Brief about this Act
This Act was introduced in the year 1983 and was made to protect married women from being subjected to any kinds of cruelty done by the husband or relatives (Mother in law, Father in law, Sister in law or Brother in law etc.) of the husband. The expression “cruelty” has been defined in a wide terms to include inflicting physical or mental harm to the body and health of the woman and indulging in acts of harassment with a view to coerce her or her relation to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. Harassment for dowry falls within the sweep of latter limb of the section. Creating a situation which is driving the woman to commit suicide is also one of such ingredients of “cruelty”.
So in simple words Section 498-A of IPC basically deals with ”Cruelty” done with women by husband or relative of husband of a woman. Whosoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a women, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punishable offence and they can be punished and imprisoned for any kinds of cruelty or harassment .
“Cruelty” According to this Act
- Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
- Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
Who can file a complaint?
A complaint can be filed by a woman aggrieved by the offence or by any person related to her by blood, marriage or adoption under Section 498-A of IPC. In case of no such relative, then this complaint can be filed by any public servant as may be notified by the State Government in this behalf.
Following necessary ingredients are require to be satisfied for commission of an offence under Section 498-A
- The woman should be married;
- She should be subjected to cruelty or harassment; and
- Such cruelty or harassment must be shown either by husband of the woman or by the relative of her husband.
Punishment under this Act
Whosoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for term which may extend to three years and shall also be charged with fine.
Object and Caution of this Act
Section 498-A of IPC was introduced with the avowed object to combat the menace of dowry deaths and harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband or relatives. Nevertheless, the provision should not be used as weapon to achieve oblique motives, Onkar Nath Mishra v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2008) 2 SCC 561.