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How The Court Should Deal Itself With The Growing Tendency To Make Vague Allegations Against Members Of The Husband's Family U/s 498-A IPC ?

Petitioners Respondents
1] Shabnam Sheikh w/o. Arif Sheikh 1] State of Maharashtra
2] Arif Sheikh S/o. Gani Sheikh 2] Dr. Kousar Fatima W/o. Shabbir Ahmad
3] Shama Sheikh W/o. Nazir Sheikh

Background Of The Case

  1. Bombay High Court was hearing the criminal application filed by Section 489 A IPC Shabnam Sheikh, her husband Arif Sheikh and Gani Sheikh, under Section 482 of Cr.P.C, laying a challenge to the maintainability of FIR for offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 324, 506 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
  2. The marriage between the complainant and her husband, who is the brother of Arif Sheikh was solemnized on September 25, 2011 and after marriage, both of them started residing separately from the applicants. Both Shabnam Sheikh and Gani Sheikh are sister-in-law's of the complainant.
  3. According to the complainant, there were quarrels between the complainant and her husband, therefore, the complainant filed an FIR, which was compromised.
  4. Thereafter, complainant again on April 28, 2012 lodged complaint with the Women Cell of the same police station. Since, there was a constant quarrel with her husband, he also filed complaint on May 18, 2012 alleging harassment caused by parents and brother of the complainant.
  5. The complainant had filed another report against her husband on April 28, 2012 but, the concerned police station did not take any action and had sent NC report to the complainant. Aggrieved by the same, the complainant approached the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Nagpur and filed an application under Section 156 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and, then the FIR was lodged against the applicants.
  6. According to the complainant, the applicants, along with her husband harassed her for dowry and there were several complaints filed by her with the Police Station as and when harassment was caused. The complainant prayed for the the application to be dismissed being devoid of merits.
  7. Senior Advocate Anil S Mardikar appeared on behalf of the applicants along with Advocate SG Joshi, APP MK Pathan for the State and Advocate MN Ali for the complainant.

Contentions Of The Applicants

Sr Adv Mardikar argued that it is only to implicate entire family that the report is lodged against the applicants. In the FIR, it is nowhere stated that the applicants have ever instigated commission of the offence or demanded money from the complainant or her parents. The complainant and her husband are residing separately and the applicants are no-way concerned with day-to-day affairs of the complainant. The allegations in the FIR., even if accepted in entirety, do not make out the ingredients of the offence alleged and continuance of criminal proceedings would be the abuse of process of law, he submitted.

Contentions Of The State and Complainant

APP Pathan contended that the evidence of the complainant, prima facie, make out offences as alleged, so the Court should restrain itself from exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.


The bench examined-

  1. Cruelty, as defined in Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, must meet the following requirements:
    1. There should be harassment of the woman;
    2. Harassment should be with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security; and
    3. Harassment may be even where there is failure by woman or any person related to her to meet any such demand earlier made.
  2. The bench observed further- “Nowadays, it has become a tendency to make vague and omnibus allegations, against every member of the family of the husband, implicating everybody under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. Hence, it has become necessary for the Courts to carefully scrutinize the allegations and to find out if the allegations made really constitute an offence and meet the requirements of the law at least prima facie.”
  3. Finally, Court relied upon the following judgments of the Supreme Court while quashing the F.I.R. :
    • G. Sagar Suri and another vs. State of U.P. and others1)
    • M/s.Indian Oil Corporation vs. M/s. NEPC India Ltd.,& others
    • Kailash Chandra Agrawal vs. State of U.P. and others.
  4. HC also referred K. Subba Rao vs. Sate of Telangana2) where the Hon’ble Apex Court observed that relatives of the husband should not be roped in on the basis of vague allegations unless specific instances of their involvement are set out.
  5. Allowing the said application, the bench said- “It is true that while considering quashing of criminal proceedings under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Court should not embark upon an inquiry into the truthfulness of the allegations made by the complainant but, when the filing of F.I.R. amounts to gross misuse of the criminal justice system, it becomes the duty of the High Court to intervene in such cases, under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure so that there is no miscarriage of justice and faith of people in the judicial system remains intact . In the present case, sisters-in-law and brother-in-law have been arraigned as accused without there being specific allegations as regards the nature of cruelty, as contemplated by Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code against them.”

Case Details

Court Bombay High Court Nagpur Bench
Case No Criminal Application (APL) NO. 114 OF 2014
Coram Z. A. Haq and Amit B. Borkar, JJ.
Dated 15.10.2020
2000 2 SCC 636
2018 (14) SCC 452

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