Mumbai: India's Anti-Dowry Law has now assumed draconian proportions and quite a few men claim that they are facing lawsuits under this section, which are at best concocted.
Sohail Shaikh is the latest victim of section 498 A and its misuse.
Sohail divorced his wife under Islamic law days after his marriage citing previously undisclosed medical problems. He subsequently received threats from his estranged wife and her family and humiliation at the hands of police.
"I feel these threats are only for the reason of extracting money, because in Islam, we pay meher (money given to the bride at the time of the marriage) and in this case, the amount was decided at Rs 41,000. I think that is what they are after."
Gokul's story is no different. A broken marriage has left him doing the rounds of the courts for the last three years.
Today, just some pictures remain. Gokul's once successful marriage has now degenerated into a messy legal battle that has cost him Rs 1.5 lakh as well as his job.
"I went into depression and I couldn't concentrate on my job. My company was very upset with my performance and though they understood that I was framed in a false case, they could not keep me on. They are a corporate with little patience for these things," says Gokul.
Statistics suggest that Gokul and Sohail are just the tip of the iceberg.
*In 2004, 58,319 dowry cases were registered
*1,34,757 men were arrested
*47,828 cases have reached the chargesheet stage
*10,491dowry cases were not chargesheeted as they were based on frivolous ground.
*However, 5,739 men have been convicted but more than four times that number have been acquitted (24,127)
The controversial section not only covers dowry, but a wide spectrum of incidents including cruelty, causing injury and danger to mental or physical health.
It is this all consuming nature of the law that has legal experts worried.
Says advocate Dipesh Mehta, "In metro cities complaints like this are usually filed by women with the intention to harass the husbands. I am of the view that there should be some change in the provision of section 498A."
It is not always the woman who is the victim when a marriage goes wrong. The men too suffer.
Section 498(A) of IPC is a double edged sword. The Act is supposed to protect women against dowry and abuse, but it is seen by many, as too lenient towards women, so much so that sometimes the husbands have to pay the price for no fault of theirs.