Common myths about Indian Law

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The public is at times not that clear about the technicalities of the law, and doubts can arise. This post clarifies some major misconceptions about the laws in India:

  1. Abetment to suicide. A suicide note by the person who has committed suicide is not sufficient to convict a person, and if a person commits suicide because of a disappointment in love or exams, for example, the lover/parents will not be held responsible. They are only culpable if goading and harassment is proved.
  2. Breach of promise to marry does not automatically result in the lover being liable for rape. It can be considered rape only in exceptional circumstances of fraud where the “rapist” conceals facts. More on that here.
  3. Bribe giving is as liable to punishment as bribe-taking.
  4. A working woman is entitled by law to maternity benefits if she has been working in the organisation for a year. This is the law according to the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act of 2017.
  5. Scribbled notes are valid. It doesn’t matter if there is writing on the notes, your notes are legal tender.
  6. Homosexuals are not criminals. Section 377 of the IPC states that certain types of sex acts are liable to punishment, and even heterosexual persons can be guilty of it. A man wearing women’s clothes, for example, is not doing anything illegal, and nor can he be punished if he sits in a park with his friend. Hopefully, even Section 377 will be repealed soon.
  7. It’s shown on television, but in reality, the police cannot search your house without a warrant, and nor can they arrest you without one. Women can only be arrested in the presence of a policewoman, and definitely not after sunset. If it comes to questioning, children under 15 and all women must be questioned in their own homes.
  8. It is illegal to keep an arrested person in custody for more than 24 hours, unless it is ratified by a magistrate who can give the order to give the police custody for 15 days. It is possible for the police to find a magistrate on weekends too (if they wish) or they can also go to the home of a magistrate, if they want to.
  9. Beating up and torture of suspects is shown as a routine method of a police investigation, but this is technically illegal. The police are supposed to collect clues from the crime scene and conduct a proper investigation, not beat up suspects.

These are the finer/technical points. In reality, due to ignorance of common citizens, the police may take advantage of suspects, or innocents can fall into a trap.

Related Reading: Save yourself from Cybercrime or How to deal with the police in India

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