People don’t know what Section 498A of the IPC is nor do they know what to do when a 498A case is registered against them. For them I have explained 498A below: 498A is a criminal offence that came into existence to stop domestic violence and protect women from dowry harassment. What Is Section 498A of INDIAN PENAL CODE in Marriage.
Article by – Aparna Sharma
What Is Section 498A of INDIAN PENAL CODE in Marriage WELL The history of this law runs as follows:
- In the 1980s, the incidences of ‘dowry deaths’ were rising in India. A dowry death is the murder of a young woman committed by the in-laws, when she was unable to fulfill their demands for money, articles or property, categorized as dowry.
- Organizations across the country pressurized and urged the government to provide legal protection to women against domestic violence and dowry.
- The objective was to allow the state to prevent the murders of young girls who were unable to meet the dowry demands of their in-laws.
- As a result of the intense campaigning and lobbying, significant amendments were made in the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act and the Dowry Prohibition Act, with the intention of protecting women from marital violence, abuse and dowry demands. The most important amendment came in the form of the introduction of Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The most important amendment came in the form of the introduction of What Is Section 498A of INDIAN PENAL CODE in Marriage The text of the law is given below:
Indian Penal Code – Section 498A, IPC Introduced in the Penal Code by Criminal Law (Second Amendment) act of 1983 (Act No. 46 of 1983)
What Is Section 498A of INDIAN PENAL CODE in Marriage WELL – 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 purposes of this section, “cruelty” means
(a) 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 (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.
This law deals with four types of cruelty:
- Any conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
- Any conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
- Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property,
- Harassment because the woman or her relatives are either unable to yield to the demand for more money or do not give some share of the property.
498A IS AN EXTORTION RACKET
In legal terms, 498A is an offence, which is:
- Cognizable: Offences are divided into cognizable and non-cognizable. By law, the police are duty bound to register and investigate a cognizable offence. 498A is a cognizable offence.
- Non-Bailable: There are two kinds of offences, bailable and non-bailable. 498A is non bailable. This means that the magistrate has the power to refuse bail and remand a person to judicial or police custody.
- Non-Compoundable: A non-compoundable case, e.g. Rape, 498A etc, cannot be withdrawn by the petitioner. The exception is in the state of Andhra Pradesh, where 498A was made compoundable.
In actual terms, 498A is an offence, which is:
- Cognizable: The police will register a 498A case since it is required by law, but they don’t investigate but go on to arrest people because of the money to be made in bribes from both sides in a 498A case.
- Non-Bailable: Since bail is at the discretion of the magistrate, all sorts of games will be played to have families locked up while negotiations go on to settle the case. This may happen in cases where the magistrates are allegedly corrupt or, the public prosecutor and the cops are in cahoots.
- Non-Compoundable: Though 498A is non compoundable, the courts are allowing the withdrawal of the case when the parties agree to reconcile or settle case. In real terms, if you pay up, the case goes away. If you don’t you’ll get stuck with a criminal case that will go on for years.
What Is Section 498A of INDIAN PENAL CODE in Marriage WELL The other characteristics of this extortion racket are:
- It is a law that fosters corruption and enables govt agencies like the police to violate Fundamental Rights.
- It plays a role in gender based vote bank politics.
- It denies justice to the real victims of dowry harassment.
- It exposes innocent families to the evils of the corrupt Indian criminal justice system.
- This is a law poisoning the lower judiciary by exposing it to corruption.
- Above all, this is a gamble bound to fail if the accused choose to fight back.
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