498a: Taunt for dowry is cruelty!

The Supreme Court has ruled that taunting a married women for not bringing sufficient dowry, amounts to cruelty and harassment within the meaning of Section 498 A and Section 304 part B of the Indian Penal Code. Thus, taunting is different from mere demand!

A bench comprising Justice R M Lodha and Justice A K Patnaik, noted, ”A girl dreams of great days ahead with hope and aspirations when entering into a marriage, and if from the very next day the husband starts taunting her for not bringing dowry, there cannot be greater mental torture, harassment or cruelty for any bride and such acts of taunting by the husband would constitute cruelty oath within the meaning of Section 498 A and Section 304 B IPC.”

The bench, however, emphasised the need to check the increasing tendency among the complainants in dowry-related cases to implicate the entire family and relatives of the family of in-laws. The apex court held that mere demand for dowry does not amount to cruelty or harassment for dowry unless and until it is accompanied by the acts of cruelty and harassment for dowry.

In many cases today, the cloud around misuse of dowry laws has led to great difficulty for women to prove their cases. After all, it is not easy to prove that your in-laws mistreated you within the four walls of the house till you had to be moved to the hospital for treatment/burns/untimely death in suspicious circumstances. In many cases, it is the woman’s death and willingness of her family members to pursue the case that cases are registered. A legal loophole which may just dilute the very essence of justice for women.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Abolishdowryact
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 12:13:02

    The govt should certain provisions in 498a .
    1)Everybody knows this is a family dispute hence it is to solved in family/civil court not in criminal court.
    2)Change the word woman to spouse.A man can also be harrased by his wife.
    3)Now a days many cases of 498a is being reported.498a is registered in many cases just to settle personal scores or mis understanding with husband and his family.
    4)The rate of conviction in 498a is just 2% that means 98% of the total accused are innocents and falsely implicated in 498a.

    Reply

    • Being an Indian Woman
      Aug 30, 2010 @ 14:33:01

      Mr Abolishdowryact,

      Just saying that a solution is wrong and opposing it cannot help till a new solution is found to solve the original problem.

      Great thoughts but do you feel for changing the provision or abolishing it? You name/email address is quite confusing… I would love to answer your views here and why I don’t really agree with it all.
      1) A family dispute if it can end someone’s life, disable her or scar her for the rest of his life is not a civil matter. A person if he/she kills her kin cannot be taken to civil court.
      2) A man of course can be harassed by his wife but not all men as being claimed by men, etc seeking abolition of the dowry act.
      3) A woman does not get married to file 498a and settle scores. And a man does not marry to ruin a woman’s life. If things go wrong and the cause is under 498a, let it be applied. Whats wrong in that.
      4) the conviction rate at 498a at 2%? I am sorry but someone is misguiding you. The report which suggests 2% is that of the total complaints filed at women cell.
      If you have a 498a against you and have been to the women cell, you would realise that if we take a sample of 100 cases filed at women cell, close to 80 are settled at the women cell/anticipatory bail stage. Of the remaining 20, not more than 11-12 actually go to trial. Of this 11-12, only 2 are convicted. Which would mean conviction rate being close to 20%.
      The conviction rate of any law is for the cases which go for the trial and not for the complaints. IPC’s conviction rate is 16%.
      Hope this helps. Being gender neutral is not about opposing 498a and abolishing dowry act. It is gender neutrality in its true sense. After all, why do we have dowry in our system? Why is it needed anyway? Get rid of dowry and allow your women to get their share in the family inheritance, get them educated and up on their feet. Allow them to grow and have equal rights and duties equal to any man.

      Regards

      Reply

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