Hindu Marriage Act 498 (a) or (b) is cruelty, and punishment for 3 years and  penalty or both.

Meaning of cruelty

In the case of Inder Malik vs. Sumita Malik,it was held that the word cruelty is defined in the explanation which inter alia says that harassment of a women with a view to coerce her or any related persons to meet any unlawful demand for any valuable security is cruelty. 

Kinds of cruelty covered under this sec. includes following.

  1. Cruelty by vexatious litigation 
  2. Cruelty by deprivation and wasteful habits 
  3. Cruelty by persistent demand
  4. Cruelty by extra-marital relations
  5. Harassment for non-dowry demand 
  6. Cruelty by non-acceptance of baby girl
  7. Cruelty by false attacks on chastity
  8. Taking away children

In the leading case of Wazir Chand vs. State of Haryana, involving the death by burning of a newly married woman, the circumstances did not establish either murder or an abetted suicide and thus in-laws escaped the jaws of sec. 300 and 306, but they were caught in the web of this newly enacted sec. for prevention of harassment for dowry.

The other face of the coin

Though sec. 498(a) aims at protection and safety of woman from her husband’s and his relatives cruelty and harassment, this shield is used as a weapon by many females for their own purposes. Many women’s are using this sec. against their husband’s and his relatives without any attempt or cruelty practiced. Indian law has always laid emphasis on protection of the innocent. The Indian law a principle takes a Jeremy Bentham can says that “it has always been emphasised that ten guilty person’s can be acquainted rather punishing a single innocent person.”  But this sec. is being misused and innocents are punished. Abuse of sec. 498(a) has always been a matter of discussion in Rajya Sabha. It was observed there that, sec 498(a)has become an instrument of oppression in the hands of certain people who are seeking to get minor children aged in-laws are being arrested on absolutely whimsical allegations. The issue is not only of compounding it, the question is how you ensure a just investigation of such complaints. Low police officers are investigating it in a   manner that is ruining the sanctity or families; minor children and girls are hauled up. This is a scathing indictment of how this law which was intended to sub serve a noble purpose has in fact, been prostituted.

It was also stated that, in many cases, there are complaints where the provisions of sec. 498(a) are misused or abused or excessively used. And for that, the investigating agency is the only agency which can remedy this. From time to time,  these  instruction are issued even from the Gov. Of India, and the State Gov. Are already cognisant of this fact. But, for the investigating officer, the problem arises when a case is registered and the persons have been mentioned in the FIR; it becomes difficult for him. Till such time, he really satisfies himself. During that period, some harassment is certainly made; it is expected from the investigating officers,  They are sensitised on this matter by the State Gov., and also by the Central Gov., that they should see to it that they are not harassed.

Observing that anti-dowry laws were being increasingly misused by wives to harass their husbands and in-laws, the Delhi High Court has urged the Gov. To review their provisions. Judge J.D. Kapoor urged the review while rejecting a plea by a woman petitioner, Savitri Devi, seeking the arrest of her brothers in-law and sister in-law for allegedly harassing her by demanding more dowries. Court heald that: I feel constrained to comment upon the misuse of the provisions to such an extent that it is hitting at the foundation of marriage itself and has proved to be not so good for the health of the society at large. 


Anyone who has been awake the last two decades knows how sec. 498(a) of IPC has been heavily misused, dragging innocent men and women into police stations, lock-ups and courts, thus depriving may young children of a happy childhood, many youth of productive careers and many senior citizens of mental peace in the last age of their lives. As if this 498(a) fiasco is not enough jingoistic feminists have come up with another Act, along the same lines of 498(a) only with larger loopholes waiting to be used against many more Indian Citizens. Many women who really need protection from Domestic Violence will probably never know about it and even if they do, never use it. This law will be yet another weapon in the hands of unscrupulous woman who will misuse it at the slightest opportunity in a society where men and women live together what affects one affects the other. When a man is thrown out of his own house under true or false allegations of domestic violence or cruelty everyone who is dependent on him is bound to suffer. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *