Suppose, there is a matrimonial dispute between husband and wife and consequent irretrievable breakdown of marriage without initiation of any divorce or other proceedings under family law. The wife decides to take the path of vengeance and teach her husband a lesson instead of following the legal recourse available to her. She drafts a false complaint (through a seasoned lawyer) based on concocted facts directed to the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district where she resides and tries to implicate her husband who is otherwise innocent under section 498a, 506, 323, 406 of Indian Penal Code.
Under these circumstances as mentioned above what remedy does a husband have under the law as it prevails in India? How to protect yourself against false 498A FIR?
Procedure of Defense against false Dowry / sexual harassment cases
When such a complaint, true or false, is filed by a wife against her husband in a police station which has jurisdiction to entertain such complaint, the police does not immediately lodge an FIR. Instead this complaint is forwarded to women cell so that both the parties may reach a compromise which may be monetary in terms and so that no FIR is lodged against husband and his family. If the parties are still unable to reach a compromise, the women cell directs the parties to go to the mediation and conciliation Center in district courts throughout India. If there also the parties are unable to reach any compromise or settlement, the case goes back to women cell. And even then lodging of FIR against husband and his family is an arduous process. If wife or her family or relatives are well-connected, or they bribe police, only then police lodges an FIR under the sections of Indian Penal Code mentioned above.
Prevention of 498a cases
Prevention is always better than cure. If the husband and his family have not committed any offense under aforementioned sections, they have not taken any dowry or illegally kept with themselves the stuff belonging to the wife, they have not beaten the wife or caused any mental or physical harassment to her then they have every right to take precautions which I am going to mention now. The precautions mentioned here are based on an actual case in which the parties finally compromised their disputes but because of these preventive measures undertaken by the husband, husband’s family and he himself were saved from treading the fiery path of criminal justice system.
Facts with an example
Husband in my case was a government official expecting his promotion. The wife filed a complaint under the aforementioned sections to the senior Superintendent of police in Chandigarh. Husband told me that he had already known since the 2nd week of marriage that wife was very aggressive in nature. Since then he kept recording all her conversations with himself and his family members without informing the wife or any other person including his family members. He did not ever tell this to even his closest friends. Further his wife was using android phone. He installed an android spy application in his wife’s phone which recorded everything which she talked about and also recorded all her text messages including whatsapp and Viber. (IMPORTANT – both sim card and phone were purchased in the name of husband). And therefore by these measures he knew exactly what his wife was planning to do. He started living separately from his parents in a rented accommodation even before there was any eruption of violence or aggression on the part of wife. He also made a separate proof of residence of himself and his wife. All this was done in a very smooth and professional manner. The husband also kept a photocopy of almost all of the documentation of wife before the actual trouble started. He had the photocopy of the passport, driving license, all bank account numbers, medical history, education degrees and certificates et cetera of his wife. So much so that with the passage of time he came to know that wife had several male friends. And although he could not get any evidence of infidelity but he could gather enough to at least make an allegation of infidelity against the wife in future if the need arose. Husband also transferred all his properties in name of his brother and sister.None of his bank accounts had savings above Rs. 5000.
And under these circumstances one can easily expect what could be the consequence once the wife made a false complaint on dowry and other allegations against her family, the husband and the husband himself. Wife finally complained to police. Almost all allegations were false and concocted stories. Husband had all the recordings of the abusive language used by the wife when the negotiations were going on in women cell and the mediation and conciliation Center in district Court sector 43 Chandigarh.
It may be noted that dowry laws are in favor of women and are prejudiced against the husband and his family members. In these circumstances precautions taken by the husband could not help him much except to the extent that he was able to negotiate with the wife. Even the women cell and the mediator were sympathetic towards him.
I may also warn the reader that even after these taking precautions mentioned above the law does not change. The police have power to lodge a FIR under section 156 of Criminal Procedure Code. And therefore the best way to protect your skin in such facts and circumstances is to have solid links with the police officials at lower and higher levels. This does not mean a bribing the police. To bribe a police official is illegal. It simply means having enough evidences – not merely oral – so much that police refuses to entertain complaint of wife.
There are several ways that such evidences and precautions help the innocent accused persons –
1. Police may refuse to register FIR.
2. If not arrested yet, then accused persons get anticipatory bail more easily
3. If any of the accused persons have been arrested, it is easy to get regular bail.
4. This helps a lot during trial.
5. Once a person gets anticipatory bail or regular bail, it breaks back-bone of the criminal case of wife because the most a court can do is jail a person and this is averted by anticipatory and cut short by regular bail.
6. This also helps a both the parties agree to reach a compromise.
In case both parties want to compromise –
The steps taken above and good negotiation skills help a lot if parties want to compromise and move to their own paths in life. This situation saves not only time but also future of parties. A husband who knows he has a bright future will work more diligently towards creating that future and making it happen. There is no better revenge than you yourself succeeding and reaching peaks of your career. In the case mentioned above the husband would not have got the promotion had the wife got an FIR lodged against him and his family. The wife’s family had excellent links with the higher police officials since her father was himself a senior bureaucrat.
Further, had there been no compromise or settlement between the parties, and even if the FIR had been lodged against the husband and his family members, the evidence which he had collected in the course of one year starting from the 2nd week of his marriage would have helped him and his family members to get anticipatory bail. In such cases the main consideration for husband and his family is not to get behind bars. If that happens and the person and his family gets anticipatory bail from the court, the case tilts in his favor. Then he and his family are able to dictate their terms during negotiation proceedings if they are started after lodging of FIR and grant of anticipatory bail. Even otherwise, the evidence collected before the situation gets out of hand helps a lot in so many different ways which cannot be mentioned without leaving the rule of brevity.
Some of our former clients have taken these steps to protect themselves from false section 498A cases and domestic violence criminal complaints (THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE) –
1. They made a plan to protect their family and themselves.
2. They disposed off all property in their name. Example – they transferred it in the name of a known person/ friend. Once they were out of litigation, they got it transferred in their name again. (Take help of expert in doing so. Because you do not want that while you are trying to protect your property from wife, a friend misappropriates it.)
3. They maintained minimum balance in bank accounts. If they were privately employed, they asked their employers to give them salary in cash – without receipts. And then they do not show income in income tax returns.
4. They made recordings – voice and video. One of our clients had camera installed in bedroom and he was able to prove adultery of wife.
5. They made separate residence proofs – far from their own parents and family.
6. They lived separately with their wives and away from their parents.
7. Exceptional circumstance – The ones who were planning to go abroad before marriage sold all their properties and went abroad without informing their wives and relatives. (Thats like saying “Now do what you want – We are not coming back.”)
8. Exceptional circumstance – One Canadian Non Resident Indian (NRI) client married in India, problems ensued in Canada after the couple went to Canada. He had just one flat in India. He visited india with wife. Sold his flat secretly. Went back to Canada secretly and has remarried now. Wife is doing all she can to implicate him. But it does not bother him. He is not going to come back to India.
9. File quashing of FIR/ quashing of criminal complaint/ quashing of order under section 319 of CrPC.