Posted October 28, 2013 by advocateguru in Learning Centre

Cruelty by Husband or Relative


Section 498A deals cruelty to a wife by the husband or his relatives. It endeavours to prevent torture to a married woman by her husband or by his relatives and or punish them for harassing or torturing the wife to coerce her or her relatives to concede unlawful demands of dowry. Until then, harassment of a wife by her husband or her in-laws was covered by the general provisions of the IPC dealing with assault, hurt, grievous hurt or homicide. The increasing violence against women especially young, newly married women and growing incidents of bride- burning became a matter of concern to everyone.

Cruelty by Husband or Relatives of Husband – An essential Ingredient

The offence under Section 498A is restricted to only acts of committing or omission done by the husband or his relatives. The word ‘relative’ has not been defined. But a perusal of the case law reveals that generally, the parents, sisters and brothers of the husband have been prosecuted under this section. A person who is not a relative but a friend, however close he is to the family of the husband, cannot be prosecuted under this section.

What is cruelty?

It is not possible for the legislature to enumerate all acts amounting to cruelty or to put cruel conduct into any strait jacket formula. The explanation to section 498A clarifies what amounts to cruelty for the purpose of Section 498 A. According to explanation (a) any wilful conduct which is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause any grave injury or danger to life. Limb or mental or physically health of the woman is cruelty. By virtue of explanation (b) ‘harassment’ of a woman, with a view to coerce her or her relatives, to meet unlawful demand for any property or valuable security, is cruelty