The Constitution of India lays down the framework of the legal system of India. Adopted in 1949, it is the longest written constitution in the world. Naturally, a lot of
misconceptions are there among the Indians about the legal system. Lets
clear the doubts regarding some of the core issues:
The common idea is that only the bribe-taker can be can be condemned, and not the bribe giver. However, according to the Prevention of Corruption
Act, 1988, the act of giving bribe is as grave an offence as taking it,
and the giver is punishable with the same penalty as the receiver.
Although it is heavily circulated by people that section 233 IPC is a new law that allows a woman to injure or kill a man if she is being attacked
sexually, and walk away freely. The whole concept has flawed, and the
information is incorrect. It is section 376 IPC that deals with rape
laws, which declares punishment to the assaulter. Crime against women is
dealt with under sec. 363-372, 302, 304B, 498A, 354, 509, 294 and 366B
IPC. None of them allow indiscriminate killing or injuring the
assaulter. Although section 100 and 96 IPC permit private defence during
a physical assault, irrespective of the damage caused in the process,
but, the woman is required to provide evidence of the crime herself, or
the account of witnesses. Sec. 97 IPC allows a person associated with
the assaulted woman to attack the assaulter to defend her, but, the
rules or providing substantial evidence still holds.
377 IPC only criminalizes carnal or sexual acts against the order of nature. That does not necessarily apply to members the Lesbian/ Gay/
Bisexual/ Transgender/ Intersex/ Queer community. It is only limited to
the acts of coitus in an unconventional way, and that can also refer
to consenting heterosexual couples. There is no legal reason to condemn
those with alternate sexual orientation or third gender, or for acts
like cross dressing, being effeminate, holding hands or sitting with
each other in the park on Valentines Day, etc.
Dowry given to a woman at the time of her wedding and ancestral inheritance are often confused. However, these two are absolutely different. Giving
dowry is an evil practice that has percolated down generations. It
started out with a noble cause of giving the bride a share in the
inheritance to help her begin her life and have assets to fall back on.
But, it has taken the shape of gifts in the form of jewellery,
furniture, house, motor vehicle, cash, etc., for which the bride and her
parents are often severely pressurised, leading to many crimes. Dowry
is prohibited under the Dowry Prohibition Act under sec. 498A IPC but,
the practice is still in vogue. Dowry and inheritance are not the same
thing. Sec. 498A does not disentitle a girl from her right or share in
the Will, nor does giving dowry.
Panic and concerns have been imbibed in the minds of Indians about the withdrawal of currency notes and the non-validity of notes with
scribbles on them. This is only partially correct, as RBI has declared
that it will withdraw all notes issued before the year 2005, and has
requested customers to exchange such notes at banks, and has notified
that they will need to present identity and residential proof for
exchange of more than 10 pieces of 500 and 1000 notes after July 1,
2014. However, RBI has clarified that it has not issued any instruction
on the non-acceptance of scribbled notes.
Section 376 IPC deals with rape, but, it does not punish a man for forcing himself upon his wife against her free will. Although, after 2012, rape
laws in India were revisited and broadened, the Parliament rejected the
appeals of the Verma Committee to punish marital rape. The commonly
mistaken idea has been developed in the minds of common Indians by
television soaps and films that a woman has the right to file a legal
complaint against a sexually abusive husband. However, there is no law
against marital rape in India, which, ironically, is established on the
archaic misconception that a woman is her husbands property.
The highest rank of Indian state police forces is Director General, who is answerable to the home secretary. Since the police force is accountable
to law and not political parties, it is beyond the rights of the
political party members to use the services of the police for their
personal gain or even for the welfare of the party. Hence, police cannot
act upon the instructions of political rulers, without proper
investigation or evidence.
It is not up to the police to decide who is a criminal and take actions accordingly. They cannot arrest without a warrant, or force someone to
go to the station without a written instruction. Women and children
below 15 have to be questioned in their house, and women cannot be
arrested after sunset until there is a written order and women constable
is present. Since police cannot physically abuse a person in custody,
the person can request a body check for injuries before the arrest.
People are often confused about when they can file a FIR. There are two kinds of crimes: cognisable and non-cognisable. Cognisable crimes include
murder, rape, dacoity, etc., while non-cognisable crimes include fraud,
bigamy, forgery, etc. It can also be said that crimes that require
urgent attention of the police are cognisable offenses. FIR can be filed
to report a cognisable crime. However, non-cognisable crimes must also
be noted by the police in the general diary to be taken up by the
magistrate who will direct the police to investigate it.
An arrested person cannot be kept in custody for more than 24 hours. The illegal practice of arresting a person on Friday and keeping the person
in custody till Monday is continued with the excuse of unavailability of
a magistrate, when the truth is that there is always a magistrate on
duty, and the person can be presented before the magistrate after court
hours even at his home.
As the country is coming of age, the legal system, too, is facing many changes and amendments, in keeping up with the standards of the fast-paced
world, as well as the country. It is important to do thorough research
about the legal practices and changes, before spreading wrong
information. It can be misleading, and particularly dangerous in many
Do you enjoy reading 10 misconceptions about law and order in India. If you feel we missed something that should be in list, please share with us. Write your
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