Certain Wives Levelling Vague Allegations To Haul Up In-Laws In Non-Bailable Offences: Kerala High Court Asks Courts To Be Careful


Chambers of Ishaan Garg

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

+91 8851742417, +91 8800386163

The Kerala High Court has remarked that many wives misuse Section 498A IPC in matrimonial disputes to wreak vengeance against the husband and parents, sisters, brothers and other relatives of the husband by raising vague and general allegations, without mentioning any specific instances of cruelty.

It further observed that Section 498 A is misused with an ulterior motive to initiate criminal proceedings and to malign and defame husband and relatives of husband in the society.

Justice A. Badharudeen thus stated that Courts have a duty to scrutinize the allegations raised against the in-laws to find out whether a prima facie case was made out to proceed with the trial or not. It held that if no prima facie case is made out from the allegations, then the Court should invoke its power under Section 482 of CrPC to quash the criminal proceedings.

“It is noticed that in matrimonial disputes, in order to wreak vengeance against the husband and relatives of the husband, certain wives initiate criminal proceedings on the strength of vague and omnibus allegations against the parents, sisters, brothers and other relatives of the husband with ulterior motive to put them under the veil of prosecution involving non-bailable offences and to face the ordeal of criminal prosecution and trial by the parents, sisters, brothers and other relatives of the husband, so as to malign and defame their image in the society.” In such cases, it is the duty of the court to analyse materials available when quashment is sought whether the allegations specifically state anything dealt under Section 498A so as to prosecute the accused for the said offences, by subjecting themselves for trial. “

The Court made these observations while quashing criminal proceedings initiated by the complainant-woman against her 61 year old mother-in-law on the allegations of committing cruelty demanding dowry.

The specific allegation made by the defacto complainant was that the mother-in-law became a spectator and did not interfere when she was mentally and physically subjected to cruelty by her son. It was also alleged that the mother-in-law abetted the crime and that she also ill-treated the defacto complainant for dowry.

Relying upon the Apex Court decision in Achin Gupta v. State of Haryana (2024), it was stated that Courts owe a duty to find out whether there is a 'grain of truth' in the allegations of cruelty made against the in-laws. It stated that the Courts must scrutinize the allegations to find out whether the crime was filed by the defacto complainant-wife with the sole object of initiating criminal proceedings against the in-laws.

In the facts of the case, the Court stated that the First Information Statement given by the defacto complainant do not disclose any specific allegations against the mother-in-law. It also observed that the FIS do not disclose how the mother-in-law has abetted the crime, or how she ill-treated or persecuted the defacto complainant.

Accordingly, the Court held that there were only sweeping and general allegations against the mother-in-law without mentioning any specific instance of cruelty.

The Court thus quashed the criminal proceedings against the mother-in-law.

Case Title: Shyamala Bhasker v State of Kerala ( 2024 Kerala HC)