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MISUSE OF SECTION 498-A OF INDIAN PENAL CODE

Author: Poonam, II year of B.A.,LL.B. from Punjab School of Law, Punjabi University Patiala


Women make up half the population of the world. Since earlier times women have been playing a vital role in society. She has been a daughter, a mother, a sister and even a friend. No one can deny the fact that they play various roles in society. But the bitter side of society is the cruelty against women..The cruelty against women is not a new issue, this social evil has been in our society over the years.

Cruelty itself means behaving like a n animal with someone, beating and harassing someone. Cruelty against women is commonly seen in Indian society. Every single minute a woman, girl becomes the victim of cruelty against her either by her own family or by a closely known person. Some stereotypes men even take pleasure in beating, harassing women as they think it's the symbol of Machismo.. So in order to put an end to this the law of our country had made section498-A in the Indian penal code that particularly dealt with cruelty against women. This section is truly a blessing for the women who are actually dealing with the cruelty . But in the light of recent scenarios the section498-A of Indian penal code has been used by some disgruntled women just to harass their husband or their relatives to make money out of it.


498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to

For the commission of an offence under Section 498-A, following necessary ingredients require to be satisfied:

  1. The woman must be married;

  2. She must be subjected to cruelty or harassment; and

  3. Such cruelty or harassment must have been shown either by the husband of the woman or by the relative of her husband.


This section’s bare perusal points out that the word ‘cruelty’ covers the occurrence of the following act- any willful behavior which might lead a woman to suicide or cause serious damage or danger to life, limb, or life; a woman’s health (mental or physical);

The harassment of a woman in the event of such harassment, with a view to obliging her or any other person related to her to fulfil an illegal requirement for any property or valuable things.


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.]


Elements of section 498-A

Kinds of cruelty covered under this section includes following:

(a) Cruelty by vexatious litigation


(b) Cruelty by deprivation and wasteful habits


(c) Cruelty by persistent demand.


(d) Cruelty by extra-marital relations.


(e) Harassment for non-dowry demand.


(f) Cruelty by non-acceptance of a baby girl.


(g) Cruelty by false attacks on chastity.


(h) Taking away children.


Misuse of the section489-A by disgruntled women to harass their husband

Misuse of Section 498A is no longer a myth. In India's last 20 years of criminal law reform, a recurrent argument levelled against laws dealing to violence against women has been that women exploit such laws. In various precedents, married woman have filed a falsified accusation using Section 498A of the IPC and formed her husband as a result of the regulation.


Well-educated women realize that it is both cognizable and non-bailable, meaning that it can be triggered by a woman's simple accusation, placing the male behind bars. Such "misuse" claims were fiercely pushed by the police, civil institutions, politicians, and even High Court and Supreme Court judges. But at the same time, there are no regulations in place to safeguard men from the exploitation of women. Furthermore, section 498A of the IPC was misapplied in each and every district court case.


The section has been misused by some women to harass their husbands or in-laws. The court has seen a tremendous increase in such cases and around 90 percent of the cases were found to be false where the plaintiff just wanted to harass or to make money out of it.. The lawmakers drafted and put Section 498A into the legal structure with the goal of safeguarding women from cruelty, harassment, and other offences. However, when cross-investigations were conducted to test the validity of these laws, the number of acquittals was higher than the number of convictions. As a result, the Supreme Court, which enacted 498A with the intention of protecting women from cruelty, now views it as legal terrorism. Because overuse of Section 498A weakens its genuine credibility. That is one of numerous reasons why It is said to be an anti-male statute. Although there have been numerous complaints and even large-scale misuse has been acknowledged by the courts, there is no credible empirical data on the degree of claimed misuse.

In case of, Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand & Ors, the Hon’ble Court specifically regulates the abuse connected with the manipulation of the laws to such an extent that it was totally influenced by the influence of marriage itself and thus found not to be intelligent for the welfare of the giant community. The court considered that authorities and lawmakers had to review the case and the legal provisions to prevent it from happening.


In the case of, Saritha v. R. Ramachandran, the Court noted the reverse trend and requested a non-cognizable and bailable offence from the Law Commission and Parliament. However, it was the court’s requirement to condemn wrongdoing and to shield the victim from what happens once the victim becomes the abuser. Here is what remedy the husband will have. On this ground, the lady gets to divorce her husband and remarry or in the form of compensation may gain cash.


In the case of Anju v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, In the case, the wife of the Petitioner challenged the order of the Lower Court, whereby the Court discharged the charges against the respondents under section 498A/34 of the Indian Penal Code.


In appreciating the facts of the case, the Court noted that in the FIR, the wife of the Petitioner in one breath named all members of the family without any specific role being assigned to any of them. Thus, no details were provided as to when the recorded instances allegedly occurred, or any facts to substantiate or corroborate the allegations against relatives of the spouse. The Court also noted that the allegations against the respondents were fairly general and unspecific. The plaintiff did not mention a date, time, month, or year when she was subjected to beating them. In view of the aforementioned facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court of Bombay upheld the order of the Revisional Court and held that the Court had made no mistake in concluding that, apart from the general and omnibus allegations that roped in all relations, there is no recorded material to justify the framing of charges under Section 498A IPC.


In the light of the recent events, some suggestions to this act are as follows

A speedy trial in 498A cases would not only assure restitution for innocent people who were falsely accused, but it would also let the true donor victims' concerns to be addressed quickly. The number of fraudulent cases will decrease, but the number of actual prosecutions will increase. Because of their non-leasing behavior, 498 A are victims of unintentional mistreatment. This region should be ransomed to prevent innocent young people, pregnant sisters, and college students, from languishing in jail for weeks with no one to blame.


If the married lady realizes she made a mistake and has to return home after filing a FIR, the case cannot be dismissed. To save a lot of money on a wedding venue, this may be made compoundable. In fact, where the couple want to dissolve their marriage by consensual divorce, The continuation of criminal investigations is hampered.Several incidents of men who have been assaulted by their spouses or in-laws have come to light from all over the world. Because there is currently no organization that can make it exceedingly easy for these busy people and their families to pay attention to their side of the story and establish a goal of reading ahead of the government. The current objective is to

establish family substance abuse centers across the country to aid those families who have been harmed. In the understanding that most girls in the husband's family endure legal harassment, these organizations should appropriately analyze critique without prejudice to the girl. No woman should be able to make a criminal complaint against her in-laws for having extramarital affairs. Furthermore, these organizations will investigate the misuse of the action and educate the public about its consequences. If a court decides that the charges levelled against the accused persons in connection with the commission of an offence under section 498a of the IPC are false, the accused persons shall face severe punishment. It will dissuade persons from returning to court with dirty hands and hidden agendas. All officials who help in unjustly incriminating girls and their families should face criminal charges. Civil authorities scatter the investigation into these offences, and cognizance will be taken only after the conclusion on the crime's execution is reached. The government should educate cops on the danger of its misuse.


Conclusion

The justice system must respond to domestic violence in a coordinated and systemic manner. Despite the fact that Sec 498A is one of the most significant criminal law amendments protecting women's rights, it is insufficient and we must remember that criminal law is a blunt instrument, as it is extremely difficult to change police culture; even if the law considers domestic violence against women to be a crime, the police may still fail to follow the law and properly apply it. As a result, in order to make Sec 498A and other criminal law remedies more effective, we must implement a new policing approach, such as the victim empowerment model outlined above.


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