Indian laws are so numerous and so confusing that anybody can be prosecuted as a criminal if the state so chooses. But of all the badly-designed and nanny-state laws, these six seem to us the most misused, the most destructive of individual happiness and freedom, and the most violative of basic rights of a citizen in a civilized country:
- IPC 498A: “Cruelty to wife”! Cruelty to anyone is already a crime under law. Why do we need this law? This law is the most misused law in the history of this country to jail countless men, their families and then to extort money from them to “settle” the case.
- The Dowry Prohibition Act: Exchange of money or favors between spouses or their families at the time of wedding or afterward has been made illegal by the Indian state. Remember, coercion and intimidation are already crimes under law. Why do we need this law? If a woman’s family is not willing to pay the dowry, let her not get married. If she is criminally harassed after the marriage, she can go to the police or her relatives for help. There are sound sociological reasons for the custom of dowry and to make this exchange a criminal offense is state interference into the personal affairs of people.
- SC/ST Atrocities Act: Cruelty and atrocity is already a crime. Why do we need this law? This law is used to silence people if they want to criticize anyone with a particular caste.
- The Law on Hurting of Religious Sentiments: This law is used to punish anybody who manages to say or express something which is offensive to anyone for religious reasons. These kinds of laws only exist in medieval, fundamentalist countries which outlaw blasphemy etc.
- Sedition Law: This law is misused to prosecute and jail anybody who dares to criticize the government or tries to convince people that their rulers are not gods.
- The Contempt of Courts Act: This law makes it illegal for people to publicly disagree with a court’s judgment and to ascribe motives to the judiciary.
Many of these laws were used by the British to punish a servile Indian population, but the free government of India hasn’t left any stone unturned to go further than the British to create laws which punish the citizens for what makes someone else unhappy.
India will not be a free and civilized country till such laws which are based on somebody getting offended or hurt are done away with.