Sunday, August 22, 2010

Govt asks police to stop misuse of dowry law – Misuse of 498a and dowry prohibition act

Govt asks police to stop misuse of dowry law - Misuse of 498a and dowry prohibition act

Sunday, Aug 22, 2010, 0:56 IST

In a move that may provide some respite to harassed husbands (and their families) facing false dowry harassment charges, the central government has asked the states to prevent misuse of the Dowry Prohibition Act and section 498A (cruelty for dowry) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In a note addressed to the state chief secretaries, the government has asked the police and courts to handle matrimonial disputes and complaints of harassment for dowry with utter care and caution. In cases of matrimonial disputes, the first recourse should be to mediate between the warring spouses and their families. They can file charges under Section 498A of the IPC only where conciliation efforts have failed, and when there is a prima facie case under Section 498A and other laws.

The note also quoted a 2005 Delhi high court judgement by justice JD Kapoor (now retired) saying that these provisions have lead to a large number of divorce cases, as when one spouse is arrested and sent to jail without any immediate reprieve of bail, the chances of salvaging the relationship dwindles, and the marriage, for all practical purposes becomes dead.

“All state governments/UT administrations are requested to take effective steps…to put to rest the allegations of misuse of section 498A of IPC,” the letter issued by ministry of home affairs in consultation with women and child development ministry (WCD) said.

Minister of state for WCD, Krishna Tirath, said that such remedial measures were based on complaints received by the ministry on alleged misuse of the law.

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