Feb 24, 2011
JAIPUR: The Union law department has launched an exercise to tone down the law on matrimonial cruelty, including cases of dowry harassment. Effectively, dowry harassment may soon become a bailable offence.
To protect social fibre of family life and check alleged misuse of the law, the department is contemplating changes in Section 498-A of the IPC that defines the offense of matrimonial cruelty.
Section 498-A was inserted into the IPC by an amendment in 1983. Offenders, including husband or any other family member, are liable for imprisonment as well as a fine and the offence is non-bailable, non-compoundable and cognizable on a complaint made to the police officer by the victim (wife) or by designated relatives.
The law department is now exploring viability of changing the law to make the offense, including dowry harassment, as a bailable and compoundable. ''Relevant data and opinion are being sought from states to evaluate the misuse of the law and possibilities of changing it,'' says Justice (rtd) Shiv Kumar Sharma, member of the National Law Commission.
The panel will hold meetings with police departments across states to collect statistics regarding ''misuse'' of the law and also about genuine cases of dowry harassment and other forms of matrimonial cruelty.
"After husband's arrest, possibility of reconciliation becomes difficult, so the idea is to strike a balance," said Sharma. But, he said the panel was equally concerned about genuine cases and data regarding the same was also being collected.