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Evils of Dowry And Cruelty In India

Women's crime is increasing at a breakneck pace. The protection of women under the Indian Constitution and other laws will be meaningful only if those charged with enforcing the law are made aware of women's difficulties.


The term dowry is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but rather in the 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act. It is defined in the act, as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly:
  • by one party to a marriage to the other party to a marriage;
  • by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to a marriage or to any other person at or before or at any time after (on three occasions) the marriage in connection with the said parties' marriage.
Customary payments, on the other hand, such as those provided at the time of a child's birth, are widespread in various civilizations.

Giving And Taking Dowry Are Both Offences:

Along with the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the following laws were strengthened:
  • Section 304B of IPC(dowry death)
  • Section 498A of IPC(cruelty by husband or his relatives)
  • 113 B of IEA(presumption as to dowry death)

Dowry Death:

The three elements necessary to establish the offence punishable under Section 304-B IPC are:
  • the accused's demand for dowry and harassment;
  • the deceased's death;
  • the deceased's death occurred under unnatural circumstances.

When harassment for dowry payment occurs within seven years of the marriage and an unnatural death happens within that time period, a presumption of dowry death arises. This Section applies whenever a death occurs as a result of the husband's or in-laws' abuse or harassment for dowry and the death occurs in an unnatural manner.

Provisions Of Section 498a IPC:

Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code was added to the Penal Code by the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983, which took effect on December 25, 1983. This Section demonstrates concern for the protection of the weaker spouse. Throughout history, women have been exposed to the whims and caprices of men, notably in the husband-wife relationship.

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code contains the following ingredients:
  • The woman must be married;
  • She must have been the victim of cruelty or harassment;
  • This cruelty or harassment must have been demonstrated by the woman's husband or a relative of her husband.
According to Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, whoever subjects a woman to cruelty shall face imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and a fine. According to Clause (b) of the Explanation to that Section, harassing a woman with the intent of coercing her or any person related to her for meeting any unlawful demand for property or valuable security or on the basis of her or any person related to her failure to meet such demand constitutes cruelty for the purposes of Section 498-A IPC.

Cruelty Under Sections 498a And 306 IPC:

The fundamental distinction between Sections 498-A and 306 IPC is one of intent. Under Section 498-A IP.C, cruelty done by the husband or his relatives compels the wife to commit suicide, whereas suicide is assisted and planned under Section 306 1. P.C. The definition of cruelty under Section 498A IPC and its consequences under Section 306 IPC vary by individual and also rely on the social and economic standing of the individual. Cruelty for the purpose of offence does not have to be physical; in some cases, mental torment or deviant behavior may constitute cruelty and harassment. Mental cruelty, of course, varies by individual, depending on the intensity and degree of endurance; some may face it with courage, while others suffer in silence; for some, it may be terrible, to the point where a weak person considers suicide.

A woman's dignity is violated when she is assaulted. It is one thing to assert that the wear and strain of married life do not have to result in suicide; it is quite another to state bluntly that one or two assaults on a woman are an accepted social norm. Judges must be sensitive to the issues confronting women. What effect it will have on a woman is entirely dependent on the facts and circumstances of each situation, and no generalization can be made on this subject.


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