Misuse of Section 498-A
Cruelty is a social evil that can be defined as inflicting physical or mental hurt which has been cropping up throughout India. Therefore to reduce cruelty, Section 498-A under IPC was introduced in the year of 1983 to protect married women from the cruelty subjected to them from their relatives or husbands. The person who has been declared guilty by the court for cruelty shall have to face a punishment of imprisonment for three years and fine.
The concept of cruelty under Section 498-A is divided into two parts, firstly it is defined as any willful 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 (mentally or physically). Secondly, it is harassment of a woman where such harassment is with a view to coerce her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property.
U. Suvetha v. State
The case of U. Suvetha v. State, lists down the ingredients of Section 498-A and they are:
- The women must be married
- She must be subjected to cruelty or harassment
- Such cruelty or harassment must have been shown either by the husband of the woman or by the relative of her husband.
This section was introduced for the weaker women who were facing this heinous and tortures from their husbands or their relatives, However, presently the situations have changed and many educated women knowing the outcomes of applying this provision on their husbands are using it to their own advantage.
In the case of Smt. Mayadevi v. Jagdish Prasad, the wife had blackmailed the husband, saying that if he did not fulfill her demands by paying her enough money, she would falsely incriminate him under a dowry case. She was later on charged for murdering her own children, she falsely filed a complaint against her husband and his family members alleging dowry demands.
Preeti Gupta v. the State of Jharkhand
In the case of Preeti Gupta v. the State of Jharkhand, the complainant had filed a complaint under section 498-A against the relatives of the husband, but it was found out that none of the relatives lived with the complainant, where the court concluded that the complaint was filed to harass and to humiliate the husband’s relatives.
There have been committees set up in order to review the cruelty provision. In the year of 1993 and the year of 2012, it was recommended that the provision should be changed from a non- compoundable offence to a compoundable offence. Presently the provision is non-compoundable which is where both the parties cannot enter into a compromise with one another.
In the year of 2003, Dr. Justice V.S. Malimath Committee Report of the Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System noted that there is a “general complaint” that Section 498-A IPC is subject to gross misuse. It indicated that there needs to be an amendment to the provision. There are no recent legal amendments in regard to this provision which is needed at this stage where the misuse of the provision keeps increasing with the passing of the time.
Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand
In the case of Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand, the court had made the following recommendations which are: Marital offences should be bailable, cruelty offence should be compoundable, Investigation can be done by civil authorities also, Minor children not to be arrested.
Also read about Gender neutrality laws in India
Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs Union of India: Section 498-A
In the case of Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had denounced section 498-A as Legal Terrorism. There is a gross abuse of the power that is given to the women as a shield. The provision of 498-A needs redressal in order to reduce the misuse by women whose motive is to harass their husbands and his relatives for their own needs.
This article is edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.