New Delhi: Amid allegation of misuse of the law, the Law Commission today recommended watering down the anti-dowry law to make it less stringent by allowing the woman involved in the case to withdraw the case with the permission of the court provided she is not under any pressure.
In its latest recommendation made to the law ministry, the commission said the offence should be allowed to be made compoundable provided the woman is facing no external pressure.
Compoundable offences are those which can be compromised by the parties to the dispute. The permission of the court is not necessary. When an offence is compounded, the party, who has been aggrieved by the offence, is compensated for his grievance.
The commission, headed by Justice PV Reddi, has recommended to the government to make Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with harassment for dowry and cruelty to a woman in her matrimonial home, a compoundable offence.
This means that those who would be booked in cases under this section would find it easier to get bail.
"...it is proposed to add sub-section (2A) to Section 320 CrPC. The proposed provision will ensure that the offer to compound the offence is voluntary and free from pressures and the wife has not been subjected to ill-treatment subsequent to the offer of compounding. Incidentally, it underscores the
need for the court playing an active role while dealing with the application for compounding the offence under Section 498-A," the report said.
In the wake of growing complaints about the misuse of anti-dowry laws by women, the Law Commission had studied the possibility of making section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code a bailable offence for the relatives of the husband.
Currently, the law mandates that any accused will be arrested and jailed during the pendency of the case.
Under the section, offenders, including the husband or his family members, are liable for imprisonment without even an investigation.
The offence is non-bailable, non-compoundable and cognisable on a complaint made to the police officer by the victim (wife) or by designated relatives. Furthermore, the section does not include any provision for a compromise.