cruelty by husband or relatives of husband

Cruelty by the husband or his relatives- IPC 498A

What is 498A IPC?

Section 498-A was initiated in the year 1983 to safeguard married women from being subjected to cruelty by the husband or his relatives. A punishment extending to 3 years and a penalty has been specified. The utterance of cruelty has been interpreted in vast terms to contain inflicting physical or mental injury to the body or health of the woman and indulging in deeds of harassment to intimidate her or her relations into fulfilling any illegal demand for any property or valuable security. Creating a situation driving the woman to commit suicide is also one of the ingredients of cruelty. Harassment for dowry falls within reach of a latter limb of the section.

Who can file 498A?


The complaint under Section 498-A can be filed by the woman discontented by the crime or by any person connected to her by blood, marriage, or adoption. If there is no such relative, then the complaint can be filed by any public servant as may be notified by the State Government on this behalf. But any other woman who is not in a married relationship with the person cannot file the complaint about the cruelty she has been through under Section 498A of IPC.

Is 498A IPC bailable?


498A IPC is a non-bailable offence. Non-bailable crimes are serious offences where bail is freedom, and only the courts can approve it. The cases under 498A are non-bailable, and bail can be permitted under the preference of the magistrate. The crime under Section 498-A IPC is cognizable, a case in which a police officer may arrest the accused without an arrest warrant if the information relating to the commission of the offence is given to an officer-in-charge of a police station by the person discontented by the crime or by any person connected.

What is the difference between 498 and 498A?


Section 498 implies enticing or taking, away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman. Section 498 IPC deals with the offence of criminal elopement. The provisions of IPC section 498 are aimed at protecting the rights of the husband. Under this section, the criminal shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine or with both.
Whereas Section 498 can be filed by a married woman or her blood relations against her husband or relatives of her husband regarding the utterance of cruelty or physical or mental violation. It is a non-bailable offence. It is a cognizable offence according to which a police officer can arrest the criminal without an arrest warrant.

What is the difference between 498a and domestic violence?


498A of IPC is enticed when mainly a victim is subjected to harassment for non-fulfilment of dowry demand. At the same time, domestic violence is recognized for the grievance associated with any form of harassment even without the demand of dowry such as violence, for example, physical, mental, social, economic, etc. The act of domestic violence towards women is a human rights violation and also a criminal act under Indian law, which has been proposed to assure that all its citizens are given safety and security to live a life of freedom, dignity, and respect.

What happens after FIR in 498A?


Once the FIR is registered under sec, 498a, the police will file the charge sheet only after the investigation. Once the person is arrested, he is entitled to bail till such time the charge sheet is filed, and trial has started. After trial, the courts will decide on whether the person is to be condemned or discharged.

What are the stages in the 498A case?


Complaint and reconciliation process at CAW Cell or Mahila Thana: This is the first stage for 498A. A complaint is filed in the police station, which is assigned to CAW Cell.CAW Cell attempts for settlement between the parties. This method is known as mediation.

FIR: If there is no settlement at the prior stage, the police register an FIR.

Anticipatory bail or stay on the arrest: Till formerly, in maximum cases, husbands were not permitted anticipatory bail or stayed on the arrest. Police are consistently asked for custody of the prime accused, and he was incarcerated for a day to a week depending upon the FIR being lodged. There has been a remarkable change in this process after the Arnesh Kumar Judgement. Still, it is always prudent to get anticipatory bail when an FIR is lodged.

Police investigation: This is the most obscure procedure for the accused. Police investigate the crime, mainly it is collection of bills or statements of witnesses of the complaint.

Charge sheet: After fulfilment of the investigation, the police submits the charge sheet in court, which comprises all the material obtained by the police during the investigation on which the police are establishing their case. In extraordinary cases, the police also file the final report at this stage. The final report implies that the police have concluded that no crime is concluded.

Framing of charges or discharge: After the accused and his lawyers have analyzed the charge sheet, the court moves forward to frame charges. It means informing the accused what crimes they have charged you. When the accused thinks that there is not enough material on record to charge him, he can proceed for discharge.

Prosecution Evidence: Mostly, the proof is oral, that is, witness statements and cross-examination though there can be medical or proof as well. In the first step, the public prosecutor inquires the witness to narrate his version of facts, and then the accused and their lawyers get an opportunity to cross-examine them.

Defence Evidence: Once the prosecution evidence is over, the defence gets the opportunity to present its witness. The process is the opposite of prosecution evidence, i.e., first facts are described by the witness and then cross-examination by the public prosecutor.

Arguments: Both sides that are the public prosecutor and advocate of the accused, present arguments and precedents to influence the court towards their purpose.

The order/judgment: This is the final stage in which sentencing of the judgment is being executed.

Can 498A be filed without proof?


Yes, 498 can be filed without proof. It does not need any proof before arrest. Even no investigation is required. The main evidence that is there in 498A prevails in medical evidence, eyewitnesses, WhatsApp, and email messages. But, the burden to prove the accused guilty of an offence without any reasonable doubt is always on the prosecution. So, prosecutions have to prove their case, and if it fails, then it ceases with the dismissal of the accused.

Can the wife stay with her husband after filing 498A?


Yes, the wife can stay in the marital home. Now she is required to file an application in the said court for suspending her husband’s bail. She can also complain to the nearest police station considering the same.

How long does a 498A case run?


While protesting the 498a case, the extent of the case will depend mainly on the evidence generated before the court and how efficiently your lawyer debates in the court representing your case. Even if you don’t try to delay anything, a 498A case may run for 7-12 years at the minimum anyway.

What is the bail amount for 498A?


For 498A, only one solvent surety is needed who will usually sign a bail bond for Rs. 25,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-.
This means that no money changes hands other than miscellaneous funds and pays for lawyers’ fees. If the accused escapes, then the bail bond is forfeit, and the surety is required to either produce the accused or to pay up the surety sum of Rs. 25,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-.

How many times can a wife file 498A?


Lawfully speaking, there is no limitation to filing 498 A. Wife can file it anytime, but nowadays, courts are a bit soft against in-laws and generally ask the wife for a delay of so many years to file the 498 A. If you file for divorce, then you would be directed to pay maintenance if your wife files the maintenance request. The court will permit interim maintenance if your wife cannot support herself or is not earning.

What does the Supreme Court think about 498A?


Supreme Court calls 498a as “Legal Terrorism” due to the following reasons:
It is dealt with in Criminal law for connected marriage consequences and not under Civil Laws. The non-bailable warrant does not need proof before arrest. No investigation is essential. This reveals the weakness of the accused, taking away their important human rights. Those who were not part of the day-to-day family life can be quoted and charged on one complaint, which can also include pregnant women and children. Accused is assumed guilty until proven innocent. Gifts are occasionally considered as dowry. It is non-compoundable, which means that the complaint can’t be taken back, hindering any scope of reunion between the couple. After a man is accused of 498A, he will not take his wife back later. Old parents who lived with prominence and respect have to live with the guilt of harassing their daughter-in-law for the rest of their lives. Groom’s relatives don’t find a suitable bride after they are accused under 498A. In extensive situations, cases are filed because the husband refuses to throw his parents out of the house at the wife’s pressure. The husband’s job is at risk when he is accused under 498A, who could even be the only employee of the family. The health of the old parents dangerously erodes after they are arrested in a 498A case. Some even inflict suicide for not being able to withstand the sadness and frustration of not being falsely accused. Old parents, after the 498A case, come to be very anxious and advise their son not to marry again. The family ends up paying a very high price to settle the case, the money that was saved for the parent’s health. The possibility of a woman over-reacting on an insignificant issue in the family is never evaluated as a motive for complaint. A woman tries to get divorce proceedings rapidly by filing a 498a case actually if no dowry was demanded. The witnesses manage to help the woman not get into a police case. They even fear being accused by the woman if they don’t support the woman. Some women marry an NRI and slap a 498A case only to extort large sums of money. Even after knowing that the complaint could be false, police were inclined to support the woman and ask the man to settle the case with financial compensation. The case can easily linger in the court for years, and only the groom’s family has to pay the price. IPC 498A cases can be filed even after the divorce, which only means that the accuser wants to demand money lawfully separated from the maintenance refusal clause in the 498A law that would halt women from misapplying. It is almost difficult to file a case of defamation on the accuser because the police will not report the case, and it would be hard to confirm it.

What happens if 498A is proved false?


You can file an FIR against your wife for blackmailing or filing an inaccurate 498A case against you. Police in India usually do not support such FIRs, but if you prepare your case foolproof, the police cannot reject you to file an FIR against your wife. If the police refuse to report your FIR, you can file a written complaint against the police officer with the Superintendent of that police station. You can also file a defamation case against your wife for defaming your impression by filing an inaccurate 498A case against you.

How is 498A misused?


Many examples have come to light where the grievances are not bonafide and have been filed with implicit intentions. In such cases, the dismissal of the accused in all cases does not wipe out the embarrassment suffered during and before trial. Sometimes unfavourable media coverage causes suffering. By misuse of the provision, new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is aimed at being used as a shield and not as a killer’s weapon. Still, a mere possibility of misuse of a legal provision does not revoke it. A violation of this section, its goals, and its objectives is on the rise, with the woman facetiously giving rise to inaccurate allegations against their husbands to get rid of them or simply harming the family.

The abuse of this section is rapidly increasing, and the women frequently well-educated know that this section is both cognizable and non-bailable and voluntary functions on the complaint of the woman and sighting the man behind bars.

Conclusion


Every harassment does not amount to cruelty within the significance of Section 498-A. For Section 498-A, harassment simpliciter is not cruelty, and it is merely when harassment is executed for intimidating a woman or any distinct individual associated with her to meet any illegal demand for property that it amounts to cruelty punishable under Section 498-A IPC.

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