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Changes in penal code to target custody torture, fake dowry cases

Another important amendment involves Section 323 IPC (voluntarily causing hurt) and pertains to torture in custody by policemen.

Written by Vijaita Singh | New Delhi | Updated: November 9, 2014 3:57 am

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has given the green signal for important amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including to check false claims of dowry harassment, rash and negligent driving, and torture in custody.

According to a senior government official, the key changes include: raising the fine for false allegations of dowry harassment from Rs 1,000 to Rs 15,000 and offering the option of a compromise; adding a new sub-section to make torture in custody punishable by up to three years in jail; and increasing the punishment for rash and negligent driving from the existing two to a maximum of 10 years.

The amendments, which will now be submitted before the Union Cabinet, also take a softer approach towards those attempting suicide, with a proposal to decriminalise that section in the IPC.

Explaining the amendments, the official said that the existing section relating to false claims of harassment for dowry — 498A IPC — is tilted heavily in favour of women.

“We are proposing a change under which the husband, wife will also get an option to arrive at a compromise anytime during the course of a trial with the permission of the court. The law is going to be strict for women who make false claims of being harassed for dowry,” the official said.

Recently, Supreme Court had restrained police from “automatically” arresting the accused in all such cases.

Another important amendment involves Section 323 IPC (voluntarily causing hurt) and pertains to torture in custody by policemen.
“There are many cases when the accused have been tortured by policemen and there is no accountability. Sometimes, this even leads to death in police custody. Another sub-section would be added to make this offence punishable by up to three years,” the official said.

A third section — 304A IPC — that comes into force in cases of rash and negligent driving is also being overhauled. “Presently, there is no exclusive section to deal with cases in which rash and negligent driving leads to loss of life. We will amend this section also and make the offence punishable by up to ten years,” said the official.

The government has also proposed drop Section 309 IPC entirely to decriminalise “attempt to suicide”. The particular section contains a provision that prescribed one year jail as punishment to for those attempting to commit suicide.

As reported earlier, the proposed amendments will also target the offering of bribes during elections. This will now be a non-bailable offence with a minimum jail term of three months and up to two years upon conviction — currently, it is punishable with a jail term of one year under Section 171B/171E of the IPC.


Sections set for change

Section 498A: Women to be fined Rs 15,000 if allegations of harassment for dowry are false.

Section 323: Another sub-section to be added, mentioning torture in custody, where policemen found guilty could face jail of up to three years.

Section 304A: Maximum punishment of 10 years, from existing two, for rash and negligent driving resulting in death.

Section 309: To decriminalise “attempt to suicide”, this section will be dropped entirely.

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  1. A
    Mar 17, 2015 at 4:32 pm
    Because of this kind of fake case that person or his family suffer a lot. JOB loss, mentally disturbance, money loss to pay advocates, bails, and even jail also (in my case 17 days) etc., and finally if you find out that case is faked then at least these kind of women also get imprisonment at least for 1 year, why should only men and his family can suffer. Law should be same for all. Generally they are asking 5-50 lakhs to settle the case…. In that case only 15,000 fine? Please rethink.
    1. A
      AR khan
      Mar 31, 2015 at 11:22 pm
      Because of fake dowry cases a male and his family suffers a lot. why should not be same cases lodged against female and their family because they are torturing and blackmailing husbands and his family as it has been accepted by our honorable supreme court that around 90% dowry torture cases are fabricated and court has also termed it "legal terrorism" . According to the home ministry data more than 63000 male have committed suicide in 2012 because dowry harment that is double in comparison of female suicide . Law should be equal for both. there should be option for male also to file same cases against wife and her parents.
      1. S
        Dec 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm
        Sounds like the laws are driven from the these days.
        1. B
          Dec 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm
          1. A
            Amit Bhandari
            Nov 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm
            Is fine of Rs.15,000 an effective deterrent against filing fake dowry harment cases by women?At the community level, framing of innocents is an abuse of process of law, an avoidable burden on the justice delivery system and is anathema to the rule of law. Personally, it spoils years of precious time of innocents in contesting needless charges; ridicules them in society; leads to losses of jobs, health and finances.Deterrence, to be meaningful, must be effective and not cosmetic. 498A is non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable. A fake charge of a serious criminal offence is also a serious criminal offence. It is only when the misuse is discouraged with an iron hand that the objective of dowry law can be met and the social evil can be curbed. The stakes for filing fake dowry cases must be hiked to make it unacceptable for false complainants to take the risks that flow with filing of fake dowry cases. Considering that the implementation of dowry law remains poor despite several MHA advisories and court pronouncements;the existing law very much remains a fertile ground for ill-advised, disgruntled wives to milk the failed marriage as a money-making opportunity. The lure of handsome cuts from possible monetary settlement is way too strong to continue enticing IO to effect illegalarrests by maniting diary entries. A fine of Rs.15,000 is way too cheap a price for curtailment of personal liberty in fake cases filed by women who are otherwise legally enled to free legal aid. A jail term not less than one month and upto 6 months, depending upon the severity of losses caused to the falsely accused by the fake cases, for both the false complainant and the IO would drastically reduce fake cases, lighten burden of pending cases upon judiciary, materially improve quality of investigations, expedite trial, realize objective of dowry law and make India safer for women. Indian State is onceagain at the cusp of eradicating the social evil of dowry. Will it show the required gumption to walk the talk or just play to the gallery?
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