I wrote the 498A Survivor’s Guide as a means to help people defend themselves when caught up in this extortion racket known as Section 498A, IPC. Months after writing it, I was plagued by doubts about whether it was fulfilling its purpose.
In July of 2007 I heard about a 498A case being filed against film actor Prashanth and his family. I read that they had asked the media to spread the word about the survivor’s guide to 498a as it had inspired them to fight. The feedback I received from Prashanth’s case that led me to push on with my efforts.
A few weeks ago, I heard that a final report was submitted and Prashant’s 498A case closed by the Chennai Police as a case of “MISTAKE OF FACT”.
In effect, the Police force has demonstrated that they can investigation.
When a 498A case is registered, there is a rush by the police to shakedown the victims under the pretext of a compromise. If the victims can’t or won’t pay up, the FIR with its litany of lies is transformed into a chargesheet verbatim and filed in unregulated, overburdened and increasingly corrupt trial courts. I have heard of very few instances when the allegations in the FIR were investigated and a final report being filed — closing the case as one without merit. Click here for the flowchart that will give you an idea about how a final report is filed.
It is very likely that Prashanth’s 498A case was investigated into as he and his family chose to fight. It is also likely that the police investigated the allegations as the normal route of transforming an FIR into a chargesheet would have invited scrutiny and brickbats from SIF volunteers .
I had a few reasons for uploading Prashanth’s final report:
- To show ordinary folks that something called a final report exists.
- To show them what it looks like, in order to enable them to ask for the same and get the police to INVESTIGATE along the lines of Prashant’s 498A final report.
- To enable those already chargesheeted to have their cases re-investigated. This can be done by filing RTIs on the investigation conducted by the police. The RTI can be based on this final report. The results of the RTI can be used to petition the police higher ups.
- To enable ordinary citizens to demand that they be treated equally and that an investigation into a criminal case is not just meant for the famous, the well heeled or the well connected.
- To raise questions about the investigations, if any, conducted in 498A cases. There are over 60,000 498A cases filed per year, yet the rate of conviction, as per Ranjana Kumari’s organisation is just 2% (Click here for the CSR study on 498a).
- How did all these cases end up in trial courts? How many of them were truly investigated? How many final reports were filed? Why is there is such a discrepancy in this ratio?
In Prashanth’s case, the final report is 30 pages long, double spaced, and include the allegations.. I will upload the FIR as soon as I get my hands on it. I have read a few FIRs and they all seem to come from a single template. Here are some of the common allegations listed in these FIRs including mine:
- In-laws preventing the bride from contacting her family – invariably the phone is taken away.
- Demand for dowry before and after the marriage, and non fulfillment of the demand leading to physical and mental harassment.
- The bride being thrown out of the matrimonial home with just the clothes on her body.
- The in-laws locking up the bride in a room.
Here are a few excerpts from the final report. :
- She was subjected to dental check up and the dentist certified her teeth were in good condition.
- She further complained that soon after the marriage, when she went to her in-laws house, Mr.Prashanth’s bedroom was not ready and the toilet was very worse. She was forced to stay in the living room. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law used to harass her for not bringing enough jewellery, sarees and Dowry. Servants were not allowed to wash her clothes and to clean her toilet.
- Whenever her in-laws leave the house, she was locked inside the house and the watchman was informed not to open the door.
- She stated that since her passport was not returned to her, she could not take her ailing father abroad for best medical treatment, thereby she had lost her father and alleged that her father died only because of Mr.Prashanth. Hence she filed this complaint to punish her husband, her father-in-law and mother-in-law for the dowry demand, cruelty and harassment and also requested to return the valuable items left at her matrimonial house.
Here is the final report of Prashanth’s 498A case.