All About Section 498A of Indian Penal Code.

Introduction

Indian Penal Code is the official criminal code of India. Under this, all crimes in India are recognized. However, the most vulnerable section of society still remains women. There are too many crimes against women. In which rape and domestic violence were on top. However, in India, a serious issue if cruelty and harassment to women after marriage.

Hence to overcome this issue an amendment was made to IPC and a new section 498A was added.

Section 498 IPC, 1860

On 26th December 1983, an amendment was made to IPC. This is the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 1983. Under this, a new section 498A was added to IPC.

In this Cruelty of Husband or relative of husband on married women is covered.

Cruelty is a very wide term. In this section cruelty means-

  • Physical or mental harm to body or health or
  • Indulging in act of harassment with a view to coherence her or her relative to fulfill unlawful demands for property or any other valuable thing.

In the case of Shobha Rani vs. Madhukar Reddy[1] it was held that evidence is required to prove cruelty.

Nature of this section

The crime committed under this section is-

Cognizable i.e. the police can arrest without warrant

Non- compoundable i.e. the complaint cannot be withdrawn once made. Andhra Pradesh is an exception to it.

Non- bailable i.e. bail cannot be granted without the permission of the court

Essentials There are certainly essential to section 498A IPC-

  1. The victim must be a married woman
  2. Married women must be subject to cruelty
  • Such cruelty or harassment must be done by the husband or relative of husband.

Who can file a case?

The victim i.e. married women can file a case under this section. Also, any person related to the women by blood, adoption, or marriage can file the case.

 Limitation Period

The limitation period for section 498A is given under section 468 CrPC. As per this the limitation period for this is 3 years from the last incident of cruelty happened. However in exceptional cases delay can be accepted by the court of law.

 Punishment

The convicted persons under section 498A IPC are subject to imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or fine.

Other related provisions

There are certain other provisions and laws which are connected with this section. They are-

Section 113B of Evidence Act

This deals with the provisions of dowry death through brutal physical and mental torture. This applies to 7 years after the marriage when suicide or death happens in this period.

Section 306 IPC

This deals with the person who abets a person to commit suicide will be sentenced to imprisonment which may increase to 10 years.

Misuse of Section 498A IPC

Due to the recent trend of cases filed, it has been seen that there is a lot of misuse of this section.

Even the apex court has regarded it as a ‘legal weapon’.

In Crime in India 2012 published in the National Crime Records Bureau, the Ministry of Home Affairs presented a report. In this, it was seen that there are 1,97,762 persons arrested under this section. In which 47,951 are allegations to mother and sister of husband. It is 6 percent of the total person arrested in India. Also, it is 4.5 percent of the total crime committed.

Also in a Report of Crime in India 2013, there are a total 4, 66,076 pending cases only of section 498A. In which only 7,258 convicted. It is as low as 15.6 percent.

In Preeti Gupta vs. State of Jharkhand[2], it was said that “At a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incidents our reflected in a large number of complaints”.

How to avoid misuse

In Chandra Bhan vs. State[3] the court gave certain guidelines to avoid misuse of this section-

  • FIR should not be registered in routine.
  • The police should check facts and evidence carefully before registering FIR.
  • No case should be filed without prior permission of DCP/additional DCP.
  • Before FIR possible efforts should be made for reconciliation.
  • Arrest should be done after investigation and prior application of ACP/DCP.
  • In case of collateral accused prior approval of DCP should be there.

Also in the case of Rajesh Sharma & others vs. State of UP[4] certain directions were given

  • The family welfare committee to be constituted at every district. Every complaint should be checked by this committee.
  • Complaints should be investigated by designated investigation officers.
  • The district judge should dispose of the proceeding and close the matter if dispute only related to the matrimonial dispute.
  • If the bail application filed on one clear day notice, it should be given as far as possible.
  • In the case of NRIs impounding of passport and red corner notice should be avoided.
  • Personal appearance of all family members especially outstation members should be required.

However in the case of Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar and other vs. Union of India Ministry of Law Justice and Ors[5] it was said by the honorable Supreme Court that the guidelines given in the Rajesh Sharma case should be modified.

Conclusion-

It has been seen that there is too many misuses of this section. However, due to this misuse, the fact should not be ignored that how women are treated in our country. The lawmakers should have to make a balance between who needs and who avails benefit from this section. It has to be noted that actual victims should not be mixed with fake once.

References

[1] AIR 1988 SC  121

[2] (2010)7  SCC 667

[3] AIR 1954 All 39

[4] Criminal Appeal No. 1265 of 2017

[5] Writ Petition ( Criminal) No. 156 of 2017, Judgment in 2018

This article is written by Srishti Rajpoot, a law student at Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida.

Also Read: False Complaint Under Section 498A of IPC.

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