Several women’s rights organisations have collectively approached the Chief Justice of India seeking a review of the judgment delivered by Justices Adarsh Kumar and Uday U. Lalit in the matter of Rajesh Sharma vs. State of Uttar Pradesh. The group of 16 women’s rights organisation, which includes organisations like Lawyers Collective, Jagori, and All India Women’s Democratic Association, expressed their apprehension for the judgment delivered on July 27th, 2017 contending that the judgment arrives at its findings on the alleged fact that majority of domestic violence cases are false and filed by dishonest women against their in-laws.
The judgment questions the credibility of women's complaints of domestic violence.
The Bench had made a number of orders in the case, the most significant of which is the constitution of Family Welfare Committees, to vet cases of domestic violence by family members. These Committees would mainly review complaints filed under Section 498A and interact with the parties involved in these cases. They are also required to prepare a report of the case and submit it to the relevant authority. The court also directed to stay arrest until the submission of this report.
Domestic violence is the most common crime against women in India. Households rampantly subject women to mental, physical and verbal abuse. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data of 2015 showed that 1,13,403 cases of violence under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code were filed in that year, of which charge sheets were filed in 89.4% of cases.
The Supreme Court’s assumption that “most of such cases are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues” is debated by the group since the numbers from 2005 and 2009 show that the police found a small percentage of the cases to be false on account of “mistake of law or on facts”. Challenging the court’s findings, the statement from the group states that in their years of experience, most of the times the investigation is not properly conducted, statements of material witnesses are omitted, and evidence is improperly collected which delays conviction.
The group also criticised the establishment of Family Welfare Committees citing that they will cause further harassment to the victims of Domestic Violence. The memorandum prepared by the group states that studies by reputed organisations show that women bring cases of domestic violence not on the spur of the moment rather after suffering years of abuse, while urging the Supreme Court to review its judgement in the instant case.
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