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Section 498A is a provision in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with cruelty by a husband or his relatives towards a married woman. The provision was added in 1983 to address the growing problem of dowry harassment and domestic violence against women.

According to Section 498A, whoever, being the husband or his relative, subjects a married woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The term “cruelty” refers to any willful conduct that is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb, or health, whether mental or physical. The conduct can be physical or mental and can include harassment, verbal abuse, or any other form of torture.

Section 498A is a non-bailable offense, which means that the accused cannot be released on bail without the permission of the court. The law also provides for the presumption of the accused being guilty unless proven otherwise. This means that if a woman makes a complaint of cruelty against her husband or his relatives, the court will presume that the accused are guilty of the offense, and it will be up to them to prove their innocence.

The law is meant to protect women from harassment and cruelty in their marital homes. However, there have been instances of misuse of the provision by women to falsely implicate their husbands or in-laws in cases of domestic violence. In such cases, the accused can approach the court to seek relief from false allegations.

Here are some important case laws related to Section 498A IPC:

Kaliyaperumal vs State of Tamil Nadu (2003):

In this case, the Supreme Court held that if there is evidence of cruelty, harassment or torture by the husband or his relatives against the wife, then the presumption of the woman being a victim of dowry harassment under Section 498A is valid.

Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (2014):

The Supreme Court held that the police cannot automatically arrest the accused in a 498A case. The police must have a justifiable reason for the arrest, such as the likelihood of the accused fleeing or tampering with evidence.

Rajesh Sharma vs State of Uttar Pradesh (2017):

In this case, the Supreme Court gave several directions to prevent the misuse of Section 498A. The court held that complaints under Section 498A must be scrutinized carefully by the police before the arrest of the accused. The court also directed the formation of family welfare committees to examine the complaints before the arrest of the accused.

Savitri Devi vs Ramesh Chand and Ors. (2019):

The Supreme Court held that complaints under Section 498A must be filed within a reasonable time of the alleged incident, and there must be specific allegations against the accused.

These are some of the important case laws related to Section 498A IPC. It is important to note that the law is meant to protect women from cruelty, but at the same time, it should not be misused to harass innocent people.