The family members of a man facing charges of harassing his wife for dowry, may not be booked for harassment charges without an investigation if they do not live with him.
This is among the changes being considered by the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry to check unnecessary harassment of the husband’s extended family.
Several organisations representing men have urged the WCD ministry to make changes in the Dowry Prohibition Act. The ministry is now revising the provisions to make them gender-neutral as well as in sync with live-in relations.
Under existing dowry laws, the police book all the persons named by the wife on dowry harassment charges. It is then left for the individual to prove himself or herself innocent in a court of law.
But, the government has found the clause is misused in many cases, resulting in members of the husband’s extended family being put behind bars as well. Delhi Police officials have also complained in this regard.
The basis for the proposed change is the question of how a person not living with the couple can indulge in dowry harassment. “Allegations against anyone who does not reside with the couple may have to be investigated by the police before they are booked,” a senior ministry official said.
The WCD ministry has called a meeting of lawyers, NGOs, police officials and experts to discuss women’s rights issues next week.