498a - extortion attempt.
I am happy that I came across this wonderful website today while hopelessly browsing the internet looking for some information about 498a. Thank you to those of you who have taken this initiative. What follows is a long narrative (i intended to keep it short, but I did not know what's relevant and what's not.. so I have recounted most of the events that happened)
I hail from Kerala... a case has been filed against me and my family in family court (asking for compensation citing jewellery, dowry harassment etc.. ) and a 498a has been filed again in the girl's local police station. I am the first accussed, except me my family (2nd,3rd and 4th accussed) has been granted anticipatory bail and have reported at the police station. I am currently staying abroad unsure of the consequences of returning home. Lawyer says I will be safe, but I would like to get more opinions.
Not sure how to give a clear idea, so I am recollecting the whole sequence of events. Dates etc are not totally accurate, but more or less so.
16/01/2014 : Arranged marriage, temple wedding... main expense for girl's family : lunch for 1500 people - approx Rs.1,50,000/- arranged by temple.
Girl's family invites us for a houseboat day trip a week later. We were shocked to find out that everyone in the family drinks hard liquor (grandmother, mother, aunt, and her included) .. We come from a more traditional family, where no one drinks alcohol. We painfully found out that they used to be in the alcohol selling business few years ago, and now their label is their close association with a temple trust (which is what mislead us into this marriage).
During the 4-6 weeks that I lived with her, she was repeatedly claiming that I would take her abroad with me and kill her (in parallel, she was pushing me hard every day to do the paperwork for her visa processing.. I was in and out of government offices, police stations etc for various clearance certificates.. in order to get marriage certificate apostilled) , she was cursing her fate for being in this marriage etc. I knew that I would be a silent victim in this marriage, if i continued in it. In the course of heated talks, she had also disclosed to me that she got married to me because she wanted to get settled abroad, earn lot of money and take care of her mother and father. She did not seem to be interested in me, or my family.. I naturally decided that anything except divorce could ruin us.
02/03/2014 : I leave home for work abroad. By this time marriage has hit rock bottom. Several bad experiences with girl.
Girl continues to live in my home with my family and go to work (5 kms away from home) every day from home. Goes to her home (80 kms away ) on weekends.
This routine went on for 3-4 months.. in this time, girl tries to portray me in bad light to my family as well as her family.
Several efforts made to patch up relationship by family members on both sides. (I have an e-mail from her brother on behalf of her family explaining that they are aware of her behavioral issues and that everything will be fine)
My family was not very supportive of divorce mainly being afraid of the embarassment that would follow.
08/2014 : I asked girl to move back to her home.Since she was living at my home, she tries to make my family teach me that this won't work.. but my family tells her that she should listen to me, and that they have no say in the relationship between me and her. This turns them into her enemies as well. She moves out.
02/2015 : Me and my father get into discussions with elders in her family. Her uncle, brother-in-law etc. (Her father has no voice in the family.. it's run by her mother).
Finally they agree that she also has no interest in continuing in this marriage and agrees on phone that both parties will get together and file for mutual divorce if i come to India.
After I arrive in India, they change stance and say that I cannot mess with a girl's life like this. in 2 weeks.. we (me, mother, father) receive summons from the family court in her district.. where they claim that:
1. we were torturing her for money (dowry)
2. they incurred 25 lakhs expense to hold wedding, because we demanded a luxurious wedding (everyone knows that it was a temple wedding and the expenses were close to nothing.. no halls were booked, there was nothing luxurious about the wedding. It was on my insistence that the wedding was held this way, I wanted to get married in the same temple where my parents got married ).
3. She wore gold jewellery worth 25 lakhs, which was sold by me and my family and splurged on living luxuriously.
Another one of my wishes was that the girl should be dressed in simple clothes, without jewellery.. as she would go to the temple to pray. But 'social police' stepped in and said that I have no right to interfere in the girl's dreams about her wedding.. what she wears was none of my business. I had to oblige. She went shopping for a wedding saree , and as a custom my family were to pay for it. She bought an expensive saree ( 40 - 50,000 Rs). Then she wore gold jewellery, as hindu brides in Kerala generally do.
She stepped into my home wearing the jewellery, and it was stored there only on the night of the wedding. We had all been invited to a customary lunch at her home.. and in the presence of family members from both sides.. she handed over the gold to her parents and we said that this was necessary since we did not have a locker to keep the gold safe, and did not want to have anything to do with it.
They ask for a compensation of 30 lakhs, but do not ask for divorce.
2 days after we receive this court summons, her uncle, together with 5-6 goons stormed into our home and threatens us of the consequences if I do not continue in this marriage.. and that if i wanted to get out of this marriage, we should pay 25 lakhs or be prepared to suffer.
They hold us hostage for 2-3 hours where they make sure that we do not make any phone calls etc, and finally leave when they notice that neighbours were starting to get curious and interested.
My family senses serious harm to me and the very next day they ask me to leave for work, so that at they can stop worrying about my safety and expose themselves to harm instead, if it comes.
After I leave,
My father goes and files a complaint at the nearest police station, police summons everyone that came into our house.. and my father decides not to file a case against them.. so the police writes a report and lets them go with a warning.
In the following days, my father receives a call from the girl's local police station asking for me... when my father says that I have left for work, they ask him to report to the police station.. On equiring through lawyer, we find out that a 498a with the same template as described above has been filed against me, father, mother and sister(who is married and does not live in my home, but at her husband's home.).. Lawyer advises my family not to go to court without obtaining anticipatory bail.. in 2 weeks court grants anticipatory bail to my family (except me, since I am not in India) ... and they go report at the girl's police station.. then the police try to convince them that the girl and her family have the highest regard for me and my family as they have given in their statements (all in words, we have no proof) .. and that they would very much like to continue in this marriage.
1. The issues we are facing :
In the wedding photos, there is proof that she is wearing gold jewellery.. and our lawyer says that since we do not have any proof that this jewellery was returned.. the court may assume that what the girl is saying is true.
Could you tell me whether this is how it works, please?
2.I have not been able to return home for the fear of being harmed since I left home in March, 2015.
Could you tell me what precautions I should take before visiting India, please?(our lawyer tells that once I reach there, we can file for anticipatory bail and i'll be presented in court)
3. The first hearing of the case in family court has not happened yet. Court keeps on postponing the case.
4. We do not know what the current status of the 498a case is. Since my family got bail from court, does it mean that the case is already in court ? Or can the police hold it back since the first accused (me) has not been presented yet?.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Wishing you a great day !