Marriage is one of the most significant things in a person’s life which binds an individual. It is a social institution where both the spouse has a responsibility to take care and maintain each other. But with marriage comes a burden called ‘dowry’; this is one of the social evil’s which is not new to the society and still exists. Dowry is the reason, because of which women get killed, harassed, divorced and suffers cruelty both physically and mentally.
To ensure the safety of women which they suffered behind the walls of their matrimonial house, the Indian penal code, 1860 was amended in the year 1983 and inserted section 498A which deals with the cruelty of husband and his relatives on the wife.
In India matrimonial cruelty is a cognizable, non bailable and non-compoundable offence, which is defined U/S 498A of The Indian Penal Code 1860 in chapter XXA.
WHAT IS 498A?
498A of The Indian Penal Code is an Indian law; it was inserted in IPC to cease cruelty on women. According to this section it is a crime if you are cruel to your wife or to your relative’s wife.
According to law cruelty means-
a) Any willful conduct that is done either to cause serious harm to the women or makes the women mentally so disturbed that she wants to kill herself.
b) It makes it a crime to harass women to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security from the bride’s family to the husband’s family.
According to the law the person has commit cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for three years and for a fine.
Other laws for the protection of women from cruelty:
· Section 304B IPC 1860
· Section 113-A Indian Evidence Act 1872
· Domestic violence act 2005
· Section 306 IPC 1860
TYPES OF CRUELTY ACCORDING TO 498A:
a) Cruelty by unlawful demand
b) Cruelty by committing extra marital affair
c) Cruelty by not accepting female child
d) Cruelty by distressing litigation
e) Cruelty by false attack on purity
f) Cruelty by taking away children
g) Cruelty by inflicting pain
h) Cruelty that force a person to commits suicide
MISUSE OF 498A:
India is a patriarchal society where men are subjected as superior and women are subjected as a weaker sex. Cruelty to women by her husband or husband’s relative was not a new issue. In fact, most of the married women suffered from cruelty because of dowry demand and it got so severe that in some situations it became unbearable for the woman who is going through cruelty that they used to end their own life by committing suicide.
The ratio of dowry deaths and cruelty by husband or husband’s relative is increasing, and to safeguard the same and to protect them from the violence 498A come into force in the year 1983.
According to this section the women who are suffering from cruelty by their husband or husband’s relatives can file a complaint and the officer take prompt action. The offence is cognizable, non bailable and non compoundable who gives security to women that they are safe.
The nature of this section is strict the women who are educated know that 498A is non bailable and non compoundable and they misuse it for their personal gain. By using this section, a woman gets to divorce her husband or even gain money as compensation. Sometimes women use this section to take revenge or to get the power of dominance.
The section is made to protect women from cruelty and secure their rights but it was misused and because of its strict nature the man who is innocent suffers a lot. It is humiliating for them as it harms their mental health or they become isolated.
There are a lot of fake cases registered under this section and the court gives its opinion to find a solution and before arresting a person investigate the matter.
The position of women in India is still bad and they need protection but some women do not understand the seriousness of the problem and take undue advantage of the situation which harms the right of others.
After observing lots of fake cases and heard about the misuse of 498A The Supreme Court amended the section and struck down the family welfare committee, the task of the committee was to examine each case before carrying out the results. Section 498A of the IPC pertains to the domestic violence and dowry harassment faced by the women. The court further said that the police can only arrest the person if they find it necessary and further added that the arrested person can also apply for an anticipatory bail.
It was amended in 2018.
JASBIR KAUR vs. STATE OF HARYANA
KANARAJ vs. STATE OF PUNJAB
STATE vs. SRIKANTH
498A was inserted in IPC for the protection of married women from their husband and husband’s relative but now the scenario is different many women took advantage of its non bailable and non compoundable nature and registered a false case.
The court has amended the section but still there are loopholes. The section defines cruelty and directs a punishment for 3 years imprisonment and fine also but what about the men who go through mental cruelty because of their wives.
The law is equal to both men and women. There are many laws to protect women; to ensure their safety but there is no provision to protect men who is suffering from domestic violence, there should be similar laws to protect harasses husband and his family member from the wife.
Laws are made to protect one’s right, but when the people start to misuse it then they should face the consequence. Everything is not a joke, there are women who are helpless and need help from such social evils. They are fighting every day and suffer a lot but because of some women’s foolishness it becomes difficult to grant justice to them.
The female who register false case should be penalized with imprisonment and that too rigorousso that the others will not take the provision as a joke and realize the seriousness of the problem.