Use and Abuse of Section 498 A of Indian Penal Code

Article 498 A of IPCAN OVERVIEW

What is Article 498 A of IPC?
Section 498 A which deals with the punishment of the husband and his relatives if a married women is subjected to cruelty which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave physical or mental injury to her, and harassment with a view to coercing her or any of her relatives to meet any unlawful demands of property. The offence is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. That the offence committed under said Section is considered to be very grave and the accused has to face stringent legal consequences.
How is it useful to society?
The core concern to enact any legal provision is that it must be useful for the society in maintaining the rule of law and controlling the anarchy. Section 498 A was enacted with a motive to protect women from the harsh and insensitive society that includes her own matrimonial home. The aim behind this is to create awareness and to impart equal rights to women in the male dominating society.
Impact of Section 498A-
With the rise of modern era, the woman has become educated, financially strong and aware of her rights. The said enactment which was made for their protection has now being used as a weapon by them. Many innocent husbands and their families are being a victim of their implacable wives/ daughter-in-laws. Courts are flooded with the cases under Section 498 A, many of them are turning to be false and filed with mere intention to blackmail. It has become a foul play to extort money from spouse and his family if they do not value her liberty or does not able to fulfill her demands.
The aim of this article is not to criticize any segment of society, but to point out that the provision which was enacted for the betterment of women are now being misused by them, which is a very sad state. To the contrary those who are the actual victims of the harassment are still not able to raise their voice against the aggravation they are facing. The question is why such a disparity in the society? The answer could be lack of awareness, fear, lack of education or might be pressure of their own family etc.
Is there a real need of 498 A?
The answer to this question would a big YES. There is a need of this provision for those women who are being ill-treated, burnt alive for not brining enough money in marriage, tortured by their in-laws for fulfilling their avaricious wishes. However, before availing the said provision every woman must think whether it is a weapon or a shield to them.
Modernization has changed the views of the society, women have got equal freedom and liberty they have become equally aware, independent and educated. This is a boon for the society to have literate people who can contribute in the growth of Nation. But why Section 498A is being misused? The answer to this question might be the arrogance, high headedness, egotism among woman, the feminism deeply imbedded. However, one forgets that education does not teach us haughtiness; on the contrary it makes us modest and humble. One must appreciate that performing once matrimonial responsibilities does not make us less than anybody and it does not curtail our liberty in any manner. However, it gives a feeling of pride and a responsible, loving human being.
Nowadays married couple has disputed on trivial issues such as refusal to cook, demand to live separately from in-laws, demanding to hire servants for every petty household task, making extravagant demands. In case of failure to fulfill such needs, the clashes start and sword of Section 498 A is used.
However, this is one side of the coin there are genuine cases as well where the brides are burnt alive and being brutally tortured by their husbands and in-laws. They do not get the moral support to raise their voice against such ill-treatments and brutality against them.
How can we use Section 498A in maintaining a balance in the society?
a. Foremost everyone should understand that laws are made for their protection and not for exploitation or misuse.
b. One should keep in mind that legal provision must only be used in genuine cases and not to blackmail or to harass somebody.
c. We must educate woman to take a stand against the injustice being done with them in the matrimonial home.
d. We must focus on areas where woman are downtrodden specific concern to rural areas, where woman do not get moral support to stand up against the harassment.
e. NGOs can help in spreading awareness among woman who is unaware of their rights.
f. Woman who is educated must help another woman in educating her about their rights.
g. Not only woman but every individual must understand their duties and obligations towards matrimonial relationship. Because breakdown of a marriage not only effects the married couple. But it also hampers the growth of a child who is innocent and deserves love of both the parents.
The most important part of the society, woman must understand that being literate and independent makes her stronger. But she must also appreciate the fact that performing her matrimonial obligations or being modest is equally important. Woman is the most beautiful creation of God on this planet. She should feel proud on herself but not by being arrogant but by being modest. This article is written with a motive to create awareness among mass to use the legal provisions for protection but not for exploitation.
I would like to end this article here by mentioning a quote on woman that shows her power, her modesty, her determination and her love. The society must love and respect woman.
God’s most important and the most beautiful creation…. WOMAN…. She is a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister and play so many roles all at a time…. She does get tired, but she still carries on….she is the real strength, God has given her the power to bring life on earth….when she loves you, she does it with whole heart and soul…. She deserves to be loved and respected…… LOVE HER AND RESPECT HER……

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