- Section 498A of IPC is related with harassment of married woman for dowry.
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Passed by Indian Parliament in 1983, Indian Penal Code 498A, is a criminal law (not a civil law) which is defined as follows,
“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. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bail able.
Explanation- For the purpose of this section, cruelty means-
- Any wilful conduct which is of such 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
- Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with view to coercing her or any person related to her meet any unlawful demand for any person related to her to meet such demand.
- The section was enacted to combat the menace of dowry deaths. It was introduced in the code by the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983 (Act 46 of 1983). By the same Act section 113-A has been added to the Indian Evidence Act to raise presumption regarding abetment of suicide by married woman. The main objective of section 498-A of I.P.C is to protect a woman who is being harassed by her husband or relatives of husband.
- In Rajesh Sharma and Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Anr Supreme Court A bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, partly overturned the 2017 decision of the Court.
- The two decisions of the apex court were concerning the section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with cruelty towards a wife by her husband or his family.
- The petitioner had alleged that the IPC provision was being misused by women to harass their husbands and their in-laws.
- In this regard, the Court had issued directions to the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA) to set up Family Welfare Committees (FWC).
- The police would then be required to forward all complaints under section 498A to the FWCs to review.
- Till the FWC has submitted its report on the complaint, the police would not be able to arrest anybody in connection with the complaint.
- Another feature of the decision was to empower the district Judge to dispose of the cases filed under the provision where an agreement had been reached between the complainant and her in-laws.
- The Court had also restricted impounding the passports of the accused and issuing of red corner notices.
- However, none of these directions would be applicable in the event that tangible physical injuries or death have been inflicted.
- With this decision, the Supreme Court has been able to strike a balance between legal protection to married women as well as the rights of the accused husband or in-laws.