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So kicking is okay?

August 12, 2009

I’m not too sure about what the Supreme Court (SC) is at. Maybe I need to read Section 498a of the IPC in detail to really understand what the judges meant by their decision, but how can kicking someone not be considered cruel? Kicking someone is violent. The ‘attacker’ (for want of a better word) is not only infringing the victims personal space, making the attack humiliating, but also physically harming the victim.

The case in question was that of a woman named Monica who alleged that she had been harassed by her in-laws and threatened with divorce if she did not meet their demands (presumably for dowry). The SC ruled that a woman being kicked by her husband and his relatives does not amount to cruelty within the precincts of Section 498a of the IPC. Thus, the in-laws actions were not punishable under Section 498a of the Indian Penal Code.

Now it seems that women from all over the country have misused this law to extract huge sums of money from their husbands and in-laws. The court may have, to reduce the chances of this happening, decided to make the law clearer. One part of the Section 498a states that:

Thus, the essential ingredients of the aforementioned provisions are:

  1. 1. A woman must be married.
  2. 2. She must be subjected to cruelty.
  3. 3. Cruelty must be of the nature of:

(i) any willful conduct as was likely to drive such woman:

a. to commit suicide;

b. cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb, either mental or physical;

(ii) harassment of such woman, (1) with a view to coerce her to meet unlawful demand for property or valuable security, (2) or on account of failure of such woman or by any of her relation to meet the unlawful demand,

(iii) woman was subjected to such cruelty by: (1) husband of that woman, or (2) any relative of the husband.

For constitution an offence under Section 498A of the IPC, therefore,

the ingredients thereof must be held to be existing.

Women, outraged at this ruling, “are demanding the intervention of the Ministry of Justice”[1]. Some may even link this to the fact that there isn’t adequate representation of women in the Supreme Court.

Is Section 498a the only provision under which a woman can seek justice in the cases like Monika’s? Or are there others (in which case the fuss is unnecessary and this Section is just meant for the more serious cases of Dowry harassment.).

[1] Indian Catholic, August 07 2009. Source: Asianews

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