Section 498A of The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is playing havoc with the in-laws family of the wife. The bride’s family and a section of Law and order authority (Police) grossly misuses Sec 498A in case of Marital disputes. Dowry law (Dowry Prevention Act 1961) is also skewed and does not punish the payer of dowry (normally Bride’s side).
Above were the contentions of Male Activists and NGO groups alleging misuse of marital laws, at a public conference on 25th June held at the behest of Women and Child Development Minister Ms Renuka Choudhary.
As per the submissions of various male activist groups, misuse of sec 498A has become so rampant that the wife can utilize this section even to extort money from in-laws family. The section has become an easy ploy to get mutual divorce and undue compensations in some cases. It also causes untold sufferings to even the relatives of in-laws family much out of proportion to the requirement of natural justice in many cases.
The current law (498A) requires police to arrest all those named in the FIR lodged by a woman, before starting investigation.
Swapan Sarkar of Save Family Foundation an NGO, said “ This should change. If the woman has serious injury or is dead, police should certainly arrest all those capable of destroying evidence. But in the event there are no injury marks, only immediate family members of husband should be arrested if there is prima facie evidence against them.” The activists also wanted the dowry laws to be such that those give dowry, are also punished and it should be gender neutral so that a male victim also can have recourse to law.
As an outcome of the conference, Women and Child Development ministry has decided to invite male complainant and groups representing them, to discuss possible changes in dowry laws. The ministry has also called a meeting with the National Commission for Women on 8th July to discuss loopholes in dowry laws to prevent harassment of innocent relatives of the husband.