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Dowry Charges against a Dead man

30 year old Rakesh Pilania, who was working as a quant for the Royal Bank of Scotland has committed suicide by jumping from his apartment in Gurgaon locality On October 5 . Due to the fear of being embroil under Section 498A of the IPC (cruelty against wife by husband or his relatives).

A day after Rakesh’s death his wife registered dowry harassment case against her husband and his family, as Rakesh is no more the proceedings will continue against his family under Section 498A at a police station in Hapur, Uttar Pradesh.

Rakesh wife and her family stated that Rakesh was mentally ill and he tortured her mentally and physically. They also said he demanded a dowry of Rs 10 lakh.

Rakesh feared of the grave consequences and misuse of section 498A had taken an extreme step. says the experts. Rakesh’s parents, also said that he was depressed due to the constant fear of being implicated in a fake dowry case.

Deepika Bhardwaj, a journalist and filmmaker, currently working on a documentary on possible misuses of the controversial penal section said “In this case, the FIR seems to be an attempt at evading action for abetment to suicide. Even after the man’s death, his family would have to face a legal battle.”

She added “A lot of men are committing suicide hoping their families would be spared after their death. But that does not happen always. The case in Gurgaon is an example. Now, the parents would not only mourn the loss of a family member but would also fight a criminal case. I know of a few cases where the dowry and domestic violence case has been filed after the death of the husband without an iota of evidence.”

Rakesh father Anand Prakash Pilania said . “This took his life. But even his death could not deter her from registering a case against us. This clearly shows the police did not carry out proper investigation before lodging an FIR,”

The false complaints under Section 498A against innocent in-laws alleging cruelty and harassment at matrimonial homes are increasing over the decades. The in-laws especially old parents of the husband, are taken to jail the moment a false complaint is filed against them by a woman under Section 498A.

In July 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the attitude to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is “despicable” and must be curbed. It directed all state governments to ensure that police do not resort to arresting in all offences punishable up to seven-year jail term including dowry harassment cases.

“We direct all the state governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498A of the IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest,” a bench headed by Justice C K Prasad said.

“The complainant were well aware of Rakesh’s death. The case was registered without any inquiry. The FIR was registered as a counter defense for getting anticipatory bail against the wife’s family.” said Rakesh family advocate Ved Prakash Mangla.