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Section 498

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Indian penal code
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  498-A IPC OBJECT: For safeguarding the interest of woman against the interest of woman against the cruelty they face behind the four walls of their matrimonial home, IPC was amended in 1983 and inserted S.498A which deals with „Matrimonial Cruelty‟ to a woman.  The section was enacted to combat the menace of dowry deaths. By the same Act section 113-A has been added to the Indian Evidence Act to raise presumption regarding abetment of suicide by married woman. The main objective of section 498-A of I.P.C is to protect a woman who is being harassed by her husband or relatives of husband. NATURE : Offenders are liable for imprisonment as well as a fine under the section and the offence is non bailable, non-compoundable and cognizable on a complaint made to the police officer by the victim or by designated relatives. MEANING: The section provides an explanation that elaborates the meaning of cruelty as follows: a) Any wilful conduct which is of a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb, or health (whether physical or mental) 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. Kaliyaperumal Vs. State Of Tamil Nadu -   that cruelty is a common essential in offences under both the sections 304B and 498A of IPC. Both are distinct offences and persons acquitted under section 304B for the offence of dowry death can be convicted for an offence under sec.498A of IPC. -   Section 304B does not contain its meaning but the meaning of cruelty or harassment as given in section 498-A applies in section 304-B as well.  -   Under section 498-A of IPC cruelty by itself amounts to an offence whereas under section 304-B the offence is of dowry death and the death must have occurred during the course of seven years of marriage. But no such period is mentioned in section 498-A. -   SECTION 498 A NOT ULTRA VIRES The very definition of cruelity was challenged being voilative of Article 14 of the Constitution. In P. SATYANARAYAN‟s case   1. The husband who was prosecuted challenged the very definition of cruelty as  given under the section as arbitrary and vague. Court Held : o   Expression cruelly is not capable of precise definition o   There is no vagueness and it is not ultra vires o   Each case has to be judged in the light of its particular circumstances 2. Relatives cannot be singled out Court Held: o   Dowry deaths are a hazard faced by woman, the husband and relatives of may  be treated as a class 3. Challenged Amendment to Evidence Act 113A: that the court may presume that  such suicide has been abetted by her husband or relatives of husband. Burden of  proof of innocence on the in-laws. Court held: o    No doubt this is a departure from normal principle of criminal jurisprudence o   But offence in a marital home pertains to a terrain in-tractable, therefore the lawmakers felt the need for presumptive evidence. NO DOUBLE JEAOPARDY : In „ Inder Raj Malik and others vs. Sumita Malik’ , it was contended that this section is ultra vires Article 14 and Article 20 (2) of the Constitution. There is the Dowry Prohibition Act, which also deals with similar types of cases; therefore, both statutes together create a situation commonly known as double jeopardy. But Court held that this  section does not create situation for double jeopardy. Section 498-A is distinguishable from section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act because in the latter mere demand of dowry is punishable and existence of element of cruelty is not necessary, whereas section 498-A deals with aggravated form of the offence. It punishes such demands of property or valuable security from the wife or her relatives as are coupled with cruelty to her. Hence a person can be prosecuted in respect of both the offences punishable under section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and this section.   CASES : Wazir Chand vs. State of Haryana Death by burning of a newly married woman, the circumstances did not establish either murder or an abetted suicide and thus in-laws escaped the jaws of section 300 and 306,  but they were caught in the web of this newly enacted section for prevention of harassment for dowry. Ram Kishan Jain v State of Madhya Pradesh Due to insufficiency of dowry demands the woman was administered calmpose tablets and thereafter she even cut the arteries of both her hands. Sometimes, dowry may not be the cause but the woman for several reasons like her complexion or family status is tortured to death. Surajmal Banthia v. State of West Bengal The deceased was ill-treated and tortured for several days and even not given food several times. Her father- in-law also misbehaved with her quite often.  MISUSE Several cases show that the married woman takes advantage of the section and sends the respondents to jail under the ambit of this section. Many women rights‟ groups justify the abuse of this section as being a common feature with all other laws and that also the ratio of false cases to that of true ones as being very low. But this still does not change the truth that there is slowly a rise in the abuse of S.498A IPC.  CONSTITUTITONAL VALIDITY OF ADULTERY YUSUF ABDUL AZIZ ’S CASE   Challenged the constitutional validity of the provision. However, Bombay high court chief justice M C Chagla had upheld the provision saying the Constitution permitted such special legislation for women, it was held in this case that this section does not contravene any of the fundamental rights laid down in the Constitution of India, and therefore it is not bad or void under Articles 13. SOWMITHI VISHNU’s CASE   The Supreme Court observed that adultery is a wrong against the sanctity of the matrimonial home. Thus charges are pressed against the outsider who breaks the said sanctity. The woman, in cases of adultery, is considered the victim of a seducer. It appears that the court believes that the man has an unstoppable seductive charm and the woman is helpless against it. The evil that is punished by the law, in the mind of the court, is that of seduction of a woman by another man. According to the court the woman is considered to be the victim. Thus the court held that the law was non discriminatory and not violating the right to equality, thus the court upheld the constitutional validity of the section 497. The court also opined that by not allowing the spouses to prosecute each other the law offers a chance to the spouse to make- up, it was further held that “Section 497 is not violative of Articles 14, 15 & 21 of the Constitution. CRITICISM We must keep in mind that these reasons and defenses were given decades ago. The most important reason for debate to get re-ignited is the drastic change in the social status of women. Gone are the days when Women were a suppressed or subjugated lot, The  practices of sati, child marriage, polygamy, etc, have been done away with. Today there are laws against these evils and also laws providing effective relief against heinous acts such as domestic violence, dowry and others. Almost all professional colleges has a quota for women. Thus women today are in no way inferior to men or
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