Misuse of IPC 498A and Dowry acts
Monday, January 02, 2006
Misuse of 498A is like Legal Terrorism - SC
Misuse of 498A is like Legal Terrorism - SC

Sushil Kumar Sharma Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors - Jul 19 2005
Citation: JT 2005 (6) SC 266
Honourable Judges: Arijit Pasayat and H.K. Sema, JJ.
Issue: Evidence Act, 1872 - Section 113B; Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983; Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; Indian Penal Code, 1860 -
Sections 304B, 306 and 498A; Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973; Constitution of India - Articles 14 and 32
Date Of Judgment: Jul 19 2005
Case No: Writ Petition (C) No. 141 of 2005
More cases on : Evidence Act Total [592]
Cases Referred:A. Thangal Kunju Musaliar v. M. Venkatachalam Potti,
Authorised Official and Income-Tax Officer and Anr.; Budhan Choudhry and Ors. v. State of Bihar.
By this petition purported to have been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (in short 'the Constitution') prayer is to
declare Section 498a of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short 'the IPC') to be unconstitutional and ultra vires in the alternative to formulate
guidelines so that innocent persons are not victimized by unscrupulous persons making false accusations.
2. Further prayer is made that whenever, any court comes to the conclusion that the allegations made regarding commission of offence under
Section 498a IPC are unfounded, stringent action should be taken against person making the allegations. This, according to the petitioner, would
discourage persons from coming to courts with unclean hands and ulterior motives. Several instances have been highlighted to show as to how
commission of offence punishable under Section 498a IPC has been made with oblique motives and with a view to harass the husband, in-laws and
3. According to the petitioner there is no prosecution in these cases but persecution. Reliance was also placed on a decision rendered by a
learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court wherein concern was shown about the increase in number of false and frivolous allegations made. It
was pointed out that accusers are more at fault than the accused.
Persons try to take undue advantage of the sympathies exhibited by the courts in matters relating to alleged dowry torture.
4. Section 498a appears in Chapter XXA of IPC.
5. Substantive Section 498a IPC and presumptive Section 113B of the Indian evidence Act, 1372 (in short 'evidence Act') have been inserted in
the respective statutes by Criminal Law ( Second Amendment) Act, 1983.
6. Section 498a IPC and Section 113B of the evidence Act include in their amplitude past events of cruelty. Period of operation of Section
113B of the evidence Act is seven years, presumption arises when a woman committed suicide within a period of seven years from the date of
7. Section 498a reads as follows:
"498a: Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty- Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a
woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to
Explanation - For the purpose of this section 'cruelty' means -
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life,
limb or health whether mental or physical of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for
any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand."
Section 113B reads as follows:-
"113B: Presumption as to dowry death- When the question is whether a person has committed the dowry death of a woman and it is shown that soon
before her death such woman has been subjected by such person to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, the
Court shall presume that such person had caused the dowry death.
Explanation - For the purposes of this section 'dowry death' shall have the same meaning as in Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (45 of
8. Consequences of cruelty which are likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health,
whether mental or physical of the woman is required to be established in order to bring home the application of Section 498a IPC. Cruelty has
been defined in the explanation for the purpose of Section 498a. It is to be noted that. Sections 304B and 498a, IPC cannot be held to be
mutually inclusive. These provisions deal with two distinct offences. It is true that cruelty is a common essential to both the Sections and that has
to be proved. The explanation to Section 498a gives the meaning of 'cruelty'. In Section 304B there is no such explanation about the meaning
of 'cruelty'. But having regard to common background to these offences it has to betaken that the meaning of 'cruelty' or 'harassment' is the
same as prescribed in the Explanation to Section 498a under which 'cruelty' by itself amounts to an offence.
9. The object for which Section 498a IPC was introduced is amply reflected in the Statement of Objects and Reasons while enacting Criminal Law
(Second Amendment) Act No. 46 of 1983. As clearly stated therein the increase in number of dowry deaths is a matter of serious concern. The
extent of the evil has been commented upon by the Joint Committee of the Houses to examine the work of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. In some
cases, cruelty of the husband and the relatives of the husband which culminate in suicide by or murder of the helpless woman concerned, which
constitute only a small fraction involving such cruelty. Therefore, it was proposed to amend IPC, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in
short 'the Cr.P.C.') and the evidence Act suitably to deal effectively not only with cases of dowry deaths but also cases of cruelty to married
women by the husband, in-law and relatives. The avowed object is to combat the menace of dowry death and cruelty.
10. One other provision which is relevant to be noted is Section 306 IPC. The basic difference between the two Sections i.e. Section 306 and
Section 498a is that of intention. Under the latter, cruelty committed by the husband or his relations drag the women concerned to commit
suicide, while under the former provision suicide is abetted and intended.
11. It is well settled that mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law does not per se invalidate a legislation. It must be presumed,
unless contrary is proved, that administration and application of a particular law would be done "not with an evil eye and unequal hand" (see: A.
Thangal Kunju Musaliar v. M. Venkatachalam Potti, Authorised Official and Income-Tax Officer and Anr.)
12. In Budhan Choudhry and Ors. v. State of Bihar a contention was raised that a provision of law may not be discriminatory but it may land
itself to abuse bringing about discrimination between the persons similarly situated. This court repelled the contention holding that on the
possibility of abuse of a provision by the authority, the legislation may not be held arbitrary or discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of
the Constitution.
13. From the decided cases in India as well as in United States of America, the principle appears to be well settled that if a statutory
provision is otherwise intra-vires, constitutional and valid, mere possibility of abuse of power in a given case would not make it objectionable,
ultra-vires or unconstitutional. In such cases, "action" and not the "section" may be vulnerable. If it is so, the court by upholding the
provision of law, may still set aside the action, order or decision and grant appropriate relief to the person aggrieved.
14. In Mafatlal Industries Ltd. and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., a Bench of 9 Judges observed that mere possibility of abuse of a
provision by those in charge of administering it cannot be a ground for holding a provision procedurally or substantively unreasonable. In Collector of
Customs v. Nathella Sampathu Chetty (1962 (3) SCR 786) this Court observed:
"The possibility of abuse of a statute otherwise valid does not impart to it any element of invalidity." It was said in State of Rajasthan v.
Union of India "it must be remembered that merely because power may sometimes be abused, it is no ground for denying the existence of power.
The wisdom of man has not yet been able to conceive of a Government with power sufficient to answer all its legitimate needs and at the same
time incapable of mischief." (Also see: Commissioner, H.R.E. v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Meth (1954 SCR 1005).
15. As observed in Maulavi Hussein Haji Abraham Umarji v. State of Gujarat. Unique Butle Tube Industries (P) Ltd. v. U.P. Financial
Corporation and Ors. and Padma Sundara Rao (dead) and Ors. v. State of Tamil and Ors., while interpreting a provision, the Court only interprets the law
and cannot legislate it. If a provision of law is misused and subjected to the abuse of the process of law, it is for the legislature to amend,
modify or repeal it, if deemed necessary.
16. The judgment of the Delhi High Court on which reliance was made was rendered in the case of Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand and Ors. In that
case while holding that the allegations regarding commission of offence punishable under Section 498a IPC were not made out. Certain
observations in general terms were made about the need for legislative changes.
The complainant had moved this Court against the judgment on merits in SLP(Crl)......of 2003 entitled Savitri Devi v. Ramesh Chand and Ors. By
order dated 28.11.2003 this Court observed, as follows:
"Heard learned counsel for the petitioner.
Delay condoned.
We do not see any merit in the challenge made to the order of the High Court in Criminal Revision No. 462 of 2002, on the facts of the case.
The special leave petition is, therefore, dismissed.
At the same time, we express our disapproval of some of the generalized views expressed in paragraphs 23 to 32 of the judgment of the High
Court by the learned Single Judge. The learned Judge ought to have seen that such observations, though may be appropriate for seminars or
workshops, should have been avoided being incorporated as part of a court judgment. Some of the views also touch upon Legislative measures and wisdom
of legislative policy in substance, which according to the learned Judge need to be taken into account. There was no scope for considering all
such matters in the case which was before the learned Judge. It is, therefore, appropriate that such generalized observations or views should
meticulously avoided by Courts in the judgments."
17. Above being the position we find no substance in the plea that Section 498a has no legal or constitutional foundation.
18. The object of the provision is prevention of the dowry menace. But as has been rightly contented by the petitioner many instances have
come to light where the complaints are not bonafide and have been filed with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in
all cases wipe out the ignomy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. The question, therefore,
is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well-intentioned provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional and
intra vires, does not give a licence to unscrupulous persons to wreck personal vendetta or unleash harassment. It may, therefore, become
necessary for the legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with. Till then the
Courts have to take care of the situation within the existing frame work. As noted above the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace.
But by misuse of the provision a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used a shield and not an assassin's
weapon. If cry of "wolf" is made too often as a prank assistance and protection may not be available when the actual "wolf" appears. There is no
question of investigating agency and Courts casually dealing with the allegations. They cannot follow any straitjacket formula in the matters
relating to dowry tortures, deaths and cruelty. It cannot be lost sight of that ultimate objective of every legal system is to arrive at truth,
punish the guilty and protect the innocent. There is no scope for any pre-conceived notion or view. It is strenuously argued by the petitioner
that the investigating agencies and the courts start with the presumptions that the accused persons are guilty and that the complainant is
speaking the truth. This is too wide available and generalized statement. Certain statutory presumptions are drawn which again are rebuttable. It
is to be noted that the role of the investigating agencies and the courts is that of watch dog and not of a bloodhound. It should be their
effort to see that an innocent person is not made to suffer on account of unfounded, baseless and malicious allegations. It is equally
undisputable that in many cases no direct evidence is available and the courts have to act on circumstantial evidence. While dealing with such cases,
the law laid down relating to circumstantial evidence has to be kept in view.
19. Prayer has been made to direct investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (in short the 'CBI') in certain matters where the
petitioner is arrayed as an accused. We do not find any substance in this plea. If the petitioner wants to prove his innocence, he can do so in
the trial, if held.
The Writ Petition is accordingly disposed of.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Misuse of IPC 498A and Dowry Acts
SatyaMev Jayate - Let the truth Prevail
Join The Movement to
the Misuse of IPC 498A

Help for 498A,Click here

1. Precautions and Prevention
2. What to do now
3. Law Defined
4. Cases and Judgments
5. Different sources in Net
6. Others can help you
7. You too can help others
1. Precautions and Prevention:
A. Before marriage: As Dalai Lama has rightly said, “There should be at least 6 months of duration between Engagement and Marriage”. Better before engagement too you should have ample time to talk to each other for 5-10 times. In this period you two can know each other better and plan everything about future.
Before marriage make a
pre-nuptial agreement (which people are v much opting for these days) saying you haven’t demanded dowry and they haven’t given any dowry, they have given gifts on their own for their girl.
Don’t take dowry or demand dowry. If gifts are exchanged in marriage then write it down in papers and should be signed by both the parties. Even after marriage you can do it. Better take photographs of all the articles with you two standing behind it.
One should also consider Pre-Marital Counseling to clear all the doubts about marriage and the responsibilities there after.
B. After Marriage: Keep every documents and evidence with yourself (make copies of it). During battle in court you may need photographs, letters, bank statements, video, articles etc..
Buy mobile and landline phones with recording facility and also a 40hrs digital voice recorder (We hope you know how useful these will be for you).
2. What to do now (If 498A has been filed against you and your family): (Easier said then done for atleast in first few days..) Think positive. Don’t worry much. Plan your moves step by step. If she has filed false case against you then you are the winner. Thousands of false 498A cases are filed daily all over India and everyone knows that. Take control of your family members (they are your strength and vice-versa). Concentrate on your job. Make more money (and invest wisely). Do meditation. Be focused. Always remember you are going to win.
Keep a door open for negotiation. Talk to them through your community members, family friends etc.. but never give in to their outrageous demand. Main thing is to get bail asap for you and your family, there after things will be in your hand and they will compromise. (Generally they demand Rs 20 lacs and above before you get bail but in the long run through court they can get hardly Rs 2k per month, which means less than Rs 30K per year.)
Keep a v good lawyer (not necessary costly), which can be young but v resourceful and gives you time. Lawyer should be such that he has contacts within court and helps you in all condition. In the initial stages talk to the police before they complete charge sheet, get all your family member’s point of view written in the case diary.
There are lots of cases similar to yours, check them in net (links are given below) n be prepared always.
There are direction from US and Canadian consulates that Misuse of dowry laws are rampant in India.
You are in the battlefront and want to win so remember these words:
“When your strategy is deep and far-reaching, you gain much so you can win even before you fight.When your strategy is shallow and near-sighted,you lose even before you do battle.
Much strategy prevails over little strategy
so, those with no strategy cannot help but be defeated.
So, it is taught that victorious warriors win first then go to war
While defeated warriors first go to war and then seek to win. “
3. Law Defined:
4. Cases and Judgments: Click Here

5. Different sources in Net:
A: Newspaper articles:
1. Indian Husbands From U.S. Fall Victim To Dowry-Immigration Fraud In India Cached-page
2. Some brides are ‘villains’, not victims: lawyers Cached-page
3. Majority of dowry cases are false: SP Cached-page
4. Check dowry law misuse by women: HC Cached-page
5. False dowry case ample ground for divorce: HC(Delhi)
6. Dowry Laws Nail Innocents : Estranged wives bring false complaints to beggar helpless spouses Cached-page
7. PERFUME TO POLICE - Give Pleasure Take Pain Cached-page
8. Laws Against Domestic Violence, Underused or Abused? Madhu Kishwar Cached-page
9. Man assaulted by wife, gets divorce Cached-page
10. Disussion in RajyaSabha over misuse of IPC 498A
11. Dowry Act misuse quite common Cached-page
12. Battered men seek cover
13. Parliament dicussion over abuse of IPC 498A and information about PHSS
14. Husband comes home to soft law
15. Can't both sexes be fair?
16. Women misusing anti-dowry law: HC
17. Battered husbands seek justice
18. Misuse of Dowry Law -Andhra HC Cached-page
19. Vimochana's Work with Victims of Domestic Violence
20. Singer's family booked for dowry demand
21. Harried husband ends life
22. Harassed husbands to fast on Human Rights Day
23. Etah dowry death ‘victim’ comes alive Cached-page
B: Organizations/Individual:
C: Bulletin Board/Blogs:
6. Others can help you:
Join yahoo group where you will meet like-minded people who can help you:
Click to join saveindianfamily
24-hour All India Helpline Number: +91-09243473794

7. You too can help others:
Spread this to as many people as possible. Help others who are facing similar problem, might be he can help you in return. If you have good contacts with lawyers, police , journalists and/or politicians then the whole society will get benefited. Write to President, PM, MPs, CM, difft. Newspapers, Amnesty International, etc about this menace in our society.
To bring changes in 498A and stop its misuse all of you kindly send emails to the Prime Minister of India at
also send emails to the President of India at http://www.presidentofindia.nic.in/scripts/writetopresident.jsp
and different newspapers:
This website has been made possible after talking to many victims and feedback from lawyers.
We are against dowry.(All exchange of gifts during marriage should be declared in writing.)
We Demand equal rights for men n women in India
(it includes equal share in family property for women and a new IPC 498B for men).
Whoever misuses a law should be stringently penalized so that misuse of law is prevented.

Powered by Blogger