What is Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)?

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What is Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)? Blog Image


The Supreme Court urged the Central government and the parliament to make necessary changes to the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) with respect to the provision replacing Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

About Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): 

  • It is a crucial legal provision that aims to protect married women from cruelty inflicted upon them by their husbands or their relatives. 
  • This section was introduced in 1983 as an amendment to the IPC to address the growing concern of domestic violence and harassment faced by married women in India.
  • Under Section 498-A IPC, a husband or his relatives can be sentenced to a jail term of three years for subjecting the wife to cruelty.
  • The section applies to married women only.
  • The section defines cruelty as any wilful conduct that is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury to her life, limb, or health, whether mental or physical.

The conduct can be in the form of harassment or torture, with the intent to coerce the woman or her relatives to meet unlawful demands for property or money.

  • The section also defines the term ‘husband’ to include a person who has a legal or customary relationship with the woman, such as a live-in partner or a person who claims to be married to the woman but has not been legally married.
  • There is no limitation as to the number of years within which the complaint has to be filed, and a wife can file a complaint under this section at any time.
  • Any offence under Section 498A is a cognizable one and is also non-compoundable and non-bailable.
  • Bail under Section 498A can only be granted by the Magistrate once a First Information Report (FIR)has been registered by the police based on a complaint filed by the aggrieved party.
  • Supreme Court Rulings:
    • The Supreme Court has ruled that Section 498A should be used sparingly and only in cases where there is genuine evidence of cruelty.
    • The court has also ruled that the section should not be used as a tool to settle personal scores.
    • The court emphasized the need for the police to conduct a thorough investigation before making arrests, to avoid unnecessary harassment of the accused.

To address these concerns, the government of India introduced the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) in 2005, which provides a more comprehensive legal framework for addressing domestic violence and abuse against women.

Q1: What is a non-compoundable offence?

Compoundable offences are minor crimes where the victim can agree to drop charges through compromise. Non-compoundable offences are serious crimes that can’t be settled and require full trials for justice.

Source: Section 498A IPC has been copied verbatim in new criminal law; make changes: Supreme Court to Centre