What Types of Cruelty Does Section 498A Deals With?

Introduction :

It was introduced in the year 1983 to protect a married woman from cruelty by their husbands or his relatives. The punishment for which has also been extended for 3 years and fine has also been prescribed. Here the word cruelty has a broad meaning as it includes the physical as well as mental torture on a woman’s health and body, including the acts of harassment with a view of forcing her or her relatives to fulfil ‘unlawful demands’ for any property or valuable security. Harassment for dowry also falls under the latter part of this section. Creating a situation that force any woman to commit suicide also comes under the ingredient of’ cruelty’.

Indian Penal Code, 1860:

Section 498A of the Indian penal code deals with the violence committed by the husband or the husband relative to the woman after marriage. This also prescribes 3 years of punishment and a fine.

This has given a new definition of cruelty. Cruelty can be described as:

  • If the act so committed is of such nature that it entices the woman to commit suicide or may cause injury to herself which proves to be dangerous.
  • If the act is to harass women or any other person related to her to fulfil some unlawful demand by her in-laws.

 Evidence Act 1872:

This section was included to fight against the threat of dowry death. The Criminal law Amendment Act 1983 incorporated it into the code. Section 113A was being added to lift up the presumption of suicide abetment by a married woman. The main aim of the IPC section 498A is to protect the woman from the harassment by her husband and husband’s relatives.

Section 113A – presumption as to Dowry Death:

Where there is an issue that whether a person has caused dowry death of a woman and it is being shown that woman is subjected to cruelty or coercion in connection with the demand for dowry soon before her death, so the courts shall presume that the person has caused the dowry death.

under this provision cruelty and harassment are considered the same within the IPC section 498A.

Ingredients of section 498A: 

  • There must be a married woman.
  • The woman must be treated with cruelty or harassment,
  • That cruelty or harassment must be given by her husband or husband’s relatives. – held in the case of U. Suvetha V. State (1)

Cruelty and harassment:

State of A.P. V. M. Madhusudhan Rao

Every harassment does not amount to ‘cruelty’ to come under the section of 498A. For the purpose of cruelty, harassment must be committed in order to coerce a woman or her relatives for the fulfilment of any unlawful demand for property. Then only it can be treated as ‘cruelty’ under section 498A. (2)

Cruelty can be mental or physical. It is difficult to differentiate cruelty as it is a wider term. Cruelty for one person does not necessarily mean the same to another person. This was held in the case of G.V. Siddaramesh V. State of Karnataka. (3)

The term cruelty means different from person to person as it depends upon the social and economic status to which that person belongs, held in the case of Gananath Patnaik V. State of Orissa. (4)

Section 498A – Dowry Demand:

Dowry demand was also included in the ‘unlawful demand’ under section 498A sub-clause (b), therefore it need not be demand only. The supreme court in the case of Modinsab Kasimsab Kanchagar V. State of Karnataka held that a demand for Rs. 10,000 towards the repayment of a society loan was enough to come under this section. (5)

Section 498A and Protection of Women under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005:

If any case is pending before a criminal court then the appellant can ask for reliefs under domestic violence act if the allegation is found genuine. – held in the case of Juveria Abdul Majid Patni V. Atif  Iqbal Mansoori (6)

Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides remedy under the civil law which protects the women from domestic violence within their families and also prevents domestic violence to occur in the society.

Misuse of the provision:

Arnesh Kumar V. State of Bihar (7)

The wife claimed that she was harassed for dowry by her husband and his relatives, the husband could not get anticipatory bail and hence he went to

the supreme court by special leave appeal. In this case, the court held that section 498A was commonly used as a tool rather than a shield by frustrated women. This results in threatening the husband and his parents for arrest under this section and it is very sad to see that bedridden parents are being subject to this cruel behaviour.

In order to make these arrest genuine court made some rules under section 498A IPC and section 4 of Dowry prohibition act which are to be followed by the police officers during the arrest.


1.(2009) 6 SCC 757

2.(2018) 15 SCC 582

3.(2010) 3 SCC 152

4.(2002) 2 SCC 619

5.(2013) 4 SCC 551

6.(2014) 10 SCC 736

7.(2014) 8 SCC 273

This article is written by Janvi Srivastava student of 2nd year, B.A. LL.B at IMS SCHOOL OF LAW, IPU GREATER NOIDA

Also Read: What is Mental Cruelty?

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