Section 498 A

”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”

People don’t know what Section 498A of the IPC is nor do they know what to do when a 498A case is registered against them. 498A is a criminal offence that came into existence to combat domestic violence and protect women from dowry harassment. Section 498 A is the main criminal/penal code of India. It is designed to safeguard the interest of married women in India. It is very significant considering the large numbers of women that suffer domestic violence – physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, mental, ET AL – at the hands of their husband or the marital family. Whereas this law deals with all forms of cruelty meted out by the husband or any of his relatives, quite notably, certain clauses of Section 498A also protect women in live-in relationships.

The code was drafted in 1860 and came into force in British India during the early British Raj period in 1862. The Indian Penal Code of 1860, sub-divided into twenty-three chapters, comprises five hundred and eleven sections. In which chapter xx(20th) contains section 493 to 498 which is related to offense related to marriage and chapter XXA contain section 498A which is related to cruelty by husband or relatives of husband.

Why this law came into existence??

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 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Details of the law:

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

(a) 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; 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.

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is a criminal offense. It is a cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offense.  

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

Cognizable: It means a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court. By law, the police are duty bound to register and investigate a cognizable offense.  

Non-Bailable: It means that the magistrate has the power to refuse bail and remand a person to judicial or police custody. 

Non-Compoundable: Non-Compoundable offenses are classified under CrPc.(the code of criminal procedure) Under a Non-compoundable offense, no compromise is allowed. Even the court does not have the authority and power to compound such offense.

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.

 

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