- Rights are ethical, social, or legal rules of freedom that tell us about what a person is allowed to do and what is owed to him/her in any legal system. Rights are regarded as the backbone of any legal system/ society.
- Duties are ethical, social, or legal obligations or expectations from an individual to be performed as per the situation. Duties arise out of the virtue of laws in a legal system. Sometimes escaping from the performance of duty may also invite punishment or liability.
- When it comes to defining whether rights come first or duties it is always going to be the duties coming over rights as when we are given the power to exercise certain rights, it is our moral obligation to perform the duties attached to it, because duties enable us to receive rights. E.g. In India, everyone is given the right to freedom of speech in which you are free to express your views and opinions. But at the same time, you also have the duty to respect the right to freedom of speech of others also that is you should also respect the opinions and views of others otherwise your right would not also be respected enough by others. It also has the duty of not being anti-national in any form of expression attached to it.
3 Main Issues
Do women misuse the rights especially granted to them?
Under this theme we would cover the anti-dowry laws, divorce and child custody laws, sexual harassment, rape reporting, domestic violence and many more like these laws which are biased against men and at times give women the power to harass and extort men by using them falsely. Indian courts have also ruled that men need protection from women making unsubstantiated harassment claims.
2. Can a wife claim maintenance after divorce?
Maintenance in family law refers to alimony or spousal support. Maintenance is an order of a court for the support of one spouse by the other spouse. Under this issue, the maintenance rights of divorcees will be discussed. It deals with the Right to maintenance – Section 125 CrPc; where women are given special maintenance rights and laws which make it mandatory for the husband to pay a monthly or lump sum amount to his wife with or without divorce. Even if a woman is earning after divorce and she feels that it is not sufficient for her status and comfort, she can claim maintenance from her ex-husband.
3. Violation of child rights in India
In India, a child has the right to be protected from neglect, exploitation, and abuse at home and elsewhere. Children have the right to be protected from the incidence of abuse, exploitation, violence, neglect, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour, and harmful traditional practices to name a few. Child rights are violated in India mainly by:
1. Trafficking of children, particularly for sexual exploitation
2. Violence against children, including sexual violence
3. Child labour, including working in hazardous conditions
4. Discrimination against girls in education and in access to food
5. Discrimination against children on the basis of caste, tribe or indigenous background
There is no dearth of cases in which fake allegations are levelled against men for ulterior motives. Laws are like double-edged weapons. If they are made to protect the rights of a person, they can also be misused to throttle the liberty of opponents. The men’s rights activists claim that the anti-dowry laws are being frequently misused to harass and extort husbands. Lawyers too admit that fake cases of sexual assault are common.
An allegation of rape by a woman against her landlord later turned out to be false. Investigations revealed that the allegation was levelled after the landlord refused her the monetary favours which she had been regularly demanding. In yet another case, a girl accused her live-in partner of rape when the latter refused to marry her.
Women have an equal duty to not misuse the rights given to them to protect them. In order to promote women in India they have been given enough rights that if they lodge a dowry-related complaint against husband or any other in-law family member, the police has the right to arrest the member immediately without any investigation. That too it is a nonbailable offence. Between 2001 and 2012, the number of reported rape cases rose from 16,075 to 24,923, however, the conviction rate fell from 40.% to 24% Some men’s rights activists point to the low conviction rates and claim that the lack of a penalty for falsely reporting rape has encouraged false cases.
The men’s rights movement in India is composed of various men’s rights organizations in India. Proponents of the movement support the introduction of gender-neutral legislation and repeal of laws that they consider are biased against men. The movement notes several issues as too gendered or with a bias against men in India. According to them, the frequency of domestic violence against men has increased in recent years, and that many cases go unreported as men feel too ashamed to report abuse, or fear false accusations against them in reprisal.
The real Indian men’s rights movement was started in 2000 in Bombay to protect men from psychological abuse. It takes place at the time of false allegations of dowry claims and other claims perpetrated by wives.
Later on, the purpose of the movement was extended to protecting men from all such sorts of women and not just wives. Aamir Khan’s show “Satyamev Jayate” was boycotted by the men’s rights activists saying that it had shown only one side of the story. Similarly Khan’s movie “Talaash” was also boycotted as they claimed that it had only shown one side of the domestic violence issue and also portrayed the men of the society negatively.
According to my, such biased laws should be lessened in number now and power in the hands of women should be decreased to prevent more of such incidents. It was an action in the favour of women empowerment that is not actually reaching the women who need it fully and is being misused by the women not facing such problems. Women also threaten men that if they do not go as by what they tell them they will falsely allege them of sexual harassment charges, dowry charges to husband, etc. Similarly, the law pertaining to divorce and child custody also supports women as the child custody remains with the mother directly after divorce giving women the first preference.
Excessive power is always harmful and destructive.
Case: Kalyan Dey Chowdhury (Appellant) v Rita Dey Chowdhury Nee Nandy (Respondent)
In this case, the Supreme Court of India has set the alimony benchmark as 25% of the ex-husband’s net salary.
The supreme court has set up the Benchmark in regard to the maintenance to his estranged wife stating that; it is the ‘just and proper amount as alimony. A bench of Justices R Banumathi and M MSantanagoudar made the observation while directing a resident of West Bengal’s Hooghly earning Rs. 95,527 monthly to set aside Rs. 20000 as alimony to his former wife and their son, turning down the man’s plea that the amount decided was excessive.
The court, in this case, held that; the amount of alimony should be sufficient to ensure that women lived with dignity after separation from husband. Its order came on the man’s plea challenging a Calcutta high court directing him to pay Rs 23000 per month. The amount was reduced by Rs. 3000 in Supreme Court considering the fact that the man had remarried and had a family to maintain thereby also now. 25% of the husband’s salary was held as ‘just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the former wife. The amount of permanent alimony awarded to her should befit the status of the parties and; the capacity of the paying spouse which is always dependent on the factual situation of the case.
The Bench also said that the court would be justified in molding the claim on various factors. The couple had been fighting a legal battle since 2003 in the district court where the district judge fixed the amount at Rs. 4500. However, the High Court increased it to Rs. 16000 in 2015 and it increased up to Rs 23000 as the husband’s salary went up to Rs. 95527 from Rs. 63842. The apex court’s ruling follows its inclination to protect claims of women in matrimonial disputes affecting their financial status. ‘A Hindu woman’s right to maintenance is a personal obligation as far as the husband is concerned and; it is his duty to maintain her even if he has no property. It is well settled under the Hindu law that the husband has got a personal obligation to maintain his wife and; if he has got some property then his wife is entitled to be maintained, out of it’ said Supreme court’s ruling in 2016.
On the completion of this project on the topic ‘ Do you think rights and duties coexist? ’ and after enough study on the topic, I’m able to form the opinion that Yes, rights and duties coexist. Rights are the entitlements given to an individual by the State by the virtue of being a part of it; whereas duties are obligations specifying the extent to which rights can be used. They are corollary and cannot exist without each other. In this sense, they can be called parallel lines which never meet but always stay together. The presence of duty gives rise to the power to exercise rights.
Rights are written and implemented. Duties are not written but if not performed we have provisions to punish the wrong. Rights give you power whereas duties limit your powers so that no right can be misused. And, Rights can never exist without duties as they are the two sides of the same coin. Rights without duties would drive us lawless and duties without rights would drive us to slavery. The state is the one giving us entitlements known as rights and also giving us obligations known as duties.
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