Misuse of Section 498- A of Indian Penal Code: The Plight of Husbands and In-laws in India, What is the Solution?

Marriage of a daughter is very essential and inevitable in Indian society that the parents are put under extreme pressure to meet any feasible demand to get their daughters married. The practice of dowry popularly known as dahej or daj is a deep rooted in the Indian society.[1] The practice of dowry is not limited up to the marriage but it continues even after it which is the cause of various social evils. Dowry in itself is a practice which is the root cause of various social evils such as infliction of physical and mental cruelty on the brides for extraction of the dowry demands from her family. Taking into consideration the ill consequences of dowry and the high rates of dowry-related crimes in India, Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code was introduced as an amendment in the Indian Penal Code of 1860 by Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983. But in the last decade there have been cases where the women have misused this provision.

An observation and study over the misuse of dowry law was published in a reputed newspaper which stated that,

When a woman cries out foul, she isn’t always speaking up against the tyrannies of patriarchy. Sometimes, she is faking it, manipulating the law to cover up for her extortionist tactics.”[2]

The above statement, when applied and observed in recent cases, verifies to be true. The aim and the objective with which the provisions were introduced are misused vehemently by certain population of women, which in turn leads the woman in the actual tyranny into a disadvantageous position. A common observation has been established that women file a case over trivial fights and just for the sake of blackmailing the families.[3] If such fake cases are considered without taking due caution the intention with which the provision was enacted will lose its sanctity and will also bury the seeds in the society regarding the incapacity of the law and the presumption of the innocence of the women under this provision will be doubted, which will ultimately be disadvantageous to the women who are actually subjected to cruelty for meeting the demands of dowry.

The law is in place to protect the woman from the evils of dowry and it should be in place, giving away of this law will make women more vulnerable to the evils of dowry demands. Misuse of the provision has to be prevented and the women misusing these laws should be condemned, for which a law is needed, but what is more important is the conversation with the woman to extract the truth and a proper investigation to establish the demand of dowry and cruelty inflicted by the husband and his family. Due to the history of harassment of women and her family for meeting the dowry demands it is presumed that the statement given by the women while filing charges against her husband and in-laws is true, but since due to the misuse of provision it is important that the truth is established first before conviction of the husband and the in-laws accused under Section 498-A.

[1]Bert N Adams, Handbook of World Families, Sage Publications Inc.(California, UK), New Delhi, 2005. p.145.

[2]RadhikaOberoi, “How Fair is the Dowry Law?,” Times of India, Sep 8, 2008.

(Accessible at:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/How-fair-is-Dowry-Law/articleshow/3456467.cms) Last accessed on: 3rd Sept, 2016.

[3]Ibid

 

AUTHOR

Pooja Ogale

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