False Complaint by Wife U/s 498A/406 - How/When can It be Quashed?

The instances of false and frivolous complaints under section 498 A and 406 and sometimes even under section 304 B have become very frequent in the Indian courts. Such complaints often are filed with the aim of harassing the husband and his family to the end of monetary extortion or even extortions in kind.

This article unveils the most important judgments wherein, the courts identified and penalized the false complaints and complainants, related to dowry demands.

'State of Haryana Vs. Bhajan Lal' (AIR 1992 SC 604).

Hon'ble Apex court devised seven principles when a complaint under section 498 A/406 can be quashed:-

  • Where the allegations made in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
  • Where the allegations in the First Information Report and other materials, if any, accompanying the F.I.R. do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under S.156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of S.155(2) of the Code.
  • Where the allegations made in the FIR and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.
  • Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police office, unless a Magistrate has issued an order for the same, as contemplated under section 155(2) of the Code.
  • Where the allegations made in the FIR are absurd to the extent that no prudent man can even reach a just conclusion that there is a sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
  • Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
  • Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.

GeetaMehrotra&Anr. V. State of UP (Criminal Appeal No.1674 of 2012 (Arising out of SLP(Crl) No.10547/2010):-

Hon'ble Supreme Court held that wherein the court categorically observed that 'mere casual reference of the names of the family members in a matrimonial dispute without allegation of active involvement in the matter would not justify taking cognizance against them overlooking the fact borne out of experience that there is a tendency to involve the entire family members of the household in the domestic quarrel taking place in a matrimonial dispute specially if it happens soon after the wedding.'

Lalit Bhatia Vs State of Uttar Pradesh &Ors:-

Hon'ble Allahabad High Court observed that 'having gone through the entire records as well as supplementary affidavit and I feel that this is one of those cases in which the complaint has been filed only with a view to cause harassment to the husband and his family members. In fact it is gross misuse of the provisions of Section 498A I.P.C. which certainly pricks the judicial conscience and cannot be left to stand. In the circumstances, I am in agreement with the argument advanced by counsel for the applicants that the continuation of the proceedings on the basis of complaint impugned in this application is nothing short of an abuse of the process of the court and is liable to be quashed in exercise of inherent powers. I therefore come to a conclusion that the complaint instituted by the opposite party No. 2 is frivolous one and is quashed'.

Harsh Vardhan Arora v. SmtKavita Arora, 2002 MLR 528:-

Omnibus allegations had been made against all the accused in respect of demand of dowry, harassment, torture and beating given to her during the period she stayed in the matrimonial home. No specific date, month or year had been specified when these incidents had taken place. It cannot be ignored that every member of the family of the complainant's husband has been implicated in this case. The allegations made are vague and general and for that reason no offence under Section 498-A, IPC is made out against the accused.

Pareshbhai Pravinbhai Patel & VS State of Gujarat & Others:-

Whatever allegations have been leveled are quite vague and general. So far as the husband is concerned, I take notice of the fact that from June 2013 he is in Bahrain. It seems that he has taken up employment in Bahrain. As usual, it appears that the first informant could not adjust herself at her matrimonial home on account of the disputes which could be termed as mundane matters.

Razia Khatoon Rizvi &Anr. Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Anr:-

Hon'ble Bombay high court quashed a case under section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) of cruelty to wife filed by a woman against her brother-in-law, his wife and her sister-in-law observing that their implication for the offence was "actuated by design to harass and humiliate" them for being related to her husband.

The HC bench of Justices Ranjit More and N J Jamadar observed "It is judicially recognized that in the wake of marital discord, the allegations are made thick and fast. There is a tendency to rope in as many persons from the family of the husband as possible, irrespective of their involvement in the band as possible, irrespective of their involvement in the alleged crime.'' It added, 'Allowing the prosecution of the immediate relations of the first informant, when the prosecution case does not indicate their involvement even remotely, would amount to injustice.'

Jawant Singh and Others Vs. State of Punjab & Another:-

The complaint was filed under section 498A IPC by the wife in India against her husband and mother-in-law. The offence was committed in Kuwait and for this reason, the complaint was quashed. It has also been held therein that in this matter section 4 IPC and section 188 Cr.P.C were not even applicable. The contents of FIR are clear enough to show that there was no matrimonial discord between Yashandeep Kaur and Kanwarjit Singh before she left for Canada on 28.4.2009. The complainant has not even alleged that before leaving for Canada, she had demanded the ornaments or other articles allegedly entrusted to the petitioners at the time of marriage. There is no allegation of any demand of dowry and consequent harassment of the complainant at the hands of the petitioners in India before this date. Since there were no allegation in respect to petitioners of their doing anything in India attracting offence punishable under Section 406 of IPC or any other offence, prosecution in India was not maintainable - Petition allowed and FIR quashed.

 

Kapil Chandna 
on 11 January 2020
Published in Criminal Law
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