498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022- No Specific Role alleged against Mother-in-law, Sister-in-Law, Brother-in-Law. FIR Quashed.

498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022- No Specific Role alleged against Mother-in-law, Sister-in-Law, Brother-in-Law. FIR Quashed.

498A Quash judgement by supreme court  08.02.2022 - No Specific Role alleged against Mother-in-law, Sister-in-Law, Brother-in-Law. FIR Quashed.
498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

Read More Judgements on 498a Quash


Kahkashan Kausar @ Sonam vs The State Of Bihar on 8.02.2022


498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022 – In this article, the Supreme court has held that the allegations made against the Mother-in-law, Sister-in-law, & Brother-in-law of the wife are omnibus in nature without quoting any specific incident against them. Further, the Supreme court has held that it is clear that the allegations made against the petitioner's in-laws attributed to minor disputes and it cannot attract the provisions of Section 498A IPC. Since no incident is recorded against the petitioners the Supreme court ordered to quash the proceedings against the petitioners.


Case Brief – 498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

The marriage of the wife and the husband was solemnized on 18.09.2017, as per their rites and customs. The petitioners herein are the in-laws of the wife.

On 11.12.17, the wife instituted a criminal complaint against her husband and petitioners before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, alleging dowry demand and harassment. Thereafter, when the file was put before the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate Court, for passing order at the stage of issuance of summons, the Ld. 

The magistrate concluded that upon perusal of the evidence no case was made out against the in-laws and that the allegations quoted against them were not specific in nature.

The said court, however, took cognizance of the offence under Section 498A, 323 IPC against the husband, and issued the summons. This dispute was eventually resolved and the wife herein came back to the matrimonial home.

Later, on 01.04.19 the wife registered another complaint about FIR registration under Section 498A, 341, 323, 379, 354, read with Section 34 IPC against her husband and the petitioners. 

The complaint alleged that all the accused pressurized the wife to purchase a car as dowry, and threatened to forcibly terminate her pregnancy if the demands were not met.

498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

Aggrieved, the Husband and petitioners herein lodged a criminal writ petition before the Patna High Court, for quashing the said FIR dated 01.04.19, which was dismissed by the impugned judgment. 

The High Court observed that the statements made in the FIR disclosed the commission of an offence and therefore the matter was required to be investigated by the police. 

The petitioners herein, being the niece, Mother-in-law, Sister-in-law, and brother-in-law approached the court by way of the present Special Leave Petition.

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Arguments - 498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

Advocates of the petitioners submitted that the Police Officer was bound by his duty to conduct an initial inquiry prior to registering the FIR as this present case falls within the categories of cases in which an initial enquiry may be made, as compulsory by this court in Lalita Kumari V. Government of U.P.

It is also submitted that previously in the year 2017, the wife had lodged a criminal complaint on similar allegations, whereby the Magistrate examined the evidence and then issued summons against the husband and found that the allegations made against the petitioners were untrue in nature.

Further, it is submitted that the FIR in question has been made with a revengeful intention, primarily to harass the in-laws, and should be dealt with accordingly.

Regarding the constitutionality of Section 498A IPC, the Supreme court in Sushil Kumar Sharma v. UOI and others held that: -

Contentions made by Niece:

Niece herein contends that the present FIR contributes to offences that were committed in the year 2019 after assurance was given by the husband before the Ld. Principal Judge Purnea, not to harass the wife for dowry, and to treat her properly. 

However, the husband and the petitioners, despite the affirmations, continued demanding dowry and threatened the wife to forcefully terminate her pregnancy.

These acts constitute a cause of action and therefore the FIR in question dated 01.04.19, is different and independent, and cannot be termed as a repetition of an earlier FIR dated 11.12.17. 

Still, an investigation was carried out pursuant to the FIR and the case has been found true against all accused persons, therefore Lalita Kumari case will not apply in the present case.

498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

Contentions made by the wife:

The wife contends that out of the seven accused, the FIR in question was challenged only by five accused including her husband. It is argued that the disputed order is accepted by the husband as he hasn’t challenged the High Court judgment.

Further, as far as the involvement of the four accused petitioner in-laws is concerned, it is not only reflected in the statements made in the FIR, but also corroborated by the documentary evidence collected by the investigating officer during the investigation, resulting in the filing of chargesheet against all seven petitioners including the four petitioners herein. 

The allegations made in the FIR are sufficient to frame a case, and non-mentioning of pendency of Complaint case of the year 2017, at the time of filing the complaint dated 01.04.19 is not fatal for the prosecution case.

Further, it is submitted that the allegations made in the FIR are serious in nature and the wife has been tortured both physically and mentally repeatedly on account of non-fulfilment of dowry demand.

Further, even if the contentions made by the wife are disputed, by the petitioner's in-laws, their veracity can be tested in the trial before the Court. 

It is further contended that this court has also taken a consistent view with regard to the exercise of power under Section 482 Cr.P.C., in Rajesh Bajaj Vs. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors., wherein it has been held that even if a prima facie case is made out showing the ingredients of an offence, the Court shouldn’t quash the FIR. 

Therefore, the impugned order can not be termed erroneous and hence warrant no interference by this Hon’ble Court.

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Issue Involved - 498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

By perusing the relevant facts and contentions made by the petitioners and Respondents, in our considered opinion, the most important issue which requires determination in the present case is whether allegations made against the petitioner in-laws are general omnibus in nature of allegations and therefore need to be quashed?


Referred cases – 498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

1. Rajesh Sharma and Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh

Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the object of punishing the husband or his relatives for cruelty caused to a wife particularly when such cruelty is of the extent to resulting in the suicide or murder of a woman as mentioned in the Act. 

The word 'cruelty' in Section 498A includes conduct that could cause a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury (mental or physical) or danger to life or harassment with a view of an intent to meet an illegal demand.

It is a matter of great concern that a large number of cases are filed under already referred to some of the statistics from the Crime Records Bureau. 

Earlier this Court found that most of such complaints are lodged in the heat of the moment. Many of such complaints are malaise. At the time of lodging the complaint, consequences are not visualized. 

At times such complaints result in uncalled harassment not only to the accused but to the complainant as well.

 

2. Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar

An increase is seen in matrimonial disputes in recent years. Section 498A IPC was introduced with the objective to minimise the harassment caused to a woman by her husband and his relatives. 

The fact that Section 498A IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has given a place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shields by wives. 

The easiest way to harass is to make the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. 

In many cases, bed-ridden grandfathers and grandmothers of husbands, and sisters living abroad for decades are arrested.

498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

3. Preeti Gupta & Anr. V. State of Jharkhand

4. G.V. Rao v. L.H.V. Prasad & Ors.

In this case, the Court has held that the High Court should quash the complaint arising out of a matrimonial dispute where all family members of the husband are dragged into the matrimonial dispute. The High court observed that:

“An outburst of matrimonial disputes is seen in recent times. Marriage is considered a sacred ceremony in the country. But little matrimonial issues erupt suddenly which often are assumed serious problems resulting in heinous crimes in which elder members of the family are involved as well which results in those who could have talked and solved being left helpless.”

The view considered by the judges in this matter was that the courts would not encourage such disputes.”

 

5. K. Subba Rao v. The State of Telangana

In this case, the courts found out that the Courts must be careful in initiating proceedings against the distant relatives of the husband in crimes related to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths. 

The relatives of the husband shouldn’t be dragged in on the basis of false allegations unless and until any specific instance of their involvement in the crime is mentioned.

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Court Opinion - 498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

The afore-mentioned decisions show that the court has repeatedly expressed concern over the misuse of Section 498A IPC and the increasing tendency to incriminate the husband’s relatives in matrimonial disputes, without analysing the long-term consequences of the trial on the complainant as well as the petitioner. 

It is also evident from the said judgments that false implication by way of general omnibus allegations made during the matrimonial dispute if left unchecked could lead to misuse of the legal process. 

Therefore, this court in its judgments has warned the courts not to proceed against the husband’s relatives and in-laws if no prima facie case is made out against them.

Coming to the facts of the case, after considering the contents of the FIR dated 01.04.19, it emerged that general allegation are raised against the petitioners. 

The wife alleged that ‘all the petitioners harassed her mentally and threatened her to forcibly terminate her pregnancy. 

In addition, no specific and direct allegations have been made against any of the petitioners, i.e., none of the petitioners has been attributed any specific role in furtherance of the common general allegations made against them. 

This leads to a situation where a person fails to find the role that is played by each petitioner in connection with the offence.

The allegations are therefore general and omnibus and can be attributed to minor disputes. As for the husband, since he hasn’t appealed against the High court’s order, we haven’t examined the veracity of allegations made against him. 

However, as far as the petitioners are concerned, the allegations made against them are general and omnibus.

498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

In addition, similar allegations of harassment and demand for dowry for car were made in the previous FIR. Niece contended that the present FIR relates to offences committed in 2019 after affirmation was given by the husband before the Ld. 

Principal Judge Purnea, not to harass the wife for dowry, and to treat her properly. However, despite the guarantee, all petitioners continued their demands and harassment. 

It is therefore argued that these actions form a new cause of action and therefore the FIR in question dated 01.04.19, is distinct and independent, and cannot be called a repetition of the previous FIR dated 11.12.17.

It must be borne in mind that although the two FIRs may constitute two independent instances, based on separate practices, the current complaint fails to establish specific allegations against the in-laws of the wife. 

To allow prosecution in the absence of explicit allegations against the petitioner's in-laws would simply result in an abuse of the process of law.

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Conclusion - 498A Quash judgement by Supreme Court 08.02.2022

In this article the Supreme Court has held that when relevant circumstances are considered and there is no specific role played by the plaintiffs, it would be unfair if the petitioners are compelled to go through the difficulties of trial, i.e., general and omnibus allegations cannot manifest in a situation where the relatives of the wife’s husband are compelled to undergo trial. 

The court made it clear in various cases in various instances, that a criminal trial that lead to his eventual acquittal also inflicted serious injury upon the accused, and such an exercise should therefore be discouraged.

In view of the above facts and arguments, the contested order dated 13.11.2019 passed by the Patna High Court is set aside. The impugned FIR of 2019 against the petitioners under Section 498A, 341, 323, 379, 354, read with Section 34 IPC stands quashed.


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