Defence of husband against s498A of IPC

Defence of husband against s498A of IPC

Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short IPC) gives protection to women against cruelty and dowry harassment. In our society, it cannot be denied   that women are predominantly subjected to cruelty and domestic violence by their husband and/or his relatives after marriage as compared to the men in society. In order to protect women from such cruelty and domestic violence stemming from unlawful dowry demands, section 498A was inserted in the Indian Penal Code in 1983 as a special provision to provide legal security to the women.

However, Section 498A which was inserted for safeguard the interest and protection of women has been misused by numerous women resultant in filing false complaints against their husband and his relatives out of sheer vengeance and hatred.

 

Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, 1860

Matrimonial cruelty in India is a cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence. It is defined under Chapter XXA of IPC under Section 498A as:

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 her to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine.
 

Explanation – for the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means:

(a) any wilful 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

(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 demands for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

 

This Section deals with domestic violence and cruelty that a woman is subjected to after-marriage, by her husband or her in-laws or any relative of the husband. This Section was brought into force by the lawmakers to protect them from cruelty at their matrimonial homes. In simpler words, it was given a shape of law to protect women from domestic violence.

But the abuse of this section is rapidly increasing and well educated women is misusing this section with the purpose to get rid of his husband or simply hurting the family. There have been several false cases filed by the wife under section 498A and several innocent people have been tangled into inane legal proceedings that have led to a waste of time, resources and efforts for many people.

 

Rajesh Sharma and others v. State of U.P. and another

In this landmark judgment, The Supreme Court dealt with the question of misuse of this Section and issued the following directions:

  • One or more Family Welfare Committees were to be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities in every district. Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate would then be referred to and looked into by such Committee which would within one month give its report to such committee. Till the report was received, no arrest would be normally effected.
  • The complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area.
  • Further, in cases where a settlement is reached, the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him could dispose of the proceedings and close the criminal case if dispute primarily related to matrimonial discord.
  • If a bail application was filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/ complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected.
  • In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine.
  • It will be open to the District Judge or a designated senior judicial officer nominated by the District Judge to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all such cases are entrusted.
  • Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.

 

Defences against false 498A case

It is well said that misuse of the law cannot be denied.The women misusing the law most-often know that this section is cognizable and non-bailable, and a simple complaint of the woman can land the man and his family behind bars. Unfortunately, the law has also developed as a weapon for women to vent out their rage, revenge and gain undue benefits by filing false complaints against the husband and his family.

With a spate of false complaints filed under this Section, number of legal defences have adopted in the legal sphere for people to protect themselves from such false complaints filed against the husband or his relative sunder section 498A which are as follows:

 

Collection of all the evidence and related documents

The first step in proving a false accusation would be to catch hold of all the corroborative evidence and documents related to the case. The accused must start compiling as much evidence as possible, such as:

  • Any conversation over the phone between the wife and the husband or his relatives, or any call recordings of the conversation or text messages.
  • Any evidence that proves that the wife has left her husband’s home at her own will.
  • Any proof that shows no demands for dowry were made before or after the wedding.

 

Anticipatory Bail

If the husband has apprehension that his wife may file an FIR under Section 498A of IPC, he should get an anticipatory bail preventing the husband’s as well as his family member’s arrest. Anticipatory bail is like a precautionary bail in case police move ahead to arrest you or your family members. You can file for anticipatory bail for protection against section 498A IPC case under Section 438 of CrPC.

 

Quashing of FIR

Any of the spouses can quash the false 498A FIR from the High Court under section 482 of CrPC. Once an FIR has been filed, the Courts are usually reluctant to void an FIR or get involved in the Police process, however, if there is enough evidence, the court can quash the fake 498A FIR that the wife may have filed.

 

Conclusion

The false Complaint against husband is increasing every day, it’s a serious issue as it violates the basic human rights. The well-educated woman aware that this section is cognizable and non-bailable and a simple complaint of the woman can land the man and his family behind bars, therefore, the women is misusing the provisions of the law to fulfil their unlawful demands against their husbands.

Moreover, Sec 498A is non-compoundable [1] which make it more severe for men. Though the government recently has given some guidelines to amend the existing laws, making same provisions for men and women. The Supreme Court is also dealing with the misusing of law by passing the judgment where by the court gave some guidelines against the arbitrary arrest of men in 498A cases. Also with the tremendous misuse of Section 489A, there are landmark judgments in favour of the male [2]. A recent judgment states that if a false allegation is made against a husband by the female, it would constitute grounds for divorce.

Conclusively, it can be said that pro-women laws should in no way become anti-man laws.

 

Reference

[1] SimranSabharwal in General, All you need to know about Section 498A of the IPC , https://blog.ipleaders.in/need-know-section-498a-ipc/

[2] Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273.it was stated that bedridden grandfathers and grandmothers and even relatives living abroad were arrested. So, women have started using it as a weapon to get their husbands arrested if they are not satisfied with them.
 
 

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