Section 498A cases: Why Punjab and Haryana High Court fined two women

Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

+91 8851742417, +91 8800386163

Justice Sumeet Goel said that the feeling of bitterness cannot be permitted to procrastinate the culmination of legal proceedings even when a settlement has been arrived at between the parties.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently fined two women who, despite settling their matrimonial disputes and accepting permanent alimony after divorce, refused to cooperate in the quashing of criminal cases against their former husbands.

Justice Sumeet Goel remarked that the feeling of bitterness cannot be permitted to procrastinate the culmination of legal proceedings even when settlement has been arrived at between the parties.

“Abhorrence of such attempt(s) is pertinent. Ergo, the respondent No.2-wife deserves to be saddled with costs, which essentially ought to be in the nature of veritable real time costs,” the Court said as it imposed ₹40,000 and ₹25,000 costs on the two women.

The orders were passed in two separate cases on May 1 and May 15. 

In both the cases, the accused had approached the Court for quashing of the First Information Reports (FIR) registered against them under Section 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code. 

The Court was told that in both the cases, the matrimonial disputes were compromised and the amount towards full and final settlement was paid to the women.

While the woman in one of the cases chose not to appear before the Court despite issuance of notice, the counsel representing the woman in second case claimed that the affidavit about the settlement was actually a forged document.

The Court said the women in both the cases have reaped the benefit of compromise and divorce decrees have also been passed.

With regard to the allegation of fraud, the Court said,

“Apart from a bald assertion, no tangible material has been brought forward to support the contention raised on behalf of respondent No.2 that affidavit … is a forged document. Further; affidavit dated 13.03.2021 … reflects that matter had been settled qua all the accused. It is also not in dispute that no plea has been raised, till date, by respondent No.2 before the concerned Family Court that the decree of divorce (by way of mutual consent) was passed on account of fraud, coercion or misrepresentation”.

Thus, the Court said the continuation of proceedings in the FIRs would be nothing but sheer abuse of process of law. 

“This Court, especially while exercising its inherent powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. of 1973, cannot be expected to turn Nelson’s eye to the vexatious and virulent attempt(s) by unscrupulous elements in misusing the process of law in Courts,” it said while quashing the cases and imposing costs on the two women. 

The Court had last month also imposed a cost of ₹50,000 on a woman for failing to turn up before the Magistrate for recording her statement about the settlement of the matrimonial dispute with her former husband after taking ₹22 lakh in alimony from him.