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Section 498A of Indian Penal Code - use and misuse by women and relatives

Section 498A of Indian Penal Code was introduced to ensure protection of women from cruelty of husband and relatives. This section is very helpful for those who want to get protection against cruelty from husband or relative of husband. But it practical it is found that this section is being mis-used with intention of harassing husband and relatives and to force them to act according to the wishes of the women. Only a small percentage of people who are victims of cruelty are taking help of the law.

Most of the victims of domestic violence are in rural areas and in many cases they are not taking legal help due to many reasons. But in urban areas we saw many husbands scared of this section by fearing the arrest of themselves and their relatives. They are ready to do anything which their wives dictate. Government employees are the most scared people who are worried about their job and stability.

Extracts of Section 498A of Indian Penal Code

498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation- For the purpose of this section, "cruelty" means-
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b)  harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.


Why the law is being mis-used
The marriage related matter is being handled under Criminal laws and not under Civil Laws.

No proof is necessary to issue Non- Bailable Warrant or to execute arrest. This is really a question against human right. 

Relatives who are not part of the family life can also be named and arrested on single complaint without giving any preference to pregnant women and children.
Until Proven innocent, the accused is being presumed guilty.

There is no difference between gift and dowry and anything given at the time of marriage may be treated as dowry.

Since it is a non-compoundable offence, scope of any reconciliation between the couple is less.

Once the husband is accused of Section 498A, he will not be able to resettle again with his wife.

Aged parents are also the victims of misusing this law.
The husband will not be able to marry again after accused under Section 498A.
Normally husband's family ends up paying huge amount to settle the case.
Women who want to get divorce faster using this section even if no dowry was demanded.

Even after knowing that the complaint can be false, police tend to support the woman and asks the man to settle the case with a financial compensation.

There is option to file case under section 498A even after divorce. This helps people to demand money and favour legally apart from maintenance.

There is no prohibition clause against misusing the law.

Note: This article is not meant to criticize or hurt genuine people who are taking help of the law, but only to highlight the use and misuse of the law.

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