11/06/2020: An initial idea of the contest is published below and it is being finalized based on inputs from people. You can revisit this page to know the start date of contest.
There is common saying in general public in India: “Law is in favour of women”. This is especially heard of in matrimonial cases filed against husbands and their families (both criminal and maintenance related/family court cases), but also bandied about in related to cases related to molestation, sexual harassment etc. Due to this, a kind of fear psychosis and lack of trust of law/justice has gripped the minds of public whenever they are being accused with anything related to crimes against women or with relation to matrimonial related disputes whether at police station or related to divorce/domestic violence/maintenance type of cases.
However, this common notion that “law is in favour of women” may or may not have any real basis in law – based on both statutes and case law.
Some of the common reasons people say “law is in favour of women” with regards to matrimonial disputes are:
1) In matrimonial disputes, people who are called to police station say that only the wife’s statements are given importance, and even if husband shows convincing evidences, these are ignored. Usually, FIR by wife is taken and after investigation charge-sheet is filed. While charge-sheet is filed in almost all FIRs under IPC 498A, it is another matter that the most common criminal law used in matrimonial cases IPC 498A has only 10-15% conviction rate. Currently, an effort is being made to find out if any action is being taken against erring IOs and public prosecutors – however the data being received so far from police/prosecution department so far is disappointing.
2) No one listens to husband or his relatives at police station. People wants “Sunwai” (translation: impartial hearing or listening) but they are disappointed that it did not happen.
With regards to cases related to molestation, sexual harassment at workplace, the general complaint heard from men is:
1) Any kind of quarrel between a man and a woman can be converted into an IPC 354/IPC 509 type of case based on option and demand of woman.
2) In complaints regarding sexual harassment at workplace, many men have to face an internal investigation or enquiry where they are treated like a pariah from the moment a complaint against them is made. Also, even if the complaint is found to be without any basis, they are made to feel like guilty or advised to find alternative employment. E.g. in case of a government department, it was reported that 2 females who were in habit of filing false allegations on men in the organisation had held the department of 500 employees under constant uncertainty and practically a hostage to their whims.
3) Cases related to sexual harassment at workplace are also filed as part of office politics – and many a time merely filing and enquiry (which can last over many months) are enough for a rival to gain an advantage over the accused man in the organisation.
A very commonly bandied about statement is that men accused by women are assumed to be “guilty until proven innocent”. However convenient this may sound as an explanation for people’s predicament, this statement has no basis in law.
Another commonly held notion in minds of public is that in a case filed by woman against a man, the standard of proof or evidence required is very low, or probably not even necessary provided the allegations are ‘strong’!
Aim of contest
The aim of contest is to help public understand better about law (both substantial law and procedural law) rather than resort to some “conventional wisdom” being held by a majority of public. It will hopefully lead to a better appreciation in mind of public as to how legal system, police, and judiciary work.
Contest: Prove that Law is in favour of women
1) This contest is being started the aim of which is to prove that “law is in favour of women” . The contest can be participated in by law students only. The word PROOF (in capitals) will be used to denote the submitted proof by a contestant in this contest.
2) Contestant with winning entry (if any) will get a cash award (paid via cheque/digital mode only) of Rs 10,000/-.
3) PROOF will need to be submitted on any public webpage with a permalink URL, and remain there for 6 months at least from date of submission. There should be no need for anyone to register for an account or login into a social account to read the submission. Shortcode URLs can be used for sharing and convenience but the long form permalink URL must not change until 6 months are over.
4) Winning entry will be decided by PAS functionaries in consultation with inputs from members of general public who are interested in understanding practical implications of law.
Criteria to evaluate PROOF
1) PROOF should be able to prove a majority of the following statements based on statutory or case-law. The word “relief” denotes prayed for relief granted at end of full trial and not any interim reliefs on grounds of compassion/welfare/beneficial legislation etc:
i) A woman must be given asked for relief even if her evidence has been disproven.
ii) A woman is entitled to asked for relief even if she has not proven any of her allegations
iii) Charge-sheet must be filed in cases of crimes against women even if police investigation has not found substantial evidence in support of allegations in FIR.
iv) In cases of crimes against women, any evidence shown by accused man to police during investigation can be ignored by police with regards to purpose of investigation and filing of charge-sheet.
2) The proof has to be based on both statutory and case law/precedents of either an unequivocal SC judgment on a point of law, or of minimum 2 different HC’s judgments in support of proof of an assertion being made. So if a PROOF submits an SC judgment which unequivocally states on a substantial point of law that “law is in favour of women” in such and such cases, then it will be valid proof to further the PROOF. Similarly, if there is no such SC judgment but 2 different HC judgments are submitted to further the PROOF, then it will be considered valid.
3) Proving the negative statement that law is not in favour of men will not be considered towards PROOF.
4) Citing any biased behaviour or statistics regarding police about registration of FIRs, charge-sheeting etc will not be considered towards PROOF. PROOF has to be based on statutory and case laws, and not based on some observed empirical biases/behaviours of public servants, officials etc.
Standard of proof required in PROOF
1) The fact that there are many laws which protect women (both civil and criminal) but there are no corresponding laws which protect men – will not be considered towards PROOF that “law is in favour of women”. The reason for this is that though this may be acceptable layman’s logic to argue that law is in favour of women, it is not good enough to dispel some of the myths in minds of public that “a man is guilty until proven innocent”, or that “a man will not be listened to no matter how much evidence he shows to disprove the allegations”.
2) Some of the presumptions which may seem to favour or protect women under laws including (but not limited to) Indian Evidence Act, will be excluded as contribution towards the PROOF.
3) Any minor/technical loopholes in wording of this contest cannot be used as a legal loophole to further a particular PROOF. The PROOF needs to have substance.
Standard of submissions
1) Can be understood by a layperson who has reasonable command over English language.