NEW DELHI: Every year more than 10,000 complaints of dowry harassment are found to be false. Given that around 1 lakh cases are investigated every year, the figure makes it one of the most abused laws in the country.
Government is now working on a proposal to make Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code—that deals with offences of dowry demand and cruelty by husband and in-laws—compoundable. This means that the law, if amended, would have the provision of settlement between the warring couple if the court allows the same.
but men organisations says, it will not be useful, when there is no punishment for filling false case, even there is option in legal system after husband is aquited, he will not go to file charges against false case. Men organisations argue there should be option in same law to punish law misusers.
As the law stands now, the offence is non-compoundable and non-bailable. This leads to immediate arrest of husband and in-laws with onus to prove their innocence on them. It also rules out any effort at reconciliation.
Sources in home ministry said that the ministry sent a draft note for the Union Cabinet to amend Section 498A of the IPC to the law ministry for drawing up a draft bill. Making dowry law compoundable was also among recommendations made by the law commission and Justice Malimath Committee.
The new law would also have penalty provisions of Rs 15,000 as against Rs 1,000 now if the case is found to be false, said sources.
However, it would not be easy to get an amendment such as this through easily as women’s rights activists have been vociferously opposed to such moves in the past. The argument against any dilution of the law is that it is the strength that several economically dependent and helpless women have against dowry harassment. A dilution effected due to over 10% false cases will affect millions whose cases may be genuine.
Arguments in favour have always stressed that those who are really in need hardly approach the police against in-laws due to various societal pressures and it’s only those looking to ‘exact revenge’ and having robust economic strength who reach the courts. In a recent order, the Supreme Court had said Section 498A had “dubious place of pride amongest the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives”.
An effort by National Commission for Women to amend Dowry Prohibition Act came a cropper after government rejected the recommendation last year.
Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi had in December, 2014 informed Lok Sabha, “The NCW had recommended certain amendments in Dowry Prohibition Act. However, the ministry has taken a considered view on the matter and decided to drop the amendment proposed by NCW in the present form after taking into account the comments of the high-level committee on the status of women and the ministry of home affairs.”