A Provision to Safeguard turned into a Weapon: Section 498A of IPC


This paper talks about the misuse of gender-biased laws in India which is a major issue of this era. The research paper is made with the motive to understand how a provision of law made to protect women has turned into a weapon against men. The article includes statistics and court judgment supporting the argument that Section 498A of IPC has been misused on a vast level.

Misuse of Gender biased law an issue in India

India is not the safest country for women for sure, India is ranked 148 out of 170 countries in the “Women, Peace and Security Index 2021”. A study shows that the southern states of India are way better for women. The worst performing states in the matter of women security are in the region from Rajasthan to Assam. India is also bottom bottom-ranked country when it comes to son bias which shows that there exists a deep-rooted bias in India against females. Son Bias means a preference for a boy child over a girl child. So according to statistics, the women of our country are in danger, and they must be protected by the law. So, the constitution of India has provided women of India with some legal safeguards to empower them. [1]

There is no issue in providing safeguards to a woman, but the issue arises when the men of the society are considered to be the offender and the women are considered victims by the nature of the law itself. Let’s look into the detail of it:

1. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code:

 A man is said to commit “rape” who had sexual intercourse with a woman under the following circumstances:

  • If the intercourse was against the will of the woman.
  • If the intercourse was without the consent of the woman.
  • If the intercourse with the consent of woman, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt. Against her will.
  • If the intercourse was With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be law­fully married.
  • If the intercourse was with her consent but at the time of giving consent the woman was of unsound mind.If the intercourse was with a women of age under 16.

One important area to be focused here is that in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, rape and sexual harassment were gender neutral laws and even the term ‘Rape’ got removed completely and it was changed with the word sexual assault. But this change of making rape a gender neutral crime faced a lot of objections by the group of women.[2]The arguments given by the feminists for rape not being a gender neutral law were that men are not equally vulnerable as women are, men always want sex, it is incapable for a women to rape a men, the after effect on women and men are different after rape. Because of This objection from the women of the society the law ended up becoming a gender biased law.

I would like to put light on few arguments raised for making rape laws gender biased in India, Firstly it was doubted if a woman can rape a man or not; The reasoning behind this argument is that if a woman forcefully tries to have sex with a man it will be physically impossible for her to rape a man as he won’t have an erection. But In a case study conducted by Sarell and Masters in 1982, 11 men were studied who had been sexually assaulted by women. The men faced humility, fear, anxiety and fear but the most important thing to see here is rather all the circumstances the men responded sexually. They had erections; and several ejaculated too. It was also concluded that anxiety might increase the sexual arousal.

In a recent study, it was discovered that 16.1% of the 222 Indian men polled have been pressured into having sex. Despite the fact that male rape is not as well studied as female rape, there are various facts that imply men are raped and that the prevalence of male rape is higher than often assumed. For example, for the past three months, a 16-year-old boy stated that his best friend’s mother had been sexually harassing him (2015). Male rape occurs, but it is rarely documented. Countries with gender-neutral rape legislation, without a doubt, have the lowest rape rates in the world.

2.And Section 498a of IPC (Cruelty Against Women):

one of the legal protection provided to women, it deals with the issue of  ‘Matrimonial Cruelty’ to a woman. Matrimonial Cruelty according to Indian Penal Code is a cognizable, non bailable and non-compoundable offence. The objective of section 498-A of I.P.C is to safeguard women who are being harassed by relatives of their husband or by their husband themself , but unfortunately now it’s known as the  most abused law in the history of Indian jurisprudence. Out of the 24-lakh people arrested under this law barely 15% is found actually guilty. [3]

3.Domestic Violence Act (2005) –

Another arbitrary law allows a wife or female live-in partner to exert centralized control over the household. This legislation’s definition of violence is so broad that it only takes a woman being insulted for her husband to end up on the wrong side of the law. The laws addressing abuse of women do not recognise the harm that men endure, demonstrating a judicial system that is unequal.

In India, the rate of false claims following the breakdown of a marriage, when the woman feels humiliated, is steadily rising. Men are not protected by the law from these humiliating charges, which leads to extreme measures such as suicide.

Section 498A of IPC a tool of Legal Terrorism:

Several individuals, jurists, and even men’s rights activists have expressed concern over the misuses of gender biased laws, highlighting misapplication of the law as a major reason. The for the misapplication of Section 498A, the dowry statute. According to some campaigners, up to 85% of dowry accusations are bogus, and India is unable of dealing with another failed catastrophic law that amounts to “legal terrorism.” Many men’s rights organizations are afraid that criminalising marital rape will be exploited far more than the anti-dowry legislation.

A men’s right activist Deepika Narayan wrote in her article in 2020 citing the misuse of 498A. I will quote what she said:

“A total of 111,549 cases were registered under 498A in 2020. Of these, 5,520 were closed by Police citing as false and overall 16151 cases were closed by police either because they were false or there was a mistake of fact or law or it was a civil dispute etc. That is 14.4% of cases were closed by police for not finding merit in the case. 96,497 men, 23,809 women were arrested under 498A last year making total arrests under this section 120,306.

18,967 cases were tried in courts of which 14,340 led to acquittal and 3,425 led to a conviction. 498A cases pending trial at the end of 2020 are 651,404 with a pendency percentage of 96.2%.”

Calcutta High Court also stated: Misuse of Section 498A of IPC by women unleashes “Legal Terrorism”[4]


The section 498A of IPC was introduced as a protective shield for women against the cruelty they faced for dowry, but with time the act has been misused on such an extent that now it has overridden the positive intent of the provision. When the provision for safety is used to attack the opposite gender it does injustice not only to the people of opposite gender but to people of the protected gender too.

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Written By : Sushant Kumar Sharma

[1] Nirandhi Gowthaman, India Ranks 133 out of 167 countries in women,peace and security index, YOURSTORY

[2] Harsh Kumar, Gender Biased Laws In India, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA

[3] Supra

[4] Srinjoy Das, _Misuse Of S.498A IPC By Women Unleashes “Legal Terrorism”: Calcutta High Court Quashes Domestic Violence Case Against Husband & In-Laws_(August 21,2023), LIVELAW