Domestic Violence and Dowry Harassment laws in India

Indian laws tend to be pro-women in various matters. Progressive discrimination was deemed necessary in a country which recorded a dowry death every hour, on average, and where violence against women has been regarded as normal.

Section 498A of IPC – Domestic Violence (including dowry harassment)

  • deals with domestic violence and cruelty (mental or physical, etc) towards women by the husband or his relatives. Dowry harassment too is covered under this law.
  • Data (2017, NCRB):
    • 30% of all cases of crimes against women are registered under Section 498A.
    • however- conviction rate is 12% – lowest among all cases of crimes against women.
  • The husband and his accused family members are immediately arrested on complaint by the wife.
    • This provision is accused to be biased against men.
    • In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that police could no longer make immediate arrests under section 498A, and that preliminary enquiry is mandatory to ensure that the male counterpart and his family are non abused in a false case. However, the ruling was modified in 2018, and the provision of immediate arrest was restored.

Prevention of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005

  • wide-ranging definition of domestic violence
    • domestic violence is any kind of abusive behaviour (mental, emotional, sexual, economic, physical) by husband or his relatives
  • focused on victims, to give them relief from domestic violence
    • relief in the form of protection orders, residence orders, monetary relief, custody orders and compensation orders.
  • Civil in nature, but stringent penal provisions. This has been proven effective.

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