Filing a false 498A is relatively easy for a woman in India. However, the onus of proving the same otherwise relies on the husband. As per a recent Supreme Court judgement, when a person undergoes a trial in which he is acquitted of the allegation of offence under Section 498-A of IPC, levelled by the wife against the husband, it cannot be accepted that no cruelty has meted on the husband.
- The parties had been married in 2005 and lived together until 2007 (only 18 months)
- Together they have a minor daughter who is around 13-years-old
- Wife filed 498a charges on the husband and also demanded maintenance from him
- The husband too filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty
- The case dragged for nearly 10-years
- The High Court had refused to grant divorce to the husband by observing that merely because the wife had sought for maintenance or had filed a complaint against him for the offence punishable under Section 498-A of IPC, they cannot be said to be valid grounds for holding that such a recourse adopted by her amounts to cruelty
Disapproving this view taken by the High Court, the bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Navin Sinha said:
The above observation of the High Court cannot be approved. It is true that it is open for anyone to file complaint or lodge prosecution for redressal for his or her grievances and lodge a first information report for an offence also and mere lodging of complaint or FIR cannot ipso facto be treated as cruelty.
But when a person undergoes a trial in which he is acquitted of the allegation of offence under Section 498-A of IPC, levelled by the wife against the husband, it cannot be accepted that no cruelty has meted on the husband.
Regarding this, the bench further noted:
In the present case the prosecution is launched by the respondent against the appellant under Section 498-A of IPC making serious allegations in which the appellant had to undergo trial which ultimately resulted in his acquittal.
In the prosecution under Section 498-A of IPC not only acquittal has been recorded but observations have been made that allegations of serious nature are levelled against each other. The case set up by the appellant seeking decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty has been established.
Observing thus, the bench concluded that the husband has made a ground for grant of decree of dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty. However, the court also directed the father to pay Rs 2,000 per month towards the maintenance of his minor daughter and also allowed the minor child to seek enhancement of maintenance in accordance with the law.