The thin line of misuse vs. protection: SC quashes charges against husband's sister under section 498A IPC

Author : Nimisha Nayak

Updated On : February 14, 2024

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Out of all the matrimonial offences, elucidating cruelty is likely one of the most intricate offenses to define. An attempt was made in the case of Russel vs. Russel to frame an inclusive definition of cruelty. It is a no brainer that no precise definition of cruelty exist till date; it is a subjective and evolving concept, as it depends on the imponderables of human behavior. 

Recently, the highest court of the nation, halting the legal action for the offence of cruelty as prescribed under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, emphasized that one event, unless significant, lacking clear proof of involvement in the complainant’s life, is insufficient to implicate a person. 

Also read: Case laws related to Indian Penal Code 

Further the bench comprising of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti held that “One instance unless portentous, in the absence of any material evidence of interference and involvement in the marital life of the complainant, may not be sufficient to implicate the person as having committed cruelty under section 498A of the IPC. 

In the present case, the wife has falsely implicated the cousins and sisters of the husband as the accused in the complaint. A petition was bought forth by them, requesting the annulment of charge sheet against them, before the Karnataka High Court. The High Court dismissed the appeal, followed by the present appeal. 

While observing the written complaint along with the charge sheet filed, the apex court observed that the assertions made are notably unclear and exceptionally broad, and hence, quashed the criminal proceedings against the appellant. The court also highlighted that if the need arises, the trial court may initiate proceedings against them if any substantial proof was presented by the complainant. 

From the above case, one may wonder why such a provision exists as such provisions can be used as weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives. Section 498-A has been grossly misused just like many other laws but that by itself cannot be a ground for repeal or dilute it considerably. The mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law does not per se invalidate legislation. Unless it is actively supported by investigating authorities, who can make a foolproof case, and a judge whose intellect reflects the social context in which we live, it is difficult to implement social welfare laws. 

The thin line of misuse vs. protection: SC quashes charges against husband's sister under section 498A IPC

Author : Nimisha Nayak

February 14, 2024

SHARE

Out of all the matrimonial offences, elucidating cruelty is likely one of the most intricate offenses to define. An attempt was made in the case of Russel vs. Russel to frame an inclusive definition of cruelty. It is a no brainer that no precise definition of cruelty exist till date; it is a subjective and evolving concept, as it depends on the imponderables of human behavior. 

Recently, the highest court of the nation, halting the legal action for the offence of cruelty as prescribed under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, emphasized that one event, unless significant, lacking clear proof of involvement in the complainant’s life, is insufficient to implicate a person. 

Also read: Case laws related to Indian Penal Code 

Further the bench comprising of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti held that “One instance unless portentous, in the absence of any material evidence of interference and involvement in the marital life of the complainant, may not be sufficient to implicate the person as having committed cruelty under section 498A of the IPC. 

In the present case, the wife has falsely implicated the cousins and sisters of the husband as the accused in the complaint. A petition was bought forth by them, requesting the annulment of charge sheet against them, before the Karnataka High Court. The High Court dismissed the appeal, followed by the present appeal. 

While observing the written complaint along with the charge sheet filed, the apex court observed that the assertions made are notably unclear and exceptionally broad, and hence, quashed the criminal proceedings against the appellant. The court also highlighted that if the need arises, the trial court may initiate proceedings against them if any substantial proof was presented by the complainant. 

From the above case, one may wonder why such a provision exists as such provisions can be used as weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives. Section 498-A has been grossly misused just like many other laws but that by itself cannot be a ground for repeal or dilute it considerably. The mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law does not per se invalidate legislation. Unless it is actively supported by investigating authorities, who can make a foolproof case, and a judge whose intellect reflects the social context in which we live, it is difficult to implement social welfare laws. 

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