SECTION 498A: This particular section under Indian Penal Code (IPC) says that if husband of a woman or husband’s relatives subjects any forms of cruelty to the woman are liable for penalties which include imprisonment not less than 3 years as well fine up to certain extent as well as it’s a non bailable offence. It was added to the Indian Penal Code in the year 1983. Under this section the word cruelty means:
- Any willful conduct done by the husband or the family members which likely drives the woman to commit suicide or harm herself grievously in any form or bring danger to her life.
- Harassment in any form which forces or coerce the women to meet unlawful demands for any valuable security, property or assets.
INTERELATION BETWEEN SECTION 498 A AND THE DOWRY ACT: Dowry act 1961 prohibits any person to either take or give dowry in any form. Dowry is considered as the valuable assets, properties etc. which are demanded or asked for by the husband or his relatives while marrying a girl. It has been practiced in the country since ages which eventually led the path to dowry related violence and abuse against women. Married women and girls are beaten or burnt to death if they are unable to fulfill the unlawful demands of their in laws. Also the parents of the women are mentally harassed due to this reason. The picturesque between dowry act and section 498A is the form of cruelty done to the woman either by the husband or the relatives and dowry related violence is one of the integral part which comes under the ambit of Section 498A.
The purview of the above section includes mostly the dowry related cases which are filed either by the victim or by the relatives of the victim itself. Being a non bailable offence, the cases falling under this section requires a thorough investigation and valid procedures so that a wrong perpetrator does not falls in the claws of legal punishment.
ADVANTAGES OF SECTION 498A: Following are the advantages of this Section:
- It was enacted to combat menace of cruelty and harassment against woman.
- It basically helped woman in cases related to dowry and violence caused due to it.
- Strict rules and regulations were enacted to punish the perpetrators for these sort of crimes.
PROCEDURE FOR FILING CASES UNDER SECTION 498A:
- One can visit police station and file complaint against her husband or relative whosoever involved in the torture under similar circumstances. The same thing applies also to a woman if she has been the victimization of dowry abuse.
- One should give all the details while filing the complaint like regarding the torture, demand of dowry or any kind of physical or mental abuse which has forced the woman to take any sort of grievous step in order to harm her life etc.
- Based on the complaint and all the details provided police can then start investigation. One can also file a case under domestic violence act in such cases to bear any maintenance or medical help if needed by the victim.
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WHO HANDLE DOWRY CASES: There are various non-governmental organizations for the poor and needy women who not only help in filing dowry cases as well as help in giving them aid in every possible manner. Below are some of the organizations along with their contact numbers:
- VIMOCHANA( BENAGALURU)- 2549 2781/2548 2783
- MAHILA DAHKSHATA SAMITI (BENGALURU)- 23512543
- 1091 WOMEN HELPLINE NO.
PUNISHMENT FOR DOWRY CASES:
- If any person gives or takes dowry or abets the giving or taking in any form shall be punishable with imprisonment not less than 5 years and fine not less than fifty thousand rupees.
- If any person demands dowry that is if the husband or the relatives or any person whosoever it may be they shall be punishable with imprisonment of six months which can extend up to 2 years and fine of ten thousand rupees.
MISUSE OF SECTION 498A: The sections 498A and 304B of IPC are closely related legal and judicial provisions which were enacted to safeguard interests of married women in our country. But in particular this section has been misused from a long time by supposedly vengeful wives and daughter in laws in order to acquire control over them or to fulfill their unlawful desires. The misuse of this particular section became so prevalent that the Supreme Court in the year July 2014 issued an order saying that without any strong evidences and sufficient reasons husband and their relatives cannot be detained immediately on the basis of the wife’s complaint. No arrest should be done by police unless and until there is a nod from the magistrate side which was also ordered by the Supreme Court regarding such cases.
Old parents, or the man itself suffer a lot due to false accusations under these section. As it is a non bailable offence, each and every one of the family has to undergo the pain and legal procedures done under the act. Whether it be physically, mentally or financially a person who has not committed the crime breaks down eventually within the legal ambit for which they have a bear a huge loss in their lives.