The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently commented on the misuse of Section 498A (cruelty to women) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), observing that nowadays there is a “package of five cases” being filed by the wife against the husband and his family members in courts [Rajan v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh].
Justice Vivek Rusia added that Section 498A of the IPC, which is meant to punish cruelty by a husband or his relatives, is being misused nowadays as also observed by several High Courts and the Supreme Court.
“Nowadays there is a package of 5 cases against the husband and family members in family court and the criminal court under IPC, the Hindu Marriage Act and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,” the Court said.
The Court was hearing applications to quash a first information report (FIR) accusing a husband and his relatives of the offence under Section 498A, IPC (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and causing hurt.
The Court ultimately quashed this criminal case, terming it a case of “reverse cruelty” upon the accused.
Observing that the complainant-woman was residing abroad while pursuing criminal cases against family members in India, the judge added:
“Now a day it is very common for the husband and wife to reside or do jobs outside of India and their parents are made to suffer in India by way of criminal or matrimonial litigation.”
The FIR was registered by a woman against her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and husband’s sister-in-law.
The woman alleged that she was ill-treated by in-laws and thrown out of the house after her husband left for Australia “disclosing that he is unhappy with her as her parents did not fulfil the demand (for ₹10 lakh and a car).”
The Court was also told that the husband had obtained an ex-parte decree of divorce from a court in Australia.
Justice Rusia noted that there was a delay of one year in lodging the FIR for which “there is no explanation.”
The Court also opined that the FIR was registered at the wrong place. In this regard, it was noted that the accused were permanent residents of Gurgaon, whereas Indore where the FIR was registered, was only the place of marriage.
The Court was further unconvinced by the allegations of hurt and dowry demands by the accused.
“At present, the husband and wife both have settled in Australia. The parents of the husband are being harassed by way of the criminal case in India… There is no specific allegation that when her husband left India for Australia there was any demand for dowry, etc.,” the Court observed.
With these observations, the Court quashed the criminal case and allowed the applications filed by the complainant’s in-laws (applicants).
Advocate Amar Singh Rathore appeared for the applicants. Advocate Sudarshan Josh appeared for the State. Advocate Jerry Lopez appeared for the complainant.