NFHS Press Coverage: Times of India on 498A IPC misuse
Vijay Singh TNN
Navi Mumbai: Even as a Rajya Sabha committee has invited citizens views and suggestions on the nonbailable section 498A of Indian Penal Code often dubbed marital terrorism a family in New Panvel is experiencing it first-hand,and has decided to write to it about their bitter experience.
My 70-year-old father,Katta Swamy,who is suffering from medical problems is in jail for one month because of a false complaint lodged by my sister-in-law,Katta Sai Jyothi,under the non-bailable 498A of the IPC, said Laxmi Katta (32).She and her aged mother,Katta Satyanarayanan,are worried about getting arrested themselves on the basis of cruelty and dowry demands.
In an affidavit submitted to the police and court,the girl and her family alleged that the Kattas had demanded dowry and humiliated the bride and her family.They also alleged that the Kattas beat up the girl and her relatives.
The Upper House committee,which has received hundreds of suggestions from harried citizens,has set a December 31 deadline,before taking a decision on whether 498A should be amended.
P Suresh,president of the Bangalore NGO,National Family Harmony Society,is helping the Kattas along with many others jailed under this section.He said,The police state that they are helpless against 498A,and have to arrest anyone named by the complainant.However,we have come across cases where the complainant and police have joined hands to demand money from the inlaws under the threat of being jailed. Suresh said his NGO had first approached Parliament to amend the section.Children as young as seven and pregnant women have been arrested and locked up,because the daughter-in-law decided to use the strong section, he said.
Bombay HC lawyer Rahul Thakur said in over 90% marital cases he had come across,the Section had been misused.I know of a case where the wife slapped 498A on the husband because he criticized her cooking and did not talk to her properly, said Thakur,who has sent in his suggestions.
Thakur and other lawyers,however,pointed out that the section can be a boon for married women who are genuine victims of torture.The police should be honest and sensible enough to decide if the complaint holds water, said Thakur.
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Passed by Parliament in 1983,IPC Sec 498A is a criminal law which is defined as follows: Whoever,being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman,subjects such a woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to pay a fine.The offence is cognizable,noncompoundable and non-bailable The Rajya Sabha-appointed committee invites public suggestions in writing till December 30,2010 Mail two copies in Hindi or English to: Rakesh Naithani,Joint director,Rajya Sabha Secretariat,Parliament House Annexe,New Delhi 110 001 (Tel: 011-23035433 (O),Telefax: 23794328 E-mail : email@example.com You can visit http://www.rajyasabha.nic.in for details