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India's notorious section 498a: divorce law as criminal law

India's Notorious Section 498A: Divorce Law as Criminal Law




India’s amendments to its Criminal Procedure Code are now effective. They may ameliorate some of the harshest aspects of India’s infamous Section 498A. The newly- enacted provisions take away the powers of the police to arrest in cases of alleged offenses which carry a maximum sentence up to seven years of imprisonment. Such offenses include Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code in 1983.

That section makes it criminal for a husband and his relatives to subject a married woman to cruelty is which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave physical or mental injury to her, and harassment with a view to coercing her or any of her relatives to meet any unlawful demands of property.

The problems with the law were the result of a “perfect storm” that was entirely unanticipated when the law was introduced to protect woman in 1983. The elements of the storm included:

     - Extremely vague statutory language.

     - A separate law that prohibited the provision or acceptance of a dowry.

     - A custom that has been difficult to eradicate of a bride giving a dowry upon marriage.

     - A law that may only used by women against men.

     - A provision that extends criminality to any of the husband’s allegedly-participating relatives.

     - A police force that is notoriously corrupt.

     - A law that in the past allowed for the immediate arrest of the husband and members of his family by the police on the basis of a woman's complaint.

     - A provision that the offense was non-bailable.

     - A domestic relations procedure that is extremely cumbersome and in many ways unworkable.

The result has been that when a marriage breaks up the woman is often able to get her husband and many of his family members arrested by simply filing a claim of cruelty and persuading the local police to arrest the so-called wrongdoers. This is much more effective than initiating an ordinary case for divorce.

In the case of non-resident Indians the process has often proved calamitous for the husband. The spouses have an argument. She runs off to India, often with the children and as many of the assets as she can grab. She immediately starts a Section 498A case in India and then sues for divorce and custody in India. The husband cannot step foot in India because he will be arrested. Meanwhile his relatives in India are clamoring for him to settle up with his wife because they have been in jail or are fearful that that will happen. The Supreme Court of India has described such conduct as “legal terrorism.”

The chairperson of one of India’s State Commissions for Women has asserted that, "Many women are using 498A of the IPC (anti-dowry law) to terrorize their husbands and his families.” She called it a “cruel and wicked design to blackmail husbands and in-laws."

As recently as January 31, 2009, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, the Chief Justice of India, addressing India’s National Commission for Women, asserted that Section 498A is being “grossly misused” and that relatives not involved with a matrimonial dispute were often unfairly implicated.

The U.S State Department has warned Americans that: “Furthermore, since the police may arrest anyone who is accused of committing a crime (even if the allegation is frivolous in nature), the Indian criminal justice system is often used to escalate personal disagreements into criminal charges. This practice has been increasingly exploited by dissatisfied business partners, contractors, estranged spouses, or other persons with whom the U.S. citizen has a disagreement, occasionally resulting in the jailing of U.S. citizens pending resolution of their disputes.”

Let us hope that some of the worst excesses of the draconian law have now been reduced by the recent procedural changes.


 15 Replies

Sonal Verma (none)     31 January 2013

how can u call someone "so called wrongdoers" when u don't know anything about the whole case. I agree 60% of the cases are fake but what about the THOSE 40% of true victims who went through the menatl torture and harassement.

In-laws are very clever too they don't give any physical torture these days b'cause scars on body are clearly visible and they would be caught up easily.

par jab ladki ko mentally harass kiya jata hai wo zakham nahi deelkha sakte.. wo jab complaint karti hai to usse fake 498A ka case bola jata hai..


1. If a girl is so called tortured mentally then she should better ask for divorce but not 498a. 2. 98% of 498a cases result in acquittal which clearly highlights more misuse than using this IPC section. 3. There is no penalty for filing false case so girl side file this case on a routine family dispute which could have been solved by elderly councelling. 4. Why this section is gender -biased? Why cant a husband file a case against wife under 498a for mental cruelty? Please clarify. So first be neutral to both the genders, understand the situation and then cry foul. Now, get lost.
1 Like

Sonal Verma (none)     01 February 2013

498 isnt gender biased.. husband,his parents and other family member get AB very easily these days.. 

In my case it happened the same way.. i was tortured for dowry.. 1 year my family kept trying to make them understand that we can't fullfil their demands bt they didnt change.. atlast we had to file 498 A along with 125.. i was tortured mentally those scares cant ne seen by court bt they r still fresh in my mind..


there must be 1000s of girls like me.. and m sure their cases must not be fake..


then Husbands file Sec 13 to mullify the marriage on the most common ground of CRUELITY amongst the 13 Grounds of HMA 1955.. that the girl deserted him from conjugal happiness.. why this alwas been easy to raise the finger ion a girl.

People think "ab to shaadi ho gayi ab kaha kayegi ye.. karo torture dahej k liye"  but when the girl files 498, unka reply hota hai ye fake case hai ulta ladki k upar false allegations lagte hai k wo galat hai.




498 isnt gender biased.. husband,his parents and other family member get AB very easily these days

Dear lady, above comment of yours does not reflect that it is gender neutral law.  When a girl can file 498a on just oral allegation then husband side should also get bail easily. Moreover now-a-days with 498a, girl has started filing 406, marital rape, attempt to murder etc to get husband into troublle. Please observe below the facts which should clear your doubts and lower your tone.




  • Every year 62000 married men commit suicide as compared to 32000 married women. Women has several ministry for their welfare (like WCD) and 100s of NGO working for women but not even a single ministry is looking for men welfare.


  • More than 100000 cases of 498a are being filed by scrupolous lady on which govt. has to spend 45000 crore rupess to settle these domestic matter. 98% of such cases result in acquittal showing how girls are trying to extort money using 498a.


  • Supreme Court has termed 498a as legal terrorism


  • 75% of rape cases filed are false are due to broken relationship or out of anger.


  • See below the death trap for men created by women over few years by crying foul





So the condition in which women is in due to their own misdeeds so rather than blainming men that they get bail easily in 498a, try creating awareness for :

1. Gender neutral laws. Replace the word WIFE/HUSBAND by SPOUSE in all existing laws.



2. Anyone (or girl/man) who file false case should be punished equally.

1 Like

tanmoy (.....)     01 February 2013

Dear Sonal,

If you were gone through torture and hasseshment for dowrey... Then why did you file 125 ???

I think, you story is not complete.. or not true... Something is fishy...

Jatin (NA)     01 February 2013

@Sonal Verma

You are living in 21st century and not in stone age anymore but our Indian society and Indian women still live in stone age.

You have mentioned that you had to undergo mental torture for a year by your in-laws then i would ask did they put you in chain and locked you in their house.You are a human being with brain then why you did not go back to your parents home or rent a flat of your own and if even not that still the women organizations are there to help you to get a place to live but you watched the Hindi movies and wanted to show that you are Pativrita Nari.

The truth is in Indian society the parents of girl treat the girl as a liability and as soon marriage is over then their liability is over and the girl cannot go back to her own parents home.The girl is never given any share in her parents property all goes to boys and the wife is supposed to produce kids and men is fully responsible for her for entire life.This is the real reason the girls accept all torture stay with husband and in-laws.When 2 people are incompatible then why force them into relation why not to get separate.Yes if the husband or in-law really took any money from you or you contributed anything during the marriage then you have the right to get it back but a women is not supposed to ask 1cr compensation for broken marriage only because she slept with the man.Then you should know it was also the mistake of the woman and not just the man.

Our society needs to grow mentally and understand that marriage is relationship between 2 individuals and parents should not be invlved into it if there is problem between husband and wife.No where in world it happens that the parents gettting arrested because of husband and wife problem.If a women has problem then don't stay with in-laws house and if in-laws come to your house and torture you then give a 498a complaint.

Also you have mentioned that in 498a its very easy to get AB.I would like to ask you how you will feel if your aged parents are put in jail for few days on a false case without any investigation and then they are released on AB.A divorced woman still got a life but when someone spend even few minutes in jail his/her entire life is destroyed and they will be treated as a criminal all their life not just in India but everywhere on earth.

Indian judiciary has become a joke and its a shame to see when US embassy warms their citizen to be aware about 498a and India women.

A women who puts false 498a case against old innocent people for her greed should be shot at point blank.

Sudhir Kumar, Advocate (Advocate)     03 February 2013

There are people in society who justify the need for such laws.

LAW STUDENT (NILL)     03 February 2013


If a girl is so called tortured mentally then she should better ask for divorce but not 498a [ IT MEAN THAT FEMALE DONT HAVE RIGHT TO GET JUSTIC ] A PERSON CAN SPOIL A FEMALE LIFE, BUT SHE MUST NOT OPT FOR JUSTIC.



Sudhir Kumar, Advocate (Advocate)     03 February 2013

Such like laws came on th ebook only when their necessity was felt. Rather necessity was compelled by certain section of society and they are still compelling the necessity.

Had Dowry Act not been enacted in 1961 there would have been civil suits for recoveyr of agreed dowry.

With the passge of time when women have started earning, the bride harassers have developed new tools [i.e. snatching full salary of DIL and giving her not even sufficient pocket money, working woman with odd working hours like teachers nurses, police etc not to be provided with domestic help, not allowing higher studies, not allowing to attend marraiges/finerals etc in profession field, interefering with official work arguing with her bosses on working hours etc, etc.......] and the research is going on.


Every law is misuses. Persons are even found to wrongfully framed in theft, bribery, FERA, NDPS etc.It does not mean that society should become lawless again.

1 Like


madam law student

 Supreme Court has termed 498a as legal terrorism. What more do you need?

98% of 498a cases turn out be false which shows that 2% are using this law but 98% are misusing it.

That clearly shows that this section is not proerply drafted. I am amazed that you, being a law student is not able to see (which I, being novice,  can easily see)  that:

1. every law should be gender neutral. remove wife /husband from every law and replace the word with spouse.

2. Punish the girl (or boy) who files false case (of 498a).


Thats it. If above 2 demands are met properly then nobody will complaint and you will see then 98% people using law rather than misusing it.


Msk-need -nuetral- laws (self)     04 February 2013


First question to Sonal,

1) Why did you engage a husband who demanded dowry in first place? Simple, you and your family know without dowry no marriage happens in India. Is n't it? Then if dowry exchange is crime, then most of the indian marriages under crime category as per law? 

2) yes, you have right in your husband property the moment you married him, but husband has no word in even saying to share family household when wife is working? Hell can you enlighten me with simple logic how is it equality here?

3) your statement 60 % of the cases were false, Ok, even with your own statement there are 60% of men harrassed comparing to your analsysis of 40% genuine victims. so with continuiing this law you want 60 % innocent people to be implicated with justifying 40% wives. Is n't called selfish and biased?

@ law student,

What do you think indian men are sperm donors and ATM machine for women? Getting married and once conceived,blaming husband with all false harrassments, shamelessly aiming money from him. If he is crminal, then why women need that criminal hard earnt money, you can press for punishment right?? then why sec 125?? Huh??

also kindly analyse how many rural women put 498a where dowry harrassment is not an exception but common, and show how many cases of 498a are from illiterate women? simple it did not reach the intended victim, but for metro woman to make money minting tool. Also kindly take note in the forum most of ladies who regitered are 'HR" who cheats in organisation and now in society knowing the laws. Their so called HR principle is " get through other means" and it holds for money as well. 

Javed (CA)     04 February 2013

Here Madam LAW STUDENT Mentioned


I would really like to know how a person spoils a female life ?

And what kind of Justice Madam is talking about by filing false cases againt parents or siblings?

I would say this LAW STUDENT Madam should talk about justice in gender neutral way and punish whomsoever commits a crime and not use law to take revenge.

If the Society does not accept a Divorcee then its time to change the society and not to punish people who get divorce and force incompatible people to stay together.If dowry was paid then also punish the people who paid dowry.Also as mentioned by Mr. Jatin,girls should not be treated as a liability.Till marriage they are liability of parents and after marriage its liability of husband and now it has become a liability for the government.

2 Like

Dheeraj kumar (associate)     07 August 2013

@sonal and madam Law

Without any provision of law for men in this country 98% of men acquitted, it shows how cripple and vague reason will be given in court by women , even judge also laughs....... when lady says my husband never take me to movie and restuarants.... for this reason you put 498A. or for purchasing a saari and shirt for parents you fight.....for this reason you put 498A..... when you mary a boy earning 50K-60k and found he is not spending money on yours illegal demands....... for this reason you put 498A......if he slap you once only to make you quiet u said he beaten me daily......for this reason you put 498A......when you ask to leave his old parents and stay seprately and when he not agreed......for this reason you put 498A........when boys young brother or sister support their brother to take revenge you put their names also..........for this reason you put 498A....................................


2 Like


Women need all things one sided after marriage:


1. After marriage she need a seperate accomodation aginst her in laws--even husband can't do


2. If husband loves his parents then why you are taking botheration for them--let them be treated as old stuffs.


3. If a child gets more attached to his father--then ill earing to her own child aginst father.


4. If a husband need rest and peace after long tension of his work and office--then he is impotent.


5. If a husband doesn't full fil the illegal demands of her parents--then he is puppet.


and when all the above gets accumulated and husband revolts----then he is called as criminal.


Last but not least "most amazing part of them" ------they even got law to be one sided !


A disastrous and pathetic country for men so called as INDIA.

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