Criminal Law in India: Cruelty by Husband

Domestic violence is a serious issue faced by several Indian women. Indian women are known to tolerate it in silence because they want to protect family honor and endure it for the sake of their children. However, Indian law recognizes cruelty as a major ground for divorce.

Criminal Law in India: How to Prove the Accused as Guilty

Further, criminal law in India defines cruelty as:

  • Any willful act, which is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause serious injury to her or danger to her life, body or physical/mental health.
  • Harassing a woman to pressurize her to fulfill any illegal demand for any property or valuable belongings. Also, in case of failure on her part to meet such a demand.

To prove the first case, in accordance with criminal law in India, the prosecution has to establish that the act was conducted willfully, by the accused. Also, the nature of such an act was likely to compel the woman to commit suicide or cause serious injury to her or pose danger to her life, limb or physical/mental health. After, scrutinizing and validating the facts, the Court shall decide whether the woman was subjected to cruelty, by her husband or his relatives.

Criminal Law in India: Penalty for Commission of Cruelty by Husband

Criminal law in India recognizes both mental and physical torture as cruelty. However, the concept of cruelty varies from case to case, depending on the social and economic status of individuals. Whether a woman was subjected to cruelty or not, is also decided based on various factors, such as:

  • Matrimonial relationship between a woman and her husband.
  • Cultural background and temperament of the couple.
  • Status of life.
  • Status of health.
  • Level of interaction between the husband and wife.

Further, all types of harassment does not amount to cruelty. In order to be considered cruelty under the Indian laws, harassment must be commissioned with an intention to pressurize to meet an unlawful demand, such as get more dowry or money from the wife.

Final Legal Take Away Tip: Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, introduced by the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983, aims to ensure that women are protected from cruelty. It provides that an offender under the Act shall be liable for an imprisonment up to 3 years and also charged with fine. However, there is no clear definition of harassment under the aforementioned section. Nonetheless, as per the ruling of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, section 498-A of IPC, applies to a man and woman who are living together like husband and wife.
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