Monday, January 27, 2014

Pune City police warned against ‘misuse’ of IPC section 498A

Pune City police warned against ‘misuse’ of IPC section 498A

Posted On Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 11:36:23 AM

Officials at city police stations have been directed to be circumspect while registering FIRs under section 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Preliminary inquiries may be conducted in cases of matrimonial/family disputes before an FIR is registered, police officials have been told. 

“We have issued circulars to all police stations in the city. They have been told that a preliminary inquiry must be conducted in cases of matrimonial/family disputes before FIRs and arrests in cases under 498A,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Sanjeev Kumar Singhal.

As per records available with the police commissioner’s office, there were 299 cases in 2013, 180 in 2012 and 231 in 2011 registered under section 498A. “A woman or her relative(s) can file a case under against her husband, his parents, siblings and other relatives. 

In the past, there has been misuse of the law when the police arrested people without verification or investigation. Alleging harassment over dowry demands by their husband’s family, women would lodge false complaints of physical and mental harassment. 

The Supreme Court has framed guidelines for preliminary inquiries before registration of FIRs in cases of matrimonial and property disputes,” said criminal lawyer Kainat Shaikh.

However, Asunta Pardhe, president of NGO Chetna Mahila Vikas Kendra, believes that victims never misuse the law. “There are several social and cultural factors responsible for this perception that women misuse this law. 

A victim approaches the police when she has undergone tremendous mistreatment at the hands of her husband and in-laws. As she may not know about the law, it is the police who invoke this section of the IPC. It is often seen that, in many cases, family members force the women to compromise and withdraw the case. 

Due to this, there is a perception that women misuse this law. Victims also compromise for the sake of their children or other family commitments. Hence, few case go to trial unless the victim is no longer alive,” Pardhe told Mirror.

The women grievances redressal cell at the Police Commissioner’s office has been counselling couples and their family members regarding family disputes and police officials said they have been sensitised about the law and its ramifications due to misuse.

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