It was a day of mild shower in Mumbai, Shravans father, a senior citizen had his eyes wet too. He had requested me to take a day off and be present for the moral support for bail hearing of his family with the courtesy of the false charges on them by their daughter in law, where as the real reasons were different. I came across this family through helpline.
His 40 yr old son’s estranged wife was caught red handed in a rekindled lost affair, as a result, she had to face the heat of Shravan. Her retaliation was no different from most of the cases, she called the shots and dictated terms with a false 406 and 498a that would support her decision of dispute and get the guy to obey rather than negotiate with her terms. She went to the court rooms inspired by what is heard and said. But the reality was soon to be revealed as too how un-filmy the real life is from what these women contemplate.
All may think that courts are happening places, like we see in movies but well it is different than what we think. First of all, the lawyer of Shravan came in very late thus giving him anxiety. After reaching there by the time the case could be taken, he dozed off waiting in the court room. The lawyer of the wife was also competing with her counterpart in dozing. It was tough to say who won in dozing. While, the hearing of piled up cases since morning was going on, there were two other female lawyers disinterested at the corner of the bench busy gossiping. Must be about their nail polish as they were caught by my eye comparing colors in the court room later they were also observing the nails of the legs and those pedicure and manicure stuff. I also observed in other cases that fates hung for nearly 2 months for the next hearing that would last for 2 minutes and then again get a suspension state for another 2 months.
Shravan’s case was called. Both the lawyers woke up from slumber. The wife had 2 lawyers one hired and other was the public prosecutor, the public prosecutor and defendant’s lawyer locked horns on bail. The husband and wife must have fought in the house, now these lawyers looked like as if they were the horses running in the race and sponsored individually by the couple of which the public prosecutor was sponsored out of the tax of the junta (of which more and max is paid by the males, sharavan was one of them).
The judge heard both the sides and gave a very balanced verdict from his point of view but it was a lose:lose for both husband and wife. How? Well, wife wanted the so called disputed property which she thought would get it the next day. But the bomb fell on her head when the disputed value of amount deposited to the court was held valid for 2 years and then renewed if required till the case gets over, she realized that if she had chosen for mutual settlement then this matter would not have gone in a loop of 2 years. It was Rs.50000/- in lieu of the fictitious ornaments that she claimed that were hers which were already accepted by the boy to pay by cash.
But she would not budge and hence the surety and bail too came in picture. Total 5 women and 2 men were accused. Sharavans 3 sisters, 1 aunty and mother including his father and him. For all of them a cash of Rs.70000/- (exceeding the disputed amount) as a surety was deposited that exceeded the disputed amount and also gave a 406 with a 498a. but the prosecutor argued for a guarantor for each one of them, what a torture! I was not sure what exactly was going on 406 or 498a but I was there to support morally by prescence.
Finally judge overruled the argument of the prosecutor but held that the family cannot move without court permission out of the city. This was a lose situation for Sharavan apart from a loser in money and family. But that is how the proceedings went. We went out of the room and we thought it was over but suddenly the peon popped from nowhere stating “me baghitla tumala” (I saw you) and he was asking for his tip (Chai Pani), sharavan had to shell out Rs.150/- for him too with a whispered bargaining and then he said “file ka khayal rakhega nahi to time lagta” (for smooth clerical proceedings) then he proceeded towards shravans’ wife group. Sharavan did not understand what he said but went on and apologized and thanked me for the trouble taken and being there.
He asked me what I felt and I said “It is all because of stubbornness of ONE lady that is Stree Hatt, so many have to suffer. Courts have to handle such frivolous matters and attend to the paper work. The national machinery of public prosecutors have been misused for 98% of times. A son and father are deprived of each others love and son is counseled that his father is a bad man. Her relatives had to come all the way to support her based on her statement and Sharavan’s Family had to face the 498a and 406 horror. And it was a lottery time for the lawyers and other members that formed that team.” I saw the faces of the girl and her relatives they revealed lets-us-sort-it-out-now attitude and the girl now probably realised that the damage was done to a greater extent and she had closed all the doors the moment she involved force to justify her stubborness.
Sharavan’s Father told me about Kaykay’s and both Sita’s and Surpanakha’s Stree Hatt in Ramayan. And he too repeated that “it was All because of stree hatt (a Woman’s Stubbornness) that his family too was in trouble.” Though the father and son looked relieved on getting bail but still I realised that all this could have been avoided if the girl was more mature.