Section 498A had added to the Indian Penal Code to protect the women against cruelty from her husband and in laws. But after introduction only few genuine cases are being filed in the court. In fact most of the women who faces cruelty are either not approaching the Police or Court due to many reasons like their economic conditions, reputation of family in the society, future of children, uncertainty of future, fear of consequences after registering the case etc.
But many women are using this section to become dominant on their husbands, to blackmail, to hide her own faults and harass them in the name of Police Arrest, Court case, lose of job etc. In many cases it is understandable from the first meeting with the parties the petition is not based on any genuine reason. It is seen that innocent men, families, their reputation, livelihood all have been destroyed by women who tend to seek revenge and extort money in name of laws like Section 498A. Due to misuse of the law frivolous false 498A cases have put innocent people behind the bars as the law is highly in favour of women in India. It is found that women from well-educated families are in the majority to file a false case under Sec 498A against their husbands.
When it came to the notice of Hon'ble Supreme Court, on 27th July 2017, the apex court passed the following direction to deal with Section 49A cases.
Hon'ble Supreme Court Guideline on 498A cases A Bench of Hon'ble Supreme Court Judges Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice U U Lalit in Rajesh Sharma & Ors v. State of UP & Anr, Criminal Appeal No. 1265 of 2017 has issued the following directions to control misuse of 498A of IPC.
i) (a) In every district one or more Family Welfare Committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities preferably comprising of three members. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.
(b) The Committees may be constituted out of para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.
(c) The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.
(d) Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee. Such committee may have interaction with the parties personally or by means of telephone or any other mode of communication including electronic communication.
(e) Report of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.
(f) The committee may give its brief report about the factual aspects and its opinion in the matter.
(g) Till report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.
(h) The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.
(i) Members of the committee may be given such basic minimum training as may be considered necessary by the Legal Services Authority from time to time.
(j) The Members of the committee may be given such honorarium as may be considered viable.
(k) It will be open to the District and Sessions Judge to utilize the cost fund wherever considered necessary and proper.
ii) Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. Such designations may be made within one month from today. Such designated officer may be required to undergo training for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate. The training may be completed within four months from today;
iii) In cases where a settlement is reached, it will be open to the District and Sessions Judge or any other senior Judicial Officer nominated by him in the district to dispose of the proceedings including closing of the criminal case if dispute primarily relates to matrimonial discord;
iv) If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day's notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected. Needless to say that in dealing with bail matters, individual roles, prima facie truth of the allegations, requirement of further arrest/ custody and interest of justice must be carefully weighed;
v) In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine;
vi) It will be open to the District Judge or a designated senior judicial officer nominated by the District Judge to club all connected cases between the parties arising out of matrimonial disputes so that a holistic view is taken by the Court to whom all such cases are entrusted; and
vii) Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.
viii) These directions will not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries or death. In these circumstances, it is very important to know the ways to prevent false cases under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code.
Provision under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code "498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.-Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.-For the purpose of this section, "cruelty" means-
(a) any wilful 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."
Remedies against false 498A cases There are several legal provisions in Indian law to protect husband and family against false 498A cases.
1. Collect all the evidence and documents
Those who are facing 498A threat must collect all evidences to have substantial material that helps in proving a false 498A case. These evidences may be:
1. Any conversation between husband or your family member with wife or her relatives like any SMS, emails, letters, call recordings, etc.
2. Any evidence that proves that the wife moved willingly out of your house.
3. Any evidence that shows no demands for dowry were made before or after the wedding.
2. If the situation worsens, get an anticipatory bail from the court
If the husband or relatives feel that wife is likely to file FIR under section 498A, approach a lawyer and get anticipatory bail for the husband and family members to prevent arrest and unnecessary harassment. Anticipatory bail for Section 498A case can be applied under Section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Provision under Section 438 of CrPC is as under:
"438. Direction for grant of bail to person apprehending arrest. (1) When any person has reason to believe that he may be arrested on an accusation of having committed a non- bailable offence, he may apply to the High Court or the Court of Session for a direction under this section; and that Court may, if it thinks fit, direct that in the event of such arrest, he shall be released on bail.
(2) When the High Court or the Court of Session makes a direction under sub- section (1), it may include such conditions in such directions in the light of the facts of the particular case, as it may think fit, including-
(i) a condition that the person shall make himself available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required;
(ii) a condition that the person shall not, directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer;
(iii) a condition that the person shall not leave India without the previous permission of the Court;
(iv) such other condition as may be imposed under sub- section (3) of section 437, as if the bail were granted under that section.
(3) If such person is thereafter arrested without warrant by an officer in charge of a police station on such accusation, and is prepared either at the time of arrest or at any time while in the custody of such officer to give bail, be shall be released on bail; and if a Magistrate taking cognizance of such offence decides that a warrant should issue in the first instance against that person, he shall issue a bailable warrant in conformity with the direction of the Court under sub- section (1)."
3. File Quashing Petition under Section 482 of CrPC with High Court
If the affected parties have sufficient proof to show that a false case is filed against them, they can file a petition with High Court under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code 1973 to quash the FIR. The High Court has inherent power to quash the FIR. But generally the court is reluctant to quash the FIR and interfere in the process of police. Provision in the CrPC under Section 482 is as under:
"482. Saving of inherent powers of High Court. Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice."
If the Complaint is false, register FIR against wife for falsely implicating the husband and family. The husband or his family members can file FIR against wife for blackmailing or filing a false 498A case against him and family members. Generally Police do not favour such FIR, but if the case is fool proof, the police cannot deny you to file an FIR against wife. If the police refuse to register FIR, a written complaint against such police officer can be filed with Superintendent of that police station.
4. Petition in Court for restitution of Conjugal Rights
If wife has left her matrimonial home and went back to live with her family, the husband can file a case for restitution of conjugal rights against wife under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act. The Petitioner can also mention all the terms and conditions that she'll have to follow to start living with him again. Provision under section 9 of Hidu Marriage act for restitution of conjugal rights is as under: "9. Restitution of conjugal rights. When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights and the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly. [Explanation. Where a question arises whether there has been reasonable excuse for withdrawal from the society, the burden of proving reasonable excuse shall be on the person who has withdrawn from the society.]"
5. Defamation case in case of damaging reputation of Husband and Family
The husband or family members can file a defamation case against wife for maligning image by filing a false 498A case against them.
6. Case for conspiring crime against the husband and family
If wife is conspiring a crime against husband or family, then under Section 120B of Indian Penal Code a case can be filed against all those are conspiring. Provision under Section 120B of IPC is as under:
"120B. Punishment of criminal conspiracy.- (1) Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, [imprisonment for life] or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.
(2) Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both."
7. Complaint under section 191 of IPC
If it is found that false evidence is being framed against husband and family, complaint under section 191 of Indian Penal Code can be filed. Provision under section 191 of IPC is as under:
"191. Giving false evidence.-Whoever, being legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth, or being bound by law to make a declaration upon any subject, makes any statement which is false, and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, is said to give false evidence. Explanation 1.-A statement is within the meaning of this section, whether it is made verbally or otherwise. Explanation 2.-A false statement as to the belief of the person attesting is within the meaning of this section, and a person may be guilty of giving false evidence by stating that he believes a thing which he does not believe, as well as by stating that he knows a thing which he does not know."
8. Filing defamation case under section 500 of Indian Penal Code
If the petition is filed to defame husband and family, they can file criminal complaint under section 500 of IPC. Provisions under section 500 of IPC is as under:
"500. Punishment for defamation.-Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both."
9. Complaint for criminal intimidation under section 506 of Indian Penal Code
If the wife and in-laws tries to intimidate husband and his family, a complaint can be filed under section 506 of IPC. Provision under section of IPC is as under:
"506. Punishment for criminal intimidation.-Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both; If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc.-And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both."
10. Discharge application under section 227 of Criminal Procedure Code
If the wife file false case against husband and in-laws, an application under section 227 of Criminal Procedure Code can be filed to dismiss the case under section 498A. The applicant should be able to prove that a false case is filed against him. Provision under section 227 of Criminal Procedure Code is as under:
"227. Discharge. If, upon consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith, and after hearing the submissions of the accused and the prosecution in this behalf, the Judge considers that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused and record his reasons for so doing."
Indian Penal Code (IPC)
Important Case Laws, Citations