498A AND ALLIED CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
Whenever there are news articles of a girl being burnt alive by her father and brother brutally just because she refused to marry the person that her family chose. Countless women are killed in the name of dowry, honour, and domestic violence. Hence, India made special provisions for women to address the violence against women.
The section of 498A was enacted with the aim to protect women from dowry harassment and domestic violence. Matrimonial Cruelty in India is a cognizable, non bailable and non compoundable offence. Whenever a husband or a relative of husband of a woman is subjecting her to cruelty, they shall be punished under this provision. This includes any conduct to drive the woman to commit suicide, or cause grave injury to life, limb or health, harassing to combat unlawful demands for property or security. It was enacted where the number of dowry deaths was increasing and the women were helpless and cruelty by husband and in-laws and relatives was on the rise.
In the last 20 years, this section has seen a lot of misuse by women trying to get back at husbands and in-laws just out of spite. While the section has helped a lot of helpless women receive justice, it is also been misused as a tool by spiteful ex-wives to ensnare the husband and humiliate him and his family by getting him arrested and reducing his respect in the society and to extort and knockout monies also by falsely implicating them and by trying to make a deal out of the same. This almost gives the women the terror of power to get the husband’s family arrested on mere allegations.
While it is no surprise that we have seen this provision of law act as a deterrent against many dowry deaths and we have seen the effects of this provision where the mere allegation is enough to get you arrested, we have also seen many men suffering at the instance of false allegations. It is hoped for a reform to find a middle ground.
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