Critical Analysis of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1960
By Shiralee Kinariwala
To start with the analysis of this section first we have to look after the meaning of the term ‘marriage’ which means the union of two people who can give a companion to each other throughout their life. This companionship is very important to everyone as in one’s life there are times when we are very happy and also there is a tie when we are sad so we can express our feelings to the companion so that problems can be dealt quickly by discussion to one another. There are different definitions given under various laws such as under Hindu law marriage is a sacrament to everyone and in Muslim law, it is a contract. So different law gives a different definition of marriage.
This section has been amended in the criminal law of the country which mainly talks about the rights of the women when any kind of cruelty is done by her husband or by the family or by the relative of the husband. In the ancient time when there was no such development in the field of law then at that time, the husband has full right to do anything with her. And the wife cannot raise her voice because there was no such right for the women. But when society started growing then various kinds of new started to be made for the women of our society. So section 498A mainly talks about the law related to husband and his relative who does some kind of cruelty with his wife. This section states,” 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.” This kind of offense under this section is a cognizable offense that is it is a non-bailable offense. This section was mainly made to meet the dowry deaths and was introduced in 1983. This section was made so that the women of our society can be protected by their husband or his relatives who do cruelty on them. This section also gives wide discretionary power in the hands of the courts in the process of decision making. An offense under 498A is a cognizable, non-compoundable and bailable offense.
There were mainly two clauses mentioned under section 498A, the first clause deals with any wilful conduct done by the husband or the relative of the husband to her which causes a grievous hurt or drive her to death so that will be included under this clause. And secondly includes any kind of harassment which is done by any person to the women in demand of her property of valuable assets then this is also be included under this clause.
In the case ‘Kaliyaperumal vs. State of Tamil Nadu’ cruelty if the essential ingredients of the offense under 304B and 498A. If a person is acquitted under section 304B then that person will also be changed by 498A of the Indian penal code 1860. And the meaning of cruelty if explained under section 498A of the IPC 1860.
There are various kinds of cruelty such as cruelty by extramarital relation, cruelty by vexatious litigation, harassment for non-dowry demand, taking away of children, cruelty by false attacks on chastity etc.
Inder Raj Malik v. Sumita malik, in this case, the accused was threatened that her son would be taken away if she will not pressurize her parents to sell their property and this comes under the purview of section 498A of Indian penal code 1860. And this section also gives wide discretionary power in the hands of the court of law.
Virender Bhatti v. State, in this case, the suicide has taken place within seven years of the marriage and it was contended that the wife has committed the suicide as she was facing cruelty by her husband as well as his relative and she got so frustrated from this kind of behaviour that she has committed suicide.
Surrender v state of Haryana, in this case, it was held that the Pushpa got married to the appellate surrender. He was not satisfied by the amount of dowry which was given at the time of their marriage. So he started harassing her as he was not satisfied with the amount. She also thought of going to her parental home then she stayed at her parental home for three months but after that, she went to his husband’s house. Then she was again suffering from cruelty in her husband’s house so she committed suicide. And this case also comes under the ambit of section 498A of Indian penal code 1860. These are the important case laws related to this section of IPC 1860.
So in my view section 498A has mainly been made for the welfare of the women in the society and many other laws should also be made for the betterment of the society.