A Gujarat woman moved the state High Court that after her marriage, the members of her matrimonial home have been misbehaving with her over trivial issues.
She had registered an FIR against all the ten family members, i.e., husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law and four brothers-in-law.
Hearing the woman’s plea, the Gujarat High Court held that the allegations in the complaint must be specific and should contain necessary ingredients to make out the offence under section 498A of IPC, reported Live Law.
Section 498A of the IPC deals with a non-bailable offence, which applies to a husband, or relative(s) of a husband, of a woman, who is/are subjecting her to cruelty. Individuals booked under this act are treated as an accused similar to any other offense. Until the validity of the allegations are proved, it is considered that whatever a woman has alleged is the absolute truth.
There have been many instances where Section 498A has been misused by women for legal extortions.
In this particular case, the court observed that the woman’s marriage was commemorated on 21 May 2010, following which she started living with her in-laws in the matrimonial home. However, the complaint was filed three years after the marriage, in December 2013.
All the applicants mentioned in the FIR also have their separate residences, which was corroborated with address proofs.
The HC further observed that in a separate complaint in 2007, the woman had dragged all the family members under the Domestic Violence Act, which shows her tendency to commission allegations and file complaints.
The court held that “the allegations are vague and nonspecific with regard to both contents and persons. Moreover, general statements of harassment and taunts without specific particulars do not meet the test of adequacy in law.”
Following an earlier judgement of the Supreme Court, wherein it was held that “that a complaint relating to matrimonial dispute where all the members are roped into irrespective of role, becomes liable to be quashed”, the Gujarat High Court, after considering all the facts and the lack of degree of seriousness in the allegations made in the FIR, quashed the woman’s claims as “abuse of process of law” meant only for “wreaking vengeance”.
The Logical Indian acclaims the Gujarat High Court’s decision to dismiss the woman’s claims which were a blatant misuse of our legal system. Section 498A of The Indian Penal Code (IPC) was created for the protection of Indian women against dowry and domestic cruelty. However, the misuse of the law has undermined its potential.
The Indian society views its women as victims, therefore, expecting her to always be the abused or harassed party. Most men and their families booked under Section 498A are assumed guilty.
The Supreme Court’s 2014 verdict, though disadvantageous to many women who actually face domestic cruelty, upheld that any cases filed under section 498A would first undergo investigation, then arrests.
Laws are meant to protect us, and if any portion of the society grossly misuses it, the law fails to safeguard the actual sufferers as well. It is essential that, as individuals with a responsibility toward our community, we ensure that our legal system remains fair.