IS SECTION 498 A GENDER BIASED LAW?

INTRODUCTION

As we know, crimes against women have been rapidly increasing in our country. One of the violence against the women in a matrimonial home[1]. The demand of dowry made by the husband and in-laws or in case she is not able to bear the child, afterwards, if the woman is not able to satisfy the demand, then she will be punished by her family members. To prevent from the cruelty, one of the section has been inserted i.e. Section 498 a of Indian Penal Code which was amended in 1983. It is a safeguard against domestic violence by the matrimonial family. This offense is cognizable. Non- bailable and non- compoundable offences. 

STATUTE 

SECTION 498 A. 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.

Cruelty means: 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 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[2].

The main objective of this section is to quickly stop the Killing of women due to cruelty by the husband and in laws. But on the other side, this section is misuse by the women by making false allegations and filing false complaints against the husband and in law for her own benefit. 

There are many Supreme Court rulings where it was held that when an officer can arrest the member under Section 498 a  IPC or some direction given by the court due to misuse of this section[3]

SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENTS 

  • Arnesh Kumar vs. State of Bihar[4], In this case, the court held that a police officer can arrest a person under this section on the basis of reasonable allegations. 
  • Manju Ram Kalita vs. State of Assam[5], Under this case, the word “Cruelty “was defined as it should be determine by considering the conduct of women, seriousness of the act which drive the women to commit the suicide. The time period between the incident and the lodging of complaint must not be so long. 
  • Rajesh Kumar &Ors. Vs. State of U.P,[6] This was the landmark judgement in which the Supreme Court issued some comprehensive directions and guidelines to prevent misuse of Section 498 a. These are :
  • The constitution of the Family Welfare committee in every district. No report of arrest will be effective unless a report from the committee is received. 
  • In cases of Settlement, the district judge should dispose of the proceedings. 
  • Investigating officers will be designated within one month from delivery of judgment to investigate the complaints under the above section. 
  • Requirement of further arrest, custody, prima facie allegations must be carefully weighed. 
  • Personal Appearance of all the family members is not required. 
  • If any allegation is made against the husband or relatives, then there must be some productive or material proof to prove the allegation against him. 
  • Sometimes. The old aged persons, minor, grandparents’ are arrested, but, for this unless and until there is some verifiable and strong evidence, they should not be arrested. 
  • Before registering any complaint under this section, the provision of Counselling under Domestic Violence Act should be made mandatory. 

GENDER BIASED LAW?

As per the above rulings, we cannot say that allegations by the women are always false. According to the World health Organization, more than 40 % of the women are facing cruelty by their husband and in-laws. Many of the cases are not even filled due to fear of society. This section provides protection against harassment to those who do not come out for complaint. 

On the Other Side story, it can be stated that, Men can also be the victims of domestic violence, but there is no law which governs this. A Wife can easily drag her husband into the court but it is difficult for the husband to prove his innocence[7]. Due to some false complaints or allegations against them, there is no law which provides protection for them. In some cases, they are treated as guilty until their innocence is proved. 

CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS 

 It can be concluded that, sometimes a false complaint is made against men, there should be a legislation for a man to claim protection against the false allegation or complaints under Section 498 a of Indian Penal Code 1860. This is a violation of the fundamental Right of an individual.  Other measures and directions should be taken by any authority or officer who is empowered to investigate the case should follow the direction given under the above cases while arresting or investigating a case.  Also, The National Crime Report Bureau should collect the accurate date of crime against women, so that no false allegations can be made. . 

REFERENCES 

Law Books (Indian Penal Code(1860), Ratanlal Dheeraj LaL), The Constitution of India ( Dr. J.N. Pandey)

Supreme Court Judgements (Referred above)

Online Websites (http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-261-section-498a-alleged-misuse-or-factual-under-use.html,   A Gender Biased Law, https://www.groupdiscussionideas.com/is-section-498a-of-ipc-a-gender-biased-law/https://www.oxfamindia.org/blog/section-498a-anti-women)


[1] Section 498 A (IPC), A Gender Biased Law, https://www.groupdiscussionideas.com/is-section-498a-of-ipc-a-gender-biased-law/, Last Visit, Oct 4 2020, 16:44 pm )

[2] Ratanlal & DheerajLal, Indian Penal Code (35th Edition)

[3] Indian Penal Code, No. 45 of 1860

[4] Arnesh Kumar vs. State of  Bihar, (2014), Criminal Appeal no 1277 of 2014

[5] Manju Ram Kalita vs. State of Assam (2009), 13 SCC 330

[6] Rajesh Kumar & Ors. Vs. State of U.P. (2017) SC 821

[7] Nain Rachna, Sec- 498 A , Alleged Misuse or Factual Under Use,  http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-261-section-498a-alleged-misuse-or-factual-under-use.html

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