about it? Well, then it is ok.

JG: I have read about it, but you explained certain things properly, like not maintaining the proper temperature. I had read about doctors taking samples from men who come for certain other tests who were told that a semen sample is also required and then the doctors use it for other patients.

Dr X: They tell [them that the] semen sample was bad, so we threw it away; send us another sample. In this way they get another sample. But they don't throw it away, they get two samples instead of one in this way. We give it because they take from us often; after all this is our business too. I'm telling you the inside story. Because they take samples from us very often, therefore, to keep them happy, sometimes in a month we have to give some doctors four to six extra samples. We, too, have to sell. If this is a doctor who takes [a lot of] samples and says they were bad then we are forced to oblige him. He can dictate his terms, so we must suffer.

JG: Do they also mix fresh semen of someone with frozen sperm?

Dr X: No, then they would just use fresh sperm, why would they mix it with frozen sperm? No one is looking. There is no one of the patient's family in the lab; the patient just trusts you... [They come begging for a good sample.] I tell [them], “We always give good samples, but we don't know what's happening at the doctor's.” But when they complain to us, we ask the doctors. Some doctors are doing IUI every day, on six consecutive days, on a woman. They have made that patient a guinea pig continuously for six days. After giving hormones, they check on the monitor every day by ultrasound if the follicle has ruptured, and when it comes in the fallopian tube they inseminate because the chances of fertilisation are better. There is no logic in doing IUI for six consecutive days. They give hormones and think several eggs will be produced, and hope that if we do IUI every day, one or the other egg may fertilise.

Fifty years ago infertility was a female phenomenon, but now it is mostly a male phenomenon - azoospermia. You get such good-looking couples from very well-to-do families who come here. There are even infertile doctors among them. In one case the doctor's brother donated his sperm. What can you do? The wife knows it's his brother's. Very often they take someone else's sperm and give it to their wives without telling them it is not their own. Especially the uneducated people - poor things, they don't know it is not their husband's. They tell their wives, “I'm bringing you my sample. There is some problem with you, something slightly wrong with your system, so they will take out my sperm and inseminate you with it.” Then they bring someone else's semen and give it to their wives. The poor wife knows nothing about it. At least you should take your wife in confidence and tell her what you are doing! Just see the kind of things that happen here.

JG: Does it have to do with shame?

Dr X: Yes, it has to do with shame.... Once a very handsome young couple came here. The man was the son of a [senior] army officer. I asked them how they had got married. He said it was a love marriage. Because theirs was a love marriage, the wife said, “Whatever my husband says, I'm prepared to do for him; just because I love him so much. I didn't know earlier and the poor guy didn't know either that there was a problem with his fertility.” Males themselves don't know; now they are afraid. That is why they come here now. We have such a [crowd] - at least 10 to 12 males, donors, sitting here every day, to find out about themselves. They are very anxious, and come again and again. “Please check again,” they say. When these “rejected goods” come again the second time, we don't pay them... because we don't want to take their sample and waste our money. Sometimes, you get such healthy sperm, so robust, so active and very motile. From such a good sample six to eight vials can be made, so that eight inseminations can take place. Some people have such good quality sperm, but the majority is average, not very good. What we take and store is average and slightly above. We don't take anything below average because it deteriorates further.... Some people have a sperm count of only 2 to 3 per cent. In one field where there should be seven to eight sperm, [and if] there is one, or not even one and they insist that [they will still give us a] sample five or six times and we should concentrate it and give it [back to them]. We did that too... if they are prepared to pay us for it why should we have problems with that? But the count was very low. [One particular case] took the sample for insemination. But we don't know if it worked. Rarely does one come and tell us if it worked - neither doctors nor patients.

JG: There is a spectacular increase in the number of couples who are coming for assisted reproduction, even though it is so expensive.

Dr X: I think it is going to take off very rapidly because of the decline in fertility.

JG: A biological child is considered so important that people are prepared to spend a lot of money for it. Now there are so many centres offering the services.

Dr X: Now even villagers know about it. Some villagers also come here to take sperm and they want to know more about it. I don't know how to explain to them.

JG: A gynaecologist told me that in villages there are dais [traditional midwives] who say they “give an injection”, that is, they do artificial insemination.

Dr X: Yes, but you can imagine that if doctors are indulging in such malpractices, in the villages the poor women will die from... all sorts of diseases. The doctors are doing it knowingly; they are really playing with the lives of women. They are not worried about life and death, but only about making money. The more  [the number of] women [that] come to them, the more money they will make. The doctors never tell us... how well our product is working. I mean, we treat it as a product, it is commercial. Once a woman came with sweets and a photo of her child - in her case it was a first attempt. There was another woman who said she was successful in her third attempt. But in some cases they have six to eight inseminations, yet it doesn't work

JG: Doesn't it depend on the tubal factor of the woman too?

Dr X: Yes, that plays a role, but it is also carelessness on the part of doctors. They show no genuineness. It pains me to say this - our assistants go to the doctors and see the conditions there and [report back to] us. I've been only once to a doctor's clinic, and what I saw really made me feel very bad. They do not treat women as human beings, but as animals. They do an insemination and take their money, that's it.

JG: Isn't this unethical?

Dr X: Very unethical!

JG: At the moment there are hardly any guidelines. The ICMR is finalising guidelines. They had a meeting a few weeks ago, the report will be available in a few weeks.

Dr X: Even if there are any guidelines, who follows them? It is an extremely difficult task to have them applied or followed. They have to take legal action about it, that they will not be allowed to practise if they don't follow these guidelines.

JG: Like in the case of sex-determination tests. We have a law, but there has not been a single prosecution under the law.

Dr X: Not with us, 10 years ago we did separation of sex cells.

JG: But now it is illegal.

Dr X: Yes, the law has been passed, but still people are performing it.

JG: Yes, I too have heard that some doctors are still offering the tests.

Dr X: People are still performing them. It is very easy. Some people come to us, too, and ask us [for it]. We say we don't do the test.... I tell them probably it was done 10 years ago, but not any more; we are not doing it. [But] who is checking here if the law is being observed?

Dr X gives me a round of the lab, after which I thank the doctor and take my leave.


The research for this article was conducted within a research project, “Body Parts, Property and Gender”, while the author was affiliated as a postdoctoral fellow (December 2000-May 2004) at the Department of Culture, Health and Illness, Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands. It was funded by a grant from the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (NWO-WOTRO), Project Number WB 52-871.

Assistant professor in Gender and Diversity, University for Humanistics, Utrecht, and postdoctoral researcher at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University, THE NETHERLANDS email: jagupta@tiscali.nl


Whose fault is it?

Whose fault is it?

Is marriage a sacrament, or is it just a legal contract? It remains an institution that offers the possibility of happiness, if configured right…

A recent discussion with my good friend on what I felt about the idea of divorce set me thinking about the ambivalence with which we generally tend to approach the subject. While we have learned to accept divorce, we'd much rather not think about it, unless we are forced to. I believe that our ambivalence is largely owing to the fact that we've not quite made up our minds on what precisely marriage means to us.

Traditionally, marriage has been considered a sacrament and this is the way most older Indians approach the institution of marriage. Obviously, in this situation, divorce becomes a moral dilemma, for, who would be comfortable engaging in sacrilege? Which explains why thousands of couples in the country, despite strongly feeling the need to separate from their partners for often very legitimate reasons, have hung in there and seen their lives through in an atmosphere of barely-manageable marital toxicity. Younger Indians though, don't necessarily see marriage as a sacred institution. Which perhaps explains why they are willing to consider the possibility of divorce when their marriages are not configured for emotional fulfilment.

However, it is still not easy even for young Indians to get blasé about divorce, for the sacrament theory of marriage is still strongly imbued in the hidden depth of their psyches, and perhaps their DNA even. So, despite the fact that the nation's lawmakers have recognised the validity of divorce in certain situations, Indian couples approach Family Courts with some considerable trepidation.

Considerable difficulty

Indian divorce legislation has rightly not made it easy for people to rush to divorce courts. The easiest form of divorce is that obtained by mutual consent, if both partners are mutually agreeable to a parting of ways. However, this is often not the case, for, one of the partners refuses to consent to a divorce for whatever reason. In such a situation, if the other partner still wants a divorce, the only option available is to unilaterally approach the court for divorce on certain specified grounds such as cruelty, desertion, mental disorder, adultery and so on. Obviously, the accused partner has a right to ‘contest' the allegations, and the burden of proof is on the accuser to prove to the court that the grounds on which divorce is sought really exist. Very often, it is extremely difficult to prove these beyond reasonable doubt, as a result of which many divorces go through lengthy and expensive legal processes which benefit none of the players. And it is not uncommon for the partner whose mind is made up on the issue of divorce to resort to unfounded allegations to strategically enhance the probability of divorce. However, this is now set to change.

Changes ahead

Very recently, the Indian cabinet has recommended amendments to divorce provisions under the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriages Act, whereby ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage' will be considered an acceptable ground for divorce. In other words, even if one partner is unwilling, if the partner who approaches the court can prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, or if the accused partner is resorting to delaying tactics and avoiding court appearances, then the courts will be empowered to dissolve the marriage (of course, there will be lots of checks and balances and things may not be as simple as they sound). This is the equivalent of the much-debated “no-fault divorce” in the United States. Although the no-fault divorce first made its appearance in the state of California about 40 years ago, the other states took their own time adopting it (the state of New York is only now in the final stages of doing so). In fact, for many years New York state prided itself in having among the lowest divorce rates in the US and many New Yorkers now fear that there will be a flurry of divorce applications owing to the no-fault divorce, which is exactly the fear in the minds of many people in our country with this proposed amendment. However, such concerns are baseless, for, research has documented that although there is usually an initial increase in divorce applications when such legislation is enacted, things level off after a while, for, the rates of the ‘contested divorces' progressively decrease.

Needs work

Which brings me back to the point that I initially started exploring. If the laws of the land endorse the fact that some marriages can break down irretrievably, then marriage can no longer be viewed as a sacrament. Then how are we to think of it? A contract? I wouldn't really take such an extreme perspective. I would much rather consider marriage as a special relationship that provides all human beings the possibility of peace, health and happiness, but only if it is appropriately configured. For this to happen, one needs to usher three Cs into marriage: Commitment, Connectedness and Companionship. I would much rather we work towards such “no-fault marriages” and consider “no-fault divorces” only if, despite exhausting ourselves trying, we're still not able to get the marriage right. And since there are enough couples out there getting it right, I remain optimistic that the divorce rates in our country, which have been arguably pegged at about 11 divorces for every 1,000 marriages, are unlikely to veer too sharply northwards.

The writer is the author of the just-launched Fifty-50 Marriage: Return to Intimacy and can be contacted at vijay.nagaswami@gmail.com

High drama after man facing dowry charge leaps off building



High drama after man facing dowry charge leaps off building

The brother of a Post and Telegraph employee who died in a fall from the third floor of the building where his estranged wife was staying has lodged a complaint accusing his sister-in-law of murder.

Dhananjaya (45), a resident of Sampige Layout, had gone on Tuesday night to meet his wife Padma who lives with their two children in a flat on the top floor of the three-storied building in M.C. Layout. Seeing the flat locked, Dhananjaya went to the terrace and jumped. Residents rushed him to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, where he died on Wednesday morning.

Following his death, Dhananjaya’s relatives came to the Vijayanagar police station and demanded action against Padma whom they accused of pushing him from the terrace.

Although the police registered a case of murder, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) B. Shivakumar said: “Dhanajaya’s wife was not at home at the time. We will proceed with the case after we receive the autopsy report.” The police said Padma had filed a dowry harassment complaint against her husband who had been arrested by the Vijayanagar police. He later came out on bail.

Costly gifts at weddings to come under tax scrutiny

Costly gifts at weddings to come under tax scrutiny

Exchange of expensive gifts and jewellery items during wedding marriage ceremonies are liable to taxmen scrutiny, said a city court.

It also said that immovable assets as gifts would require mandatory authentic registration.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said, “Pricey gifts given to relatives, which do not fall within the definition of Stridhan (gift items received by girl) are taxable in the hands of the recipient.” Citing a dowry complaint, the judge said it is important for families of both the bride and the groom to divulge their revenue books to the taxmen.

The court said anti-dowry laws have been reduced to “paper tigers”.

“Dowry has become an avenue to bury black money during marriage ceremonies,” said Lau.

“It is necessary to ensure that due inquiry and investigations are conducted not only with regard to the source of income of the person giving dowry, but also as to whether these transactions are duly reflected in the Wealth Tax returns of both,” she added.

Presiding over a case of an estranged couple, in which the wife was appealing against the order passed by a trial court, Lau observed that incidents of abuse of special provisions of dowry harassment law has become the trend.

The trial court in October 2009 had ordered registration of an FIR against the wife and her family for giving dowry at her wedding. The groom had filed a complaint saying his wife had wilfully admitted of giving gifts and money to his family.

The additional sessions judge quashed the wife’s plea seeking to cancel the criminal proceedings initiated against her family. An FIR was registered against her family following the complaint by her husband, who is facing dowry harassment charges.



While laws prohibiting dowry not only forbid receipt but also giving it, a city court, in a significant observation, held that the brides’ families are to be blamed for rendering the social welfare legislation largely ineffective.

“It is unfortunate that the legislation (Dowry Prohibition Act) has been reduced to a mere paper tiger. What is more unfortunate is that the family of the woman (involved in the marriage) is responsible for the non-accomplishment of this legislation,” Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Kamini Lau noted.

To meet the objectives of the law, not only the grooms’ families but also the brides’ must be booked for giving dowry in the name of social obligation, the court said.

“Dowry is a two-way traffic and unless there is a giver there can be no taker... In order to eliminate this evil both the giver and taker have been made liable under the Act. It is not possible to leave one and book the other,” ASJ Lau said.

“It is time this social welfare legislation is ruthlessly implemented and none is permitted to take the shield of social compulsion. This has become all the more necessary in order to check the misuse and abuse of special laws,” she added.

The court also said expensive gifts given by relatives to a couple before and after marriage must be brought to the notice of the authorities for levying of taxes.

The court made the observations while dismissing the plea of a woman seeking to quash criminal proceedings initiated against her family for giving of dowry following a complaint by her husband who faced dowry harassment charges. The woman had challenged the order by a Metropolitan Magistrate in October last year, who had directed the registration of an FIR against her family members for giving dowry for her marriage in April 2008.


Don’t blame the man if a woman commits suicide. Arn’t women responcible for their own emotions actions decisions and weaknesses

Don’t blame the man if a woman commits suicide, there may be more to their broken relationship, says our study...

It’s happening again. The media is uncertain whether supermodel Viveka Babaji left a suicide note on Friday blaming boyfriend Gautam Vora for driving her to end her life. Neighbours in the Bandra apartment block heard the couple fighting late on Thursday night. And the last entry in Viveka’s diary allegedly reads, “You killed me Gautam Vora.”
But does that incriminate Gautam in an abetment of suicide case under Section 306 of the IPC? It shouldn’t because Viveka, according to her elder sister Vineeta, had attempted suicide before, and was known to be hyper-sensitive, emotional, given to manic depressions, and lived a model’s life that flirted with drugs and alcohol abuse, loneliness, bad and broken relationships, the stress of insecurities and competition.

It’s also not fair to the guy in a case like this. Especially if the girl, as he discovers late into their relationship, is neurotic or even psychotic. We’re not saying this was Viveka’s condition. But certainly, only a loss of contact with reality could have led her to commit suicide. Her boyfriend, perhaps recalling how men in similar circumstances were hounded by the police, harassed by courts, and rejected by society, has gone into hiding already.

Cases in point are Miss India, model and TV host Nafisa Joseph’s suicide in July 2004 after fiancee Gautam Khanduja called off their wedding following differences of opinion over his earlier marriage and divorce. Her suicide led to his arrest and a case being filed against him that went on for quite some time. Likewise model and TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa’s suicide which brought her boyfriend Bhanu Uday under the scanner. Then there was air-hostess Sucheta Anand’s case in Mumbai two years ago where her boyfriend, co-pilot Arjun Menon, was arrested.

A study by BT has revealed that people are sympathetic towards men caught in such predicaments. And the general consensus is that unless the men are directly responsible for pushing the women to the edge, like in dowry deaths, they should not be held responsible, declared guilty, and punished. This is what our study revealed...

Not guilty, say the men

Narendra Kumar, designer

Of course, the man could be at fault, but not always the culprit. Men jump off buildings, too, and could be the victims sometimes. On one hand we say women and men are equal and on the other, the men are the first to be blamed. It all boils down to how well an individual can cope with a situation.

Kunal Kohli, filmmaker

Naturally, the suspicion will fall on the person closest to the victim, who’s been spending maximum time with her. It’s not fair because there can be a lot of reasons for a person to take such a step.

Acquin Pais, model

For someone to take such a drastic step means that he/she has been hurt/cheated by someone very close and dear to them. And usually, it is the boyfriend/ lover. In a superficial industry such as this, it can get extremely lonely. And most often than not, to get into such a frame of mind, it has to involve someone close to you.

Rahul DaCunha, adman

It’s too easy to blame suicide on spurned love. The guy can have been the last straw to an already suicidal mind.

Milind Soman, model

Unless you know, you shouldn’t talk. Useless speculation is a waste of time and energy.

Timmy Narang, businessman

It’s not fair. One always has the choice to stay or walk away from a relationship and take control of his/her life. It is not fair to blame others for your own weaknesses.

Pritish Nandy, writer

There are countless other reasons in today’s complex and extremely competitive world that can drive a girl to suicide. Why always blame a man? Relationships break down every day. Not everyone goes out and kills herself.

Chetan Hansraj, actor

When something drastic like this happens, the first reaction is to blame a bad relationship, thereby putting the blame on the boyfriend. It’s wrong, but then again, it’s natural.

Not guilty/ Medical experts

Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria says, “Not every suicide is a result of something traumatic in an individual’s life. It could be because of depression or the individual’s inherent personality. In borderline personality disorder cases, suicidal attempts are common. Indian society is women-oriented and there’s a natural tendency to blame the men when things happen. Until a matter is investigated thoroughly, no fingers should be pointed at anyone.” Suicides often take place due to career lows or failed relationships. Dr Rajan Bhosle, psychotherapist and relationship counselor, says, “Women are heart-oriented, their expectations are different. The man initially tends to make a lot of promises and later doesn’t keep them. That’s when the lady feels cheated and gets very demanding, which, in turn, pushes the man further away and they break up. However, the man can’t be blamed because both are responsible. She was wrong in putting all eggs in one basket and in believing that the end of one relationship is the end of the world.”

Not guilty/Legal expert

Criminal lawyer Satish Maneshinde says, “In a large number of cases, suicides happen because of breakups or fights in relationships. Whenever there is a suicide, the police zero in on people who are connected emotionally or through authority (employer in the case of an employee committing suicide) with the deceased. They even book people under abetment of suicide to prove that they’ve carried out their investigations. Abetment means either to goad or assist or help in preparation or instigate a person to commit suicide. But none of these really apply when it comes to suicides related to relationships/ breakups. Most of these suicides are to do with the person’s individuality or character, it’s more inbuilt and it’s not viewed as acquired. So when the abetment cases go to court, after a full-fledged trial, the people are let off because of lack of evidence and because abetment cannot be foisted on these cases connected with relationships.

What the law says...

Section 306, IPC on abetment of suicide says: If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. However, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy clarifies that mere mention of the man’s name in the suicide note does not make him culpable in each case unless it is convincingly proved that by his mental and physical harassment and abuse of the woman, he drove her to commit suicide.
Compiled by Nicole Dastur and Deepali Dhingra