New guidelines for section 498A of the IPC 1860 and Domestic Violence Act 2005

OVERVIEW

New guidelines for section 498A of the IPC 1860 and Domestic Violence Act 2005

As soon as there is a matrimonial dispute between the husband and the wife, in such a case, the wife first registers an F.I.R. under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.). This is the stream that almost every woman in India, who is educated, knows them. Section 498A sets the pace of criminal law. It has become so easy to file an F.I.R. under this section that the misuse of this section has increased. The courts of India also agree that false accusations are being made against innocent persons under 498A. However, there are many genuine cases where women have been subjected to cruelty by their husbands or their relatives, but due to these false cases, even these actual cases are doubted by the Court.

Due to these false allegations of Section 498A and domestic violence, the courts give a verdict in favor of her husband and family in many cases. The Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment in 2014 related to the arrest. In Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar, the Court held that if a wife wants to file a complaint against her husband or relatives under section 125, a complaint must be filed under section 41A. Also, the police can arrest the husband and his family only if the victim's injury is serious.

Many things have changed after this decision of the Supreme Court. On June 13, the Uttar Pradesh High Court also passed a landmark judgment that took it further by issuing guidelines for cases 498A and domestic violence.

Case: Mukesh Bansal v State of UP and 2nd, June 13, 2022

  • In this case, the wife registered the F.I.R. against her husband and his in-laws under the Cruelty and Dowry Prohibition Act. The wife claimed that she was being pressured for more dowry, her father-in-law and brother-in-law demanded to have sex with her, she was locked in the bathroom by her husband, they forced her to have an abortion, and her husband tried to have unnatural sex with her.
  • The Court condemned the nature and language of the allegations leveled by the wife, saying that she exaggerated the incident manifold and "vomited before the court."

  • During the entire investigation, the Court found that the F.I.R. was nothing but a virtual rumor filled with poison. And the woman was unable to produce any documentary evidence.
  • During the hearing of this case, the Allahabad High Court said that nowadays, it is a prevalent practice to register an F.I.R. in matters of matrimonial discord by making such heinous allegations. And it is said that nowadays, it has become very common to have such false cases, and such allegations are made under section 498A.
  • During the investigation, in this case, the woman refused a medical examination as she was not physically hurt. The Court clarified this statement of the woman in its application. It also said that apart from the injury mark on the neck, which indicated that the husband tried to strangle her, she did not suffer any serious injury.
  • After the Allahabad High Court allowed the petition of the mother-in-law and father-in-law, they acquitted them. But the husband was accused of 498A, wherein the Court said that the Court would not interfere in the charge stage. And finally, the petition against the husband was also dismissed.
  • The honorable courts have also accepted that in most cases, the wife is being misused by making false allegations against her husband's family by filing a case under section 498A.
  • Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code applies when a man on a woman commits the offense. This section talks about assault or criminal force on a woman intending to outrage her modesty. The wife usually levels such allegations against her father-in-law and brother-in-law. And there are many such cases where they are sometimes accused of rape. The Court recognized that there are many such genuine cases, but the cases involving false allegations are much more than actual cases. At the same time, the Court does not believe that most of the men in the society have such low moral values.

Guidelines for Section 498A: There are four guidelines given by the Court to prevent the misuse of this section:

  • After F.I.R. of section 498A, there will be no arrest of the husband and his family members for two months. This period of 2 months is called the cooling period. After registering the F.I.R., no action should be taken without ending the "cooling period" of two months. During this cooling period, the matter can be referred to the Family Welfare Committee in each district. In the cooling period of 2 months, who gave a path-breaking decision not to arrest. However, if there is any injury or physical abuse to the woman, then he can be arrested. In the cooling period of 2 months, who gave a path-breaking decision not to arrest. However, if there is any injury or physical abuse to the woman, then he can be arrested.
  • As soon as the F.I.R. is registered, this information will be sent to the Family Welfare Committee. The committee will analyze the situation and the F.I.R. and decide in 2 months whether the F.I.R. is true or false and false. Every complaint or application under section 498A I.P.C. and other relevant sections mentioned above should be forwarded immediately to the Family Welfare Committee by the Magistrate concerned. Upon receipt of the statement or F.I.R., the committee will call the contesting parties for personal interaction with their four senior elders and try to clear the issues/doubts between them within two months from the date of registration of the F.I.R.
  • Four senior members of the family (husband and wife) will be on the Family Welfare Committee. This committee will record the statement and investigate the story of both parties for two months. By giving two months to both parties, it will be seen whether there is any hope of reconciliation between them. Then the Family Welfare Committee will make a report and send it back to the police station.
  • A trained Investigating Officer (IO) will investigate cases in this manner. The Investigating Officer should be trained to investigate such cases for at least a week. If a situation is in which sometimes when the officer is not trained, they cannot directly arrest the accused person.

The F.W.C. will consist of the following members:

  • A young arbitrator from the arbitration center of the district or young advocate practicing for five years or senior most student of the fifth year, government law college or state university or N.L.U. Have an excellent academic track record and are public-spirited youth.
  • Well acclaimed and recognized social worker of that district has clean antecedents.
  • Retired Judicial Officers residing in or around the district may give time for the proceedings.
  • Educated wives of senior judicial or administrative officers of the district.
  • FWC members will not be called as witnesses in Court.

Section 41A CrPC:

  • In 2014, the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar said it is necessary to send a notice of 41A CrPC. A notice of 41A is required to inform the person about his possible arrest so that he can come forward and defend himself in the case. If the notified person does not comply with the same during the investigation, that person may be arrested.
  • If a police officer does not comply with the decision, he will be punished for contempt of Court. If the judicial officers do not follow the decision, they will also be punished and taken on remand.

Conclusion:

  • Allahabad High Court has issued four guidelines above to prevent misuse of Section 498A. These guidelines come with the realization by the courts that many women make false allegations against their husbands' families.
  • These allegations have similar patterns and stories that make the courts doubt the credibility of these charges. The coming of these guidelines is expected to put an end to the atrocities on the husband and his family.

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