Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Woman can’t use police to harass husband and in-laws: SC tells home and law ministry to consider changes in BNS | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has ruled that married women cannot use police machinery to hold husband at ransom and expressed concern over much abused Section 498A (cruelty to women in matrimonial home) of IPC getting replicated in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita without a semblance of protection for husband and his relatives against frivolous complaints.
Quashing a 498A case lodged by a woman against her husband, his parents, brother and sister, a bench of Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, “The Police machinery cannot be utilized for the purpose of holding the husband at ransom so that he could be squeezed by the wife at the instigation of her parents or relatives or friends.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Pardiwala on Friday said, “Police machinery should be resorted to as a measure of last resort and that too in a very genuine case of cruelty and harassment.” The bench referred to SC’s 2010 judgment highlighting abuse of Section 498A by married women in matrimonial disputes and the court’s request to the law commission and law ministry for a relook at the provision.
Cruelty in matrimonial homes is defined under Section 85 and 86 of BNS, which would come into force from July 1. The SC said, “Sections 85 and 86 are nothing but verbatim reproduction of Section 498A of the IPC. The only difference is that the Explanation to Section 498A of the IPC, is now by way of a separate provision, that is, Section 86 of the BNS.”
In 2010, in the Preeti Gupta case the SC had noted the abuse of Section 498A by women to implicate their husbands and in-laws in police cases and said that most of these cases emanated from trivial matrimonial disputes. It had asked the government to take a “serious relook” at the provision as the tendency of over implication is reflected in a large number of cases.
The bench said before BNS came into force, “we request the Legislature to look into the issue as highlighted above taking into consideration the pragmatic realities and consider making necessary changes in Sections 85 and 86 respectively of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita before both the new provisions come into force.”
The SC said in all cases, a wife’s complaint of harassment or ill-treatment does not mechanically attract Section 498A of the IPC. “Many times, a woman’s parents, including close relatives, make a mountain out of a mole, the bench said. The first thing that comes in the mind of the wife, her parents and her relatives is the Police, as if the Police is the panacea of all evil. No sooner does the matter reach up to the Police, then even if there are fair chances of reconciliation between the spouses, they would get destroyed,” it said.
“Many times, services of professionals are availed for the same and once the complaint is drafted by a legal mind, it would be very difficult thereafter to weed out any loopholes or other deficiencies in the same,” the bench said.