Rampact misuse of section 498A in India

It is said that with power comes authority. Power brings liberty with it which when misused could lead to abuse and such abuse results in some serious ramifications. Section 498A can only be invoked by wife/daughter-in-law or her relative. Women in India have been increasingly misusing the anti-dowry law to harass in-laws and restrained police from mechanically arresting the husband and his relatives on mere lodging of a complaint under
Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The fact lies here that there is very low conviction rate in such type of cases.

Much has been written about the misuse of Section 498A of the IPC which was introduced with the avowed objective to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. At times, the society sees only one side of the narrative and is quick to judge the husband. This section is non- bailable ( you have to appear in court and get bail from the judge), Non-compoundable( complaint can’t be withdrawn). It is the most simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In a quite number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.

Most cases filed under this section have failed to pass legal scrutiny resulting in an extremely low conviction rate. The Madras High Court in its judgment of January 20, 2015, in Thannasi v State pointed out that while charge sheeting in cases under Section 498A, IPC was as high as 93.6 per cent, the conviction rate was only 15 per cent — the lowest across all heads. Going by this ratio, out of 3,72,706 cases pending trial under this section, nearly 3,17,000 are likely to result in acquittal!

The domestic violence act has given an undue advantage to the women and it is the most lethal weapon which women can use against men to extort, exploit, and threaten men community just like terrorism. The dv act has provisions like right to residence regardless of legal right on the property, maintenance. The provision in law makes the law easily vulnerable to misuse. which is a fact statistics have shown that only 2% of all the cases have resulted in conviction and 98% of the cases are deemed to be fake and there is no provision in dv act if a fake case is lodged then there is no provision for punishment for the women.
For the name of protection of women the prosecution of innocent men is against the rule of law, A women can misuse the law very easily like for example  A man can be booked under the DV act if she feels that she has been insulted. Insult is a relative term, which is totally left to her discretion. Interestingly, if she insults and abuses him verbally or even physically, he does not have any legal recourse in this law, even the minor differences in matrimonial ties could invoke the provisions of DV act, moreover the procedure of law is governed by CRPC that means a man even making a very light insult to a women is treated like a criminal. if the case is false the reputation of man and his family is tainted and there are no steps or legal protection available to men to protect his reputation . In other words this law treats men like sitting ducks.

The frequent misuse of Section 498A even made the government consider an amendment to the law that would allow compromise and settlement between a husband and wife at the onset of trial in dowry harassment cases.

-Sudipta Basu,
Senior Advocate

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