Section 498A IPC - Latest Court Judgement

    What are the judgements about

    By way of the judgments, the Supreme Court has ruled on aspects pertaining to the law of cruelty as laid down under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. This provision was introduced under the code to help protect married women from being subjected to acts of cruelty at the hands of their husbands and/or his relatives. The provision criminalises cruelty and makes it an act punishable with imprisonment up to a period of three years along with a fine. The judgments have laid down the law on various aspects such as the very definition of cruelty, what constitutes cruelty in the eyes of law and what are the essential ingredients of cruelty etc.

    What were the issues being decided in the judgements?

    The judgments have determined varied issues pertaining to the intricate details on the law of cruelty such as:

    • What is the object of Section 498A? 

    • The period within which an aggrieved person can initiate proceedings under Section 498A. 

    • Who can file a complaint under Section 498A and against whom can such a complaint be maintained in a court of law? 

    • Whether a woman cohabiting with her partner in a live in relationship can initiate proceedings under Section 498A

    • Whether harassment amounts to cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A

    • Who is covered under the definition of ‘relative’ under Section 489A?

    • What constitutes an unlawful demand under Section 498A?

    • Constitutionality of Section 498A

    • What constitutes misuse of Section 498A

    What was held by the court in these judgements?

    The judiciary in the landmark judgments on cruelty have clarified the numerous points of debate around the law on cruelty. Dealing with the aspect of limitation, the Supreme Court has held that cruelty falls under the category of continuing offences and the period of limitation would start afresh with each instance of cruelty. The judiciary further clarified that under Section 498A apart from the aggrieved wife, a complaint under Section 498A can be initiated by her family members including any person related to her by blood, marriage or even adoption. The court has further laid down the essential ingredients which must be firmly established to hold a person guilty of cruelty. The courts have also permitted second wives to initiate proceedings under Section 498A, however women in live in relationships are not given the same privilege. Also, cruelty includes within its ambit both mental and physical cruelty.

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    Onkar Nath Mishra & Ors. V. State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr.


    Supreme Court of India

    Onkar Nath Mishra & Ors vs State (Nct Of Delhi) & Anr on 14 December, 2007

    Author: D Jain

    Bench: Ashok Bhan, D.K. Jain

               CASE NO.:

    Appeal (crl.)  1716 of 2007





    DATE OF JUDGMENT: 14/12/2007




    J U D G M E N T [Arising out of S.L.P. (Criminal) No. 2516 of 2007) D.K. JAIN, J.:

    Leave granted.

    2. This appeal by the three accused arises out of the order dated 5.3.2007, passed by the High Court of Delhi, dismissing the Criminal Revision Petition No. 92 of 1998 filed by them. In the said petition, a prayer was made by the appellants to quash the charge sheet and the consequential proceedings arising out of First Information Report (F.I.R) No. 155 of 1995, instituted in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi. Appellants No. 1, 2 and 3 are respectively the father-in-law, sister-in-law and the husband of the complainant.

    3. A few facts, leading to the present proceedings and necessary to dispose of the appeal are:

    The marriage between the complainant and appellant No. 3 was solemnized at New Delhi on 5.12.1993. After the marriage, the complainant was residing at her matrimonial home in Delhi. It appears that there was some matrimonial discord between the complainant and her husband, appellant No. 3, which resulted in filing of a complaint by the complainant on 17.5.1994 in the Crime against Women (CAW for short) Cell, Delhi, inter alia, alleging that she was harassed by her husband and in-laws. However, the matter was compromised on 26.6.1994 and as agreed, on 3.7.1994, the complainant joined her husband at Bijnore (U.P.), where he was posted. However, she returned back to her parental home in Delhi in mid-August 1994, as she was expecting a child….

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    What law does the judgement discuss?

    Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code states that “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.” 

    Why do you need a Lawyer?

    Being charged with cruelty under Section 498A is a serious issue. A person facing criminal charges risks severe penalties and consequences, such as jail time, having a criminal record, and loss of relationships and future job prospects, among other things. While some legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal case as serious as that of Section 498A warrants the legal advice of a qualified criminal lawyer who can protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case. Owing to his experience in such cases, a criminal lawyer is an expert in dealing with the complexities involved in cases of mental cruelty and this is why having a criminal lawyer by your side to guide you with a case like this always adds up to your potential in dealing with the case.

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