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. Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any wilful 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
(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.]
Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was inserted by the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983. Before the insertion of this section, such cases of cruelty were dealt with by general provisions such as assault, grievous hurt, etc. This section has opened the doors of justice for women who suffer cruelty at the hands of their husbands or relatives. The offense under this section is a cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offense. The explanation of the section also defines the meaning of cruelty.
State Of West Bengal vs Orilal Jaiswal And Another on 25 September 1993
A woman committed suicide after being mistreated and abused by her husband for dowry and held responsible for the death of her father-in-law because of her ‘evil luck’ by her in-laws, and being subjected to other mental torture. In an action against the woman’s husband and mother-in-law, the lower court had found insufficient evidence of systematic cruelty or physical or mental torture to sustain a conviction under 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, which provides that a relative of a woman that subjects that woman to cruelty may be imprisoned for up to three years. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s holding, finding that the actions of the accused husband and mother-in-law did qualify as “cruelty” because their willful conduct was of such nature as were likely to commit the victim’s suicide.
Rashmi Chopra v State of UP on 30 April 2019
-In this case, it was seen that Nayan Chopra, son of Rashmi Chopra, and Rajesh Chopra got married to Vanshika Bobal, daughter of the respondent. Then they moved to the USA, and after two years of marriage, Nayan filed for divorce in the Circuit Court for the County of Kalamazoo Family Division, Michigan, USA.
-Rashmi’s father went to meet Nayan’s father, where he was demanding a huge sum of money and after that Rashmi’s father was subjected to harsh treatment by him two more people
-There was a demand for a huge sum of money.
-Thus allegations against all the appellants were made under Section 498A and Sections 3 & 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
-Then they were sent to Mediation Centre running under the District Legal Services Authority for counseling by the Magistrate. But it did not work.
– An application under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. was filed in the High Court praying for quashing the complaint and proceedings by the appellant
-The High Court refused to hear it as there was no mediation.
ARGUMENTS BY APPELLANTS:
-According to arguments both of them were divorced before the date of summon
-The prima facie of the complaint does not show any offense under Section 498A of IPC.
-The complaint was not filed by the victim.3
– There is no provision that when a woman is subjected to cruelty, then the complaint has to be filed necessarily by the woman who is concerned.
– The complaint that was filed by the respondent, who was the father of Vanshika the victim cannot be considered to be maintainable on the ground provided.
– Thus, the contention submitted on behalf of the counsel for the appellant that complaint filed by the respondent was not maintainable.
-Thus, the accused was to be convicted under Sections 323, 504, and 506 of I.P.C. against Rajesh Chopra who was the accused.
- In my opinion, the judgment delivered is rationalized.
- As they were divorced, there was no existence of marriage, which is an essential element of section 498A of IPC.
- Thus the victim can not be convicted under this section.
- In this judgment, the High Court was correct rejecting the plea under Section 482 of CrPC.
- As per the Supreme Court, the offense can be compoundable only when there is mediation. But in this case, there was no mediation between the two parties.
Social action forum for Manav Adhikar v UOI
- Case no. : WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 73 OF 2015
- Petitioner: Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar and another
- Respondent: Union of India Ministry of Law and Justice and others
- Judgment date: 14th September 2018
- Bench: Justice Deepak Mishra, Justice A.M Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y Chandrachud
- Soliciting directions to the codefendant, the petition under Art 32 of the Constitution of India was filed so that there would be uniform guidelines in the processing. Proper steps should be taken to go through the incidents if the FIR is filed in the state’s procedure. And if the appointed committees are looking into the matter effectively. Matters including the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and rehabilitation of the victims and their children at the Central, State, and District levels are well organized.
- For easy lodge of FIR under Section 498A of IPC by the women subjected to cruelty, prayer was made to issue a writ of mandamus to the respondents.
- For that, there should be a uniform policy of registration of FIR under Section 498A IPC in association with the law of the land.
- The main motive behind this petition was to protect the social purpose behind Sec 498-A which was being exploited by the provisions of various qualifications and restrictions suggested by various courts including the decisions in recent cases. The Supreme Court has issued directions to prevent the misuse of Sec 498-A by the malice intention of women. Thus these matters require investigation to check the legitimacy of the complaint. After the judgment in Rajesh Sharma v state of UP new guidelines were inserted which led to the formation of Family Welfare Committees to look into complaints filed under Sec 498-A. According to the direction of the court and arrest shall be directed unless the Committee’s report has been issued.
- The District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer has to be informed of any settlement made by both the parties to dispose of the proceedings including closing of the criminal case if dispute relating to matrimonial discord.
Arguments by the petitioners
- The motive and objectives behind this Section 498A of IPC are being exploited.
- There are no uniform rules and regulations to review the case.
- There have been facts stating that the provision under Section 498A of IPC is being misused. But it’s not enough to prove the existence of the fake complaint. Thus it does not have the right to take away the basis.
- The mechanisms that monitor the incidents are not working effectively.
- That provision is to prevent women who make a false statement to put their in-laws in trouble
- But those who are really victimized do not get the proper cure for it.
Arguments by the respondents
- This Section has been used as a weapon rather than a shield by the women.
- Some women out of anger try to take revenge on their in-laws
- This arrest provision allows the police and other organizations to put the accused into trouble.
- No court has the authority to direct the legislature to make any law.
- It is not possible on the part of the court to look into the workings of the committees appointed.
- It can only look at the report submitted and through this, it can know if the report is false in nature.
- The Court also observed that the duties of the Welfare Committees and further action are beyond the Code.
- Thus the investigating officers were instructed to act according to the guidelines given in the case of Joginder Kumar v. State of U.P and others, D.K Basu v. the State of W.B, Lalita Kumari and Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar and another.
- The changes in guidelines in the case of Rajesh Sharma were:
-Family Welfare Committees were established, but were not in accordance with the statutory framework.
-Even if the settlement between the parties is done, still they can approach the High Court.
-Director-General of Police of each state is directed to ensure that the investigating officers are executing their work properly and training is provided to them.
-When bail is entertained in this case, the recovery of dowry materials should not be the only object to be considered.
- According to the judgment of this case, there was the maintenance of balance between the original provision of Section 498A which is to provide justice to the accused and to check if the innocent is not being punished.
Rajesh Sharma v State of UP
- Case Number: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1265 OF 2017
- Petitioner: Rajesh Sharma & Ors.
- Respondent: State of U.P. & Anr.
- Date of judgment: 27th July 2017
- Bench: Shri A.S. Nadkarni and Shri V.V. Giri
-It was seen that the complaint raised the issue that she was subjected to dowry demand.
-But the main contention raised was “to check the tendency to rope in all family members to settle a matrimonial dispute”.
–The District Legal Services Authorities of every district were directed to constitute one or more Family Welfare Committees. It shall comprise three members.
- The working of these committees is to be reviewed at least once a year by the chairman of the committee that is the District and Session Judge.
- The members of the committee are to inspect the complaints filed under Section 498A of IPC, received by the police officers or Magistrate. The members can communicate with the parties and it can be any mode of communication.
- These members are not allowed to be witnesses.
- The report by the members is to be submitted to the authority under whom it was filed within the span of one month from the date the complaint was filed.
- The committee is free to give its opinion regarding it.
- No arrest is to be done until the report is submitted by the committee.
- Training is to be provided by the Legal Services Authority to the members of the committee.
- The members of the committee are subjected to the honorarium.
- A designated officer is to be appointed to investigate complaints under Section 498A of IPC.
- Disposition of the proceedings including the closure of the criminal case relating to the matrimonial case in case of settlement is done. It should be opened to the District and Session Judge or any other competent authority.
- The case can also be decided on the same day when the bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the public prosecutor.
- Impounding of passports or insurance of Red Corner Notice shouldn’t be a notice when the person is not residing in India.
- These provisions are not applicable to offenses involving bodily physical injury or death.
- I would appreciate the judgment because this would protect the innocent from getting through the proceedings.
K.V. Prakash babu v state of Karnataka
- Case no. : CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(S). 1138-1139
- Petitioner: K.V Prakash Babu
- Respondent: State of Karnataka
- Bench: CJI Deepak Mishra
- Date of judgment: 22nd November 2016
-The complainant was the father of the deceased.
-In this husband of the deceased had extra-marital affair due to which she was not able to tolerate it and ended up her life.
-Her husband can not be convicted under the Section 498A of IPC because it has no provision for adultery and it would be immoral
-And she was going through mental cruelty on the basis of the rumor.
-Presumptions under this situation can’t construct cruelty.
-To construct an offense under every section, one needs to prove its essentials of it.
-In this Section, adultery was performed which is considered to be cheating and it is not one of the essentials.
-And the deceased constructed the facts on the basis of rumors which would be considered as presumption.
6. Mohammad Miya v State of UP
- Case no. : Criminal Appeal no. 1048 of 2018
- Petitioner: Mohammad Miya
- Respondent: State of UP
- Date of judgment: 21st august, 2018
-The complainant filed that her mother-in-law caught hold of her hair and was subjected to cruelty
-She was subjected to a fist blow by her husband.
-Her sister-in-law was also involved with her mother-in-law in hair-pulling.
-She has also stated the fact that she has been divorced for more than four years.
-The allegation of her sister-in-law pulling her hair was found vague because both of them were present during the situation and it is not possible to consider, as it is not mentioned in particular.
-The judgment of the court is to be appreciated because judgment can not be delivered in accordance with the presumption.
Heera Lal v State of Rajasthan
- Case no. : Criminal Appeal NO. 790/2017
- Petitioner: Heera Lal
- Respondent: State of Rajasthan
- Date of judgment: 24th April 2017
- Bench: Rohinton Fali Nariman, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar
-In this case, the woman who committed suicide was subjected to harassment by her in-laws
-She was exhausted when her husband’s parents came to stay along with her.
-So out of frustration because of the action of her in-laws she did pour kerosene on herself and did burn herself.
-As from all the facts presented it was seen that the harassment subjected to her was not that serious of an offense to constitute cruelty
-The judgment was not appropriate. Cruelty is subjected to both physical as well as mental cruelty.
-In this case, she was tortured mentally which amounts to cruelty.
TOP 5 SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT ON MISUSE OF 498A
Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar (2014) 8 SCC 273 13
The wife alleged that dowry was demanded from her and that she was driven out of the matrimonial home on non-fulfillment of such demands. The husband applied for anticipatory bail which failed. Therefore, by special leave petition, the husband approached the Supreme Court.
In this case, the Court observed that the fact that Section 498A, IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offense, it is more often than not used as a weapon rather than a shield by disgruntled wives. It results in harassing the husband and his relatives by getting them arrested under this Section and it is more disturbing to see bedridden grandfathers and grandmothers being arrested without a prima facie case. Thus, the Court laid down certain guidelines which the police officer must follow while arresting under Section 498A, IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and that such arrest must be based on a reasonable satisfaction with respect to the genuineness of the allegation. Moreover, even the Magistrates must be careful enough not to authorize detention casually and mechanically.
Manju Ram Kalita v. State of Assam (2009) 13 SCC 330
The wife alleged physical and mental cruelty at the hands of the husband and accused him under Section 498A, IPC. The husband, however, denied all the charges.
The Court referred to the case of S. Hanumantha Rao v. S. Ramani  for the meaning of mental cruelty. The Court also referred to other cases for gauging the scope of cruelty such as Mohd. Hoshan v. State of A.P, Raj Rani v. State, Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India, etc.
The Court held that “Cruelty” for the purpose of Section 498-A IPC is to be established in the context of Section 498-A IPC as it may be different from other statutory provisions. It should be determined by considering the conduct of the man, weighing the gravity or seriousness of his acts, and finding out whether it is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide, etc. It is to be established that the woman has been subjected to cruelty continuously or at least in close proximity to the time of lodging the complaint. The Court further held that petty quarrels cannot be termed as “cruelty” to attract the provisions of Section 498-A IPC.
Bibi Parwana Khatoon v. the State of Bihar (2017) 6 SCC 792
Similar to previous cases, the facts of this case are that the wife was killed by setting her up on fire by her husband and her relatives. The sister-in-law and brother-in-law of the deceased wife challenged the conviction in the Supreme Court.
The Court brought under notice the facts that the appellants in the case did not even reside at the place of a mishap. There was no evidence to prove their charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Court acquitted them and held that the Court must guard against the false implications of the relatives.
Rajesh Kumar & Ors v. State of U.P. (2017 SCC OnLine SC 821)
In the present case, the husband, along with other relatives, was accused of causing cruelty to the wife in lieu of demand for dowry. However, the other relatives demanded that there should be certain guidelines to prevent over-implication. Thus, in most of the cases, the relatives of the husband are also being dragged into Court in cases of Section 498A. However, it is not necessary that they have been party to the offense. Thus, a question with respect to the need for directions to prevent misuse of Section 498A, IPC was raised in the appeal.
Cases and Reports referred
The cases such as Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India, Preeti Gupta v. State of Jharkhand, Ramgopal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, and Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand were referred wherein the misuse of Section 498A and the need to adopt measures for prevention of such misuse has been acknowledged. The division bench also referred 243rd Law Commission Report and the 140th report of the Rajya Sabha Committee.
The Supreme Court laid down comprehensive directions to prevent the misuse of the provision of Section 498A, IPC.
Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar v. Union of India (2018) 10 SCC 443
The petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution. The petitioners contended that it is not untrue that there are a number of women suffering from violence at the hands of husbands and their relatives and that the accusation that Section 498A is being misused is not supported from any concrete date on such misuse. It was further argued that the social purpose behind Section 498-A IPC is being lost as the rigor of the said provision has been diluted and the offense has practically been made bailable by reason of various qualifications and restrictions prescribed by various decisions of this Court including Rajesh Sharma v. the State of U.P.
The Court referred to the principles stated in Joginder Kumar v. the State of U.P., D.K. Basu v. the State of W.B., Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh and Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and directed that the investigating officers be careful and be guided by the same.
After referring to the directions, the Court concluded that the direction with respect to Family Welfare Committees and their duties are not in accordance with any provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The offense of cruelty is a non-bailable and cognizable offense but the direction making it impossible to arrest before the report of such committee has made this ineffective. Thus the directions given in the Rajesh Sharma case have been modified by Court as further explained.
- The direction with respect to the constitution and duties of the Family Welfare Committee has been declared impermissible.
- Further, the direction pertaining to the settlement has been modified to include that it if a settlement is arrived at, the parties can approach the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The High Court, keeping in view the law laid down in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, shall dispose of the same.
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