Indian Penal Code

Offence relating to Marriage – Cruelty caused by Husband or relative of Husband

Laws like section 498-A and Domestic violence Act are framed to protect women who are victims of cruelty and domestic violence. Cruelty is the violation of the fundamental right of life and dignity which the Indian Constitution entrusts. The term cruelty and love and affection relate to each other. Hence, cruelty is a major ground for dissolution of marriage.


Section 498-A

As per Section 498-A, “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to fine.”

For the purpose of this section, ‘cruelty’ states-

(a) any deliberate conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to induce a woman to commit suicide. Moreover, it may cause a serious injury or danger to life or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with an intention of coercing her or any person related to her to meet any illegal demand for any property or valuable security. Moreover, it includes coercion on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand

Browse more Topics under Indian Penal Code

Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The saying goes that cruelty is a character of a man and if someone is just there should be a cause of why he is so. The Act deals with many kinds of abuses which were not earlier covered under the legal provision e.g. sexual abuse by husband (or marital rape) which was not there in IPC. It also covers emotional abuse by the husband or in-laws of the plaintiff on account of not having a child or not giving birth to a male child.

Specific Provisions

In 1983, domestic violence was decided as a specific criminal offense with the introduction of section 498-A into the IPC. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his relatives against a married woman. Four types of cruelties are which are under this law:

  • Firstly, conduct which is likely to induce a woman to suicide,

  • Secondly, conduct which is likely to cause serious injury to the life or health of the lady,

  • harassing with the purpose of forcing the lady or her known to give some property, or

  • Lastly, harassment because the woman or her relatives are unable to fulfill the demands for more money items.

Forms of Cruelty

  • Persistent refusal of eatables,

  • Insisting on continuous sexual conduct,

  • Continuous locking a lady out of the house,

  • Physiological violence,

  • Taunting, demoralizing and putting down the lady with the aim of causing mental harm,

  • Confining the woman at the house and not allowing her normal social interaction,

  • Abusing children in their mom’s presence with the aim of causing her mental harm,

  • Threatening with divorce for dowry

Solved Question on Cruelty

Question: Briefly state the provision of Section 493 under Indian Penal Code.

Answer: Cohabitation caused by a person deceitfully stimulating a belief of legal marriage. Every man who by deceit affects any woman who is not legally married to him to believe that she is legally married to him and to have sex or sexual intercourse with him in that belief. In such cases, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which can extend to 10 years. Moreover, he shall also be liable to fine.

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