Approved by Indian Parliament in year 1983, Indian Penal Code 498a is a criminal law (not a civil law) which is explained as follows,
“Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bail-able.
How are you at risk and why it is dangerous for the society?
Your wife/daughter-in-law whose demands are not met can make a written false complaint of dowry harassment to a nearby police station. The husband, his old parents and relatives are immediately arrested without sufficient investigation and put behind bars on a non-bail able terms. Even if the complaint is false, you shall be presumed guilty until you prove that you are innocent.
498a can only be invoked by wife/daughter-in-law or her relative. Most cases where Sec 498A is invoked turn out to be false (as repeatedly accepted by High Courts and Supreme Court in India) as they are mere blackmail attempts by the wife (or her close relatives) when faced with a strained marriage. In most cases 498a complaint is followed by the demand of huge amount of money (extortion) to settle the case out of the court. This section is non-bail able (you have to appear in court and get bail from the judge), non-compoundable (complaint can’t be withdrawn) and cognizable (register and investigate the complaint, although in practice most of the time arrest happens before investigation). There have been countless instances where, without any investigation, the police have arrested elderly parents, unmarried sisters, pregnant sister-in-laws and even 3 year old children. In these cases, unsuspecting family of husband has to go through a lot of mental torture and harassment by the corrupt Indian legal system. A typical case goes on for years (5-7 years is typical) and the conviction rate is about 2% only. Some accused parents, sisters and even husbands have committed suicide after time in jail.
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