MEANING OF CRUELTY
For understanding this concept of section 498A of INDIAN PENAL CODE 1860. we have to know the basic meaning of word “cruelty” in the purview of the section 498A of IPC 1860, “cruelty” it is a behaviour that deliberately causes pain and suffering to people.
for example- husband and his relatives torture his wife mentally and also physically for unlawful fulfillments of some dowry demands that too amounts to be cruelty.
for the concept of cruelty, we have 3 main elements to explain and understand it clearly as follows-
- there should be some kind of conduct committed by husband and his family members over the time which mentally drives the women to commit suicide.
- the conduct which is done by the husband and his family members causes serious injury to women both mentally and physically injuries.
- the conduct of husband and his family members which are a coercive act is done because they want to fulfil their unlawful demands form the family of women.
WHAT IS SECTION 498A OF IPC 1860?
IPC was introduced in the year 1860 and during the criminal law amendment (2nd amendment) act of 1983 section 498A was introduced it explains as- husband or relative of husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment with for a term which may extend to 3 years and shall be liable to fine.
NEED OF THE SECTION 498A IPC
From the very beginning, women have always been to cruelty by our male society. because we have such a male dominant society which always led women to stay at the back and stay quiet even if anything cruel happens to them.
As the time passes our society grows but still the cruelty happens to women remains in our surrounding and women continues to face torture mentally and physically because of the dowry pratha in our society and for some unlawful demands by husband and family members led to torture and cruelty to women. in our system, 10 out of 9 cases are of dowry so the judiciary has done a great job in adding the section 498A of IPC 1860.
But in 1983 the arrival of section 498A changes the scenario and gives a light of hope to women that they also have the chance of hearing before the court of law and get the justice they need.
TYPE OF OFFENCE-
cognizable offences are those offences in which the police officer has the authority to arrest the person without the arrest warrant and the offence of section 498A is a cognizable offence, the information related such commission of offence should be provided to the given officer.
the non-compoundable offence is such offence in which the complaint cannot be withdrawn, eg- rape, dowry death, murder exception is in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the offence under section 498A is considered to be a non-compoundable offence.
non- bailable offence are those in which bail cannot be granted to the accused and section 498A is considered to be a non-bailable offence and the bail can be granted in some exceptions made by the magistrate.
PUNISHMENT FOR THE OFFENCE DONE UNDER SECTION 498A IPC
In the provision itself mentioned the punishment for committing an offence under section 498A of IPC 1860 which his conviction for 3 years and also liable to fine. besides IPC 1860 there are other activities also which runs on the path of the section 498A which is THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 2005 solely based on the concept of protecting women from domestic violence, also the section 113B of the INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT 1872 handles in the in case of presumption of dowry death by brutal physical and mental torture to a woman it is applicable only till 7 years of marriage and if the wife commits suicide and somehow her death happens then it is presumed to be a dowry death.
APPLICABILITY OF SECTION 498A
- it is applicable only in those cases where –
a woman should be married then only this section can be invoked for her defence (an unmarried woman cannot file a case under this section).
- that woman should be subject to some kind of cruelty and torture, it can be physical and mental torture also.
- that the cruelty is done by the husband and the relatives of the husband.
these are the necessary needs which need to be fulfilled to attract the offence of section 498A IPC.
WHO CAN FILE A COMPLAINT?
Note that the aggrieved is the one is going to file a complaint against the offender’s i.e., the aggrieved woman who has gone through all the cruelty should be the one filing a complaint against her husband and other perpetrator’s. the second wife also has the right to sue her husband and other members involved in such cruelty. other than an aggrieved person, some other individual related to women by blood, adoption and marriage can also sue the offenders for that matter. the time is also specified in these cases which decided till 3 years, from the last incident happened you can file a case in between 3 years.
CASES IN RESPECT OF SECTION 498A IPC
The supreme court of India in the case of Preeti Gupta versus State of Jharkhand 2010 , it is observed that the serious outlook of the provision is warranted by the legislature and said; it is a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incidents are reflected in a large number of complaints.
The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Chandra Bhan versus State  introduced some steps to follow so the misuse cannot be done.FIR should be the file in a series of manner.
- the policemen must verify whether the complaint is a false complaint or not.
- prior approval of DCP/Addl. DCP is required to register a case under section 498A and 406 of IPC.
- before registering the FIR, efforts need to be made to reconcile and settlement of the parties.
- after the approval of ACP/DCP, the arrest of the main accused is to be made only when the thorough investigation is completed.
- in the case of collateral accused such as in-laws, prior approval of DCP should be there on the file.
In my opinion, the authorities have done a great job in making the law during the year 1983 (criminal law act 2nd amendment), at that time there is a need of this section so that it can provide a way for the women to make them feel safe against such cruelty they were facing and now they have the confidence that the authorities are going to listen to their plea.
This section has emerged as a light of hope for the deprived women and has a positive impact on the society but still, there are some loopholes in such provision and the judiciary has answered them pretty well so that misuse of such section can be prevented and the false cases can be avoided.
1] (2010) 7 SCC 667.
This blog is written by Shivam Ujjainwal, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies.
Some more of Shivam BLOGs,
Visit our Instagram page @lawyergyan at this link.