Anti-dowry law: ‘Disagree with order diluting Sec 498A’


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  This news is important for mains as SC has indicated that it would revisit its earlier verdict that put an end to automatic arrests.




  1. The Supreme Court on Friday indicated that it would revisit its earlier verdict that put an end to automatic arrests under Section 498A of the IPC, which is often invoked in dowry-related cases.
  2. SC stated that it is not in agreement with the decision rendered in Rajesh Sharma vs State of UP, because it is disposed to think that it really curtails the rights of the women who are harassed under Section 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code.
  3. The apex court issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women and sought their response by November 29.
  4. The petitioner NGO Nyayadhar which sought sharpness in Section 498A, claiming that the otherwise “helpful instrument” in the hands of victim women had become “valueless”.


Family Welfare Committe

  1. The court’s earlier verdict laid down a set of guidelines that included the setting up of family welfare committees to look into complaints of dowry harassment tp protect human rights of innocents.
  2. These committees will be set up by the District Legal Services Authorities, and complaints received by police or magistrates under Section 498A must be referred to the committee.
  3. Till report of the Committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.
  4. The NGO Nyayadhar sought a direction to include two women members in the three-member family welfare committee as suggested in earlier court order.
  5. The apex court, however, made it clear that these directions will not apply in offences where there is tangible physical injury or death.
  6. After seeing the working of the arrangement for six months, the National Legal Services Authority may give a report on any changes if necessary.


Why SC issued directions to prevent the misuse of Section 498A ?

The bench stated that Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives against a wife, particularly when such cruelty had potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman but many of such complaints are not bonafide.