KOLKATA: City lawyers claim to
be surprised at the spate of ‘patently unfair’ cases alleging
cruelty to the bride under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code,
which is a cognizable and non-bailable offence offence meaning
that the police can arrest without warrants and bails can be
obtained only from a law court and not the police station.They are
also surprised to come across many cases which, they feel, are
brazenly fabricated and amount to a gross abuse of a legal
Once a woman lodges a complaint, the arrest of the husband is
virtually routine. And if he happens to be a government servant or
working in a public sector undertaking or bank, his suspension
follows again as a routine.
In some cases lawyers have been appalled to find elderly relatives
of the husband and even visiting relatives of the husband
implicated in the case.
In some cases the husband and his family are virtually being
blackmailed into coughing up money and reach an out-of-court
In one of the cases the bride is said to have won the heart of her
in-laws so much that when her sister-in-law gets married, all the
family jewellery are put in her lockers.
She takes the jewellery, leaves the house and promptly lodges a
complaint against her husband.
Inquiries revealed that she had an earlier affair and had left to
live with her love, recalls Ananda Basu, Advocate practising in
the Calcutta High Court.
Eminent lawyer Bishnu Charan Ghosh says, “As a lawyer I have
never come across such gross abuse of any of the provisions of any
Act as I am experiencing in 498A IPC cases”.
He goes on to say, “I don’t mean to suggest that brides are
always the villains and not the victim. In a majority of the
cases, in fact, the brides are at the receiving end. But what is
surprising is the large number of cases where the brides actually
seem to be villainous”.
Asked about the ways to check abuse of section 498A, B.C.
Ghosh and Gitanath Ganguly, the former suggests a threefold
measure: (i) to convert section 498A into a bailable one, (ii) The
Ld. court could carefully consider whether the allegations of the
bride are indeed genuine at least against the in-laws or other
relations of her husband when it directs investigation under
section 156(3) of CrPC for an offence under section 498A and,
(iii) The Ld. court could carefully take into account whether
custodial detention is at all needed for the old in-laws and other
Ganguly suggests that on receiving a complaint under section 498A
from a woman, police should immediately approach the Magistrate
instead of arresting the accused.
He asserted that the police should collect the materials, place
them before the Magistrate and arrest people only with the
permission of the Magistrate. He also suggests making the offence
under this section a bailable one.
The lawyers also point out the irony that while women belonging to
the poorer sections, for whom the section was primarily meant, are
not even aware of the provision, the section is being merrily
misused by a section of the urban women.