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Misuse of Section 498A IPC

Misuse of Section 498A

Misuse of Section 498A IPC: In the past two decades, there has been a widespread debate about laws addressing violence against women in India. Many people, including police officers, members of civil society, politicians, and even judges from High Courts and the Supreme Court, have argued that these laws are misused by women. The focus of these concerns has often been on Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with cruelty by husbands and in-laws, and Section 304B, which pertains to dowry deaths.

Meaning of Section 498A

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, introduced in 1983, is a crucial law aimed at protecting the rights of women. It addresses the issue of cruelty towards women, encompassing both physical and mental harm, as well as harassment for dowry. The law was brought in to combat the menace of dowry deaths, and it ensures that those who subject women to cruelty, especially in the context of dowry, face punishment.

The term ‘cruelty’ is broadly defined to include various forms of mistreatment. The section aims to safeguard women from abuse by their husbands or relatives, providing legal recourse in cases of harassment or coercion for unlawful demands. The punishment for such offenses can include imprisonment for up to three years along with a fine. It’s important to note that the crime under Section 498A is serious, being cognizable, non-compoundable, and non-bailable.

Ingredients of this Section

In order to establish an offense under Section 498-A, certain conditions must be met:

  • The woman involved must be married.
  • She must experience cruelty or harassment.
  • This cruelty or harassment can be committed by either her husband or his relatives.

The term “cruelty” includes intentional actions that could lead a woman to contemplate suicide or pose a serious threat to her life, limb, mental or physical health. It also covers harassment aimed at coercing her or her relatives to meet illegal demands for property or valuable assets.In the case of Kaliyaperumal v. State of Tamil Nadu, the court clarified that while cruelty is a common element in both Sections 304B and 498A of the IPC, these sections are not interchangeable. Offenses under Section 304B, related to dowry death, require proof of cruelty as defined in Section 498-A. Section 498-A deals specifically with cruelty as an offense, while Section 304B focuses on dowry death occurring within the first seven years of marriage, without specifying a particular amount of dowry.

Misuse of Section 498A in the Modern Era

  • Section 498A was introduced to protect women from cruelty, harassment, and other offenses, but it’s increasingly being misused by some women who make false allegations against their husbands for financial gain or to cause family strife. This misuse has led to concerns about the credibility of the law, with a higher number of acquittals compared to convictions. Courts have acknowledged the issue and suggested measures to prevent misuse, such as careful screening of complaints before filing FIRs and attempting reconciliation before legal action.
  • However, the challenge lies in finding a balance between protecting the rights of women and preventing the law from becoming a tool for personal vendettas. The judiciary emphasizes the need for thorough investigation to distinguish genuine cases from frivolous ones, highlighting the potential harm caused to innocent individuals and their families. Addressing this issue requires a nuanced approach that ensures justice for genuine victims while preventing the misuse of legal provisions.

Constitutional Validity of Section 498A

  • In cases involving Section 498A, which deals with cruelty towards married women, the Supreme Court has issued guidelines to prevent misuse of the law. In the Arnesh Kumar case, the court directed that police should not arrest the accused immediately and must follow specific parameters before doing so. A checklist should be filled out, and the magistrate should authorize detention only after reviewing the police report.
  • Failure to comply can lead to departmental action. In the Rajesh Sharma case, the court further emphasized the need for designated investigators and allowed settlements with High Court intervention. In the Social Action Forum case, the court clarified that certain directions, like Family Welfare Committees, were not in line with the law and amended them. The court also maintained the distinction between Section 498A and the Dowry Prohibition Act, refuting claims of double jeopardy. Overall, these guidelines aim to balance justice while preventing the misuse of legal provisions.

Recovery in Case of False Accusations

In the case where there are false allegations put on the men by his wife and he has proved innocent in the eyes of the law. He can fight the case misuse of 498A. The Indian government and jurisprudence continue to incorporate inputs to protect women, and men are not ignored by law either. Justice still takes precedence over injustice. Thus, the men whose reputation is defamed with false allegations that opt for some legal recovery measures and seek protection from Section 498A IPC. These are:

  • Under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, the husband can file a defamation lawsuit;
  • Under Section 9 of the CPC, the husband can file a claim for recovery of damages which he and his family have been subjected to for the false allegations of cruelty and abuse;
  • Section 182 of the IPC is one of the safeguards against false 498A cases widely used. If the authority considers that the averages rendered were invalid, under Section 182 of the IPC, the culprit is sentenced to 6 months or fine imprisonment, or both. The person will be charged for misleading false information on the part of the judiciary.


If the rules of marital violence are to be deterred, the Court and legislature have to make improvements. In view of the recent comments and the increase in the misuse of this act, certain amendments should be tabled in this law:

Time-bound trial and investigation: A swift trial in 498A cases would not only ensure redress for innocent persons involved in false allegations but can also lead to a fast resolution of the concerns of the actual donor victims. Of false cases, the reduction of legal costs and the disposition of true prosecutions will also increase.

Bailable: 498A are victims of innocent abuse primarily because of their non-leasing behaviour. This region should be ransomed to prevent innocent young people from languishing in detention for weeks, pregnant sisters and college, without any responsibility for them.

Compoundable: After FIR is registered the case can not be retired if the married lady realizes that she has done wrong calculations and has to return home. To save tons of establishment of a wedding, this could be produced compoundable. In fact, the continuity of criminal investigations is hindered in the circumstances of the marriage wherever the couple wants to end by mutual divorce.

Family Counselling Centres: Several cases of men abused by wives or/and in-laws have returned to light-weight from entirely different elements of the world. Because as of now, there is no organization that can make these harried people and their family members incredibly easier to pay attention to their side of the story and set their goal of reading ahead of the government. The desire of the hour is to make family substance centres throughout the country to assist those families who have been aggrieved.

Role of Women NGOs: These organizations should properly study critique without prejudice to the girl, in the knowledge that most girls in the husband’s family face harassment in law. No girl should be allowed to file a criminal complaint about frivolous affairs against her in-laws. In addition, these organisations will examine the abuse of the action and inform people about its implications.

Penalty for making false accusations: If any court finds that the charges made in connection with the commission of the offence under section 498a of the IPC are false, tight action should be taken against the accused persons. It will deter people from going back to court with unclean hands and ulterior motives. Criminal charges should be brought against all officials who cooperate with falsely inculpating girls and their parent families.

An investigation by Civil Authorities: Civil authorities disperse the inquiry into these crimes and only when the conclusion on the execution of the crime, cognizance will be taken. The government should raise awareness among officers about its misuse.


Misuse of Section 498A is a proven issue, where some women have falsely accused their husbands under this law, causing distress. It’s clear that there’s a lack of protective laws for men facing abuse. Many cases in district courts involving Section 498A remain unresolved, leading to husbands paying maintenance without fair consideration. While Section 498A aims to protect women, it’s observed as harassment against husbands and their families. This misuse has societal repercussions, prompting the Law Commission to address the problem. Their recommendation includes making the offence compoundable with court permission, with careful consideration before granting it. It’s crucial to address misuse without compromising the broader public interest served by these laws.

Read Also: Gender Sensitisation in Judiciary

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