SC holds once again distant relatives of husband cannot be accused in 498A IPC

498A Case as against relatives of the husband, maternal uncles of the husband was quashed by the Supreme Court 

498A case facts

Wife gave a complaint against husband and relatives of the husband, namely his maternal uncles for harassment. She also complained that their son had been kidnapped by the husband to USA. Based on this complaint, FIR was registered against the husband and the maternal uncles. 

The maternal uncles moved the High Court seeking quashing of the proceedings as against them under Section 482 Cr.P.C. The High Court dismissed the application directing the police not to arrest them. A charge sheet was filed on 12.03.2017 under Sections 498A, 120B, 420, 365 IPC after completion of the investigation. Aggrieved over the dismissal by the High Court, the maternal uncles moved for an appeal to the Supreme Court of India.

498A Judgment:

The Supreme Court observed as per the charge sheet, the couple married on 08.12.2008 and were mostly residing in the United States of America. There was marital discord between them. The allegations against the Appellants (maternal uncles) are that they were supporting the husband who was physically and mentally torturing the wife. The Appellants also conspired with the husband who kidnapped the child from the custody of the second Respondent and took him away to the U.S.A.

A perusal of the charge sheet and the supplementary charge sheet discloses the fact that the Appellants are not the immediate family members of the third Respondent/husband. They are the maternal uncles of the third Respondent. Except the bald statement that they supported the third Respondent who was harassing the second Respondent for dowry and that they conspired with the third Respondent for taking away his child to the U.S.A., nothing else indicating their involvement in the crime was mentioned. The Appellants approached the High Court when the investigation was pending. The charge sheet and the supplementary charge sheet were filed after disposal of the case by the High Court.

Criminal proceedings are not normally interdicted by us at the interlocutory stage unless there is an abuse of process of a Court. This Court, at the same time, does not hesitate to interfere to secure the ends of justice. See State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal. 

The Courts should be careful in proceeding against the distant relatives in crimes pertaining to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths. The relatives of the husband should not be roped in on the basis of omnibus allegations unless specific instances of their involvement in the crime
are made out. See Kans Raj v. State of Punjab & Ors. (2000) 5 SCC 207 and Kailash Chandra Agrawal and Anr. v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. (2014) 16 SCC 551.

The counsel for the second Respondent submitted that certain documents belonging to the second Respondent were seized from the Appellants which would show their active involvement in the kidnapping of her child. On an
overall consideration of the contents of the charge sheet, supplementary charge sheet and the submissions made on behalf of the Respondent No.2, we are of the opinion that a prima facie case has not been made out against the Appellants for proceeding against them under Sections 498A, 120 B, 420 and 365 IPC.

With the above observations the Supreme Court has allowed the appeal and quashed the criminal prosecutions against the maternal uncles of the husband.

It is pertinent to note here that the Supreme Court has taken a serious view on several occasions, where the distant relatives of the husband who had been roped in cases of 498A. In the case of Rajesh Sharma vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh decided on 27 July, 2017, the Supreme Court had directed that cases of 498A must not be registered without approval of Family Welfare Committee.


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