(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
Chapter XXA comprising Section 498-A which punishes cruelty by the husband or relatives of the husband to the woman has been inserted by the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 (Act No. 46 of 1983). It received the assent of the President on 25th December, 1983, and was published in the Gazette of India Extraordinary, dated 26th December, 1983.
The new provision seeks to curb atrocities on women including those arising out of dowry demands. The extreme reticence of Indian women to expose the bestiality and cruelty perpetrated on them led the crusading members to raise the matter in the Parliament which led to the passing of the Criminal Law (First and Second) Amendments, 1983.
Section 498-A, therefore, envisages that if a husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subjects such woman to cruelty he shall be liable to punishment for three years and fine. The term “cruelty” signifies any willful conduct driving the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health of the woman, harassment of the woman with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security.