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Rajya-Sabha-Sub-Committee-498a-individual format 4

23rd December 2010

Bangalore

To,

Shri Rakesh Naithani, Joint Director,

Rajya Sabha Secretariat,  Parliament House Annexe,

New Delhi – 110001 Tel: 011-23035433 (O), Fax: 011-23794328

Subject: Comments/Suggestions regarding amendment to section 498A of the IPC.

IPC section 498a was originally designed to protect married women from being harassed or subjected to cruelty by husbands and/or their relatives. This law was mainly aimed at curbing dowry harassment. Unfortunately, this law has been misused to harass men and their families rather than protect genuine female victims of harassment.

The Supreme Court of India itself has labeled the misuse of section 498a as “legal terrorism” and stated that “many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed with an oblique motive. In such cases, acquittal of the accused does not wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to the trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery.” In agreement with the above statement, the findings of a study conducted by The Centre for Social Research indicated that “98 percent of the cases filed under IPC section 498a are false”. Nevertheless, the law has been always justified based on its intention of protecting women. At this point it would be worthwhile to think about how IPC section 498a has really affected women.

Going by the conviction rate the proportion of women who have genuine cases is 2%. Most women who file 498A are from urban backgrounds and are either capable of fending for themselves or have enough family support to fall back on. The proportion of women who belong to this category is 98%. In the 98% of false cases, in every instance that 1 daughter-in-law files a false complaint at least 2 women (an innocent mother-in-law and sister-in-law) are arrested and undergo stress, humiliation and harassment in the hands of the exploitative police, lawyers, staff and officials in Indian courts before being acquitted several years later.

The number of cases that are filed in police stations or courts are the basis for the official statistics of dowry harassment. So, given that the law allows women unlimited scope to fabricate lies (with no penalty of perjury) and given that women are encouraged to keep filing false cases the statistics of “dowry harassment” are bound to rise while the problem of genuine harassment is left unchecked. So, the government has, in the name of protection of women, done grave injustice to two groups of women. The first group constitutes the genuine victims of dowry harassment whose misery remains unresolved but is constantly alluded to in order to justify the law. The second group consists of innocent mothers and sisters of husbands who are criminalized and harassed by the police and the legal system without any regard to their age, health or marital status. Pregnant women, unmarried sisters, ailing mothers and even aged grandmothers have been sent behind the bars under false allegations but their pain and suffering has not even been acknowledged leave alone addressed by the Government. Through IPC section 498a, the Government is actually protecting those women that indulge in perjury, blackmail, extortion and harassment of their husbands and in-laws.

WHAT GOVERNMENT COMMITTES, SUPREME COURT AND COMMISSIONS SAY:

MALIMATH COMMITTEE ON REFORMS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: There is a general complaint that section 498A of the IPC regarding cruelty by the husband or his relatives is subjected to gross misuse and many times operates against the interest of the wife herself. This offence is non-bailable and non-compoundable. Hence husband and other members of the family are arrested and can be behind the bars which may result in husband losing his job. Even if the wife is willing to condone and forgive the lapse of the husband and live in matrimony, this provision comes in the way of spouses returning to the matrimonial home. This hardship can be avoided by making the offence bailable and compoundable.

Recommendation of Malimath Committee: (118) The Code may be suitably amended to make the offence under Section 498 A of the I.P.Code, bailable and compoundable.

LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA, ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SEVENTH REPORT ON LAW RELATING TO ARREST: Another recommendation made in the 154th Report is to make the offence under section 498A compoundable and place it in sub-section (2) of section 320 which means that it shall be compoundable with the permission of the court. Though there has been some opposition to this recommendation from certain women’s organizations, today there is an overall realization that the said provision is being utilized quite often to harass the relatives of the husband and is being used as a lever of pressure. We may also mention that over the last several years a number of representations have been received by the Law Commission from individuals and organizations to make the said offence compoundable. We are inclined to agree with the same and accordingly reiterate the recommendation in the 154th Report that the offence should be made compoundable with the permission of the court.

LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FOUR REPORT ON code of CrPC, 1973: Recommended to make the offence under section 498a IPC compoundable.

128th REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON HOME AFFAIRS: [10.1] The Committee reiterates its observations made in the One Hundred and Eleventh Report regarding Section 498A IPC wherein it had recommended that express provisions may be made in Section 320 of CrPC to reflect the availability of compounding of offence to the relatives of the husband. The Committee also feels that offence under section 498 need be made compoundable by the woman concerned in addition to the husband of the woman.

FORMER CJI BALAKRISHNAN ADMITS TO MISUSE OF DOWRY LAWS: Dealing a blow to women’s rights activists who have been stringently defending the Section 498A provision of the Indian Penal Code, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Saturday said that in some cases this section — that deals with matrimonial cruelty — was being `grossly misused’.  Elaborating on false cases being filed in recent times, the CJI said that relatives not involved with a matrimonial dispute were unfairly implicated. “In some cases, 498A is grossly misused,” he said. Balakrishnan was speaking at a seminar, `Marriage laws — issues and challenges’, organised by the National Commission for Women.

WHAT UNION HOME MINISTRY SAYS: Giving reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Dec3, 2009, Honorable Union Minister for Law & Justice said, A number of representations have been received from various quarters regarding the misuse of the provision of Section 498A of IPC. Information regarding its misuse is not collected by National Crime Records Bureau. Giving this information in the Lok Sabha to a written question Dr.M.Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law and Justice said that the matter has been referred to the Law Commission of India to study the use of the provision of this section and hold consultation and suggest amendments, if any, to the provision. An advisory has also been issued to the State Governments to prevent the misuse of the said section.”

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA: While deciding CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1512 OF 2010 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.4684 of 2009) Preeti Gupta & Another …Appellants Versus State of Jharkhand & Another ….Respondents JUDGMENT Honorable Supreme Court said:

It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. At the same time, rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry harassment are also a matter of serious concern. The tendency of implicating husband and all his immediate relations is also not uncommon. At times, even after the conclusion of criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real truth. The courts have to be extremely careful and cautious in dealing with these complaints and must take pragmatic realities into consideration while dealing with matrimonial cases. The allegations of harassment of husband’s close relations who had been living in different cities and never visited or rarely visited the place where the complainant resided would have an entirely different complexion. The allegations of the complaint are required to be scrutinized with great care and circumspection. Experience reveals that long and protracted criminal trials lead to rancour, acrimony and bitterness in the relationship amongst the parties. It is also a matter of common knowledge that in cases filed by the complainant if the husband or the husband’s relations had to remain in jail even for a few days, it would ruin the chances of amicable settlement altogether. The process of suffering is extremely long and painful. Before parting with this case, we would like to observe that a serious relook of the entire provision is warranted by the legislation. It is also a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incident are reflected in a large number of complaints. The tendency of over implication is also reflected in a very large number of cases.

As is seen from above findings, even the various government committees had recommended from time to time to bring in suitable amendment to 498A IPC but Government has not taken any action on this till now. We undersigned citizens now have hope that our voices of distress and our pain and sufferings will be heard by the Honorable committee and the committee will bring in suitable amendments to 498A IPC which is the most abused and misused law in India. For the kind consideration of the committee we undersigned submits few suggestions and comments.

  • Misuse of the process of law, not only costs the public exchequer dearly, but also destroys the personal lives of many innocent citizens. Misuse of law should be treated as a serious crime, and persons who use women-protection laws as weapons for settling personal scores in marital disputes should be severely punished. We all know that justice delayed is justice denied. Since currently there is no fear among those who file false cases against husband and in-laws hence we suggest to bring in a misuse clause to the IPC 498A. Thus we suggest to introduce a punishment clause as below: “Whosoever misuses IPC 498A, in any way, to cause harassment to the opposite party, will be sentenced to a term of 3 years, immediately on completion of trial, by the very same court, which was conducting the trial, and would also pay a fine, equal to Rs 1,000,000/- (Rs. Ten Lakhs) to the opposite party.”
  • We suggest making 498A IPC Gender Neutral as the social situation and circumstances had undergone tremendous change in last 37 years since the law was introduced. Now there are thousands of reports and incidents where wives are treating their husbands and in-laws with cruelty. So such husbands should also have provisions so that in case of harassment and cruelty from wife they should be able to lodge complaint. Hence we suggest to make it gender neutral so that such victim husbands also are able to file complaint.
  • In the last decade or so a very disturbing trend has emerged in the society and that is “breaking of families at an alarming rate”. If we analyze the reason then the primary reason for this is “Heavy misuse of gender biased laws” like 498A IPC. 498A IPC is non bailable and there is a growing tendency to rush to police station and file false case against husband and all his relatives. It is a known fact that even if husband or his relatives are behind bar even for a day then chances of reconciliation are NIL. Hence we suggest to consider our recommendations to make this section bailable.
  • As per Home Ministry data, thousands of innocents senior citizens, age old mother-in-laws, pregnant sister-in-laws and school going children have been arrested on a mere complaint and sent to Jail. Hence we suggest to make suitable amendments so that tendency to rope in each and every relative of the husband must be stopped.

All below undersigned signatories citizens are victim of due to the misuse of this law and appeal to the Honourable committee to make suitable amendments. We have already suffered heavy injustice due to the misuse of this law but if suitable amendments are brought in to curb misuse then atleast the future generation will be able to live in a fearless environment of peach and harmony where no one can me harassed and tortured due to misuse of 498A IPC.

Jai Hind!!

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Categories: Parliament
  1. Naveen
    December 22, 2010 at 1:05 am

    I am sending the letter tomorrow (21st December) Speed post from USA.

  2. NAGENDRA SINGH
    December 22, 2010 at 3:18 am

    I WILL SEND IT BY FRIDAY.
    I WILL SEND 5 COPIES WITH HELP OF MY COLLEGES AND FRIENDS.

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