There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield
of the law and in the name of justice.- Montesquieu
Law is not law , if it violates the principles of eternal justice - Lydia
In Indian society, females have been given paramount status but due to various
horrendous invasions and draconian British colonial rule, the condition of women
in society deteriorated.
There was stratospheric number of reported cases of heart-wrenching torture and
bedevilment against females which results in pugnacious demands of strict
actions against it, by the legislative and legal edifice of the country.
As a result of these loud demands, various women-centric laws were enacted of
which section 498 A (IPC) is a glaring facet. But over the years it was seen
that the application of section 498A (IPC) digressed from its objective and
became a bane for the husbands and his relatives.
Sec 498A (IPC) was frequently used by wife for filling maliciously frivolous
cases for legal extortion, belligerent torture and harassment , not only against
husband but also against his relative (immediate or far).
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sushil Kumar Sharma V. Union of India stated
that"By misuse of the provision (498A IPC), a new legal terrorism can be
The misuse of Sec 498A (IPC) leads to thunderous voices for the prompt amendment
in it and even also for its repeal.
Section 498a (IPC)
Section 498A (IPC) was introduced in the year 1983 along with sections 113A and
113B of the Indian Evidence Act.
The sec 498A punishes the husband and his relatives who subject his wife to
Sec 498A Defines Cruelty As:
Classification Of Offence
- Any willful conduct by the husband or relative of the husband which
likely to drive the wife:
- To commit suicide or
- Danger to life , limb or health (Mental or Physical)
- Harass the wife with the view to coerce her or any person related to her
to meet any unlawful demands for:
- any property or
- valuable security or
- on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such
- Non Bailable Offence
- Non Compoundable Offence
- Cognizable Offence
- Imprisonment May Extend To 3 Years And Shall Also Be Liable To Fine
Misuse Of Section 498a (IPC)
The Supreme Court in Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. UOI
(2005),stated that in
many instances, complaints under sec 498A (IPC) were being filed with an oblique
motive to wreck personal vendetta.
In recent times sec 498A (IPC) has been De facto maneuvered as a weapon with a
view of domestic blackmailing against the husband and and his relatives which
leads to its illimitable animadversion.
Wide and cryptically enigmatic terms like relative of husband, health (mental or
physical) , and likely to drive to suicide, are the most prolific reasons for
The cruelty especially mental cruelty given in section 498A (IPC) is ginormously
opaque and can be easily misused as well as arduous for the accused husband to
The major reason for the vitriolic application of this Section 498A (IPC) is
that it confers discretionary power upon law enforcement agencies to arrest the
husband and his relatives on the complaint of the wife without any prior
The prominent notion is that the arrest of the husband will help the wife to
improve her say in family matters and will give her greater bargaining power in
family disputes.It has now become a common practice to arrest the most
respectable person in the husband's family to create pressure on the husband.
In the case of Preeti Gupta Vs. State of Jharkhand
(2010),The Court said:
"It is a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incidents
are reflected in a large number of complaints". The Court took note of the
common tendency to implicate the husband and all his immediate relations.
The sensitivity of the situation can be seen that a man can be arrested on the
mere fact that he is married to that woman and not only this ,the respective
provision is also used to harass women who are related to aggrieved husband like
his mother or his sisters etc ,which reflect that the provision is maliciously
misused by a woman against another woman.
According to the 243rd law commission report under section 498A ,the conviction
rate is quite low which is about only 20%.
The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Chandrabhan Vs. State
"there is no iota of doubt that most of the complaints are filed in the heat of
the moment over trifling fights and ego clashes. It is also a matter of common
knowledge that in their tussle and ongoing hostility, the hapless children are
the worst victims".
Nowadays it's a common practice by the wife to use this provision as a counter
against the divorce filed by the husband and also for out-of-court settlement by
coercing the husband for a hefty amount of money.
Data Regarding Section 498a (IPC)
According to National Crime Records Bureau in 2018, more than 100000 cases were
reported in India under Sec 498A, which constitutes 27.3% of all the cases of
crime against women.
The number of pending cases has risen by 6% under this section in 2018. The
number of pending cases under 498A from 2006 to 2016 has increased by 161%.
The number of acquittals under section 498A (IPC) witnessed an increase of 60%
till 2016 compared to 2006. But after that, the number of acquittals dropped to
34,153 in 2017 and 31,691 in 2018 which is the lowest in the decade.The number
of cases withdrawn /compromised between 2006 and 2018 has increased by 70%.
Under section 498A (IPC) the conviction rate has drastically reduced from 21.9%
in 2006 to 13% in 2018. The conviction rate of 498A cases in 2018 is almost
one-fourth of the conviction rate of all IPC crimes. Only 1 out of 7 cases under
Sec 498A resulted in a conviction in 2018.
Matrimonial matters are hellishly sensitive, they not only convulse the couple
but also the entire family.So while enacting matrimonial laws, lawmakers should
be scrupulous and focus on the actual ground reality, rather than futile
Law Commission in its 243rd report accepted that there is a gross misuse of the
provision and the blaring voices against the misuse of the provision impetrate
for amendment and salubrious application of it.
To prevent and stop misuse of the provision following steps should be taken
which are as follows:
- Wide and ambiguous terms like relative of husband, health (mental or
physical) , and likely to drive to suicide should be amended to narrow down
- Section 498 (IPC) should be strictly made gender-neutral for this, the
term husband or wife should be amended to spouse.
- Except in the case of prima facie violence against the wife immediate
arrest should be delayed till all endeavours of reconciliation be made.
- A preliminary investigation before arrest should be done and the arrest
should be made only after the permission of the magistrate.
- The section 498A should be made bailable and compoundable as was
suggested by the Malimath Committee on criminal justice reform.
- Judges should be given the power to straightaway punish the false
Section 498A (IPC) no doubt has ended up being a fiasco when it comes to
achieving its objective and instead of improving, it deteriorated the condition
of the marital home .
The current situation bolster strict amendments in section 498A (IPC) and
reforms of its application by law enforcement agencies in order to curb its
malicious use against the husband combined with achieving its objective to
improve the position of the wife in the marital home.