Section 498 A was inserted in IPC in the year 1983 with an intention of protecting married women from being subjected to cruelty by her in-laws. As per the provisions of this section, the relatives of husband or he himself can get imprisonment up to three years and shall be liable to pay a fine also if they do any act which caused cruelty to the woman. It also states what cruelty is, according to this section, the term cruelty means-
- 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 woman; or
- 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.
An offence under IPC S 498 A is:
- Non-bailable- It means that police cannot give bail and the accused cannot claim it as a matter of right; the accused has to seek permission from the judge by furnishing the surety amount. It will be the discretion of the judge only whether the accused should be released or not.
- Non-compoundable- It is a non-compoundable offense and can be settled between the two parties once the FIR is registered.
- Cognizable- It is an offense of serious nature.
Who can file a complaint and the Procedure of filing a complaint under section 498 A of IPC:
- Any aggrieved women can file a complaint to the nearby police station. There is no formal procedure for that. The aggrieved women can list down the incidents in chronological order stating each and every problem faced by her or dowry demands made by her in-laws on a sheet of paper and can submit it to the police department either by hand or by post
- The police authorities will refer to this complaint to the women cell and this cell will try to solve the problem amicably by giving notice to the opposite party, if not solved, then they will inform to the police department and police will register FIR and will proceed further as per the procedure established by law.
- If the police refuse to file a FIR, then the aggrieved women can file a petition under S. 156(3) of Crpc whereby the magistrate will direct the police authorities to investigate the matter.
- The Complaint can be filed by the aggrieved women at any time i.e. it does not have a limitation period. Domestic violence is a continuing offense.
Misuse of Section 498 A of IPC:
It has been observed that in the recent years this section is being misused by the women for several reasons such as:
- To take revenge of husband and in-laws
- To harass the in-laws
- Extortion racket
Sometimes, the woman demands the huge amount of money from her in-laws for outside the court settlement.
Sometimes, the complaints are made in heat of the moment due to ego clashes, verbal spats, etc.
In a case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India issued certain guidelines such as – the police cannot arrest a person without any reason i.e. it has to give proper reasons for the arrest and it must first try to solve the matter through reconciliation and must arrest only if the matter can’t be solved amicably.
Remedies available to the accused when a wrong complaint is filed against him:
Section 498a seeks to protect only women from cruelty and doesn’t contain men. But still, if the wrong complaint has been filed then the male members need not worry. They have certain options available such as-
- Bail – The person accused shall consult a lawyer and must apply for bail well in time.
- Collect Evidence – The accused should collect evidence which shows that he never demanded dowry from the woman or her family members.
|Laws||Indian Penal Code, 1860 | The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973|
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