New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is examining ways to stem misuse of anti-dowry laws. The home ministry is planning to tweak the controversial Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code to prevent its blatant misuse. A new section is likely to be inserted to make offences under it compoundable with the court’s permission, which will allow an accused to escape jail by paying a fine.
The MHA has received feedback from state governments in favour of changes, and it is likely to circulate a draft bill soon for inter-ministerial consultation. At present, under Section 498A IPC, dowry offences are cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, where the petitioner cannot withdraw a case. It has no provision for out-of-court settlements.
After consulting states, the MHA plans to make offences compoundable, sources said. The permission of the court will be a safeguard against attempts where a wife may be coerced into a compromise with her husband and in-laws. The move to tweak the tough provisions of Section 498A first began in 2012 when the Law Commission advised that the offence be made compoundable. “It has taken the MHA two years to get the views of the states, a majority of which are in favour of changes,” a top official said.
The SC in July had criticised misuse of the law, and directed to instruct that the police not make automatic arrests under it.
- The home ministry is planning to tweak the controversial Section 498A IPC to prevent its blatant misuse.
- Under this Section, dowry offences are cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, where the petitioner cannot withdraw.