Justice (Retd.) A K Ganguly
Your name came when almost half of the controversy was already over. We did not know you by then. We knew a retired Supreme Court Judge had been accused in a sexual harassment case. Then….one day your name was disclosed. You had been lucky to live all those days – from the day when the blog came into light till the day Supreme Court made your name public. And then Mr. Ganguly you were a common MAN.
A man who apparently has no dignity in this Country, no matter if he has served the nation at the borders for his entire life, no matter if he bears the responsibility of his entire family, no matter how many accolades he has brought to the country, no matter how much dedicated his entire life has been to welfare of society, no matter if he has been a dedicated son, father, brother and an honest citizen! If he has done anything that comes in the ambit of ‘sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, undue advances, mental torture, physical torture, outraging modesty of a woman, verbal taunts, indecent behaviour’ he is DOOMED for his life.
I am sure you understand the depth, the meaning, the context, the legalities and the implications of these words more than I do. But what I am even surer of – that you never imagined yourself landing into the same shoes. You have still been lucky. A common man is not left like you have been. Anyways, this post is not to tell you if you are right or wrong for the conduct that you are accused of. Nor is this post intended to tell you how upright you have been in not giving up your position as the chairperson of a state human rights commission.
I am writing to you today to remind you that life does comes a FULL CIRCLE.
It wasn’t so long ago when you labelled ‘call for repeal of 498A’ by society and judiciary as Male Chauvinism. It was 2011 and you were delivering the keynote address at a seminar on ‘Negotiating Spaces: Gender Concerns in Conflict Zones.’ You conveniently asked a question then – Which law of the country is not abused? You must have measured the weight of your argument. If you did not then, the circumstances now should force you to. If not yet, I urge you to.
IPC 498A is not anymore about negotiating spaces. It isn’t even about getting justice. With due respect to all women out there, it’s that tool, which women use when they want the world to cede to their demands, no matter how much wrong they have themselves done. I agree with you – that there are few cases – but these few cases are not of misuse sir, these ‘few cases’ are of use. Who better than you would be privy to such cases?
Extra marital affairs; multiple marriages; obnoxious sense of control; absolutely no responsibility of a home; insane demands of money, lifestyle and property; wrong choices, forced marriages, nuclear home, greed, no respect for in-laws, ridicule, abuse – are these circumstances where you would like to grant the woman a ‘negotiating space?’ What negotiations were you referring to?
NEGOTIATION that you need to BOW DOWN to in order to – save your dying father OR your unmarried sister who is set to get married next month OR save your entire family from arrest OR save your career getting ruined OR save your married sister’s home from tumbling down OR your brother’s VISA being impounded OR avoid risk of getting an additional false charge of rape, molestation, attempt to murder OR even think of living a life again?
Or maybe you were talking about a Negotiating space like this: One Crore to settle a Dowry Score
While avoiding the questions from media Mr. Ganguly, you said ‘Leave me. I have already suffered a lot.’ As a penance to just that statement of yours of calling protest against IPC 498A as male chauvinism (leave apart the injustice that you might have done to some innocent families in these cases) – I request you to give a thought to meeting the families of people who have been falsely implicated in DOWRY cases. You would then realize what suffering is.
When you would meet a sister who lost her brother, fighting these false cases; when you would meet a mother whose son and husband called it an end seeing no way through; when you would meet a son who became an orphan having lost his father and mother due to shock of these cases; when you would meet a little girl who has been kept away from her father because of her revengeful mother; when you would meet a young man whose career has come to a standstill because of these cases, when you would meet a woman who is in her late 30’s now and no one wants to marry her because she has an FIR against her ; when you would meet a cancer patient fighting the disease and the CASES; when you meet a father who is bringing up an abnormal child and also fighting a dowry case slapped by his wife since she did not have guts to raise the kid; when you meet a MAN who is not even the father of his 2 year old but was sent to JAIL for objecting on it; when you would meet a woman who was denied of all her retirement benefits accused in a Dowry case and later acquitted – YOU WOULD REALIZE WHAT SUFFERING IS.
Recall the day when you made this keynote address. You must be feeling elated after having made that speech. You must have been applauded for your amazing observation of ‘male chauvinism’. Why not? The ones surrounding you that day must have been the ones for whom every man is a potential rapist! I feel sorry for you. Today you are their TARGET. I laughed when your quote of ‘What can I do. No one is listening to me’ came after contents of the affidavits submitted by the girl were released. Did you ever listen to a MAN in your entire career sir? I am no one to comment on that. I think now you will have all the time at your disposal to ponder over that, once you are forced to resign from your post.
In last 15 years alone, 21 Lac and more people have been put behind bars, snatched of their dignity, reputation and life under IPC 498A – more than 1 lac of them senior citizens like you – 5 lac of them women – thousands who hadn’t even crossed teens . 1 Crore or more are bearing the brunt of these cases, not once but for entire lives. Nothing, absolutely nothing can take away their scars, rather they live in fear their entire lives.
None the less, I still invite you. Invite you to join the voice of thousands who are suffering. Invite you to still give back to the society if you feel like. Invite you to save Human Rights by not being the chairperson of a government run department, but by actually fighting for it along with people. In return you might find solace – solace that must have eluded you since that fateful blog appeared.
If you still choose otherwise, I wish you all the best. I hope someone would LISTEN to you NOT as an accused…….
Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj
Director – Martyrs of Marriage | A Documentary film on Misuse of IPC 498A | http://www.martyrsofmarriage.com