These days, matrimonial cases are no longer confined in realm of family and civil laws. In fact, some of these cases may have a criminal aspect to them as well.

Wherever there is cruelty or harassment exercised by husband, or by any of his relatives, on his wife, which include demand for dowry, then under section 498A, a criminal case can be registered against husband, or the relatives that were involved.

Let us know more about this law in the following sections.

Few basics on 498A IPC (Indian Penal Code)

498A comes with a tendency for creating effective deterrent to many husbands along with his relatives. This code was basically inserted in the IPC with an aim to protect women, not only from the demand of dowry, but also from the cruelty which can result from it.

The major objective of this law was pious and social, as it aimed to bring equilibrium in society, and to stop the growth of this menace of dowry prevailing in the Indian society.

As per this act, the husband or his relatives can face the imprisonment for up to three years, if any of them indulge in subjecting cruelty to the wife. In addition to the jail sentence, they will also be charged with a hefty amount as fine or penalty.

Well, in context of this section, the term “Cruelty” means:

  • Any kind of wilful conduct that is of a nature that may drive woman to commit suicide, or causing physical danger to her body, health, or life.
  • Harassment of women, with the main aim of coercing her, or the person that is related to her, for making any unlawful demand for property, money, or other such valuable assets.

The section 498A of IPC is basically a criminal offence, which is non-bailable, cognizable, as well as non-compoundable offense. However, it is very unfortunate that the real formulation of this code has left numerous loopholes, which have also resulted in abuse and exploitation of law.

Are the impacts of 498A genuine?

While this code was meant to protect women from social vices, the way it is actually implemented reflects a different story. During the initial year of the passing of this law, it was being used with quite a caution as well as care by women. In fact, the dignity and interest of family was a prime concern then.

However, it has actually taken “U” turn now! It has now become joke in society, and it has been misused with impunity. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that this code has turned from being guard of women from cruelty in terms of demand of dowry, to the tool in hand of women for bargaining huge cash from husband.

Law is invoked for each and every single act. If husband doesn’t succumb to unreasonable demand of his wife, then he might have to be ready for facing wrath of 498A! Now, the law has offered a remedy to husband for filing suit for RCR (Restitution of the Conjugal Right). However, it may take courage from the husband for filing such case against his wife, as it could again be taken as a reason to hit him back with the 498A!

The husband first receives warrant from court and if his wife chooses, she may even file her reply to RCR petition. He may have to face bar for offense for solemnising his marriage.

Overall, you will ultimately learn that 498A is criminal law for combating the domestic violence as well as dowry harassment, and so forth. It must be used with great responsibility to ensure justice.

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