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Section 498A misuse affecting institution of marriage; live-in relationships replacing traditional marriages

Section 498A misuse affecting institution of marriage; live-in relationships replacing traditional marriages

Mukesh Bansal Vs State of UP

Allahabad HC

13/06/2022

CRIMINAL REVISION No. ­ 1126 of 2022

About/from the judgment:

In an order of significant import, the High Court issued safeguards to prevent the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), in light of the growing tendency to nail the husband and his family members by way of general and sweeping allegations.

[Know more about the safeguards here]

Also, expressing concern over the threat to the age-old institution of marriage, the court said, "In fact, this is an off shoot of traditional Indian marriage just to save the couple from the hazards and legal complications and bickering between them, The two young couples agree to have sexual and romantic relationship. The traditional fragrance of our age-old institution of marriage would completely evaporate over period of time if such gross and unmindful misuse of section 498-A IPC would keep on pasted rampantly".

The Court ordered that after the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) under the provision, no arrest or coercive action should be taken against the accused for two months, and during this period the issue would have to be referred to a Family Welfare Committee (FWC).

"It is made clear that after lodging of the F.I.R. or the complaint case without exhausting the “Cooling-Period” of two months, no arrest or any coercive action shall be taken against the husband or his family members," the order said.

The Court directed the establishment of FWCs and stated that they should be made operational within the next three months.

"Only those cases which would be transmitted to FWC in which Section 498-A IPC along with, no injury 307 and other sections of the IPC in which the imprisonment is less than 10 years," the Court made it clear.

The single-judge was hearing revision petitions by three persons against an order of the session court rejecting their discharge applications.

An FIR had been lodged by the wife against her husband and in-laws for the offences of cruelty, intentional insult, criminal intimidation, attempt to murder and offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

The wife claimed that she was being pressured for more dowry, her father-in-law and brother-in-law sought sexual favors from her, she used to be locked in the bathroom by her husband, they pressured her to abort a pregnancy and her husband attempted to have unnatural sex with her.

The Court condemned the nature and language of the allegations made by the wife while opining that she exaggerated the incident manifold and had "vomited snide before the court".

"The graphic and vivid descriptions of the incident without any shame or hitch of any sort which, speaks out volume of mental condition and amount of venom and poison in the mind of the informant," the Court stated.

The Court opined that it is a prevailing practice nowadays in cases of matrimonial discord to file abhorrent FIRs, and this one too appeared to be a repetition of that practice.

The Court also took into account a candid statement made by the wife in her application, refusing medical examination as she was not physically hurt. It was also noted that apart a bruise on the neck, which indicated that the husband tried to strangle her, she had no vital injuries.

On examining the evidence, the Court found that the FIR was nothing but a virtual canard full of venom where the informant, unmindful of its far-­reaching repercussions, had pasted filth on revisionist in a wild manner but was unable to produce any documentary evidence to substantiate the allegations.

"Her psyche and amount of venom in the mind of the informant goes to show that in order to take revenge from her husband and in-laws, she has gone to any extent, crossing all the limits of decency," the Court said.

While discussing the allegations against the father and brother-in-law, the court opined that in traditional Indian families, it was highly improbable and thus, difficult to digest the allegations of them demanding sexual favours from from the daughter-in-law.

"In our traditional Indian family, where they are residing in a joint family with unmarried son, it is highly improbable and difficult to digest the allegations of demanding sexual favours from her daughter-in-law by father-in-law or brother-in-law," the order read.

The Court also discussed the role of advocates while dealing with matrimonial matters. Attention was drawn to the FIR in the case which was categorised as ever-­abhorring, full of dirt and filth by the judge.

"The graphical description portrayed by her in her FIR is deplorable to be condemned in its strongest terms... It is not soft porn literature where the graphical description should be made," the Court underscored.

In this regard, the court decided to ignore the graphic and distressful allegations made by the wife on receiving legal advice.

"The Court records its strongest exception to such type of language used by the informant. The language of the FIR should be decent one and no amount of atrocities faced by the informant, would justify her to use such type of castic expressions," the order said.

Therefore, the revision petitions by the in-laws were allowed. The revision plea moved by the husband, however, was rejected.

Know more about the safeguards here.

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