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Complaint u/s 498A IPC need not be filed by the woman subjected to cruelty herself
Rashmi Chopra Vs The State of UP and Anr
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.594 of 2019
About/from the judgment:
The Supreme Court held that a complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) need not necessarily be filed by the woman who is subjected to cruelty by her husband. In the judgment delivered by the Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, the Court has held that a complaint filed by a relative of a woman subjected to cruelty by her husband or in-laws is also maintainable. The Court stated,
“There is nothing in Section 498A, which may indicate that when a woman is subjected to cruelty, a complaint has to be filed necessarily by the women so subjected. A perusal of Section 498A, as extracted above, indicates that the provision does not contemplate that complaint for offence under Section 498A should be filed only by women, who is subjected to cruelty by husband or his relative.”
Section 498A of the IPC deals with the offence of cruelty to a woman by her husband or relatives of her husband. In the instant case, a complaint was filed by the father of the victim and allegations under Section 498A of the IPC and provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act were invoked. The appellants were summoned as accused by a Judicial Magistrate based on the complaint made, after which the appellants moved the High Court seeking quashing of the summons. The plea was rejected and the application before the Allahabad High Court was disposed of. Aggrieved by the same, the appellants approached the Supreme Court.
Counsel representing the appellants argued before the Supreme Court that the High Court failed to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC, which empowers the Court to quash summons issued. The appellants termed the proceedings as “abuse of the process of the Court” and argued that the reading of the complaint did not, prima facie, reveal any offence as alleged. Counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that since the Magistrate is not required to record elaborate reasons to summon an accused, there is no error in this summoning. It was argued that Section 498A did not indicate that only women can file complaints under the Section.
The Court noted that the allegations made in the complaint against the husband and all his relatives were general and sweeping. The complaint did not detail any specific incident. The Court also observed that divorce proceedings between the man and the woman were completed in the USA, following which the complaint pertaining to cruelty and dowry demand came to be filed. The argument of the appellant that the complaint was not maintainable since it was filed by the father of the woman was rejected. The Court laid down that nothing in the Section states that a complaint ought to be filed by a woman subjected to cruelty. The same can be filed on behalf of her, not necessarily by other women. It was also held that the High Court had erred in not exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC. Thus, the High Court’s order rejecting the quashing of the summons was rejected.
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