Cruelty against Women(Section 498A of IPC,1860)
Team SoOLEGAL 27 Jan 2020

Cruelty against Women(Section 498A of IPC,1860)


In 1983, Section 498A was adopted to shield married women from being exposed to abuse by the husband or his relatives. A sentence has been given that stretches to 3 years and fine. The word "cruelties" has been broadly defined to include causing physical or mental harm on the woman's body or health and indulging in acts of violence with a view to pressuring her or her relations to satisfy any unlawful demand for any property or valuable protection. Harassment for dowry falls within the section's sweeping of the latter limb. Creating a situation that causes the woman to commit suicide is also one of the "cruelty" ingredients.

Section 498A of IPC

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with the violence committed by her husband or in-laws or any spouse relative on women after her marriage. This prescribes 3 years of probation and a fine.

This gave the Cruelties a new definition. Cruelty can be described as–

(a) If the act committed is of such a nature that the woman is enticed to commit suicide or to cause herself an injury that may prove fatal. In the case the evidence is required to show cruelty, it was held.

(b) If the act is to harass women or any other person associated with her in order to satisfy unlawful demands.

Need for Section 498A

Male society has always exposed women to violence. These laws help women fight back. Woman feels that they are being heard. In a country like India, there's a lot of need for these laws as-

(a)            9 out of 10 cases are always dowry related. Therefore, these rules are in desperate need of preventing women from being abuse.

(b)            Woman are continually being coerced, tortured, intimidated or harassed for asking something or something else. The IPC's Section 498A lets the woman approach law court and convict the wrongdoer.

(c)            The woman too is subject to mental cruelty in many cases. There is no rule that can help the woman relieve the mental pain that she has endured. Acts like this is helping woman in every way possible.

(d)            Regardless of whether the laws are misused, they cannot be removed from the Indian Penal Code. As it is also necessary to change the rules. There will be some loopholes but one can always add a clause to rectify the problems.

The Indian Constitution uses section 498A of IPC to protect married women in marriage household from cruelty. The provision to protect women from domestic violence was added to IPC.

Section 113A of Indian Evidence Act,1872

The section was enacted to fight the threat of death by dowry. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983 (Act 46 of 1983) incorporated it into the Code. Section 113-A of the Indian Evidence Act was introduced by the same Act to lift the presumption of suicide abetment by married woman. The main aim of I.P.C section 498-A is to protect a woman who is being harassed by her husband or husband's relatives.

Sec. 113-A, Presumption as to dowry death- Where the issue is whether a person has committed a woman's dowry death and it is shown that such a woman was subjected to cruelty or coercion for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry soon before her death, the Court shall conclude that that person had caused the dowry death.

Under this provision, cruelty and harassment is considered the same as within IPC section 498A.

Misuse of Section 498A of IPC

Section 498A is named by the Supreme Court as ' legal terrorism'. The statute is misused or violated by women. Additionally, in most cases, they sue the husband and his family.

(a)  Women use it as a weapon rather than as a shield. In Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, it was reported that there have been arrests of bedridden grandfathers and grandmothers, and even relatives living abroad. Therefore, women have started using it as a tool to detain their husbands if they are not pleased with them. Every year, there are many false reports reported as a result, which raises the pendency of court cases.

(b) A number of cases have occurred when the male is not from India, and he comes to India to marry the woman. He's made to do things that he wouldn't otherwise have done because of extortion and fear of prison. He is being scared of Section 498A.

(c)  Police visit men's office premises, and damage his reputation. If the case is affected the police can also pick up the family. It also needs no evidence before detention. Even this requires no investigation. So, if a minor disagreement occurs, woman can use the section to seek revenge.

(d) Sometimes the presents are mistaken as dowry. So, that can pose a problem again.


Recent case laws

Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar (2014) 8 SCC 273


The wife claimed she was expected to dowry, and she was forced out of the marriage home on failure to fulfil these demands. The husband had failed to apply for anticipatory bail. Hence the husband reached the Supreme Court by special leave appeal.


In this case, the Court observed that the fact that Section 498A, IPC, is a barely recognizable and non-bailable offence is more commonly used as a tool than as a shield by frustrated women This results in threatening the husband and his family by arresting them under this section and it is more disturbing to see the arrest of bedridden grandfathers and grandmothers without a prima facie case. Consequently, the Court set out certain rules to be followed by the police officer during the arrest subject to Section 498A, IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and that such arrest must be based on a fair satisfaction with the allegation's genuineness. In addition, even the magistrates must be very vigilant not to require detention easily and mechanically.

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