Millennium Post

A gift of fairness

It must be remembered that law of the land is first and foremost to ensure justice for all and not to appease certain sections of society, whether majority or minority. Hence, the misuse of Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, which had been a non-bailable and cognizable offence for a while, by ‘disgruntled wives’ has necessitated that an amendment be brought in to fix the problem.

Notwithstanding that the Anti-Dowry Act is a bulwark against reprehensible practice of dowry harassment which young married women are made to go through in both rural and urban swathes of the country, there has been ample evidence of this crucial legal safeguard being misused by women with ulterior motives. Whether it’s personal vendetta or simply a means of making quick money, or even a sure-shot way of dumping the husband, wives, especially in swanky cities and bustling metropolitan centres, have been resorting to greatly misusing Section 498A of IPC, implicating husbands in false cases and subjecting families of in-laws to extreme mental and monetary agonies. In this light, Supreme Court’s recent observations come in good stead.

Firstly, automatic arrest under Section498A has been discontinued and police have been asked to satisfy themselves about necessity for arrest under parameters laid down by Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code. This ruling would not only help innocent men in getting a breathing space when faced with the legal and punitive machinery, but it would also ensure that culprits do end up in custody and don’t escape the long hand of law. However, the decision to expand the definition of dowry and include gifts forcible extracted before, during and after marriage is equally commendable. While the 2009 amendment to Dowry Prohibition Act was a necessary step to address the immediacy of this monstrous menace, the proposal to link it with Domestic Violence Act is also based on solid foundation. It is the duty of the penolegal authorities to ensure no one remains the aggrieved party for long.      
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