Criminal Elopement

Section 498: Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman

Section 498 IPC as stated under the code reads as, “Whoever takes or entices away any woman who is and whom he knows or has reasons to believe to be the wife of any other man, from that man, or from any other person having the care of her on behalf of that man, with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals or detains with that intent any such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.

Sec 498 IPC deals with the offence of criminal elopement. The provisions of IPC section 498 are intended to protect the rights of the husband. The section requires some of the following essential ingredients:

The word ‘takes’ here connotes the personal or active assistance of the accused to the wife in getting her away from the husband’s protection, or from any person, who was taking care of her in the absence of her husband.

Whereas the term ‘enticement’ used in section 498 of the Indian Penal Code refers to some kind of persuasion. Before holding a person guilty, it must be proved that the enticement of the wife of another was from the control of her husband.

The section is divided into four parts. It says that a woman may be:

Taken away,

Enticed away,

Concealed, or

Detained.

In the first three class of cases, the consent of the woman would not matter if it is shown that the said consent is induced or encouraged by the offender by words or by committing any other act.

Since the object of this section is to protect the rights of the husband, it cannot be any defence to the charge to say that, though the husband has been deprived of his rights, the wife is willing to injure the said rights and the person responsible for her willingness has not detained her.

Alamgir v state of Bihar, AIR 1969 SC 436

It was observed that whilst the wife is living with the husband, man knowingly goes away with her in such a way as to deprive the husband of his control over her, with the intent to have illicit intercourse, then it constitutes an offence within the section.

Conclusion

Matrimonial offences are multi-causal and multi-dimensional in nature. It is impossible to justly address them with a straitjacket method. It transcends beyond culture, and socioeconomic status. However, there definitely are underlying common factors. The rising cases of matrimonial offences against women have their roots deeply ingrained in indifference, and negligence that is primarily the result of general acceptance of men’s superiority over women, which is evident from the gender specificity of the nature of these offences.

Among the various kind of offences against women prevalent today are the marital offences including bigamy, adultery, criminal elopement among others and the one that is probably the most common offence is cruelty. Over time, courts have broadened the ambit of the definition to include within it different instances. The provisions dealing with matrimonial felonies have been framed in a way that raises a presumption against the accused if certain minimum requirements are met.

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