Sunday, 1 January 2017

When Men become Martyrs of Marriage

St. Andrews Auditorium,  Bandra West, Mumbai
A thunderous applaud and a standing ovation by more than 700 people followed the screening of Martyrs of Marriage, a feature length documentary film on misuse of IPC 498A, produced and directed by Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj, in the city at St. Andrews Auditorium, Bandra, Mumbai on friday. The event was organized in association with Vaastav Foundation. Highlighting issues that men and their families face because of misuse of gender based provisions through the medium of film, for the first time in India,  the documentary goes in depth into misuse of IPC 498A(known as the anti dowry law) and suicide by men because of domestic violence and harassment through false cases. The film is a plea to the lawmakers to ensure delivery of justice irrespective of gender, bring laws that are gender neutral and aims at legal amendments in 498A to curb its misuse. 
Made over a period of four years, Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj, has captured perspectives of lawmakers, judges, advocates, police officers, social activists, private detectives, NGOs, women’s rights activists, Men’s Rights Activists about the issue and presented real life stories of victims of false 498A cases and families of men who committed suicide because of this harassment and tortured. Various judgments delivered by apex courts on misuse of 498A and data regarding the same also form an important part of the documentary.
Between 1998 and 2015, more than 27 lac people have been arrested under 498A alone, higher than any other crime under IPC except theft, hurt and riots. 6.5 Lac women who were sisters, mothers and relatives of a man were arrested under the same period even if many of them never stayed with the couple sharing a domestic relationship. Most of these people were arrested on mere allegations without investigations. Convictions rate under 498A dropped down to 13.7% in 2014, making it one amongst few sections under IPC that have a poor conviction record. Several families have been destroyed because of incarceration due to a false case or running around courts for years and years without any mistake. Most people choose to quietly give in to legal extortion under these cases to escape decades of trial and harassment for no fault. Martyrs of Marriage is a voice of those who decided to raise their voice against the Injustice.
Since its release, the film has been screened in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and also Madurai where it was shown to Magistrates and Police Officers at the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy. The documentary has received an overwhelming response from all the cities and been described as an eye opener, a revolution, a must watch and an emotional journey of every individual who has suffered false implication under 498A in India.

The event was well attended by retired and serving judges, eminent lawyers, marriage counsellors, filmmakers, victims of abuse of 498A and general public. The auditorium was jam packed with people in the audience from various walks of life. The film left everyone teary eyed and disgusted at the same time knowing about the gross abuse of the law.  Everyone appreciated Deepika for her initiative to educate the people & her awareness drive about the abuse of 498A. People who are victims of abuse of 498A were happy that Deepika has raised her voice for them.

Mrunalini Deshmukh Senior Advocate Mumbai High court was quoted “This is a brilliant initiative by Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj. Misuse of 498A is a burning issue not just from legal perspective but from social perspective too. A law that was made for good for large is being abused in large, destroying social and personal lives of so many who suffer from the abuse of this provision. The film is an eye opener for those who advice people to file false cases as it tells the repercussions it can have. Even the courts are now expressing grave concerns as it has become easy for the people to abuse this provision. Like I have said in the film , these haloed provisions are being used by the have's rather than have nots to make a deal out of the marriage.  I am glad that Deepika has taken the initiative to draw a spotlight on the issue, thus by educating the masses about the abuse of the law 498A."
Speaking at the screening of the film in Mumbai, Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj said, “False cases under 498A have destroyed lives of several in India. Even though our courts have time and again passed judgments condemning the same, no concrete measures have been taken even till now to contain this malaise that’s driving people to suicide. So far no one has made a film on this subject. When I personally saw the misuse of 498A, I decided to speak up through a documentary and hence Martyrs of Marriage was born. I am very happy to present this film to all. I am sure it will make people realize that misuse of laws is not a trivial thing to be brushed. It is a crime and it must be dealt with harshly.  I hope that this film initiates a serious discussion around false cases, how they destroy lives and how it is time the state comes up with a concrete solution to alleviate harassment of people who are being blackmailed in knowledge of the system.”


INDIA SPECIFIC DATA (1998-2015) (Source – NCRB)

Total number of people arrested:
Total number of men arrested:
Total number of women arrested:
Total number of minors arrested:
Total number of cases tried:
Total number of cases acquitted:
Total number of cases convicted:
Total number of persons who were tried:
Total number of persons who were acquitted:
Total number of persons who were convicted:

By end of 2015, number of 498A cases pending trial: 477986(Almost 45% of total CAW cases pending trial in Indian courts)
By end of 2015, number of persons awaiting trial under 498: 910864In Custody: 131173(M) 15444(F)
On Bail: 646013(M) 118234(F)

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