SECTION 498A IPC - Indian Penal Code - Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty

IPC Section-498A

Description of IPC Section 498A

According to section 498A of Indian penal code, Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.


Offence : Punishment for subjecting a married woman to Cruelty

Punishment : 3 Years + Fine

Cognizance : Non-Cognizable

Bail : Non-Bailable

Triable : Magistrate First Class

Offence : If information of offence is given to SHO by aggrieved or her relative by blood, marriage or adoption, or by notified public servant

Punishment : 3 Years + Fine

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Non-Bailable

Triable : Magistrate First Class

Section 498A- Husband or Relative of Husband of a Woman subjecting her to Cruelty

Cruelty against women within the institution of marriage posed certain difficulties in matters of prosecuting the accused and proving the guilt. This was because, more often than not, women bear their sufferings in silence. Obtaining independent witnesses is also a difficult task because the violence against the wife is generally inflicted within the four walls of the house, away from public gaze. Further, demands for dowry triggered harassment of women if they failed to meet the same. The violence is generally in subtler and more discreet forms (e.g., mental cruelty), but equally torturous, many a time driving the woman to take her own life.

Section 498A was inserted in the IPC in 1983 by the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983. This section aims at preventing torture to a married woman by her husband or her relatives and to punish them for harassing her with the purpose of coercing dowry. Before 1983, harassment of a wife by her husband or her in-laws was covered by the general provisions of the IPC dealing with assault, hurt, grievous hurt or homicide. However, the increasing violence against women especially young, newly married women and growing incidents of bride burning became a matter of concern to everyone. It was felt that the general provisions of the IPC were not adequate to deal with the atrocities against women.

In order to tackle this problem, it was felt by the Parliament that comprehensive legislative changes were required at three levels:

  • To define the substantive offence of cruelty to women by husbands and relatives of husbands

  • To introduce procedures which make the investigation in cases of certain deaths of women mandatory

  • To bring changes in the Evidence Act which will make prosecution and conviction of accused in cases of violence against women easier.

  • Accordingly, section 498A and section 304B (dowry death) were added to the IPC. Subsequently, Section 174, CrPC, was also amended making inquests by executive magistrates mandatory in cases of suicides or suspicious deaths of women within seven years of their marriage.

Section 113B was added to the Evidence Act, wherein it was provided that if it was shown that soon before the death of a woman she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by a person in connection with demand for dowry, then it shall be presumed that such person who harassed the woman had caused the death of the woman.

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Essentials of Section 498A

There are some essentials that are required to be fulfilled to attract this Section. These are stated below:

  1. Married woman: The woman must be married. This section has been inserted in order to protect women from unruly and cruel behaviour (in most cases, in her marital home) from her husband and/or her in-laws.

  2. Cruelty or harassment: That woman must be subjected to cruelty or harassment. Cruelty can have a very wide meaning. Even demand for dowry can be a part of cruelty. In fact

  3. Husband or relatives of husband: Such cruelty of harassment should have been shown either by the husband or the relatives of the husband, or both.

What is Cruelty?

In simple terms, cruelty refers to inflicting suffering or inaction towards another individual or living being. I criminal law, cruelty can refer to punishment, torture, victimization, cruel actions, etc. It could also refer to ‘inhumane’ actions. Most of the time, cruelty is ‘pleasure’ in inflicting such pain and hurt or inaction upon the other. Cruelty is clearly a very broad term and includes a wide variety of meanings. Cruelty can be both violent or physical and even mental or emotional. Section 498A covers both mental and physical cruelty. Read on to know more about what constitutes cruelty under Section 498A.

What Constitutes Cruelty and Harassment under Section 498A?

Explanation to the section 498A lays down the purview of the word cruelty. According to it, the following amount to cruelty and/or harassment of the woman:

  • Any willful conduct which is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or

  • Any willful conduct which is likely to cause any grave injury to woman,

  • Any willful conduct which is likely to cause danger to life, limb, or mental or physical health of the woman,

  • Harassment of the woman with a view to coercing her or her relatives to meet unlawful demand for any property or valuable security,

  • Harassment of the woman on account of the woman’s failure to meet such demands of dowry.

The word harassment or cruelty in ordinary sense means to torment a person subjecting him or her through constant interference or intimidation. If such torment is done with the view to coercing the wife or her relatives to meet any demand of property or valuable security, it amounts to harassment as contemplated by section 498A. Coercion means persuading or compelling a person to do something by using force or threats.

Consult: Top Criminal Lawyers in India

Physical Cruelty and Mental Cruelty

Physical cruelty is when there is an infliction of pain on the physical body. This could be by beating, burning, physically hurting, punching, biting, twisting limbs, slapping, choking, etc. Physical cruelty can be seen by the naked eye in most cases. Physical cruelty as the name suggests is bodily harm or injury inflicted upon another. Physical cruelty is readily identifiable, such as bruise patterns or fractured bones. Any physical violence that injures or imposes a threat to life, limb or health.

Mental cruelty can be an act of unkindness or emotional cruelty by one person to another, including threatening, intimidating, diminishing, belittling the other person, name-calling, yelling, etc. Mental cruelty has the same weightage as physical cruelty. Mental cruelty is more challenging to prove than physical cruelty.

Both physical and mental cruelty have been covered under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Thus, if the husband or the relatives of the husband subject the husband’s wife to cruelty, whether physical or mental cruelty that is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause any grave injury or danger to life, limb, or mental or physical health of the woman, or harass the woman with a view to coercing her or her relatives to meet unlawful demand for any property or valuable security.

Examples of Cruelty covered under Section 498A:

  • Cruelty by persistent demand for dowry

  • Cruelty by false and vexatious litigation

  • Cruelty by depriving and wasteful habits

  • Cruelty by extra-marital relations

  • Harassment and cruelty for non-dowry demands

  • Cruelty by non-acceptance of girlchild

  • Cruelty by forcing wife to take sex-determination tests

  • Cruelty by false attacks on chastity

  • Cruelty by taking away children

  • Cruelty by hitting or beating or physically hurting the wife (under or not under the influence of alcohol)

Cruelty by Husband or Relatives of the Husband

Section 498A is only restricted to acts or omission done by the husband himself or by his relatives. The word relatives, however, has not been defined in the section. A reading of relevant case laws reveals that generally, the parents, sisters, and brothers i.e. the immediate family of the husband is prosecuted under this section.

In one of the cases it was argued that ‘husband’ of the ‘second wife’, who marries her during the existence of his earlier legal marriage, is not the ‘husband’ within the meaning of section 498A and the ‘second wife’, therefore cannot invoke section 498A for the cruelty caused to her by him or his relatives. The Supreme Court, relying on the legislative intent of section 498A, rejected this plea.

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What is the Nature of Offence under Section 498A?

The nature of the offence under Section 498A is:

  • Cognizable: Offences are divided into cognizable and non-cognizable. By law, the police are duty bound to register and investigate a cognizable offence.

  • Non-Bailable: This means that in a complaint filed under Section 498A the magistrate has the power to refuse bail and remand a person to judicial or police custody.

  • Non-Compoundable: A non-compoundable case, e.g. Rape, 498A etc, cannot be withdrawn by the petitioner except the state of Andhra Pradesh, where 498A was made compoundable.

Why is there a Need for Section 498A in India?
Several reasons exist for which a law like Section 498A is required in India. Section 498A gives strength to women and helps them fight back in ugly and hurtful situations of cruelty by husband and his relatives for dowry demand. Some of the main reasons why such a law is required have been given below:

  1. Out of 10, at least 9 cases of cruelty after marriage are related to dowry. This law protects women from unruly and illegal dowry demands and any cruelty related thereto.

  2. In order to safeguard women and punish not only the husband but also the relatives from the societal evil of dowry (and/or cruelty), laws like Section 498A are required.

  3. Women in marriages are subjected not only physical torture, but in most cases mental torture. Section 498A is required to save women from such mental cruelty. Sections like this help a woman to get justice and protect herself from such tortures.

  4. Section 498A acts like a self-defence and because of the fear of getting caught, families and relatives have been seen to keep their behaviours in check.

  5. Getting charged under Section 498A is humiliating and the punishment granted to the accused under this Section always has a deterrent action.

    Consult: Top Criminal Lawyers in India

Punishment under Section 498A of the IPC

A crime under Section 498A is a serious one and can entail serious punishments of imprisonment and fine. According to Section 498A, if the husband of a married woman or any relative(s) is/are accused of subjecting that woman to cruelty or any mental or psychological act that amounts to harassment, shall be sentenced to imprisonment or jail time that may extend to three years and also liable to fine.

How should you Protect yourself under Section 498A?

If you or any woman you know has been subjected to cruelty or harassment for demand of dowry or otherwise, by the woman’s husband or his relatives, during or even after the subsistence of marriage, that woman has a right to seek justice and protection under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

If a woman is undergoing such cruelty, she (or her relatives or friends) has a right to file a complaint against the husband or such relatives or family under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The husband and such relatives will be charged under this Section and the criminal or trial procedure will begin.

FIR under Section 498A

If a woman has been wronged, whether it is physical, mental or sexual cruelty that she has been subjected to, she should not shy away from approaching the authorities. Authorities should be approached to get justice, punish the wrongdoers and to save the victim from any future infliction of harm from such husband or relatives of the husband. The first step apart from hiring a good criminal lawyer, is to file an FIR. The police should be approached immediately who will register an FIR for the victim.

In case the victim is badly hurt, or not in a position to go to the police station herself in order to get a physical or written complaint/FIR written, any other friend or relative can also approach the Police. However, if physically visiting the police station is not doable at all, a call on the number 100 i.e. the Police Helpline should be made.

Once such a complaint is filed with the police, he/she must record it immediately and this will help the victim proceed with the legal action. A police complaint or an FIR is the first step to begin or initiate legal action against the accused or wrongdoer.

Who can File a Complaint under Section 498A?

Section 198A of the CrPC mandates a court not to take cognizance of an offence punishable under section 498A of the IPC to expect upon a police report of facts that constitute the offence or upon complaint made by the aggrieved wife or by her father, mother, brother, sister, her father’s or mother’s brother or sister or with the leave of the court, by any other person related to her by blood, marriage or adoption.

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Trial / Court Procedure under Section 498A

As has been stated before, the trial or a criminal court procedure is initiated with the instance of an FIR or a police complaint. The detailed trial procedure has been given below:

  1. FIR (First Information Report) / Police complaint: the first step is a Police Complaint or a First Information Report. This is covered under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. An FIR puts the entire case into motion.

  2. Investigation and Report by Officer: The second step after the FIR, is investigation by the Investigation Officer. After the examination of the facts and circumstances, collection of evidence, and examination of persons and other necessary steps, the officer completes the investigation and prepares the investigation.

  3. Charge-sheet before Magistrate: The police then files the charge sheet before the magistrate. The charge-sheet consists of all the criminal charges against the accused.

  4. Arguments before Court and Framing of Charges: On the fixed date of hearing, the Magistrate hears the parties’ arguments on the charges that have been set and then finally frames the charges.

  5. Plea of guilty: Section 241 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 talks about the plea of guilty, after framing of the charges the accused is given an opportunity to plead guilty, and the responsibility lies with the judge to ensure that the plea of guilt was voluntarily made. The judge may upon its discretion convict the accused.

  6. Evidence by Prosecution: After the framing of the charges and the accused pleading ‘not guilty’, the evidence is first given by the Prosecution, upon whom the burden of proof initially (generally) lies. Both oral and documentary evidence can be produced. The magistrate has the power to issue summons to any person as a witness or order him to produce any document.

  7. Cross Examination of Witnesses by Accused/Counsel: Witnesses of the prosecution when produced before the court are cross examined by the accused or his/her counsel.

  8. Evidence by Accused if any, in defence: If the accused has any evidence, it is presented to the Courts at this stage. He/she is given this opportunity to make his/her case stronger. However, since the burden of proof is on the prosecution i.e. the alleged victim, the accused is not required to present evidence.

  9. Cross Examination of Witness by Prosecution: If witnesses are produced by the defence, they will be cross-examined by the Prosecution.

  10. Conclusion of Evidence: Once the court has been presented with evidence from both sides, the evidence is concluded by the Court/Judge.

  11. Oral / Final Arguments: The final stage, nearing the judgement is the stage of final arguments. Here, both parties take turns (first, the prosecution and then the defence) and make final oral arguments in front of the judge.

  12. Judgement by the Court: Based upon the facts and circumstances of that case, and upon the arguments made and evidence produced, the Court gives its final judgement. The Court gives its reasons in support of the acquittal or conviction of the accused and pronounces its final order.

  13. Acquittal or Conviction: If the accused is held guilty, he/she is convicted and if held ‘not-guilty’, the accused is acquitted in the final judgement.

  14. If Convicted, Hearing on Quantum of Sentence: If the accused is held guilty and convicted, a hearing will take place to decide the quantum or extent of the Sentence or jail time.

  15. Appeal to Higher Courts: An appeal to Higher Courts can be made if the scenario allows it. From Sessions court, an appeal can be made to the High Court and from High Court, to the Supreme Court.

Section 113-A of the Indian Evidence Act; Dowry Death and relation to Section 498A

Section 113-A, “Presumption as to dowry death” reads verbatim as follows:

“When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon before her death such woman has been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the Court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “dowry death” shall have the same meaning as in section 304B, of the Indian Penal Code”

Section 113-A of the Indian Evidence Act was enacted to fight the threat and act of death due to dowry. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983 (Act 46 of 1983) incorporated it into the It was introduced by the same Act to lift the presumption of suicide abetment by married a woman. The main aim of I.P.C Section 498-A is to protect a woman who is being harassed by her husband or husband's relatives.

Sec. 113- A i.e. Presumption as to Dowry Death states that in a question whether an individual has committed dowry death, it is shown that soon before her death, such woman was subjected by such individual to cruelty or harassment for or in relation/connection with any demand for dowry, it shall be presumed by the Courts that such individual had actually caused that dowry death.

Under this provision, cruelty and harassment is considered the same as within IPC section 498A.

Can you get a Bail in a Section 498A Case?

Bail is a written permission granted by Court that allows you to stay out of jail when a person has been accused of a crime. A bailable offence is one where bail is a matter of

The offence committed under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is non-bailable. It is a cognizable offence and is non-compoundable. A ‘First Information Report’ (FIR) made by the complainant has to be registered by the Police officer and only the Magistrate can grant bail under Section 498A.

However, with the passage of time, judgements were passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, like those of Arnesh Kumar and Rajesh Sharma, which eventually curtailed the menace arrests made under Section 498A of the IPC. Owing to the changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure, a notice under Section 41A of the CrPC has to be given by the police to the accused to join the investigation. The arrests are normally not carried out under Section 498A if the accused keeps joining such investigations as and when called by the concerned investigating officer. Hence, the police were forced by the court to follow the procedure of Section 41A of the CrPC so that there could be avoidance of arrests made unnecessarily.

Over time, steps have been taken keeping in view of the interest of all members of the society. These include steps like pre-litigation mediation at CAW Cell/Mahila Thana etc. Despite the pre-FIR mediation and counselling, if it is still wished by the woman, the FIR can be lodged. The complainant cannot withdraw the FIR, but the same can be set aside by the High Courts under their power enumerated in section 482 of the CrPC.

However, once the FIR is registered, it is better recommended to take anticipatory bail. When the accused moves the court for anticipatory bail, certain conditions may be imposed by the court upon him/her. Depositing a demand draft of a certain amount in the name of the wife or other dependants as a part of maintenance etc. could be one of the conditions. But, when there exists a specific provision for maintenance of wife and child, such conditional anticipatory bail granted under section 498A would go against the law.

Can you Appeal in a Section 498A Case

An appeal is a procedure by which a judgment or an order of a lower court/subordinate court is challenged before a higher court. An appeal can be filed by either party to the case before the lower court. The individual who is filing or continuing an appeal is called the appellant and the Court where the appeal has been filed is termed as the Appellate Court. A party to a case does not have any inherent right to challenge the judgment/order of a Court before its superior or higher Court. An appeal can be filed only and only if it is specifically allowed by any law and has to be filed in the specified manner in the specified Courts. An appeal should also be filed in a time bound manner.

An appeal can be made in a higher court if there are good grounds for the same. An appeal from the district/magistrate court can be made to Sessions court. From the Sessions court, an appeal can be made to the High Court and from the High Court, to the Supreme Court. Both the wife and the accused can go for appeal if the circumstances so arise.

Any person convicted on a trial held by Sessions judge or an Additional Sessions judge or on a trial held by any other court in which a sentence of imprisonment for more than 7 years has been passed against him or against any other person in the same trial can appeal to the High Court.

Constitutional Validity of Section 498A

The constitutional validity of Section 498A has been questioned on the following grounds:

  • That it has been grossly abused by married women to harass their husbands, in-laws, and relatives by instituting frivolous and unfounded criminal proceedings,

  • That it has become an easy tool in the hands of the Police and other agencies to hound the persons with the threat of arrest,

  • That the investigating agencies and the courts start with the presumptions that the accused persons are guilty,

  • That it has been exploited by women and their relatives

However, the Supreme Court, rejecting these pleas, upheld the constitutional validity of section 498A. It held that the mere possibility of abuse of a statutory provision doesn’t per se make a provision of law exceeding its powers beyond the rights provided under the Constitution. In such cases, action and not the section may be vulnerable. The court also opined that it must be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that administration and application of a provision of law is done not with an evil eye but an unequal hand.

Misuse of Section 498A

Given the immense power that women are granted by the enforcement of Section 498A, a lot of women have misused this provision to harass and derive undue benefits from their husbands and in-laws. Section 498A has become a weapon in the hands of the women seeking to take revenge upon their husbands and is also used to blackmail family members.

The growing number of frivolous cases where men have been incriminated in false cases of 498A has become a well-recognised phenomenon and social evil that has even been acknowledged by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The Apex Court has referred to this malpractice of misusing Section 498A as, ‘Legal Terrorism’. The misuse of Section 498A is all the more concerning because it is not just the husband that it affects, but often times elderly parents, distant relatives are all falsely implicated and made to face immense hardship through the criminal justice system.

The alarming number of false cases that are being witnessed today also puts at risk the very objective of this provision, that is protection of women in legitimate cases of cruelty. Educated women today realize the immense power available to them under this provision, as with a single complaint, a woman can have her husband and his relatives behind bars since the offense under Section 498A is both cognizable and non-bailable. It often also becomes a hard task to defend an accusation under this provision, as the woman’s word is often put on a higher pedestal and it becomes increasingly tough to counter the narrative built by the woman in her complaint. Once a complaint is filed, a woman is able to coerce her husband and his relatives to give into her demands, be it for divorce, higher alimony or outright extortion. This is a clear case of weaponizing a beneficial provision meant to ensure justice in legitimate cases of cruelty.

How to Defend or Protect Yourself against a False Section 498A Case?

Although it is tough to outmanoeuvre a false accusation under Section 498A, there are several options available for a man and his family to counter the injustice through the legal process. A falsely implicated husband can file a countersuit and initiate legal proceedings against the wife for the wrongful invocation of penal provisions and the subsequent harm caused to him and his family.

A few things that the husband or his family can do to protect themselves in a false S. 498A case have been stated below:

  1. Suit for Defamation: Legal recourse is available under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code for defamation. If a woman attempts to malign the image and reputation of her husband and or relatives through false accusations of cruelty, a man can sue her for defamation in a court of law.

  2. Case for criminal conspiracy: Further, a case against such a woman can also be instituted under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, which provides the offense for Criminal Conspiracy. If a husband has reason to believe and can prove that the false accusations against him and his family members are part of a criminal conspiracy hatched by his wife, he can initiate legal action under this provision of the IPC to seek justice.

  3. Legal action for False Evidence: Further, as is the position in most fake cases under Section 498A, women bring in and seek to rely upon false evidence to strengthen their bogus case. This is grounds for legal action under Section 191 of the Indian Penal Code which provides for the offence of ‘giving false evidence’. A man can pursue action under this provision and allege that he is falsely framed in a case based on false evidence brought in by his wife.

  4. Counter Lawsuit: Further, a counter lawsuit can also be filed under Section 227 of the Indian Penal Code for violation of condition of remission of punishment, under the belief that the case filed under Section 498A by the woman against her husband is false and frivolous.

  5. Counter complaint for Criminal Intimidation: Also, in cases where the woman threatens to harm or injure her husband and his relatives, a counter complaint can also be pursued under the provision of Section 506 which provides for the punishment of criminal intimidation.

  6. Restitution of Conjugal Rights: In the case where the wife has walked out her husband’s house and is living in her parental house, a case against her for restitution of conjugal rights can be filed by the husband under section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Taking this step would add positively to the husband’s legal case.

  7. Legal Advice: A good criminal defence lawyer should be approached who will guide in your case.

  8. Collection of Evidence: If you have been falsely accused in such a case, you should collect evidence and related documents which would prove your side of the case. Evidence that could be collected by you includes phone conversations, video recordings, messages, etc.

  9. FIR against the Wife: An FIR can be filed against the wife alleging her of falsely framing the man in a 498A case or blackmailing him and his relatives or simply for causing them harm and hurting them.

    Consult: Top Criminal Lawyers in India

Consequences of a Section 498A case for the Accused

Institution of a case under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code can have a number of consequences upon the accused, which can be quite disturbing. Some of the prime consequences are stated below:

  1. Immediate lock-up: A case instituted under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code for cruelty can lead the accused being locked-up behind bars for such an offence, awaiting trial.

  2. Difficult to get bail: The offence committed under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is a non-bailable offence and getting bail immediately doesn’t seem certain.

  3. Accused is mistreated: The accused starts getting treated like a criminal and is not treated properly by the people around him.

  4. Case dragged by the complainant: The case made under Section 498A is sometimes dragged by the complainant purposely to prolong the suffering, harassment and mistreatment faced by the accused.

  5. Payment of huge amounts: The accused might have to pay heavy alimony to the complainant and also cover the costs of the case proceedings.

  6. Health gets affected: The mental as well as physical health of the accused have high chances of being affected, which can lead to an unbalanced life.

  7. Loss of job: Due to the ongoing case proceedings, there are chances of the accused losing his/her job and other future job prospects.

  8. Loss of money: Eventually, the accused might end up losing money, savings, other material assets etc., while trying to meet the expenses incurred during the case instituted against him/her.

  9. Loss of dignity: The dignity, self-respect, confidence, hope of the accused are lost.

  10. Suffering faced by people around: The parents, siblings, relatives and other family members also suffer and have to face the similar unfortunate consequences that the accused goes through.

  11. Uncertain future: The future seems uncertain with very little hope and faith is also lost in this process.

  12. Negative environment: The surrounding and the environment of the accused seem nothing but negative and nothing positive seems to be happening around.

  13. Denial of basic rights: The accused against whom the complaint is filed and the case is instituted eventually feels like basic rights of having a good and a decent life have been denied.

  14. Suicide: During this period of uncertainty, distress, suffering, agony and humiliations, some of the men give up and commit suicide.

How can a Lawyer Help in a Section 498A case?

It is recommended that if you are a victim of domestic violence, cruelty or any dowry related harassment, you should seek the help of a domestic violence / criminal lawyer as he/she will be able to guide you throughout the legal proceedings. A lawyer has the knowledge and experience to deal in such matters and will help you with the filing of your FIR, with divorce proceedings (if any), with the relief to be sought from court, with appeals (if any needed to be filed), etc. A lawyer will help you at each step of your legal journey for seeking justice.

Testimonials - Real S.498A cases

1. “My husband and his mother tortured me after our wedding everyday. They did this to get dowry from me which I was not able to give and neither did I want to since it is illegal. My mother in law used cruel words and asked her son-my husband to hit me. Both of them even threatened to kill me if I did not meet their demands for money, flat and a car. I wanted to put an end to this torture and decided to get in touch with a lawyer. My lawyer finally guided me in the correct path and helped me file an FIR against my husband and his mother. The case is still going on in the criminal courts and I am hoping for the best.”

Mrs. Tulika Bagai

2. "My wife filed a false case under Section 498A. She accused me, my parents and even my sister. She falsely stated that we are hitting her and even tried to kill her with kerosene. This was all false and we all failed to understand why anyone could misuse the law like this. We took the help of a good lawyer who is now supporting us and helping us. The lawyer took the right steps and is appearing for us. He even helped us get bail in the matter. He built our case and asked us to collect evidence to prove my wife’s claim wrong. After a long battle of 3 years, we finally got justice and were held not guilty by the Court. Section 498A can be misused but thankfully the Courts and judges are sensitive to this issue and are not holding the men as guilty at the outset itself."

Mr. Ajay Thakral

3. "Soon after our marriage, my husband received an employment opportunity in Dubai for which he had to leave me in his hometown with his family. In his absence, my mother in law and sister in law started misbehaving with me and would often harass me and demand money from my parents for themselves. When I started protesting, they refused to let me stay in the house or serve me food. I became so helpless that I reached out to a friend for help whose husband is a lawyer. The lawyer made me realize that I had the power to take recourse to legal remedies under Section 498A against my husband’s family members. As per his instructions, I filed a complaint in my local police station and soon after the investigations began my mother in law and sister in law stopped bothering me any further. I have video and phone recordings of them which show how badly they were treating me and even produced them in Court as Evidence. My lawyer says I have a strong case and have been shown positive signs even by the Judge. We are the stage of final arguments and I am positive that the judge will order in my favour."

Mrs. Tanuja Lal

4. "My son’s wife filed a Section 498A case against my son and me after my son filed a Divorce case against her. My son and I are both aware of her mental problem and even have supporting documents. I, along with my son had to remain in custody for 2 months and 17 days, however, thanks to my lawyer, we both managed to get bail. Thereafter, the court proceedings continued where we showed all the documents which could prove that she has mental issues due to which she was behaving in an unruly manner. The Court finally gave its verdict and dismissed the matter in my son’s favour. I am happy to report that after a strenuous battle my son got divorced from his wife and even the verdict in the Section 498A case was passed in our favour. Very thankful to our lawyer who represented us after understanding our case thoroughly."

-Mr. R.P. Surana

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Important Judgments on Section 498A

1. State of West Bengal v. Orilal Jaiswal

Supreme Court of India on 25.09.1993

(1994) 1 SCC 73

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that if it appears to the court that the victim who committed suicide was hypersensitive to ordinary petulance, discord and differences in the domestic life which, to the society to which the victim belonged, is quite common and such petulance, discord and differences were not expected to induce an individual to commit suicide who was similarly circumstanced in a given society, the court’s conscience shouldn’t be satisfied for basing a finding that the accused who was charged with abetment of such suicide should be found guilty for committing the alleged offence. In a criminal trial, the charges framed against the accused must be proved beyond all reasonable doubts and this requirement doesn’t stand altered in a case relating to Section 498A of the IPC. The court must satisfy itself, before recording a finding of guilt, that the deceased wasn’t hypersensitive.

2. Arun Vyas v. Anita Vyas

Supreme Court of India on 14.05.1999

(1999) 4 SCC 690

It was held that the essence of the offence in Section 498A is cruelty as defined in the explanation appended to that section and that it is a continuing offence and each occasion on which the woman was subjected to “cruelty” is a new starting point for her for the purpose of limitation. It was specifically held that in this particular case, the last act of cruelty was committed when the woman was forced to leave her matrimonial home.

3. Kaliyaperumal v. State of Tamil Nadu

Supreme Court of India on 27.08.2003

(2004) 9 SCC 157

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that ‘cruelty’ is the common essential under both of the offences of Section 498A and Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code. It was even stated that though both of the above two sections are not mutually inclusive to each other but both are distinct offences and persons who are convicted for an offence under one section i.e. Section 498A can also be acquitted under the other Section i.e. Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code for the offense of dowry death.

4. Reema Aggarwal v. Anupam & Ors.

Supreme Court of India on 08.01.2004

(2004) 3 SCC 199

In this case, the husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law were charged with the offence of cruelty and harassment under Section 498A of the IPC, having forced the appellant-wife to consume a poisonous substance. At the trial, they were however acquitted on there being no ground of evidence present to show that the appellant-wife and the respondent-husband were married legally. In fact, both the parties were on their second ‘marriages’. However, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that this interpretation by the legislation frustrated its intentions. It was appropriate here to interpret the expression ‘husband’ to cover a person who entered into marital relationship and under the colour of such proclaimed or feigned status of husband, subjects the woman concerned to cruelty in the manner provided under Section 498-A, whatever be the legitimacy of the marriage itself. The Hon’ble Court, by doing this, made sure that there was flexible interpretation of both the offences, in order to bring about justice.

5. Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India

Supreme Court of India on 19.07.2005

(2005) 6 SCC 281

In this particular case, the petitioner filed a petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India praying for declaration of Section 498A of the IPC as unconstitutional and for issuance of guidelines in the alternative for prevention of misuse of this provision and the unnecessary victimization and harassment of the innocent. Though the Court did accept the presence of cases where there was misuse of this provision, but after again having gone through the provisions, intention as well as the objective of the legislation behind passing of this law under Section 498A, it was held that this provision was constitutional and intra-vires. It was clearly stated by the Hon’ble Court that just because Section 498A of the IPC was being saved, it did not mean that women were granted a license to enable them to misuse the provision and take advantage of it. The Government was given directions to come up with a framework for keeping a check on the misuse of this provision and to thus help stop any kind of unnecessary harassment towards the innocent husband.

6. State of A.P. v. M. Madhusudhan Rao

Supreme Court of India on 24.10.2008

(2008) 15 SCC 582

It was held in this case by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that every harassment does not amount to ‘cruelty’ within the meaning of Section 498A and that coercion only for meeting unlawful demands would amount to cruelty under this Section of the Indian Penal Code. The essential ingredients that would entail cruelty were restated herein. It was further held that coercing a woman or any other person related to such woman for the purpose of meeting unlawful demands for property, dowry etc. would amount to ‘cruelty’ which would then be punishable under the above section.

7. Onkar Nath Mishra v. State (NCT of Delhi)

Supreme Court of India on 14.12.2007

(2008) 2 SCC 561

The Hon’ble Supreme Court re-iterated the purpose for which Section 498A was introduced and held it to be wrong to use this particular Section for devious motives. The Hon’ble Court reasoned that introduction of Section 498A was done with the very object of combating the dangers caused by deaths due to dowry and harassment to a woman by her husband or the relatives of her husband. The extent to which a case is to be established for justification of the charges framed against an accused were also discussed by the Hon’ble Court in this case. For this, it is to be considered whether there exists any ground for presuming the commitment of any offence. It was held that in order to establish an offence under Section 498A, the outcome of cruelty that is likely to either lead the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury, danger to life, limb or health, whether physical or mental of the woman or the harassment of a woman, where such harassment is with a view to put her or any person related to her through coercion, in order to meet any kind of unlawful demand, are required to be shown.

8. U. Suvetha v. State

Supreme Court of India on 06.05.2009

(2009) 6 SCC 757

Certain necessary ingredients are required to be satisfied in order to meet the commission of an offence under Section 498A. These are:

i) The woman must be married;

ii) The woman must be subjected to harassment or cruelty;

iii) This harassment or cruelty must have been done either by the woman’s husband or by the husband’s relative.

Two important paras of this judgement are as follows:

“10. In the absence of any statutory definition, the term ‘relative’ must be assigned a meaning as is commonly understood. Ordinarily, it would include father, mother, husband or wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, nephew or niece, grandson or granddaughter of an individual or the spouse of any person. The meaning of the word ‘relative’ would depend upon the nature of the statute. It principally includes a person related by blood, marriage or adoption.”

“18. By no stretch of imagination would a girlfriend or even a concubine in an etymological sense be a “relative”. The word “relative” brings within its purview a status. Such a status must be conferred by blood or marriage or adoption. If no marriage has taken place, the question of one being relative of another would not arise.”

9. G.V. Siddaramesh v. State of Karnataka

Supreme Court of India on 05.02.2010

(2010) 3 SCC 152

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in this case held that it is difficult to straightjacket the term cruelty by means of a definition because it is a relative term. Cruelty can either be physical or mental. What constitutes cruelty for one person may not constitute cruelty for another person. The Hon’ble Court also held that there must be material to show that soon before the death of the woman, such woman had been subjected to cruelty or harassment for or in connection with demand of dowry and that it is only on the showing of such material that a deduction could be done that death of a woman due to dowry had been committed by the accused. It is then up to the appellant to discharge this presumption.

10. Modinsab Kasimsab Kanchagar v. State of Karnataka

Supreme Court of India on 11.03.2013

(2013) 4 SCC 551

In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court took a very obscure interpretation of the term ‘dowry’. It was held that a demand of Rs.10,000 for the purpose of repaying a society loan, though not a dowry demand, was a part of unlawful demand which was sufficient to attract Section 498A of the IPC. . The courts refused to see it as a dowry demand and hence the charge of dowry death under section 304B could not sustain. Dowry demand is included in the “unlawful demand” as intended in the explanation (b) attached to Section 498A, though, it need not be the only demand that is included under “unlawful demand”. Thus, conviction of the husband under Section 498A of the IPC was sustained, while that under Section 304B was set aside.

11. Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar

Supreme Court of India on 02.07.2014

(2014) 8 SCC 273

This particular case deals with the rights of an accused before the arrest and after the arrest. It also deals with the misuse of Section 498A of the IPC by women. The State Government was issued with directives by the Hon’ble Supreme Court pertaining to the rights of an accused before and after the arrest in cases relating to Section 498A of the IPC, however, the directions apply also to other cases where the offence is punishable with imprisonment of not more than seven years. Here, the endeavour of this Court was to ensure that the police officers do not arrest accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically. In order to ensure the same, certain parameters were laid down by the court in this case, flowing from Section 41(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (When police may arrest without warrant).

12. Rajesh Sharma v. State of U.P.

Supreme Court of India on 27.07.2017

2017 SCC OnLine SC 821

The main issue arising in this case was to check the constant tendency to drag in all of the family members in the crime relating to the offence committed under Section 498A of the IPC. Certain measures to curb the misuse of this particular Section were prescribed here. The issue in this case was whether the family members of the accused were also to be detained and how could the innocent ones be saved. The Supreme Court directed for the establishment of Family Welfare Committees in each District by the District Legal Services Authority which shall look into every complaint filed in the District under Section 498A. It was further directed that unless the Committee’s report is received, no arrest shall be made in the matter. Thereafter, the report would be considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate. It was also stated by the Court that in cases where a settlement has been reached, it would be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer to dispose of the proceedings, including closing of the criminal case if the dispute primarily related to matrimonial discord. The direction given by the court in this case were further modified in 2018 in the case of Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1501.

13. Unnikrishnan v. State of Kerala

Kerala High Court on 17.08.2017

2017 SCC OnLine Ker 12064

After having considered a number of decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, it was held by the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala that for commitment of an offence under Section 498A of the IPC, the parties must have undergone some kind of ceremonies with the object of getting married. In this particular case, the two parties had not performed any sort of ceremony and had straight away started living together with each other. It was therefore held that a woman in a live-in-relationship was not at all entitled for filing a complaint under Section 498A of the IPC.

14. Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar v. Union of India

Supreme Court of India on 14.09.2018

2018 SCC OnLine SC 1501

In this case, a petition was filed to seek directions for creating an enabling environment for married women who are subjected to cruelty to make informed choices and for creating a uniform system to monitor and review systematically the incidents of violence against women under Section 498A, including to prevent, investigate, prosecute and rehabilitate the victims and their children at the District, State and Central levels. Here, the Hon’ble Supreme Court further modified the directions which were given by it in the case of Rajesh Sharma v. State of U.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 821 for prevention of misuse of Section 498A of the IPC. It was stated by the Hon’ble Court that it was the decision of the legislature to make this section cognizable and non-bailable and further if there is any fault with the investigating team, the court cannot help that out. The court stated that the intervention of the Family Welfare Committee and the powers of the District Legal Services Authority is impermissible. Directions were issued including the investigating team is to be guided by the principles stated in Joginder Kumar v. State of UP and Ors., D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P. and Arnesh Kumar Vs State of Bihar and Anr.

With regard to the directions given in the above mentioned case of Rajesh Sharma v. State of U.P., the Court gave the judgment that the provision of establishment of Family Welfare Committees is not in accordance with the statutory framework. It was stated by the court that if a settlement is arrived at, the parties could approach the High Court and also that the Director General of Police of each state should make sure that the Investigating Officers under Section 498A are imparted rigorous training.

FAQ's on IPC Section 498A

What offence is defined under IPC 498A?

IPC 498A Offence: Punishment for subjecting a married woman to Cruelty.

What is the punishment for IPC 498A Case?

The punishment for IPC 498A is 3 Years + Fine.

Is IPC 498A cognizable offence or non-cognizable offence?

IPC 498A is a Non-Cognizable.

How to file/defend your case for IPC 498A offence?

Use LawRato for filing/defending your case under IPC 498A with the help of best criminal lawyers near you.

Is IPC 498A bailable or non-bailable offence?

IPC 498A is a Non-Bailable offence.

In what court can IPC 498A be tried?

IPC 498A is tried in the court of Magistrate First Class.

Legal Questions Answered by Top Lawyers on IPC 498A

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