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Section 498A: A weapon or a Shield

Before the insertion of section, 498A such cases of cruelty were dealt with by general provisions such as assault, grievous hurt, etc. This section was introduced in 1983 & has opened the doors of justice for women who suffer cruelty at the hands of her husband or relatives. The offence under this section is cognizable, non- bailable and non-compoundable offence. It is one of the major anti dowry laws in India.
498A

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 such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
⦁ 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
⦁ harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
Ingredients

Misuse Of 498A/False Cases

1.Exortion
Wife may with an intention to exort money & to harass husband & his  family file  false 498a cases. Because mental harassment can cause  settlement  at a very handsome amount.

  1. Husband refused to give divorce
    If Husband have refused to give him/her divorce then you may definitely face proceedings under false 498a and 406 and now 377 IPC are common.
    3.   Pressure from her relatives
    Matrimonial discords are common in marriages sometimes relatives make it a bigger issue. Negative relatives can lead to false 498a cases.
    Adultery
    If wife having an affair and  it came to knowledge of husband  then also wife can put these false cases for only reason called harassment so that he may not be able prosecute her for adultery.
    Supreme Court has termed this misuse as legal terrorism.
    Recovery in false Cases
    In the case where there are false allegations put on the men by his wife and he has proved innocent in the eyes of the law. He can fight the case misuse of 498A. The Indian government and jurisprudence continue to incorporate inputs to protect women, and men are not ignored by law either. Justice still takes precedence over injustice. Thus, the men whose reputation is defamed with false allegations that opt for some legal recovery measures and seek protection from Section 498A IPC. These are:
    ⦁ Under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, the husband can file a defamation lawsuit
    ⦁ Under Section 9 of the CPC, the husband can file a claim for recovery of damages which he and his family have been subjected to for the false allegations of cruelty and abuse
    ⦁ Section 182 of the IPC is one of the safeguards against false 498A cases widely used. If the authority considers that the averages rendered were invalid, under Section 182 of the IPC, the culprit is sentenced to 6 months or fine imprisonment, or both. The person will be charged for misleading false information on the part of the judiciary.
    Bail under 498 A
    Person who has a doubt that he will face false allegations under 498A can apply for anticipatory Bail
    When FIR is lodged against a person then he will receive notice under section 4lA of CrPc  to appear before police when complaint is  filed  against him.
    Landmark Judgements
    Noor jahan v. State
    The Supreme Court in this case attempted to explain the expression “cruelty” in the following words:
    “Consequences of cruelty which are likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health, whether mental or physical, of the woman is required to be established in order to bring home the application of Section 498 A of IPC.”

Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar
In this case, the Court observed that the fact that Section 498A, IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence, it is more often than not is used as a weapon rather than shield by disgruntled wives. It results in harassing the husband and his relatives by getting them arrested under this Section and it is more disturbing to seeing grandparents get arrested without prima facie case
Thus, the Court laid down certain guidelines which the police officer must follow while arresting under Section 498A, IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and that such arrest must be based on a reasonable satisfaction with respect to genuineness of the allegation.
Moreover, even the Magistrates must be careful enough not to authorise detention casually and mechanically.
Bibi Parwana Khatoon v. State of Bihar
The facts of this case are that the wife was killed by setting her up on fire by her husband and her relatives. The sister-in-law and brother-in-law of the deceased wife challenged the conviction in the Supreme Court.
The Court brought under notice the facts that the appellants in the case did not even reside at the place of mishap. There was no evidence to prove their charge beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Court acquitted them and held that the Court must guard against false implication of the relatives.


Conclusion
The Court and Legislature have to make changes if the laws of matrimonial cruelty are to be of any deterrence. Looking into the recent observations and the increase in the misuse of this Section, there should be certain amendments which should be brought up in this law

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