To understand the meaning of this section, we first need to understand the meaning of marriage, “marriage is a social obligation where husband has the responsibility to take care and maintain his wife, he cannot neglect his duties. But on the contrary there is stigma called “ Dowry” still exists where women are ill-treated, harassed, killed, divorced for simple reason that they didn’t bring dowry.

For safeguarding the interest of women, against the interest of women against the cruelty they face behind the four walls of the matrimonial home, the IPC was amended in the year 1983 and inserted Sec. 498A which deals with matrimonial cruelty with a women. 

Matrimonial cruelty in India is a cognizable, non-bailable, and non compoundable offence.

Meaning of cruelty

It was held in Kaliyaperumal Vs State of Tamil Nadu states that cruelty is a common essential i offences under both the sections 304B and 498A of IPC. the two sections are not mutually inclusive but both are distinct offences and person acquitted for 304B can be convicted under section 498A. 

In the case of “ Inder Raj Malik vs Sunita Malik”, states that Cruelty means harassment of a woman with a view to coerce her or any related persons to meet any unlawful demand for any property or any valuable security is cruelty.

Kinds of cruelty covered under this section 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 or non dowry demand.
  6. Cruelty by non acceptance of baby girl
  7. Cruelty by false attacks on chastity
  8. Taking away children.

Use of section 498A by Inbdian courts

Indian courts had been using this provision to safeguard the women from being harassed or cruelty faced by women at their matrimonial home. 

If we compare matrimonial cases then we can see that 9 out 10 cases are related to dowry, where women are being harassed or threatened or want of more money and property which if remains unfulfilled the married woman is tortured, threatened, abused both physically and verbally. 

In the case of Surajmal Banthia Vs State of west Bengal, the deceased was ill treated, and tortured for several days and even not given food several times. Her father in law also misbehaved with her several times and this is how cruelty was performed on the deceased and she died because of this.

There are misuse of this section also 

Though this section was inserted to prevent women from being harassed at their matrimonial home but few women just to take revenge files false and frivolous case against their husbands with the purpose of getting rid of them or simply hurting the family.

Like in the case of Savitri devi Vs Ramesh chand & ors. Court held that there was a misuse or exploitation of the provisions of such an extent that it was hitting up the foundation of the marriage itself and proved to be not so good for the health of the society at large.

The position of women in India is still bad they still need rights to alleviate themselves in society but many a times they fail to notice others rights as long as their rights are ensured. The educated women of today must agree with the mantra of equality and demand the same but the trend is slowly getting reversed. Women are taking due advantage of the facts that they are referred to as the weaker sex and on the foundation of rights ensured to them are violating others’ rights. 

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