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You can file a police complaint for the following purposes:
Remember: You can even file a complaint under both/multiple laws together.
Arrest without warrant: If your case is very serious, the police have the power under Section 498A to arrest the person without warrant. Section 498A is a non-bailable offence Once arrested, the person will only be released if the court(Magistrate Court/High Court) grants him/her bail.
Remember: S.498A is a very strong legal provision, meant for the protection of women. An FIR registered under Section 498A can only be quashed(cancelled) by the High Court. You cannot take it back.
You can file in a police station having jurisdiction over any of the three places:
Preferably as soon as possible after the incident. Even if there is a delay, the police have to register your complaint. However, the more the delay, the more difficult it will be for you to prove the incident. They may also raise questions on why you kept quiet for so long. To protect yourself from such questions, always report any incident of harassment to a trusted family member/friend. (For details on how to collect evidence, see below)
If you file a police complaint, you will get immediate relief. Under criminal laws, police can take swift actions. Often, filing a police complaint is itself enough to stop the harasser from harassing you. You may not need to go for a court case at all.
Which laws you file the court case under, depends on the situation:
Yes, you can directly file a court case also, under the applicable law, like Dowry Prohibition Act or the Domestic Violence Act.
You should file the case in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate (First Class), which has jurisdiction over any of the following:
If your police complaint has proceeded towards a criminal case in court, the cases you file under the Domestic Violence Act and/or the Dowry Prohibition Act, will be clubbed with the ongoing criminal case.
Since a case for cruelty (Section 498A, Indian Penal Code), dowry harassment, and domestic violence, is a criminal case, the state will provide you with free legal aid. A public prosecutor will by default be appointed to represent you in the case. You can also engage a private lawyer, if you find it more comfortable. Most complainants prefer to engage a private lawyer.
On an average, a case may take around 2-3 years to be fully closed, but this depends from court to court. However, in the meantime, the court will grant temporary orders (called interim orders) to give you relief while the case is pending. You can ask for interim orders in the first or second court hearing itself.
A case under cruelty, dowry harassment or domestic violence will not, by itself, affect the status of your marriage. Your marriage will continue to exist and be valid. The court will only pass orders to protect you against harassment.
However, if you do not wish to stay in the marriage, you can always choose to file for divorce also.(For more details on divorce, see here divorce)
You should also be aware that your husband/husband’s family may retaliate. Your husband may want to go for a divorce. Or your husband’s family may try to trouble you by filing false cases against you. Do not be afraid, as in harassment cases, courts usually try to protect the woman. Further, the law is in your favour- in a dowry harassment case, more than you having to prove that the other side has demanded/taken dowry, the burden lies on the other side to prove that they are innocent. (Section 8A, Dowry Prohibition Act)
A police complaint can only grant you limited reliefs like temporary protection against harassment, or making your husband’s family return your stridhan (if they want to avoid a court case). The court can grant you multiple long-term remedies like permanent protection, ensuring you have a safe place to stay, monetary compensation, etc. For details on reliefs, see Dowry and Domestic Violence
The Domestic Violence Act is for the benefit of women and comes with the following advantages:
Although the law prescribes quick timelines, in reality, every case takes much longer than 60 days to be fully closed. However, in the meantime, the court will grant temporary orders (called interim orders) to give you relief while the case is pending. You can ask for interim orders in the first or second court hearing itself.
If an order is passed against anyone under the Domestic Violence Act and they disobey the order, they can be punished with 1 year in jail or fine of Rs.20,000 or both. (Section 31, Domestic Violence Act)
Please note: This information has been made available to you for your benefit on an ‘as is’ basis, and is only for your information. It does not constitute legal advice and cannot substitute professional legal advice. Our disclaimer policy can be viewed here ( disclaimer policy)