How is IPC 498a different than TADA?
Posted December 4, 2010on:
History of IPC 498a as known to common man
Before 1980’s dowry deaths were said to be a widespread menace at least in the lower economic strata of the society. There were laws to punish the offender in the cases of murder and suicide of married woman. But in certain scenarios where wife attempt to suicide but survived, offenders were set free because they cannot be charged with:-
- IPC 307 (murder attempt) because it was a suicide attempt
- IPC 306 (Abetment of suicide) because suicide never happened.
Act 46 of 1983 with reasonably high level of clarity explains in its ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ that the said amendment is to deal effectively on dowry related harassment. Supreme Court has iterated the same in various judgments.
Allegation of abuse of law
A good explanation about the abuse of this law is given by Dr. Anupama Singh in her petition. I would like to add that due to the heavy misuse of this law, finding genuine cases are harder than finding a needle in the haystack. The source of data shown below is from National Crime Records Bureau.
Motives for Abuse
IPC 498a is not the only law that is getting abused in India. Where ever there is a street fight or boundary dispute generally both parties get admitted in hospital and accuse each other for the “injuries”. Theft cases to cheat insurance companies are another good example. Now the new one, aside from IPC 498a, to add to the list and will come to top in the list sooner, rather than later, is Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act because of its inherent lenient nature to literally rob money and property from men in the household.
The key motives behind the abuse of family laws are money, precisely ALIMONY. At present India has no set rules regarding alimony and men or women don’t know how to handle separation; existence of multiple maintenance laws are making divorce battle more miserable. On the other hand this is the best indicator that women have now come forward to the mainstream and no longer an under privileged class.
A typical dowry harassment allegation leads to:-
1) Husband facing threats on personal safety and that of his family from wife and in-laws. Unable to cop up with the harassment, a good number of them opt for suicide too. [NCRB data show below]
2) Arbitrary arrest of husband and his entire family without any investigation.
3) Husband’s home, possessions and livelihood are at high risk and deprived by law. – Courts order huge bail amount without looking at merits of the complaint. Those who are in Government job get suspended because of arbitrary police custody and remand. NRIs loose their jobs because they cant join back to work on time.
4) Husband’s have absolutely no recourse when those who exercise power over them abuse it – highly discriminatory treatment by the police and courts because of the social and statutory requirement to favour women.
5) Violates the fundamental right to live with dignity.
Prevention is better than cure
Plugging the holes in IPC 498a may solve the current problem for the time being, but legislator should recognize the sea change that India has undergone, and is undergoing, and the dire need to overhaul the entire family laws at the earliest and there should be a rapid mechanism for sustained social engineering so as to reduce the irretrievable damage that it makes to the grass root level man-woman relationship.
Let me do some math here.
Total number of 498a cases registered in 2008 = 1,64,861
Approximate number of accused, taking an average of 5 per case = 8,24,305
Total number of dowry deaths reported in 2008 = 8172 [Source: NCRB]
If I’m forced to believe that dowry harassment and death exist in this 21st century, how much would it be proportionately, taking this death count to face value? Not to mention that the legal PRESUMPTION and mandatory inquiry upon anyone’s request shoots up the dowry death figures in the book.
In Narender Singh Arora Vs State (Govt. of NCT Delhi) & Ors. Honorable Delhi High Court stated
“5. This case is a reflection of mentality which is now taking grip of parents of a deceased wife in the criminal cases. Whenever a woman dies an unnatural death within seven years of her marriage at in-laws’ house, whatever be the cause of death, the in-laws must be hanged. This case also shows how truth is losing significance because of the ego of the litigants to see that in-laws should be hanged.”
Center for Social Research, a feminist organization, in its 2005 report admits that 98% of 498a cases are false and do not end up in conviction. That makes the number of convictions as per the data given above to 3297. Reading all those facts and figures together I tend to believe that IPC498a is been used in its true intend, only in case of REAL dowry death that means ONLY along with IPC 304(B).
That being said, when we have more powerful laws IPC306 (Abetment of suicide), IPC 307 (Attempt to murder), IPC 302 (Punishment for murder) where the punishment is 10 years and even capital punishment, what is the need to keep IPC 498a just for harassing crores of men women age old parents and even children?
Indian Express in today’s news (02-dec-2010) reported “Woman, paramour booked for pushing husband to attempt suicide” which says
“The police said Trivedi told them that he was mentally harassed and threatened by his wife Archana, whom he married six months ago. He claimed Archana asked him to file a divorce case and claimed alimony. She reportedly threatened to slap a dowry case against him and his parents and book them under domestic violence Act. Based on the call details and SMS produced by Trivedi, the police have registered a case against Archana, her Jamnagar-based brother Harish Dave and her lover Anil Goswami,” said Gandhidham police. The preliminary investigation revealed that Archana and two other accused have been threatening Trivedi and book him under dowry case, if he refused to give her divorce.” (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/woman-paramour-booked-for-pushing-husband-to-attempt-suicide/719119/0)
I would like to point to the first section of this document again and request the panel to double check, whether or not we as a nation have achieved the goal, the original intend of Act 46 of 1983. Twenty seven years had gone by, altogether new generation having totally different attitude and mentality with totally different goals and ambitions in life getting into marriage and even live-in relationship; do the circumstances that lead to Act 46 of 1983 still exist?
Over 76,000 people were arrested while TADA was in force from 1987 to 1995. The conviction rate for these arrests was less than one percent. TADA was later repealed on the grounds of human rights violation. From year 1995 to 2008, 1,575,164 cases were registered under section 498a of Indian penal code and with an average of five accused in each case the number of arrests made was approximately 7,875,820. Is this over 7million gross HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS not enough to wipe off this notorious section from the rule books?
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