Rise in misuse of anti-dowry law in Maharashtra worrying

MUMBAI: Notwithstanding critical observations of the Supreme Court as well as stringent guidelines prescribed by the ministry of home affairs, there is no end to the gross misuse of IPC Section 498A, which penalizes the husband or a relative of the husband for subjecting a woman to cruelty.

In fact, after the SC order, Maharashtra was the first state to issue guidelines on dealing with dowry harassment and domestic violence complaints filed by women under Section 498A.

When the issue of misuse of Section 498A was raised in the Lok Sabha on March 3, Union minister of state for home Haribhai Chaudhary admitted that quite a large number of cases were found to be false. In 2011, 10,193 cases were found false following police investigation. In 2012, the number rose to 10,235, and in 2013, the number was more than 10,864.

Also, a large number of cases under IPC Section 509—word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman—were found to be false, resulting in acquittals.

Chaudhary informed the Lok Sabha that in view of the spurt in registration of false cases, his ministry had on October 20, 2009, and January 16, 2012, asked all chief secretaries and DGPs of states to halt the misuse of Section 498A. He observed that if a complaint is found to be false, the aggrieved person can invoke IPC Section 182 under which those who give false information to a public servant will be punished with up to six months in jail or slapped a fine or with both.

A senior IPS officer said in Maharashtra too, it was found that incorrect information was given in a large number of cases, following which a circular was issued. The circular provides guidelines for arresting a person against whom a complaint under Section 498A has been lodged. In judicial verdicts, it has been recommended that a complaint should be referred to the counselling centre and then the law-enforcing agencies should probe the charges of mental torture or harassment for dowry. “The investigating officer is expected to give a reasoned order before making an arrest,” he said.

Source: The Times of India

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