IPC Section 498A and cruelty against men: Law students write to CJI Ramana in the backdrop of increasing suicides of men

It comprehended that women’s suicide has been reduced by 2 percent in the present times whereas the suicide of males has been increased by 48 percent i.e., to speak of a number; India loses a son to suicide every 5.38 minutes or that more than 11 sons are forced to commit suicide every hour as against about 4 female suicides every hour.

A batch of law students from various national law universities and law colleges have written to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana requesting a revisit of provisions under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, in view of the increasing male suicide rate over the past few years due to misuse of the section in question.

The letter said the Apex Court of the Country has always been swift with its actions and time and again acted as a custodian and as the ‘sentinel on the qui vieve’ of fundamental rights especially with emphasis on the fundamental right of equality. The Supreme Court has been always of the notion to ensure ‘equal treatment’.

The letter sought to bring it to the notice of the Supreme Court of India of the misuse of Section 498A, which has the power to deal with the peril of cruelty and doldrums a married woman faces in the form of dowry demands, which in many a case has led to the demise of the woman. The mental agony and menace of harassment at the hands of the husband and his relatives become a predicament to survive and sail through. It was succinctly mentioned that the object of Section 498A in the Statement of Objects and Reasons while enacting the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act No. 46 of 1983. The genus of this section sprung up from the increase in the number of dowry deaths hence, the introduction of such a section was taken to be a boon for the women who were in stoic marital setup.

However, the letter had apprehensions regarding the present time, weighing the alarming statistics closely relying on the 2019 ADSI report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which paints a different picture altogether, it states that suicides of married men, has shown a remarkable leap in the Husband Suicide Index by almost 61 percent in the past two decades.

It comprehended that women’s suicide has been reduced by 2 percent in the present times whereas the suicide of males has been increased by 48 percent i.e., to speak of a number; India loses a son to suicide every 5.38 minutes or that more than 11 sons are forced to commit suicide every hour as against about 4 female suicides every hour.

The Indian judicial system has been taken to recognize the cruelty against men in matrimonial discord, however, it has been noticed that no sound remedies have been procured wherein the husband doesn’t wish to seek divorce or had any deterrent effect for instances, in cases like ANITA GAUR vs. RAJESH GAUR [First Appeal No. 115/2016), and Joydeep Majumdar vs. Biurti Jaiswal Majumdar [Civil Appeal No. 3786/2020]. With that being said, the letter strikes to highlight in the context of the pitfall of Section 498A which is misused by the women at large by filing frivolous suits and concocting issues to fulfil their vendetta against the husband or his family.

The letter reads, “The main point of concern here is the fact that Crime has no gender, and everyone should be deterred from committing it. It’s time that the laws in India recognize that Men too have mental burnout, that men too are subjected to cruelty. The only difference here is that women have legal recourse against cruelty, but men don’t.”

Henceforth, the students have requested the Supreme Court of India to take suo motu cognizance of the matter by directing the Law Ministry to formulate law governing the startling rate of cruelty against men as the law must change with changing time and needs of the society.

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