May 21, 2008
H/l: 56-year-old goes back to law school
Intro: Studying law to fight cases free of cost for harassed husbands in city
Mumbai: While other men his age eagerly anticipate the retirement years or enjoy the company of their families, Mohanlal Gupta (56) pores over piles of heavy law books. The former IITian is not studying to add to his skills, but out of a humane necessity to save men and families troubled by scheming wives.
“I am the oldest person in the Siddharth Law College, older even than the principal by 15 days,” laughs Gupta, who spearheads the Mumbai chapter of the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), which has been helping men who are at the receiving end of the deadly Sec 498 (A) of the IPC since 2005. However, Gupta’s merriment disappears when he explains why he gave up his booming consultancy practise and took up studying law.
“My only son was, and continues to be a victim of the extortionist element ingrained in Sec 498 (A),” he says. “His wife left him after just three months of marriage, then demanded monthly maintenance from him. We paid her for 15 months till my son finished his studies, then he filed for divorce. When she realised that he would not meet any more demands, she alleged harassment.”
The dreaded Sec 498 (A) deals with 'Husband or relative or husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.' The case is still on at Mulund court, and Gupta vows that once his studies are over, he will fight his son’s case and put the girl behind bars.
“There are scores of men out there, all like my son, who have horrific tales to tell. When I heard their stories I decided to fight such cases free of cost once I became a lawyer,” he says.
The SIFF members in Mumbai are also part of the Protect Indian Family Foundation (PIFF), which operates three helplines in Mumbai. There are over 5,000 active SIFF members in the country today, with over 175 in Mumbai. “We are handling 100 new calls per month, and will start more helplines to serve every needy person.”
Apart from PIFF taking a rally to Bandra Family court in June, the movement is set to hit TV screens as well. “We are registered with Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPA) and are working on a teleserial dealing with husbands’ harassment by misusing the laws,” Gupta says.
If your wife and in-laws have slapped Sec 498 (A) on you and you need counselling, call M R Gupta on 9869323538 or B R Gokul on 9821414336. Nationwide helpline numbers are available on www.saveindianfamily.org