Challenging the Myth of Misuse of 498A by Women: A critical study on IPC 498 A in Odisha
Oxfam India in collaboration with Human rights Organisation Committee for Legal Aid to Poor (CLAP) and partner Institute of Social Development (ISD) organised a dissemination of the key findings of the study “Legal Rights of Women; A critical Study on IPC 498A in Odisha”.
The objective of the dissemination was to share the findings with the Government functionaries, civil society, lawyers and advocates and also to gather opinion on the study findings. The research findings and recommendations are also expected to capture adequate legislative and policy attention to bring about a change in the lives of women who suffer injustice in spite of the provisions of law.
The study was unveiled by the Dr. Bikash Das President CLAP, Shaik Anwar Regional Manager Oxfam India, Ex.DGP Sri.Sarat Chandra Mishra, Smt. Sulata Deo Chairperson State Social Welfare Board, Smt. Jyoti Panigrahi Chairperson State Women’s Commission and Smt. Shubhasree Das Director ISD (in photo from left to right). Smt. Manorama Mohapatra former Editor SAMAJ and an eminent civil society member was also present in the event.
The event and the study findings have been covered by the print and electronic media in Odisha.
The key findings of the study are as follows:
1. Over last 15-years there was no conviction under IPC Section 498-A in Odisha, except for one case where the punishment has been reduced without any imprisonment.
2. Less number of cases (10 out of 26 cases studied from different law journals which came up the High Court of Odisha since 1998 until 2012 in matters of Section 498-A ) went for conviction orders by the trial court
3. Conviction orders by trial courts with parties allowed with a reduced punishment
4. 90 % of the cases are quashed due to lack of evidence
5. Acquittal order given importance
6. No punitive action
7. Compromise/divorce made in course of hearing and pendency
The major opinions that came from the civil society and government functionaries are that there is a dire need to have a law that protects women from incidences of violence and atrocities within marital family in the context of rising incidences according to the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau and it is the procedural complications and investigation fallacies that is largely responsible for the misuse of the act and the women is definitely not responsible towards it as the procedure involves multi-stakeholders like police, lawyers, NGOs, judiciaries.
Context of the Study
The study has been conducted under the context that there is a huge hue and cry in the public domain that the provisions of 498 A (reveals that over last 15-years there was no conviction under IPC Section 498-A, a penal law to protect women form cruelty within marriage, except for one case where the punishment has been reduced without any imprisonment)are being misused by women. There has been a petition by one of the Rajya Sabha member during the year 2010 to change the provisions of the act and women’s organisations and networks from across India had given their reactions in the form of roundtable, mass demonstrations, signed petitions which resulted in stalling the revisions in the act, but the accusation of misuse continues till date. Oxfam India aimed to respond to the accusation with a well researched study with concrete evidence through case study analysis and understanding the diverse views from various stakeholders like survivors, lawyers and judiciary.
Crime against Women (Under Section IPC 498 A): Odisha at a glance
A total of 8501 numbers of cases were registered in Odisha in the year 2010 as crime against women.
As per 2010 NCRB data, 38.0% of the crimes against women in Odisha is due to cruelty by husband or relatives, dowry torture, and sexual harassment.
A comparative incidence of crimes during the five year period shows that rate of crime against women has been on rise between the year 2005 and 2010.
Number of cases registered U/S 498 A (Cruelty by Husband & Relatives) has gone from 1671 for the year 2005 to 2067 for the year 2010. Torture to Women by Family members (i.e Cruelty by Husband and Relatives U/S 498 of IPC) in Odisha increased by 24.0% between the period of 2005-10.
Source: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)