Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Justification of the only & most F'd up law enacted in the world - Only in India

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA 
LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA 
Section 498A IPC Report No.243 
AUGUST 2012 ii iii Section 498A IPC

INDEX Sl. No. Title Page Nos 
1. Introduction 1-3 
2. Judicial decisions 3-8 
3. Some data regarding Prosecutions u/s 498-A 9-10 
4. Arguments: Pro & Contra 10-11 
5. The Triple Problem 12-13 
6. View of National Commission for Women 13 
7. The Approach and views of the Commission broadly 14-16 
8. Compounding the Offence 16-19 
9. Domestic Violence Act 19-21 
10. Responses – an overview 21-23 
11. Diagnosis of the problem and reasonable solution 23-25 
12. Power of Arrest – a balanced approach 25-27 
13. Analysis of the provisions relating to arrest and the duty of police 27-33 
14. Certain guidelines / prescriptions to mitigate misuse 33-35 
15. Home Ministry’s advisory and further action to be taken 35-37 
16. Amendment of Section 41 Cr.PC by the addition of subsection (3) 37 
17. S, 358 of Cr.PC – raising the compensation limit 37-38 
17-A Punishment for misuse – no specific provision necessary. 38 
18. State’s obligation to take care of estranged women in distress 38-40 
19. Summary of Recommendations 40-43 


1 Keeping in view the representations received from various quarters and observations made by the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Home Secretary, Government of India through his D.O. letter dated 1st September, 2009 requested the Law Commission of India to consider suggesting amendment, if any to s.498A of Indian Penal Code or other measures to check the alleged misuse of the said provision. Thereafter, in the case of Preeti Gupta vs. State of Jharkhand, (2010) the Supreme Court observed that “serious relook of the entire provision is warranted by the Legislature. It is a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incident are reflected in a large number of complaints. The tendency of over-implication is also reflected in a very large number of cases”. 

Copy of the Judgment has been directed to be sent to the Law Commission and Union Law Secretary for taking appropriate steps. The Law Commission of India after intense deliberations released a Consultation Paper-cum-Questionnaire which is attached to this report as Annexure-I. 

S.498A was introduced in the year 1983 to protect married women from being subjected to cruelty by the husband or his relatives. A punishment extending to 3 years and fine has been prescribed. The expression ‘cruelty’ has been defined in wide terms so as to include inflicting physical or mental harm to the body or health of the woman and indulging in acts of harassment with a view to coerce her or her relations to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. Harassment for dowry falls within the sweep of latter limb of the section. Creating a situation driving the woman to commit suicide is also one of the ingredients of ‘cruelty’. The offence under s.498A is cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable. 

The section is extracted below: 498A. 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 punishable 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 willful 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 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.” 

Several enactments and provisions have been brought on the statute book during the last two or three decades to address the concerns of liberty, dignity and equal respect for women founded on the community perception that women suffer violence or deprived of their constitutional rights owing to several social and cultural factors. Meaningful debates and persuasions have led to these enactments. The insertion of Section 498A IPC is one such move and it penalizes offensive conduct of the husband and his relatives towards the married woman. 

The provision together with allied provisions in Cr. P.C. are so designed as to impart an element of deterrence. In course of time, a spate of 3 reports of misuse of the section by means of false / exaggerated allegations and implication of several relatives of the husband have been pouring in. 

Though there are widespread complaints and even the judiciary has taken cognizance of large scale misuse, there is no reliable data based on empirical study as regards the extent of the alleged misuse. There are different versions about it and the percentage of misuse given by them is based on their experience or ipse dixit, rather than ground level study.

Judicial decisions -In the case of Preeti Gupta Vs. State of Jharkhand1 (supra) decided in 2010, the Supreme Court observed that a serious relook of the provision is warranted by the Legislature. The Court said: “It is a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incidents are reflected in a large number of complaints”. The Court took note of the common tendency to implicate husband and all his immediate relations. The Supreme Court directed the Registry to send a copy of judgment to the Law Commission and Union Law Secretary so that appropriate steps may be taken in the larger interests of society. 

In an earlier case also - Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. UOI2 (2005), the Supreme Court lamented that in many instances, complaints under s.498A were being filed with an oblique motive to wreck personal vendetta and observed. “It may therefore become necessary for the Legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be 1 AIR 2010 SC 3363 2 2005 6 SCC 281 4 appropriately dealt with”. It was also observed that “by misuse of the provision, a new legal terrorism can be unleashed”. 



2.2 Various High Courts in the country have also noted that in several instances, omnibus allegations are made against the husband and his relations and the complaints are filed without proper justification. The need to exercise caution in the case of arrest of the husband and his relatives has been stressed while observing that by such a step, the possibility of reconciliation becomes remote and problematic. In some of the cases, directions were given by the High Courts for regulating the power of arrest and for taking necessary steps to initiate conciliatory effort at the earliest point of time. Reference may be made in this context to the decision of Delhi High Court in Chandrabhan Vs. State (order dated 4.8.2008 in Bail application No.1627/2008) and of the Madras High Court in the case of Tr. Ramaiah Vs. State (order dated 7.7.2008 and 4.8.2008 in MP No.1 of 2008 in Crl. O.P. No.10896 of 2008). In the former case, it was observed that “there is no iota of doubt that most of the complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trifling fights and ego clashes. It is also a matter of common knowledge that in their tussle and ongoing hostility, the hapless children are the worst victims”. 

The following directions were given to the police authorities: i) “FIR should not be registered in a routine manner. ii) Endeavour of the police should be to scrutinize complaints carefully and then register FIR. iii) No case under section 498-A/406 IPC should be registered without the prior approval of DCP/Addl. DCP. iv) Before the registration of FIR, all possible efforts should be made for reconciliation and in case it is found that there is no possibility of 5 settlement, then, necessary steps should, in the first instance, be taken to ensure return of sthridhan and dowry articles to the complainant. v) Arrest of main accused be made only after thorough investigation has been conducted and with the prior approval of the ACP/DCP. vi) In the case of collateral accused such as in-laws, prior approval of DCP should be there on the file.” 

The other directions given were :- The Delhi Legal Services Authority, National Commission for Women, NGOs and social workers working for upliftment of women should set up a desk in Crime Against Women Cell to provide them with conciliation services, so that before the State machinery is set in motion, the matter is amicably settled at that very stage. The need to explore the possibility of reunion and conciliation when the case reaches the Court was also stressed. In conclusion, it was observed that in these matters, the parties themselves can adopt a conciliatory approach without intervention of any outside agency.

2.3 In an earlier judgment of Delhi High Court in the case of “Court on its own in Motion vs. CBI”, reported in 109 (2003) Delhi Law Times 494, similar directions were issued to the police and courts regarding arrest, grant of bail, conciliation etc. It appears that these procedural directions issued by the High Court are being followed in Delhi as stated by senior police officers of Delhi, though according to the version of some lawyers, there are many instances of violation at the police station level. It is to be mentioned that after the order in Chander Bhan’s case, (supra), the Commissioner of Police of Delhi issued 6 Standing Order No.330 of 2008 compiling the “Guidelines for Arrest” as laid down by the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. The judgments relevant to Section 498-A and the directions issued therein were referred to in the Standing Order. It is learnt that the practice of obtaining the permission of ACP/DCP level officers before effecting arrest of husband/relatives is being followed in Delhi. In many States, according to information received by the Chairman of this Commission, there are no systemic guidelines and there is no regular monitoring of this type of cases by the higher officials. Ad-hoc practices and procedures are in vogue.

2.4 The directives given by the Madras High Court in the case of Tr. Ramiah are as follows: 

i) Except in cases of dowry death/suicide and offences of serious nature, the Station House Officers of the All Women Police Stations are to register F.I.R. only on approval of the Dowry Prohibition Officer concerned. 

ii) Social workers/mediators with experience may be nominated and housed in the same premises of All Women Police Stations along with Dowry Prohibition Officers. 

iii) Arrest in matrimonial disputes, in particular arrest of aged, infirm, sick persons and minors, shall not be made by the Station House Officers of the All Women Police Stations. 

iv) If arrest is necessary during investigation, sanction must be obtained from the Superintendent of Police concerned by forwarding the reasons recorded in writing. 

v) Arrest can be made after filing of the final report before the Magistrate concerned if there is non-cooperation and abscondance of accused persons, and after receipt of appropriate order (Non-Bailable Warrant). 

vi) Charge sheet must be filed within a period of 30 days from the date of registration of the F.I.R. and in case of failure, extension of time shall be sought for from the jurisdiction Magistrate indicating the reasons for the failure. 

vii) No weapon including lathis/physical force be used while handling cases at the All Women Police Stations. 7 

viii) Complainants/victims should be provided with adequate security/accommodation at Government Home and interest of the children must be taken care of. 

ix) Stridana properties/movables and immovable to be restored at the earliest to the victims/complainants and legal aid may be arranged for them through Legal Services Authority for immediate redressal of their grievances.”

2.5 Pursuant to this order, the Director-General of Police, Tamil Nadu, issued a circular to the effect that the said orders of the Court should be strictly followed. In the further order dated 4.8.2008, the Court observed that when the I.O. seeks remand of the accused, the Magistrate must examine the necessity therefor and the remand should not be ordered mechanically on the mere request of the I.O. The Magistrate should be satisfied that sufficient grounds exist for directing remand. Further, the Court deprecated the practice of conducting lengthy panchayats in police stations.

2.6 As regards the decisions of Delhi and Madras High Courts referred to above, there are a few comments which we consider appropriate to make. The decisions make the offence practically bailable by reason of various qualifications and restrictions prescribed. The decision of Madras High court goes to the extent of saying that arrest can be made only after filing of the final report before the Magistrate and on the basis of non-bailable warrant issued by the Magistrate. Whether this judicial law-making based on experience and expediency of restraining the power of arrest in matters arising out of matrimonial problems, is legally sound is one question that arises. Secondly, whether the registration of FIR can be deferred for sometime i.e., till initial investigation and reconciliation process is completed, is another point that 8 arises. In Bhajan Lal’s case3, the Supreme Court observed, “It is therefore, manifestly clear that if any information disclosing a cognizable offence is laid before an officer in charge of a police station satisfying the requirements of Section 154(1) of the Code, the said police officer has no other option except to enter the substance thereof in the prescribed form, that is to say, to register a case on the basis of such information.”

2.7 However, in a recent case of Lalita Kumari v. State of Uttar Pradesh4, the question whether a police officer is bound to register the FIR when a cognizable offence is made out or he has the discretion to conduct some kind of preliminary inquiry before registration of FIR, has been referred to a larger bench of Supreme Court in view of the apparent divergence in views. The law on this point is therefore in an uncertain state. In this situation, the police in various States have to follow the law laid down or directives issued by the respective High Courts in regard to registration of FIR till the law is settled by the Supreme Court. Shri Amarjit Singh, ld. Member of the Commission has suggested that except in cases of physical violence, the FIR need not be registered instantaneously without any enquiry being made. Whether there should be a legislative provision in this regard specifically with reference to F.I.Rs under S, 498-A is a matter on which a fresh look could be taken after the Supreme Court interprets the relevant Sections in the above case. 3 State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, AIR 1992 SC 604 4 AIR 2012 SC 1515 9

3. Some data regarding Prosecutions u/s 498-A 3.1 The complaint of over-implication noticed by the Courts is borne out by the statistical data of the cases under S,498A. According to informations received from the Hon’ble High Courts (during the year 2011), 3,40,555 cases under Section 498-A IPC were pending trial in various courts towards the end of 2010. There were as many as 9,38,809 accused implicated in these cases. This does not include cases pertaining to Punjab and Haryana (statistics not available). The implication of the relatives of husband was found to be unjustified in a large number of decided cases. While so, it appears that the women especially from the poor strata of the society living in rural areas rarely take resort to the provision, though they are the worst sufferers. However, according to Delhi Police officials, with whom the Commission had interacted, women from poor background living in slums are also coming forward to file complaints.

3.2 According to the statistics published by National Crime Records Bureau for the year 2011 (Table4), 3,39,902 cases under S,498A were pending trial in various courts at the end of the year and 29,669 cases under S,304-B of IPC. The conviction rate in S,498A cases is 21.2% and in S,304-B cases, it is 35.8%. Number of cases reported under S,498A in the year 2011 are 99,135 and during the two previous years, they were 94,041 and 89,546. Thus, there is slight increase (about 5%) in the reported cases every year. As stated earlier, many cases go unreported. The statistics relating to reported incidents may not therefore furnish a reliable comparative indicator of the actual incidence of 10 crimes in the States. For instance, when compared to other cities, the percentage share of incidents reported under S, 498-A is the 2nd highest in Delhi. It may be because that the percentage of reporting is apparently high. The dowry-death cases (S,304-B) reported during the years 2009-11 are: 8,383, 8,391 and 8,618. There is a view-point that if the offence under S,498A is made bailable or non-cognizable, it will cease to be a deterrent against cruelty inflicted on married women and the dowry-deaths may increase.

3.3 As noticed earlier, the conviction rate in respect of the cases under s.498A is quite low – it is about 20%. It is learnt that on account of subsequent events such as out-of-court settlement, the complainant women do not evince interest in taking the prosecution to its logical conclusion. Further, ineffective investigation is also known to be one of the reasons for low conviction rate.

4. Arguments: Pro & Contra

4.1 The arguments for relieving the rigour of s.498A by suitable amendments (which find support from the observations in Court judgments and Justice Malimath Committee’s report on Reforms of Criminal Justice System) are: The harsh law, far from helping the genuine victimized women, has become a source o blackmail and harassment of husbands and others. Once a complaint (FIR) is lodged with the Police under s.498A/406 IPC, it becomes an easy tool in the hands of the Police to arrest or threaten to arrest the husband and other relatives named in the FIR without even considering the intrinsic worth of the allegations and making a preliminary investigation. When the members of a family are arrested and sent to jail, with no immediate prospect of bail, the chances of amicable re-conciliation or salvaging the marriage, will be lost once and for all. The possibility of reconciliation, it is pointed out, cannot be ruled out and it should be fully explored. The imminent arrest by the Police will thus be counterproductive. The long and protracted criminal trials lead to acrimony and 11 bitterness in the relationship among the kith and kin of the family. Pragmatic realities have to be taken into consideration while dealing with matrimonial matters with due regard to the fact that it is a sensitive family problem which shall not be allowed to be aggravated by overzealous/callous actions on the part of the Police by taking advantage of the harsh provisions of s.498A of IPC together with its related provisions in CrPC. It is pointed out that the sting is not in s.498A as such, but in the provisions of CrPC making the offence non-compoundable and nonbailable.

The arguments, on the other hand, in support of maintaining the status quo are briefly: S.498A and other legislations like Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act have been specifically enacted to protect a vulnerable section of the society who have been the victims of cruelty and harassment. The social purpose behind it will be lost if the rigour of the provision is diluted. The abuse or misuse of law is not peculiar to this provision. The misuse can however be curtailed within the existing framework of law. For instance, the Ministry of Home Affairs can issue ‘advisories’ to State Governments to avoid unnecessary arrests and to strictly observe the procedures laid down in the law governing arrests. The power to arrest should only be exercised after a reasonable satisfaction is reached as to the bona fides of a complaint and the complicity of those against whom accusations are made. The “Crime Against Women Cells” should be headed by well trained and senior lady police officers. These steps would go a long way in preventing the so-called misuse. Side by side, steps can be taken to effect conciliation between the spouses in conflict and the recourse to filing of a charge-sheet under s.498A shall be had only in cases where such efforts fail and there appears to be a prima facie case. 12 Counselling of parties should be done by professionally qualified counsellors and not by the Police. These views have been echoed among others by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

4.3 Further, it is pointed out that a married woman ventures to go to the Police station to make a complaint against her husband and other close relations only out of despair and being left with no other remedy against cruelty and harassment. In such a situation, the existing law should be allowed to take its own course rather than over-reacting to the misuse in some cases. There is also a view expressed that when once the offending family members get the scent of the complaint, there may be further torture of the complainant and her life and liberty may be endangered if the Police do not act swiftly and sternly. It is contended that in the wake of ever increasing crimes leading to unnatural deaths of women in marital homes, any dilution of Section 498-A is not warranted. Secondly, during the process of mediation also, she is vulnerable to threats and harassment. Such situations too need to be taken care of.

5. Thus, the triple problems that have cropped up in the course of implementation of the provision are:(a) the police straightaway rushing to arrest the husband and even his other family members (named in the FIR), (b) tendency to implicate, with little or no justification the in-laws and other relations residing in the marital home and even outside the home, overtaken by feelings of emotion and vengeance or on account of wrong advice, and (c) lack 13 of professional, sensitive and empathetic approach on the part of the police to the problems of woman under distress.

6. View of National Commission for Women 6.1 The view point of National Commission for Women represented by Member-Secretary placed before the Parliamentary Committee on Petitions (Rajya Sabha) (report presented on 07.09.2011) has been summarized in the report of the Committee as follows: (i) Section 498A, IPC, provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 have an element of commonality 

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...f parties should be done only by professionally qualified counselors and not by the police. The police may consider empanelling professional counselors with CAW Cells. 14

7. The Approach and views of the Commission broadly

7.1 The Commission is of the view that the Section together with its allied Cr.PC provisions shall not act as an instrument of oppression and counterharassment and become a tool of indiscreet and arbitrary actions on the part of the Police. The fact that s.498A deals with a family problem and a situation of marital discord unlike the other crimes against society at large, cannot be forgotten. It does not however mean that the Police should not appreciate the grievance of the complainant woman with empathy and understanding or that the Police should play a passive role. S.498A has a lofty social purpose and it should remain on the Statute book to intervene whenever the occasion arises. Its object and purpose cannot be stultified by overemphasizing its potentiality for abuse or misuse. Misuse by itself cannot be a ground to repeal it or to take away its teeth wholesale. The re-evaluation of Section 498-A merely on the ground of abuse is not warranted. Besides that, while courts are confronted with abusive dimensions, sometimes very visibly in Section 498A prosecutions, we cannot close our eyes to a large number of cases which go unprosecuted for a variety of reasons.

7.2 Section 498-A has to be seen in the context of violence and impairment of women’s liberty and dignity within the matrimonial fold. Mindless and senseless deprivation of life and liberty of women could not have been dealt with effectively through soft sanctions alone. Even though values of equality and non-discrimination may have to gain deeper roots through other social 15 measures, the need to give valuable protection to vulnerable sections of women cannot be negated.

7.3 While the Commission is appreciative of the blah

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.....that effect and the hearing of application shall be adjourned by three months or such other earlier date which the Magistrate may fix in the interests of Justice. On the adjourned date, the Magistrate shall again interview the victim woman in the like manner and then pass the final order permitting or refusing to compound the offence after giving opportunity of hearing to the accused. In the interregnum, it shall be open to the aggrieved woman to file an application revoking her earlier offer to compound the offence on sufficient grounds. The relevant part of Commission’s report is furnished in Annexure-II. 18

8.4 In the 154th Report of the Law Commission also, there was a clear recommendation to make the offence compoundable. Justice Mallimath Committee on Criminal Justice Reform also recommended that it should be made compoundable as well as bailable. The Committee of Petitions (Rajya Sabha) in the report presented on 7.09.2011, observed thus at para 13.2 under the heading “Making the offence under Section 498A IPC compoundable”: “The Committee notes that the offence under Section 498A IPC is essentially a fallout of strained matrimonial relationship for which there might be various considerations. Since there can be various causes leading to an offence under Section 498A, IPC and parties to the marriage could be responsible for the same in varying degrees, it would be appropriate if the remedy of compromise is kept open to settle a matrimonial dispute. In this context, the Committee feels that in case of any marital discord which has reached the stage of a complaint under Section 498A, IPC, it would be better if the parties have the option of a compromise whereafter they can settle down in their lives appropriately for a better future rather than diverting their energies negatively by pursuing litigation. The Committee recommends to the Government to consider whether the offence under Section 498A, IPC can be made compoundable.”

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15.4 In some States, as noticed earlier, there are directives of the High Courts as to how the police should handle the complaints under Section 498-A. Based on these directives, it is noticed that certain instructions have already been issued by the DGPs. It is needless to state that the High Court’s directives are binding and a fresh circular cannot be issued by the DGP superseding the instructions based on the High Court’s judgment. In such a situation, the proper course would be to apprise the High Court of the decision taken at the 37 conference of DGPs and to request the High Court to modify the directions appropriately in the light of the decision taken so that there will be uniformity in approach all over the country.

16. Amendment of Section 41 Cr.PC by the addition of sub-section (3) 16.1 At the same time, in the interest of uniformity and certainty, it is desirable that the essential guidelines are placed within legislative framework, to the extent necessary. We therefore suggest that sub-section (3) may be added to Section 41 of Cr.PC on the following lines: (3): Where information of the nature specified in clause(b) of subsection(1) of Section 41 has been received regarding the commission of offence under section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, before the police officer resorts to the power of arrest, shall set in motion the steps for reconciliation between the parties and await its outcome for a period of 30 days, unless the facts disclose that an aggravated form of cruelty falling under clause (a) of Explanation to S, 498-A has been committed and the arrest of the accused in such a case is necessary for one of the reasons specified in clause (b) of Section 41.

16.2 We would like to add that this proposed sub-section is not something materially different from the existing law and perhaps its utility lies in making explicit what is really implicit in light of the peculiar problems related to enforcement of S, 498-A. It is a procedural amendment which may act against inappropriate use of provision while at the same time not diluting the importance of life and liberty protection to women. 38 17. S, 358 of Cr.PC – raising the compensation limit

17.1 Another legislative change which the Commission recommends to discourage false and frivolous complaints leading to the arrest and prosecution of the suspect/accused is to amend Section 358 of Cr.PC so as to raise the compensation from rupees one thousand to rupees fifteen thousand. The words “not exceeding one thousand rupees” shall be substituted by the words “not exceeding fifteen thousand rupees”. This amendment is necessary to check to some extent the false and irresponsible FIRs/complaints in general, not merely confined to S, 498A. This is without prejudice to the Provision in IPC (Section 211) under which falsely charging a person of an offence is punishable. 17-A. Punishment for misuse – no specific provision necessary The suggestion of some respondents (in some Articles also, such a suggestion was made) that there must be a specific provision to punish women who file complaints for extraneous reasons is rather misconceived. There is no reason why only for S,498A cases, such a special provision shall be made. In any case, the existing provisions, viz. S,182, 211 of IPC and S,250 of Cr.PC can take care of malicious accusations etc, apart from Section 358 Cr.PC. 


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19.6 The offence should remain non-bailable. However, the safeguard against arbitrary and unwarranted arrests lies in strictly observing the letter and spirit of the conditions laid down in Sections 41 and 41-A of Cr. PC relating to power of arrest and sensitizing the Police on the modalities to be observed in cases of this nature. The need for custodial interrogation should be carefully assessed. Over-reaction and inaction are equally wrong. Police should take necessary steps to ensure safety of the complainant and to prevent further acts of harassment.

19.7 The Home Ministry’s Advisory dated 20th October 2009 on the subject of “Misuse of Section 498-A of IPC” as well as the guidelines / additional precautions set out in para 14 of this Report should be compiled and at a 42 conference of DGPs specially convened for this purpose by the Home Secretary, they must be apprised of the need to follow the said principles and guidelines and to issue circulars / standing orders accordingly. There should be a monitoring mechanism in the police Dept. to keep track of S, 498A cases and the observance of guidelines.

19.8 Without prejudice to the above suggestions, it has been recommended that as set out in para 16 above, sub-section (3) shall be added to Section 41 Cr. PC to prevent arbitrary and unnecessary arrests. The legislative mandate which is not materially different from the spirit underlying Sections 41 and 157 Cr. PC should be put in place in the interests of uniformity and clarity.

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 19.12 The passport of non-resident Indians involved in Section 498-A cases should not be impounded mechanically and instead of that, bonds and sureties for heavy amounts can be insisted upon.

19.13 Above all, the need for expeditious disposal of cases under section 498A should be given special attention by the prosecution and Judiciary. [Justice (Retd.) P. V. Reddi] Chairman [Justice (Retd.) Shiv Kumar Sharma] [Amarjit Singh] Member Member New Delhi 29 August 2012 44 Annexure – I [refer para 1.1of the Report] LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA Consultation Paper-cum-Questionnaire regarding Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code 1. Keeping in view the representations received from various quarters and observations made by the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Home Ministry of the Government of India requested the Law Commission of India to consider whether any amendments to s.498A of Indian Penal Code or other measures are necessary to check the alleged misuse of the said provision especially by way of over-implication. 

2. S.498A was introduced in the year 1983 to protect married women from being subjected to cruelty by the husband or his relatives. A punishment extending to 3 years and fine has been prescribed. The expression ‘cruelty’ has been defined in wide terms so as to include inflicting physical or mental harm to the body or health of the woman and indulging in acts of harassment with a view to coerce her or her relations to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. Harassment for dowry falls within the sweep of latter limb of the section. Creating a situation driving the woman to commit suicide is also one of the ingredients of ‘cruelty’. The offence under s.498A is cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable. 

3. In a recent case of Preeti Gupta v. State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court observed that a serious relook of the provision is warranted by the Legislature. “It is a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incidents are reflected in a large number of complaints. The tendency of over-implication is also reflected in a very large number of cases”. The Court took note of the common tendency to implicate husband and all his immediate relations. In an earlier case also - Sushil Kumar Sharma v. UOI (2005), the Supreme Court lamented that in many instances, complaints under s.498A were being filed with an oblique motive to wreck personal vendetta. “It may therefore become necessary for the Legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with”, it was observed. It was also observed that “by misuse of the provision, a new legal terrorism can be unleashed”. 

4. The factum of over-implication is borne out by the statistical data of the cases under s.498A. Such implication of the relatives of husband was found to be unjustified in a large number of decided cases. While so, it appears that the women especially from the poor strata of the society living in rural areas rarely take resort to the provision. 

5. The conviction rate in respect of the cases under s.498A is quite low. It is learnt that on account of subsequent events such as amicable 45 settlement, the complainant women do not evince interest in taking the prosecution to its logical conclusion. 

6. The arguments for relieving the rigour of s.498A by suitable amendments (which find support from the observations in the Court judgments and Justice Malimath Committee’s report on Reforms of Criminal Justice System) are: Once a complaint (FIR) is lodged with the Police under s.498A/406 IPC, it becomes an easy tool in the hands of the Police to arrest or threaten to arrest the husband and other relatives named in the FIR without even considering the intrinsic worth of the allegations and making a preliminary investigation. When the members of a family are arrested and sent to jail without even the immediate prospect of bail, the chances of amicable re-conciliation or salvaging the marriage, will be lost once and for all. The possibility of reconciliation, it is pointed out, cannot be ruled out and it should be fully explored. The imminent arrest by the Police will thus be counter-productive. The long and protracted criminal trials lead to acrimony and bitterness in the relationship among the kith and kin of the family. Pragmatic realities have to be taken into consideration while dealing with matrimonial matters with due regard to the fact that it is a sensitive family problem which shall not be allowed to be aggravated by over-zealous/callous actions on the part of the Police by taking advantage of the harsh provisions of s.498A of IPC together with its related provisions in CrPC. 

It is pointed out that the sting is not in s.498A as such, but in the provisions of CrPC making the offence non-compoundable and nonbailable. hould be done by professionally qualified counsellors and not by the Police. 46 7.1 These views have been echo.................................................blah blah blah
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The institution of marriage itself is gradually being put to test in contemporary Indian society with IPC 498A kind of laws, more so in urban pockets. More couples than before are opting not to tie the knot, preferring to simply live together instead. Cohabitation is common in a small number of advanced societies, some of which - like the Scandinavian countries - give live-in couples the same rights as those who are legally wed.

Marriage, therefore, is often a mere formality, or a matter of choice, in such societies. However, the reality in India is different. Due to a combination of social and religious factors, as well as the absence of safety nets and welfare, marriage is still an institution that is preferred over any other form of union. It is the fundamental relationship around which families are built and lend stability to social structures in India.

That said, it is crucial that we recognise the changes that are taking place. Instead of ruing the loss of old values, we would be better off gearing up for new realities. That includes updating our laws and social attitudes.
Add not fire to fire.
Do not throw the arrow that will return against you.
Beggars can never be bankrupt.
You can bear with your own faults, and why not a fault in your wife/husband?
Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.
The child who gets a stepmother also gets a stepfather.
Where there is dowry there is danger.
Anger can be an expensive luxury.
The bachelors crave to get married, and the married ones regret why he got married.
O daughter, I’m telling you. O daughter-in-law, listen to this…..
Pray one hour before going to war, two hours before going to sea, and three hours before getting married.
Even the moon has spots.
It takes time to save time.
Comment is free but facts are on expenses.
It is wise to keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.
Readers are plentiful, thinkers are rare.
It is not whether you get knocked down; it is whether you get up again.
There are times when silence has the loudest voice.
Do not wait for success, go ahead without it.
One does not learn anything that one does not love.
When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you.
Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
If you bow at all, bow low.
The day you decide to do it is your lucky day.
Proof rather than argument.
Where you cannot climb over, you must creep under.
Faults are thick where love is thin.
It is harder to kill a whisper than even a shouted calumny.
BE THOU AS CHASTE AS ICE, AS PURE AS SNOW, THOU SHALT NOT ESCAPE CALUMNY.