Dowry Allegations under 498A Case Acquittal by Supreme Court. Omnibus dowry allegations don’t merit prosecution: Supreme Court

In this post, we will discuss the Supreme court verdict on a case where criminal proceedings were lodged by a woman in Bihar against her husband and in-laws under section 498A of IPC and also look at the major problems with the misuse of section 498A in the society and court directions on such cases in the legal opinion section.

Also Read- Sec 498A being used to settle personal scores against husband, his kin: SC

Facts of the case:

 A woman in Bihar against her husband and in-laws under section 498A of IPC.

Dowry Allegations under 498A Case Acquittal by Supreme Court
Dowry Allegations under 498A Case Acquittal by Supreme Court


Section 498A of IPC-

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 fine. Explanation. For 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.

Also Read- Girlfriend Or Concubine Not Liable For Prosecution U/S 498A IPC: Andhra Pradesh High Court

Legal opinion – the two major problems with the misuse of section 498A are –

  1. False complaints– These complaints are sometimes referred to as ego-based complaints by judges.  Some of the important cases in this regard to refer to are the: Manju Ram Kalita V. State of Assam (2009), Bibi Parwana Khatoon v. State of Bihar (2017), CHANDRA BHAN V/S STATE.
  2. Women misusing the law –  some of the important cases in this regard to refer are the:- SUSHIL KUMAR SHARMA V/S UNION OF INDIA, RAJESH SHARMA AND OTHERS VIS STATE OF UP.

Also Read- Supreme Court quashes FIR filed under Dowry Law, expresses concern over misuse of Section 498A IPC for settling personal scores


▸ to prevent misuse of the Section 498A IPC SC directed the states to constitute:

  1. i) Family Welfare Committees in Every District by the District Legal Services Authorities.
  2. ii) All complaints under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate shall be:
  3. a) Looked into by such committees and
  4. b) No arrest will be made unless the committee report is received by the police.

▸ In case of a bail application, the committee shall look into it on the same day as far as possible.

iii) The court also made it easier for people residing abroad and directed that:

  1. No passports shall be impounded or
  2. Issuance of Red Corner Notice ▸ should not be a routine.

▸ There is a need to fix the accountability of the governments both state and center.

▸ The media also needs to play a strong role in condemning dowry, so that it can keep an effective check on the prospects.

Also Read- On dealing with false criminal cases

I would like to conclude that the Court in order to remove frivolous complaints from the system has struck at the roots of understanding women’s rights and agency and there should be the immediate implementation of the following suggestions of the court –

  • Time-bound trial and investigation
  • Bail Procedures
  • Family Counselling Centres
  • Role of Women NGOs
  • Penalty for making false accusations

Also Read- Section 498A IPC – Prosecution Of Husband’s Relatives Based On General & Omnibus Allegations By Wife Is Abuse Of Process: Supreme Court


The Supreme Court on Tuesday held those general and omnibus allegations cannot be a ground for prosecution and asked courts to be cautious in dealing with such complaints, citing misuse of criminal provisions for dowry harassment to settle personal scores by dragging in-laws and other relatives into criminal proceedings.

The Hon’ble supreme court had expressed concern and warned courts not to proceed against the husband’s relatives when no prima facie case was made out against them, according to a bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari. The order was made while the court was dismissing criminal charges brought by a woman in Bihar against her husband and in-laws. since the husband, who was also named in the FIR, did not oppose it, the court decided not to pursue the allegations against him and instead granted relief to his five relatives.

the court has expressed concern on numerous occasions about the misuse of section 498A of the IPC and the increased tendency to implicate husband’s relatives in matrimonial disputes without considering the long-term ramifications of a trial on both the complainant and the accused. It is also clear from the above-mentioned judgments that, if left unchecked, false the implication by way of general omnibus allegations made in the course of a matrimonial dispute would result in abuse of the legal process. As a result, this court has warned the courts not to proceed against relatives and in-laws when no prima facie case has been made out against them,” it said.

Also Read- Girlfriend not liable for prosecution under Section 498A, rules High Court

While granting the petitioner’s request for relief, the court noted that there was no specific allegation against the in-laws, and the woman’s allegations were too general to warrant a trial. “Following a review of the contents of the FIR, it becomes clear that the appellants are facing general allegations. ‘All accused harassed her mentally and threatened to terminate her pregnancy,’ the complainant claimed. Furthermore, no specific and distinct allegations have been made against either of the appellants in this case, i.e., no specific role has been attributed to any of the appellants in furtherance of the general allegations made against them. This simply leads to a situation in which it is impossible to determine the role played by each accused in the commission of the crime “The bench remarked.

The court stated that going to trial leaves a permanent scar on a person, even if they are acquitted, and that holding trials in such cases should be discouraged.

“As a result, in light of the circumstances, and in the absence of any specific role attributed to the accused-appellants, it would be unjust to subject them to the rigors of a trial, i.e., general and omnibus allegations cannot be made in a situation where the complainant’s husband’s relatives are forced to go to trial. This court has stated on numerous occasions that a criminal trial that results in an eventual acquittal leaves the accused with severe scars, and that such an exercise should be avoided “The bench remarked.

Also Read- Cruelty by mother-in-law: a “more serious” offence?

For case specific advice please contact criminal lawyers advocates in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali Kharar Derabassi Zirakpur.

More on 99888-17966.