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Section 498 A

  • Vaid's ICS, Lucknow
  • 12, Feb 2022
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Why in News?

  •  The Supreme Court stated that instead of assuring rapid state intervention for protecting women against cruelty by her husband, Section 498A is increasingly being used to settle personal scores against in-laws.


  • In a case filed by a woman against her in-laws alleging mental harassment and terminating her pregnancy,  SC said that with friction increasing in marriages, Section 498A is being misused by women to target her husband and his relatives.
  • SC also quashed the FIR in the case, calling the allegations general and omnibus, and not warranting prosecution.

Section 498A


  • Section 498A provides for imprisonment for three years and/or a fine for a man and his relatives, if they subject his wife to cruelty‘Cruelty’ is defined as wilfully driving a woman to commit suicide or inflicting grave injury (including physical or mental injury) upon her.
  • It was introduced in 1983 to prevent domestic violence and murders caused by the in-laws due to the prevalence of dowry in the society.

Important Provisions:

  • Non-Bailable: It means that bail cannot be granted as a right and depends on the discretion and sense of justice of the court.
  • Non-Compoundable: It means that the case cannot be settled by both the parties involved. The provision is inserted into crimes of a more serious or grave nature due to fear of being pressured into a compromise. It can only be quashed by the court.
  • Cognizable: It means that the police officer can make an arrest or proceed with an investigation without securing a warrant from the court. No permission is required from a magistrate to proceed in cognizable cases.

Need for the Law:

  • Dowry Deaths: After independence, dowry deaths had gradually become a common menace in Indian society. To prevent married women from being subject to cruelty, Section 498A was introduced in the IPC.
  • Absence of Provision: Section 498A was required as at the time there was no law in place to prevent domestic violence against married women. It was only in 2005, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was enacted to complement Section 498A.
  • Patriarchal Society: National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) of 2005-06 demonstrated that 40% of ‘ever-married’ women were subjected to physical, sexual or mental abuse by their husbands. This manifests the requirement to protect women from abuse in a patriarchal society.

Facts for Prelims :

International Labour Organisation (ILO):

  • Established as an agency for the League of Nations following World War I.
  • Established by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  • It became the first specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) in the year 1946.
  • It got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
  • It is the only tripartite U.N. agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.