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Daily-current-affairs / 17 Nov 2023

Domestic Violence and the Legal System in India : Daily News Analysis


Date : 18/11/2023

Relevance: GS Paper 1- Society- Violence against Women

Keywords: Domestic Violence, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), National Family Health Survey 5, Section 498A IPC


Domestic violence remains a pervasive issue affecting women across India, despite the legal provisions in place to address it. Here we look into the challenges faced by women seeking justice for domestic violence, exploring the legal framework, societal attitudes, and the role of law enforcement and the judiciary.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence involves the misuse of power in an intimate relationship to control and induce fear.

  • Physical Assault: Includes hitting, slapping, kicking, or any form of physical harm.
  • Psychological Abuse: Manipulates thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, causing mental distress.
  • Social Abuse: Controls or manipulates social interactions, isolating the victim from friends and family.
  • Financial Abuse: Controls or exploits the victim's financial resources, limiting economic independence.
  • Sexual Assault: Involves non-consensual sexual activity imposed on the victim against their will.

Reasons for Domestic Violence against Women:

  • Economic Dependence:
    Women often stay in abusive relationships due to economic dependence. Limited financial resources hinder their ability to break free from violence.

  • Cultural Barriers:
    Deep-rooted cultural values discourage women from opting for separation or divorce. Fear of societal consequences and shame prevents reporting of violence.

  • Everyday Realities and Fears:
    Women face obstacles, prejudices, and fears when sharing or reporting experiences of violence. The stigma associated with being identified as a battered woman is a significant deterrent.

  • Reluctance to Burden Others:
    Women avoid seeking help to prevent being a 'burden' on their families. This reluctance further contributes to suffering in silence within the confines of their homes.

  • Lack of Information:
    Limited awareness about alternatives leaves women with few options. Lack of information contributes to enduring abuse without seeking assistance.

The Grim Reality of Domestic Violence

Various Forms of Violence:

  • Women experiencing domestic violence endure a range of abuses, including physical violence, economic exploitation, verbal and emotional abuse, and sexual violence.
  • The severity of these offenses is alarming, with cases reported involving beatings, strangulation, economic control, and even heinous acts like burning and assault.

Escalating Crimes Against Women

  • Statistics reveal a disturbing trend, as crimes against women continue to rise. Dowry-related deaths, a deeply rooted issue, claim the lives of 21 women daily, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2015.
  • The NCRB's 2019 report indicates a staggering 4 lakh cases registered under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Moreover, the National Family Health Survey 5 (2019-20) highlights that 30% of women aged 18 to 49 have experienced physical violence, affecting over 20 crore women, while 6% have faced sexual violence in their lifetime.

Legal Framework: Section 498A of the IPC

Historical Perspective

  • Section 498A of the IPC was introduced in 1983 to address the alarming number of women dying in their homes due to domestic violence.
  • Despite existing provisions in Sections 319 to 338 of the IPC dealing with assaults and grievous hurt, a specific section was needed to tackle domestic violence comprehensively.

Provisions of Section 498A IPC

  • Section 498A addresses cruelty towards women, both mental and physical, that could lead to suicide or cause grave harm to life, limb, or health.
  • It also deals with the unlawful demand for property or valuable security. Despite its existence for over four decades, challenges persist in its implementation.

Challenges in the Legal Process

Reluctance to File FIRs

  • Forty years after the introduction of Section 498A, the police's reluctance to file FIRs (First Information Reports) in domestic violence cases is alarming.
  • Burking, the refusal to record FIRs, is often justified by advising counseling, emphasizing family resolution, and discouraging criminal complaints.
  • This approach ignores the severity of domestic violence and the potential consequences of turning away victims.

Impact of Demeaning Comments

  • Judicial remarks and media portrayal contribute to the challenges faced by women seeking justice. The perception that Section 498A is misused by disgruntled wives is fueled by comments such as those in the case of Rakesh and Reena Rajput v. The State of Jharkhand.
  • Such comments not only perpetuate a patriarchal mindset but also undermine the legitimate grievances of victims.

Case Analysis: Rakesh and Reena Rajput v. The State of Jharkhand

Judicial Scrutiny and Demeaning Comments

  • In this case, the Jharkhand High Court expressed concern about the misuse of Section 498A, citing a phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes.
  • Demeaning comments, both in court and in media headlines, portrayed the section as a weapon rather than a shield, further diminishing the credibility of women seeking justice.

Police Oversight and Responsibility

  • The case also raises questions about police oversight and responsibility. The court placed the burden on the woman, ignoring potential police oversights, such as inconsistencies in dates and the general nature of allegations.
  • The court's failure to hold the police accountable perpetuates a narrative that women are misusing the law rather than addressing systemic issues.

Various initiatives of Government

  • Constitutional Framework: Police and Public Order are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

  • Responsibility for Law and Order: Maintenance of law and order, and protection of life and property, including preventing domestic violence, is primarily the responsibility of State Governments and Union Territory Administrations.

  • Government Initiatives:
    1. One Stop Centres (OSCs): Providing comprehensive support services for women.
    2. Universalisation of Women Help Line (WHL): Ensuring a helpline for women in need.
    3. Ujjawala Homes: Schemes for the rehabilitation of victims
    . 4. SwadharGreh: Providing shelter and support for women in distress.
    5. Emergency Response Support System (112): Immediate assistance in emergencies.

  • Women-Centric Laws: Ensuring operational authorities under laws such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, etc.

  • Sensitization Programs: Undertaking programs to sensitize officials in States and Union Territories on issues related to domestic violence and women's safety.

The Way Forward: Addressing Systemic Issues

Police Sensitization and Training

  • Efforts must be directed toward sensitizing law enforcement agencies to the complexities of domestic violence cases.
  • Training programs should focus on recognizing the signs of abuse, understanding the psychological impact on victims, and refraining from perpetuating stereotypes that hinder justice.

Judicial Accountability

  • Judicial scrutiny of domestic violence cases should prioritize accountability for both the police and the judiciary.
  • Demeaning comments and biased perspectives must be addressed, emphasizing a fair and impartial approach to evaluating evidence and supporting victims.

Media Responsibility

  • The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception and influencing legal discourse.
  • Responsible reporting is essential to avoid sensationalizing domestic violence cases and perpetuating stereotypes that undermine the credibility of victims.


Addressing the persistent challenges faced by women seeking justice for domestic violence requires a comprehensive approach. Legal reforms, police sensitization, judicial accountability, and responsible media reporting are integral components of creating a system that empowers victims rather than perpetuating their vulnerability. As India continues its journey towards gender equality, it is imperative to ensure that legal frameworks and societal attitudes align to provide meaningful protection to those affected by domestic violence.

Probable Questions for UPSC mains Exam-

  1. How has the reluctance of the police to file FIRs in cases of domestic violence, often justified by advising counseling and family resolution, contributed to the challenges faced by women seeking justice? (10 Marks,150 Words)
  2. In the case of Rakesh and Reena Rajput v. The State of Jharkhand, how did the judiciary's comments on the misuse of Section 498A impact the perception of domestic violence cases, and what does this reveal about the need for judicial accountability in handling such sensitive matters? (15 Marks,250 Words)

Source- The Indian Express