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Jharkhand High Court Raises Concern Over Misuse of Section 498A IPC in Matrimonial Disputes

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JHARKHAND HIGH COURT Law Insider

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Published on: 27 July 2023 at 12:37 IST

The Jharkhand High Court recently expressed concern over the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Which was originally introduced to punish cruelty inflicted by husbands or their relatives on married women. Justice Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi noted that while the section was enacted with a laudable objective, it is now being misused in matrimonial disputes [Umesh Kumar & Ors v State & Anr].

Several courts, including the Supreme Court, have highlighted the misuse of Section 498A, and the growing trend of implicating the husband’s relatives in such cases has raised concerns. Justice Dwivedi observed that the misuse of this section has been a matter of increasing concern for the legal system.

The High Court referred to judgments by the Supreme Court, where the apex court expressed apprehensions about cases being filed under Section 498A in the heat of the moment and the use of omnibus allegations to implicate the family members of the husband in matrimonial disputes.

The recent observation was made in a plea seeking the quashing of a criminal case against the brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law of a man who was accused of cruelty towards his estranged wife. The court found that the complaint contained general and vague allegations against the petitioners, without disclosing the nature of the alleged torture.

In the exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the High Court quashed the case against the petitioners due to the lack of specific allegations against them. However, it clarified that the complaint and criminal proceedings against the husband would continue.

Advocate Rajesh Kumar represented the petitioners, advocate Lalan Kumar Singh appeared for the wife, and advocate Shailesh Kumar Sinha represented the State in the case.