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Sexual Harassment

Does a Safe City Really Exist?

India is a country with 29 states and 7 union territories. It is the most diverse nation with a population of 1.3 billion and that number is never constant. The irony is that the capital of India is also nicknamed as the rape capital of India. But the question then arises, which state is safe? What is the definition of safe? On what grounds is a state defined as safe?

The United Nations General Recommendation 19 to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women defines sexual harassment of women to include:
“such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour as physical contact and advances, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions. Such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem; it is discriminatory when the woman has reasonable ground to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment, including recruitment or promotion, or when it creates a hostile working environment.”

Even after the passing of several laws, there is still no place that can fully justify the definition of “safe”. Most of the laws are not gender neutral. Even after the implementation of laws, crimes continue to be committed. In today’s world, no person is safe even in the boundaries of their own place called home. Sexual harassment is not a crime that is limited to the office space or the roads. In many, and that means an extremely large number, of cases, the person harassing the victim is a family member or a relative. Women are harassed by their own husbands, daughters by their own fathers, sons by their own uncles. This is merely the start, the list goes on and on, and continues proving itself to get more horrific.

After the pressing of sexual harassment charges against the powerful Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein, women from different parts of the world came forward to narrate their own stories of harassment. This included famous stars and normal middle-class people.

According to National Crime Records Bureau data, Odisha, Telangana and Assam ranked worst with the highest rate of assaults on women, while the state with the lowest rate for sexual assaults on women in India is Nagaland.

Whereas the highest harassments would be expected from the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, others are no less. Maharashtra accounted for the highest incest rape cases according to a survey conducted. Other states reporting high rates of harassment were Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Even the state with the highest literacy rate of a hundred percent, Kerala reported 16,755 cases of rape in a decade. Over 2500 cases were reported in 2016 itself.

The major reasons responsible for non-reporting of sexual harassment include fear of supervisors, fear of losing their job, fear of the society, fear of getting stigmatized and fear of getting side-lined and boycotted by everyone.

Statistics clearly show that sexual harassment cases are not limited to a particular state or a particular profile of a victim. It happens in every corner of the country, from rural to urban places and from housewives to little kids. It does not matter whether you’re standing in the rape capital of India or the literacy centre. It also doesn’t matter if you’re wearing that is revealing your skin or not. It doesn’t matter if you have a dupatta or not, if you’re married or not, if you’re legal to be involved in a sexual intercourse or not. Sexual harassment takes place anywhere and everywhere, with anyone and everyone.

Laws are being reformed all over the world, all over the country; and it is, to a large extent, empowering sexual harassment victims to come forward and speak for themselves, to raise their voices. If not anything, it would at least support other victims.

The million-dollar question, does a safe city really exist, has a very simple answer to it. It exists only if we want it to. Any city can be termed as having highest number of harassment cases and can also work the other way around. A city can be made safer for all its citizens if everyone comes together to work against it. Awareness should be raised about the issue; the taboos should be broken, and sexual harassment shouldn’t be treated as an alien concept. It is something that need not be hidden but should be accepted and fought against. The constitution provides us with measures to raise our voices and protect ourselves. Laws should be made gender neutral; sexual harassment happens with men too and also in the reverse cycle from employee to employer which is in contrast to the usual and common situation. This should be accepted, and measures should be taken accordingly.

The rising spotlight on sexual harassment across the world will hopefully spur more firms to deal with this issue more seriously. This also means that the number of reported harassment cases may go up rather than down in the coming years. Even after so many efforts of the Government of India, the number of cases of sexual harassment in India have seen something close to no decline. The provisions contain several loopholes which can be exploited easily by the harasser in his favour. Regardless, sexual harassment anywhere is not acceptable and needs to be rooted out of the society. The concept of a safe city should be replaced with the concept of a safe country with every neighbourhood as a safe neighbourhood.

Categories
Legal Literacy

What are Alimony Laws like in India?

Divorce is stressful for everyone. It is a legal way of ending a relationship. It is important that the decision of separation should be justified for both the parties. To support himself or herself after the separation, the spouse is granted some monetary compensation by the financially stronger partner. The compensation paid is called alimony.

“Alimony is a monetary aid provided to a financially weaker spouse in order to maintain his/ her standard of living same as before separation.” The compensation typically depends upon the law of the land. However, different laws are applicable to different religions.

Types Of Alimony

Alimony is of two types; one which is paid at the time of the proceedings during the divorce in courts. Also known as the maintenance amount. And the second, which is paid after separation, it can be paid as lump sum or instalments.

The Entitlement

Most often it is the female partner who is entitled to the alimony.  But sometimes it is the male partner who is found to be harassed and the court may ask the wife to compensate for his losses. It is rare that court compels the male partner to pay the alimony when he does not have any source of income while the wife is financially well off.

Also, the court may ask husband to return the Stree-dhan — the wealth received at the time of marriage from her parents.

How Much Alimony One Has To Pay ?

It is the court which decides the actual amount of alimony. The amount to be paid as alimony is calculated keeping in view many factors like the income of the partners, social status, standard of living, number of children, and number of years spent together and emotional attachment.

There isn’t any specific formula to calculate the amount but generally, it is generally the 1/3 or the 1/5 part of the salary of the paying spouse.

Who Ends Up Paying The Alimony?

In case of Wife 

  • If wife is earning- If the husband has high income and a good financial status then the wife will get alimony.
  • If wife is not earning- An alimony amount is to be paid compulsorily by the husband to ensure that the standard of living of the wife is maintained.
  • When she remarries- The alimony stands invalid and the husband only has to pay for the children if any.

Husband gets alimony

If the husband is unable to earn or is disabled, the court may ask the wife to pay the alimony too.

Categories
Legal Literacy

Misuse of Dowry Law

Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act and Dowry Prohibition Act, state the laws which are designed to protect women against dowry harassment and domestic violence.

The violence against women across social, economic and cultural sections of the society marks the fundamental importance of these laws. However, over the years, there have been many adverse instances of women misusing these laws to harass their husbands and in-laws to gain financial support. The offence is stringent, non-bailable and non-compoundable in nature thus, a complaint can lead to immediate arrest.

Over the years, the paranoia against these laws is only increasing with more and more incidents of their misuse. Men feel helpless against these laws that are heavily in favour of women.

This approach has become a matter of policy debate. The Centre proposed an amendment to 498-A which has made the offence compoundable and has allowed the parties to settle their issue outside the court if they so wished.

Dowry Harassment Laws And Protection From Such Misuse

With respect to dowry harassment laws and of the multiple cases of their misuse, in 2014, the Supreme Court directed the state government to instruct the police to not immediately arrest anyone and only do it after checking a list of provisions mentioned under the law.

Implementation is the key in any legal framework. If our implementation is sensitized and proper precautions will be taken before making an arrest, half the cases will be resolved with just that. In this regard, The Supreme Court’s guidelines are a step in the right direction.

What is relevant is that for every man to feel safe too along with women. Many men’s lives crumble down due to the false accusations which women file against them.

Illegal arrests are a widespread problem. With Apex Court taking note of the situation, there is hope that men wrongly stuck in these situations will receive the much needed reprieve. Although there are all these directives, illegal arrests still happen. Ultimatelythe keys are awareness and vigilance. It is important to be aware of your rights in a situation. It is important to take preventive measures to protect yourself and your family. Seek legal advice immediately is one of the most important preventive measure. A lawyer will not make you understand your rights but will also provide the best solution to your problem. Your right actions at right time can save you a lot of unnecessary trouble and humiliation.

Categories
Legal Literacy

Things You Must Check With A Lawyer While Buying A House

Buying a house of your own is one of the most overwhelming experiences for any person. However, purchase of involves a lots of legal issues. The dream of buying and owning a house can turn into a nightmare if anything goes wrong with the legal processes.

This, however, can be easily avoided with little attention and investment in a good lawyer.

Below is a list of important things that you must consult your lawyer about, if you are planning to own a property.

Chain Of Documents — Everything You Need To Know

The documentation required for a ready-to-move apartment and an under-construction house is different.

For a ready-move-apartment, being bought directly from the builder, obtain and verify:

  •  Title Deed or Sale Deed of seller – to ensure that he is rightful owner of the property and has the right to transfer ownership of the property to you
  • No Encumbrance Certificate – to ensure that there are no mortgage or claim against the property
  • NoC from Bank, in case there is a loan involved
  • Share Certificate from Society, in case of cooperative housing society
  • Entire Chain of Documents from first Sale Deed, also called the Mother Deed
  • Utility Bills & Tax Receipts
  • Society Related Documents
  • Possession Certificate
  • NoC from Society
  • Completion Certificate (CC)
  • Occupation Certificate (OC)

While all these documents may seem obvious, it is easy to miss them when there is no lawyer involved.

For Under Construction Properties

At the time of booking:

  • Check the Title and Ownership of builder by checking the Sale Deed and  Land Records
  • Change of Land Use or CLU Certificate from Agricultural to Residential
  • Layout Approval by the development or the municipal authority
  • NoC & Clearances obtained from Environment, Electricity, Water, Fire and Safety Authorities
  • Certificate of Commencement
  • Allotment Letter

Apart from all these docuemnts, you must ask your lawyer to check terms of the Allotment Letter as well as Builder-Buyer agreement to ensure the safety of your interests.

After the Construction is Completed:

  • Ask the builder for Completion Certificate
  • Ask for Occupancy Certificate
  • After complete payment, don’t forget to collect Possession Certificate from the builder

And never ever forget to get all these documents checked by your lawyer.
For sale/purchase of independent, pre-constructed houses, obtain and get verified

  •  Sale Deed and Land Records
  • Change of Land Use (CLU) Certificate
  • Layout Approval
  • No Encumbrances Certificate
  • Property Tax Receipts and Utility Bills

In case of independent houses, a Mutation Certificateis required to be obtained from the municipal body after the sale is complete.

What Can Go Wrong And Why A Lawyer Is A Must?

The list of documents provided seems to not require a lawyer to acquire. But plenty of things can go wrong despite the knowledge of basics.
Documents may be fake – The only way to ensure that they are not fake is   proper legal due-diligence which includes verification of documents by a Sub-Registrar.

Double Mortgage/Undeclared Encumbrances/Antecedent Titles – Again, independent due-diligence is required. Most property lawyers have their own agents who sift through years of records/documents in the offices of authorities. Only a lawyer can look through the intricacies and peculiarities of the issue.

Fraudulent Builder Practices  This is an extremely common problem, the only way to avoid this is to be aware about one’s rights as a buyer. It is important to always have a lawyer and be aware of what and where you are signing for before getting into any agreement.

Categories
Legal Literacy

Challenges For A Newbie Lawyer

At the beginning of any profession there are many pre-requirements which need to be fulfilled in order to reach success. A newbie is bound to face many challenges in a field where the senior professionals are already ruling. Especially the legal profession which demands consistent and unbending efforts from a newbie. Many tough yet rewarding challenges are faced.

The law college gives knowledge but doesn’t prepare a newbie for practicing before the courts. It takes a few months or sometimes even years before a fresh graduate is of any use of an experienced lawyer. An experienced lawyer as a mentor is very important to learn all the rules of trade.

Unless you have an influential background, finding a mentor can also be a laborious task. Only few manage get themselves a senior lawyer as mentor who can train and up skill them to kick start their legal career.

The next obstacle after choosing and getting a mentor is that it takes time to actually earn in this profession. Junior lawyers are only paid a meager amount, and the anecdotes by their seniors help them believe that this is indeed the convention in this field of work.

A lawyer always has a hunger for recognition and it is especially true in the case of young lawyers. This career offers flexible working hours, however, only when a lawyer spends their quality time on work as well are they able to achieve success. It is only after the initial low paid hard working years, that a newbie starts to get recognition among the fellow lawyers and in the courts.