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anti-dowry harassmentGovernment’s proposal to make way for a compromise between a couple in a dowry case at the onset of trial to avoid misuse of anti-dowry harassment law has drawn sharp criticism from activists and lawyers who say this would pressurise women to suffer more atrocities, a view not shared by some other legal experts.

Former judges of Delhi High Court, Justices S N Dhingra and R S Sodhi countered the opinion that the proposed dilution of the law would trigger more harassment to women, saying the amendment would fix the presently broken and misused system which falsely implicates husbands and the in-laws.

While women activists Ranjana Kumari and Barkha Singh and senior advocate Rebecca John were of the opinion that the proposed dilution would lead to greater exploitation of women in matrimonial homes, the two retired judges said changing the law would be a positive step and provide a better route to justice for falsely implicated husbands and in-laws.

Under the proposed amendment, Section 498A (subjecting woman to cruelty by husband and his family members) of the Indian Penal Code would be made a compoundable offence with permission of trial courts,as suggested by the Law Commission.

If the offence is made compoundable, it would allow the woman to settle the matter at the trial court level itself and withdraw the complaint.

Currently, the offence is non-compoundable and non- bailable, thus providing for immediate arrest of an accused and making any conciliatory effort by the warring sides virtually impossible. Also, the provision for a compromise under the present law is almost non-existent.

Section 498A entails a jail term of up to three years.

Condemning the proposal, Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research, said this change would adversely impact the effectiveness of the law.

“With this amendment, there will be more pressure on a woman to go for a compromise and settle disputes with her in-laws even if she does not want to,” Kumari said.

Supporting her view, Barkha Singh, Chairperson of Delhi Commission of Women, said there was no need to change the law as majority of women were getting justice under the current legal system.

2 Responses to “Proposed amendment in anti-dowry harassment law evokes debate”

  1. Amit

    Making 498A IPC compoundable with court permission will do nothing to stem the rot of misuse of this draconian law nor will it do anything to stop cruelty for dowry against wives/daughters-in-law. Here is the reason why?
    History is clear that this law is used by most women to extort money from the accused and not to get justice or punish the accused against alleged cruelty, as the law permits immediate arrests of old men, old or pregnant women, children, disabled. Many many accused die of mental trauma and shock and such murders are excused in the name of investigations u/s 498A IPC. It is the Money, Homey!
    History is also clear that police try to force monetary settlement by inducing fear of arrests in accused who are not aware of their legal rights. Even those legally aware suffer illegal arrests as arresting officers manufacture arrest memos, manipulate MLC records to clear even ill accused as fit to be jailed and shows the alertness to jail them which alertness ought to be reserved for dreaded terrorists. None cares for the incalculable damage caused to reputation of the arrested accused. It is the Money, Honey!
    It is also well-known that senior police officials approve the conduct of the arresting officers and more often their grey conduct is approved as legal. It is also the fact that courts do not grant bail to accused unless they are compelled to give deposits, as per the whims and fancy of the court, in lieu of alleged Streedhan. Thus, money dictates if FIR will be registered against the accused, whether police will keep threatening them of illegal arrests, whether they will get bail or not. It is the Money, Honey!
    Law is meant to secure justice, that is reason for making cruelty for dowry an offence under 498A IPC. Compounding of 498A does nothing to secure justice to the real dowry victims. Compounding of 498A IPC is well-instituted, and already allowed by High Courts and Supreme Court of India. Compounding will do nothing to actually eliminate the scourge of cruelty for dowry in Indian Society. Compounding will legalise and give a big push to Extortion as women will now legally extort money from accused and compound/ atone/ forego their complaint. It is the Money, Honey.
    498A law is to punish the public crime in the Indian Society of women having suffered cruelty for dowry or having been genuinely harassed for dowry or driven to suicide. If women cannot pursue 498A complaint, such complaints need to be dismissed in default just like any other complaint and not rewarded with money. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme. By making 498A compoundable, we are changing the contours of law and heading to a society driven by money and not by rule of law.
    The very fact that, despite 3 advisories from Ministry of Home Affairs giving directions on misuse of 498A IPC, misuse continues unabated, makes it clear that Executive Directions have proved useless.
    If the real intent is to discourage filing of fake cases, strict and not namesake penalty for misuse MUST be made a part of the law.
    If such women want money, let them use their two hand and feet and not make it easy for them to file fake cases and extort money.

  2. ramesh

    These women activist are terrorist, these women wants to hang man till death to satisfied their womanhood,ego.India should ban all woman activist as China is doing. There are no such problem. In woman & politician are main problem.


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