What is Section 498A & How it is misused: Explained

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In the present scenario, many people profess about the importance of gender equality and these days no doubt, women are seen successfully competing with men at corporate levels, in politics and at various platforms.

Then, why are men's plight ignored when they are harassed by some notorious women? Why there are no strict laws that deal with women at fault, with equal punishment given to men, when they abuse women? [UP Shocker! Woman beats mother-in-law black and blue, exposed]

Law

The recent bone-chilling video of a daughter-in-law brutally beating her bed-ridden mother-in-law went viral on social media and it once again brought to the fore the fact that how Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is blatantly misused by some mischievous women. ['Men are not ATM machines for their ex-wives']

Misuse of dowry laws is not a recent phenomenon and the judiciary of India is totally responsible for the growing misuse of dowry law and the result is abuse of innocent men in the process.

In many cases, men have even committed suicide, when their wives have harassed them to approach police or court, to send them behind jail, for no reason. [Dowry harassment: First investigate then arrest, rules SC]

What is Section 498A?

  • In 1983, ‘Section 498-A of the IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives.
  • The fact that Section 498-A is a cognisable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives.
  • ‘The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In quite a number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.
  • Advocacy groups like www.498a.org, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Husbands help men at the receiving end of anti-dowry laws.

Growing menace of misuse of 498A

  • Police often visit the office premises of men in order to shame them and jeopardize their job situation. Police also pick up relatives of men who are not even named in the complaint, they are illegally detained by police and forced to give their statements. 
  • Judges grant interim bail and then keep on extending the bail for every 5 or 7 days and thus the man is neither arrested nor free but keeps on attending court dates without any reason.
  • After giving interim bail, the cases are referred to mediation where the man is psychologically tortured to bow down before wife's demands and if he does not do so, his bail is canceled and he is sent to jail.

[Govt planning to make anti-dowry law compoundable]

When judiciary acts as an 'agent of wives'

  • Judiciary has taken an official stand of not punishing wives and her relatives when they attack the husband or his relatives physically.
  • At times, such attacks are either fatal in nature or injure the man severely. Wife and her relatives are given a free license to commit atrocities on husbands and then file a complaint of 498A to cover their own crimes.
  • And, the judiciary accepts this behavior as normal and punishes the husband for 498A and lets off the wife without any punishment.
  • Cases linger for years together because judges do not follow the due process in the cases and allow any number of adjournments to the wife when she does not attend the court hearings.
  • Judges do not dismiss the cases even if the wife does not attend the cases for years together. Judges take months together to merely decide on bail petitions.

What the Government can do?

  • Drop the move for amending 498A to make it compoundable. 
  • Make Section 498A bailable and non-cognizable. 
  • Form committees of innocent men, who have been acquitted, as watchdogs to monitor and review orders by judiciary. 
  • Insert a special provision to punish those police and judicial officers who do not follow the law properly and resort to malpractices under the cover of Section 498A. 
  • Stop the extortion and blackmailing of men in the name of mediation and counseling.

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