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Need for re-look at SC’s new directions

Votaries of gender equality on Friday called for a re-look at the new set of directions issued by the Supreme Court of India purportedly to prevent misuse of Section 498 A of Indian Penal Code, providing for punishment for subjecting women to cruelty by husbands or relatives.

The Supreme Court guidelines that no automatic arrests can be made under the section in cases pertaining to cruelty experienced by a woman at the hands of her husband was viewed with concern at a seminar organised by the Department for Women's Studies, Bharathidasan University, to discuss the subject.

The new directions had been conceived due to ignorance of the harsh reality of sufferings of women in a patriarchal society, T. Banumathi, president, Tamil Nadu Women Advocates Association, observed, adding that the new directions would aggravate the sufferings of women.

She wondered if there was any logic in the emphasis on evidence in dealing with complaints of cruelty in family situation. The hesitation of women to approach the authorities for complaining about dowry harassment and domestic violence has now increased, since provisions have been created for the men to go scot-free.

A man responsible for his wife's death must be dealt with under Section 306 of IPC, under which the crime was punishable with 10 years imprisonment.

Likewise, the district-level Family Welfare Committee must have a role to play only after FIR is registered against the abusive men under the Domestic Violence Act.


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