SECTION 498A OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE- A BLISS OR A BANE
Section 489A says of cruelty by husband or relatives of husband. It says 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 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 the woman; or ...view middle of the document...
A typical case goes on for years (5-7 years is typical) and the conviction rate is about 2% only. Some accused parents, sisters and even husbands have committed suicide after time in jail.
SECTION 498A-A BANE
Section 498A has been adjudged as a bane because of the following criticisms:-
1) Criticism by the Judiciary- The Supreme Court of India and the various High Courts have noted the gross misuse of IPC 498A in various judgments: Supreme court declared 498a as "Legal Terrorism" while giving judgment in matter of Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors - Jul 19 2005 (Citation: JT 2005 (6) SC 266).
2) Criticisms outside India- Several reports of the abuse of Section 498A have involved couples based outside India especially in the US & Canada. A number of US men who have come to India to marry Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to dowry extraction. Many of the charges stem from the US citizen’s inability to provide an immigrant visa for his prospective spouse to travel immediately to the United States. The courts sometimes order the US citizen to pay large sums of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges. The courts normally confiscate the American’s passport, and he must remain in India until the case has been settled.
3) Criticisms by Men’s Rights Movements- According to the Men's Rights movement in India, the laws suffer from the following shortcomings:
a. Gender Bias: The laws do not recognize cruelty and domestic violence against men. The police in India almost never register complaints of extortion or violence against men in a domestic relationship, whereas registering a complaint under 498A (where a woman is the aggrieved party) is widespread.
b. Vague definitions of Dowry and Stridhan.
c. Presumption of guilt- IPC 304B assumes that if the accidental death of a wife happens within 7 years of marriage, it should be assumed to be murder, unless the husband can prove his innocence. Similarly, the Dowry Prohibition Act (section 8-A) states that "Where any person is prosecuted for taking or abetting the taking of any dowry under Sec. 3, or the demanding of dowry under Sec.4, the burden of proving that he had not committed an offence under those sections shall be on him”.
d. Duplication of existing laws: Laws already exist to deal with offences against intimidation, violence, extortion and murder. A "dowry death" can be considered a murder, and a demand for dowry can be considered extortion under existing laws. The additional laws, instead of reforming the police, mostly serve to shift the burden of proof onto the accused.
e. A corrupt police force which often does no investigation before arresting innocent people.
f. Human Rights violations: In most cases involving Non-Resident Indians, their passports are impounded and they are restricted from traveling outside the country.
g. No penalties, in practice, for...