Women and Marriage
Author: Rijuka Naresh Jain
Designation: Student, Advocate Balasaheb Apte College Of Law
"There is no hope for that family or country where there is no estimation of women,
where they live in sadness. For this reason, they have to be raised first."
The status and the prosperity of a country, remains in the wellbeing and the status of men and women together. Providing reservations in various government portfolios can increase their economic status but their social and personal dignity is still not unfettered. Many women are still a prey to the hungry clutches of their superiors. Many women still do not file a complain against the Sexual Harassment they face at their workplace or even at their own houses fearing the consequences.
The women face a lot of issues after marriage. They are tortured to a level where they even think that it is better to die than to live in such a hell. They are brutally beaten for petty mistakes which they commit.
To overcome all these, there are several provisions in the Indian Penal Code which play a vital role in curbing such activities to a large extent. There are several provisions like Section 326A, 326B, 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376D, 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 372 and 509 which deal with penalising the perpetrator of these brutal crimes. Today, we are mainly dealing with those crimes which a woman generally faces after marriage.
Section 498A (Cruelty caused by husband or relatives of husband):
This section was introduced after several cases were reported which was a matter of serious concern. Cruelty means mental as well as physical torture. The meaning of this word has been defined in Inder Raj Malik vs. Sunita Malik. This section specifically aims to combat the growing menace of the cruelty of the husband or his relatives towards the wife which she faces behind those four closed walls. Matrimonial cruelty in India is a non-bailable, cognizable and a non-compoundable offence. Section 113-A was also bought into picture in the Indian Evidence Act at the same time.
Although this section is ultra vires of Article 14, the Legislative body has certains powers to empower the woman and thus it is not Constitutionally invalid. This had been explained in Raj Malik and others vs. Sunita Malik.
In the last few years, the laws relating to violence against women in India has been that women misuse these laws. In Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. Union of India and others, the SC has dealt with something related to this. In Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and Anr, it laid certain guidelines for the Police Officers to follow before making an arrest due to the number of frivolous and false complaints.
Section 304B (Dowry Death):
Dowry is a consideration which is paid for the bride by her family to the groom or his family, as an agreement to marry her. There is a special Act which has come into force due to the increasing danger. The very essential ingredient of Dowry death is that death should take place within seven years of marriage and should be caused by burns or bodily injuries. The meaning of the expression ‘soon before her death’ has been laid down in Prema S. Rao v. Yadla Srinivasa Rao and the expression is connected to the idea of proximity text.
It was observed in Vadde Rama Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh that section 304B would be applicable only if the harassment or cruelty was performed by the husband on any of his relative in connection with demand for dowry, immediately before the death.
Dowry can take place at three instances- before marriage, at the time of marriage and at an unending period. It is not very easy to show direct evidence, so the rule of presumptions is considered, i.e. if the wife dies within seven years of marriage in suspicious circumstances. The burden to prove lies on the side of the prosecution. This has been given in Ratan Lal v. State of Madhya Pradesh and N.V. Satyanandam v. Public Prosecutor.
The difference between Section 498A and 304B is that there is no period of limitation in case of Section 498A but in case of Section 304B the death has to take place within seven years of marriage.
Our country’s condition has been degrading day after day. Even after having a plethora of statutes and laws for the protection and empowerment of women, they still are disparaged. It is the need of the hour for these perpetrators and extortionists to receive punishment in a very stringent manner which prevents others like them from committing the same offence. Legal awareness should be created in every corner of the country so that women are enlightened about their rights and can raise their voice whenever needed.