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Dowry harassment law misused for extortion: Court

A Delhi court has acquitted a man and three of his family members in a dowry harassment case, saying that legal provisions are often misused for “human rights violations, extortion and corruption”.

 Asking the woman complainant to move on in life, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said: “A word of advice for the complainant that not all relationships in this world are successful. In fact, most relationships which appear to succeed are only based upon compromises. Let go of the past which is painful since attaching yourself to it will only give pain and miseries and help none.”

“I may further observe that section 498-A (penal provision on husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) in recent years has become the consummate embodiment of gross human rights violations, extortion and corruption, and even the Supreme Court of our country has acknowledged this abuse and termed it as ‘legal terrorism’,” said Lau.

 “The provisions of Section 498-A are not a law to take revenge, seek recovery of dowry or to force a divorce but a penal provision to punish the wrongdoers,” the court said Friday.

 “The platform of the courts cannot be permitted to be used to wreak personal vendetta or unleash harassment and the tendency of the complainant to come out with inflated and exaggerated allegations by roping in each and every relative of the husband is required to be deprecated,” the court said.

“The obligation of the court is to ensure that innocent persons are not put to harassment and to curtail the frivolous allegations at the earliest stage by looking for due corroboration from the facts,” she said.

 “The victims are often misguided into exaggerating the facts by adding those persons as accused who are not connected with the harassment under a mistaken belief that by doing so they are making a strong case as has happened in the present case where the complainant has involved the entire family of the husband – father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law,” said Lau.

 The court was hearing an appeal filed by the prosecution against a metropolitan magistrate’s decision to acquit the woman’s husband and his relatives.

 The prosecution stated that magisterial court while acquitting the accused had not applied its mind as there was evidence on oath by a witness who said that the material goods given by the family of the woman to her husband at the time of the marriage were still with the accused.

 While acquitting the four accused in the case, Lau said: “It is not safe to rely upon the uncorroborated testimony of the complainant.”

 “There is no independent corroboration of the allegations levelled by the woman against her husband Sanjay Kumar, father-in-law Vijay Kumar, mother-in-law Beena Devi and brother-in-law Ranjit,” the court observed.

 “When the entire family of the complainant including her own father and brother have not supported her version in the court, perhaps wanting her to move on in life, how then can one find fault with the order of the trial court,” the court asked.

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