Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (amended in 1983), is a crucial provision that addresses the issue of cruelty by husbands or their relatives towards married women. This section provides legal protection to women who suffer physical, mental or emotional abuse within their matrimonial relationships.
The language of Section 498A is clear and unambiguous. It stipulates that any act of cruelty committed by a husband or his relative which drives a woman to commit suicide, causes grievous hurt or danger to life, limb or health, will result in imprisonment for up to three years and fine. Furthermore, under this section both cognizable and non-bailable offences can be registered against those found guilty.
In India’s patriarchal society, many women live with common forms of violence such as marital rape; assault on reproductive rights; economic coercion; dowry-related violence etc., but it is still considered taboo and not spoken about openly. The Indian government amended the penal code in an effort to change this cultural mindset around domestic violence.
Over time several case laws have assisted public prosecutors in fighting against Domestic Violence cases where victims include Non Resident Indians resident outside India.
In Smt Jasbir Kaur Sehgal v/s State Of Punjab & Another (1997)2 SCC39: AIR1997SC1356 – The Supreme Court held that if there was sufficient evidence vis-a-vis the demand for dowry and harassment meted out on account thereof leading to suicide etc., Section 306 could well be applied along with Section 304-B.”
Similarly In B.S Joshi And Others vs State Of Haryana And Anr.(2003)4SCC675–“Generally speaking making blanket allegation accusing all members of family would not be sufficient for convicting them”
Further expanding its ambit for protecting NRI wives from Domestic Violence cases filed anywhere within India irrespective whether they are citizens Of India Or Not-
The Indian Government has enacted the “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005” which expands upon Section 498A IPC and sets out specific provisions for relief in cases of domestic violence.
The Act defines domestic violence broadly to include a wide range of acts such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse (including dowry harassment) or threats of any such conduct. The act additionally provides protection to NRI wives who are victims of domestic violence and allows them access to courts in India through designated Protection Officers by way if filing complaints even while being abroad. Allowing women victimized abroad to file court cases within India encourages enduring support amidst familiar conditions.
Given this approach taken by the Indian government towards combating domestic violence against women especially that faced by NRIs due cultural differences between countries; it is critical that Non Resident Indians pay attention to Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant laws for their own safety during marriage arrangements within India.
Accordingly, we advise all Non Resident Indians wishing to enter into matrimonial alliances in India to be careful when navigating this delicate process and ensuring they have proper legal counsel so as not fall prey to fraudulent arrangements resulting in violation under section 498A & other Laws”.