Saturday, August 20, 2011

Centre homes in on Sec 498A of IPC as men plead for cover against harassment law

Ahmedabad  Aug 20, 2011  

Home Ministry writes to Dashrath Devda of Akhil Bhartiya Patni Atyachar Virodhi Sangh, says Law Commission is looking into it

Following hundreds of applications from men peeved over the alleged misuse of Section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) meant to protect women, the judicial cell of Union home ministry has issued an advisory to state governments “to take effective measures for prevention of misuse of the legal provision” and also referred the matter to the Law Commission “to study the usage of the provision to suggest amendment, if any”.
Section 498A of the IPC provides protection to married women against harassment from their husbands and in-laws. Under the provision, police can arrest any member of a woman’s in-laws’ family against whom she makes an allegation of harassment.
The Section reads, “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 Union home ministry has conveyed the development in a letter to Ahmedabad-based men’s rights activist Dashrath Devda, who has been fighting for an amendment in Section 498A of the IPC.
Devda heads Akhil Bhartiya Patni Atyachar Virodhi Sangh (All India Federation Against Atrocities by Wives), an organisation based in Ahmedabad.
He had unsuccessfully staged a hunger strike in Delhi against the alleged pro-women laws, including Section 498A of the IPC.
To press his demand, he had also filed a public interest litigation in the HC, which dismissed the plea and fined him while calling his petition frivolous.
Subsequently, Devda submitted a memorandum in this regard to the authorities in Delhi. As a reply, he has now received the letter from the judicial cell of the Union home ministry.
The letter reads, “An advisory has been issued to be state governments by this Ministry to take effective measures for prevention of misuse of Section 498A of the IPC. The matter has also been referred to Law Commission of India to study the usage of Section 498A of IPC and suggest amendments, if any, to the provision.”
Sources in the Union home ministry said they receive a number of applications with reference to the alleged misuse of section 498A of IPC. On the basis of 200-250 such applications, they had referred the matter to the Law Commission in 2009, they said, adding that in 2010, the ministry again referred the matter to the Law Commission for a comprehensive study of the grievances and to suggest amendment, if any. Subsequently, the Law Commission had demanded related data from the state governments.