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The 498a Law

Section 498a:  Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman Whoever takes or entices away any woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of any other man, from that man, or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty

498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—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.

  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 [click here]
  • About Child Custody [click here]
  • Symptoms of 498a wife [click here]
  • Legal Options in 498a [click here]
  • Explanation : For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
    (a) any wilful 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 the woman; or
    (b) 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.
    legal

    Misuse of Section 498A?




    “Woman lodges a complaint under section 498A, husband and in-laws arrested.”

    A newspaper headline such as above is sure to garner sympathy for the victim from the public and the media. But rarely do we ponder over who might be the actual victim here – the wife or the husband? Recently, several cases, where the husband and his family were wrongly accused and trapped under the section 498A of Indian Penal Code, have come into the public eye. Does this mean that section 498A is being misused? Perhaps yes, because there have been horror stories of legal extortions, baseless claims and blackmail by women under this section.

    One of these stories is of a Pune based couple, Romesh Marathe and his wife Supriya (names changed), who had married in March 2001. Due to marital disputes with the wife wanting to stay separately, Romesh filed for a divorce in June 2003. But a month later, Romesh along with his mother and three other relatives, were arrested and sent to the custody in a dowry harassment case filed by Supriya. Due to lack of any evidence, Romesh and his near relations were proven innocent by a magistrate’s court. Later, Romesh again made a divorce plea on the grounds of cruelty by the wife. The family court did not grant the divorce, stating that one singular complaint by wife can not be cited as cruelty. Romesh moved to the Bombay High Court, which accepted Romesh’s contention that the false allegations by wife had caused him mental cruelty and entitled him to a divorce.

    Like Romesh, there are several other innocent married men who are facing the brunt of abuse of the powers under the section 498A. Primarily, an anti-dowry law formed to protect women, section 498A is now considered a deleterious legal weapon in a woman’s armour. In fact, according to “Crime in India 2012 Statistics” published by the National Crime Records Bureau, section 498A itself accounted for 6% of all arrests, though the conviction rate was merely 15%!

    In order to prevent illegal arrests or similar threats of the section 498A accused, the Supreme Court in its latest judgement (2nd July, 2014), has enforced a 9 point checklist for police under section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The checklist prescribes Do’s and Don’t’s, to be referred to by the police before arresting the accused. Further, in case the arrest is made, then the magistrate should allow the detention only if the checklist validates so, or else he can authorize the release of the accused.

    This new development in the context of section 498A was long overdue and is a welcome news of relief. We can only hope that there are no further legal loopholes or new judgements to bypass the section 41 and give undue advantage to the section 498A.

    What Is IPC 498A Of The Indian penal code?




    This new development in the context of section 498A was long overdue and is a welcome news of relief. We can only hope that there are no further legal loopholes or new judgements to bypass the section 41 and give undue advantage to the section 498A.
    The history of this law runs as follows. In the 1980s, the incidences of 'dowry deaths' were steadily rising in India. A dowry death is the murder of a young woman; committed by the in-laws, when she was unable to fulfill their coercive demands for money, articles or property, categorized as dowry. Organizations across the country pressurized and urged the government to provide legislative protection to women against domestic violence and dowry. The objective was to allow the state to intervene rapidly and prevent the murders of young girls who were unable to meet the dowry demands of their in-laws. As a result of the intense campaigning and lobbying, significant amendments were made in the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act and the Dowry Prohibition Act, with the intention of protecting women from marital violence, abuse and dowry demands. The most important amendment came in the form of the introduction of Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

    The text of the law is given below:

    Indian Penal Code - Section 498A, IPC
    Introduced in the Penal Code by Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983
    (Act No. 46 of 1983)
    498A. HUSBAND OR RELATIVE OF HUSBAND OF A WOMAN SUBJECTING
    HER TO CRUELTY:
    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.
    Explanation: For the purposes of this section, "cruelty" means

    1. 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 the woman;
    2. 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.

    Analysis of the section shows that this law deals with four types of cruelty:

    1. Any conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
    2. Any conduct which is likely to cause grave injury to the life, limb or health of the woman,
    3. Harassment with the purpose of forcing the woman or her relatives to give some property,
    4. Harassment because the woman or her relatives are either unable to yield to the demand for more money or do not give some share of the property.

    Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, is a criminal offence. It is a cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence.
    Unfortunately, the formulation of this law left a host of loopholes for exploitation and abuse
    20+ years later, if a family has an estranged `Bahu’ (daughter in law) in their family, the entire family can be jailed under Section 498A of the IPC, based on a complaint in the police station. The objective of the ‘Bahu’ and her parents is to subject the family to an ordeal designed to break their will and ensure that they give in to whatever demands put forward.
    This law exposes families who belong to the middle and upper middle classes of society and NRIs, as these segments of society are vulnerable to legalized extortion by corrupt agencies of the government
    There is no way to avoid a 498A from being filed, unless the family is very well connected or somehow manage to make her realize that it is not in her long term interest to change a domestic dispute into a criminal offence.
    A typical case will go on for 3 to 7 years
    From the people you talk to and from the online portals you visit, you will learn that this is a criminal law to combat domestic violence and dowry harassment etc, etc, etc. I’ll ignore this and cut to the chase.
    In its present form,

    498a IS AN EXTORTION RACKET

    In legal terms, 498A is an offence, which is:

    1. Cognizable: Offences are divided into cognizable and non-cognizable. By law, the police are duty bound to register and investigate a cognizable offence. 498A is a cognizable offence.
    2. Non-Bailable: There are two kinds of offences, bailable and non-bailable. 498A is non bailable. This means that the magistrate has the power to refuse bail and remand a person to judicial or police custody.
    3. Non-Compoundable: A non-compoundable case, e.g. Rape, 498A etc, cannot be withdrawn by the petitioner. The exception is in the state of Andhra Pradesh, where 498A was made compoundable.

    In actual terms, 498A is an offence, which is:

    1. Cognizable: The police will register a 498A case since it is required by law, but they don’t investigate but go on to arrest people because of the money to be made in bribes from both sides in a 498A case.
    2. Non-Bailable: Since bail is at the discretion of the magistrate, all sorts of games will be played to have families locked up while negotiations go on to settle the case. This may happen in cases where the magistrates are allegedly corrupt or, the public prosecutor and the cops are in cahoots.
    3. Non-Compoundable:Though 498A is non compoundable, the courts are allowing the withdrawal of the case when the parties agree to reconcile or settle case. In real terms, if you pay up, the case goes away. If you don’t you’ll get stuck with a criminal case that will go on for years.

    The other characteristics of this extortion racket are:

    • It is a law that fosters corruption and enables govt agencies like the police to violate Fundamental Rights.
    • It denies justice to the real victims of dowry harassment.
    • It plays a role in gender based vote bank politics.
    • It denies justice to the real victims of dowry harassment.
    • This is a law poisoning the lower judiciary by exposing it to corruption.
    • Above all, this is a gamble bound to fail if the accused choose to fight back.

    In actual terms, 498A is an offence, which is:

    Let’s start with the motives and instigators:

    1. Money:The greatest of motivators. A 498A can lead to great terms for a fat cash settlement, or help her dad or sibling in their ventures, etc, etc.
    2. Vengeance: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She will have her revenge and the family will collectively bear the brunt of it. The 498A Wives have a soft corner for their mothers -in law and sisters –in law. They may very well see the inside of a prison.
    3. Guilt: She’s done something wrong, may have committed adultery and got caught in the act. She wants to cover it up with a dowry harassment case to garner sympathy and to provide cover for her guilt. It also puts her in a good position to negotiate a fat settlement and gain custody of kids, if kids are involved. 498A will be filed when paternity is in question. Don’t count on DNA evidence, as the courts do not/ or are reluctant to allow it. Indian law is still ruled by the evidence act from 1872.
    4. She Is Just Not Into Her Husband: She may not like her husband and 498A is a convenient tool to get out of the marriage.
    5. She Is A Control Freak: She wants to control her husband in every possible way. She may also want her husband to not support his parents and siblings in any fashion regardless of his ability to do so. She may want her husband to throw his parents out of their house. Her goal is to gain control of all aspects of his life, including finances and to break the bonds and responsibilities that tie him to his family. Her failure to do so will result in a 498A.
    6. To Marry The Boyfriend: This is a new trend whereby she will file a 498A just to force her husband into settling the divorce with a chunk of cash and then go on to marry her boyfriend. They will use the cash to set up their “Chota Sa Ghar”, or their “Premiyon Ka Mahal” if the settlement is large enough.

    498A is the perfect tool for extortion and/or to wreak vengeance on a family. The main ingredients that go into making it an extortion racket are:

    • The involvement of the corrupt, untrained, Indian police force in a domestic dispute.
    • The involvement of the overburdened and unregulated lower courts and the convoluted and lengthy Indian justice delivery system.
    • The non-enforcement of penalties (Section 182) for filing frivolous cases or for perjury.
    • Political/police influence from the other side. If this is a factor in your case, I kid you not; you are in for an ordeal that will require extra doses of fortitude, courage and patience to overcome.

    All these factors will be used to leverage money out of a family or subject ther family to the kind of harassment that can only be defined as torture. It is no wonder that the Supreme Court (Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. Union of India Writ petition(C) no.141 of 2005) has condemned 498A as “Legal Terrorism”, though ruling 498A constitutional.

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