Woman Can't File Dowry Harassment FIR After Divorce, Says Supreme Court
The maximum punishment under penal provisions for dowry harassment goes up to five years in jail along with monetary penalty.
Image for representation.
New Delhi: There cannot be an FIR against a man and his family members under dowry harassment charges after divorce, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The top court has held that prosecution under Section 498A of IPC or under other provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act will not be sustainable once a couple has separated under the pertinent law.
The maximum punishment under penal provisions goes up to five years in jail along with monetary penalty.
A bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao highlighted that Section 498A of the IPC opens with the words "Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman….”
Therefore, the bench said, where the complainant approaches with a case that there has already been a divorce, Section 498A will not be attracted. Similarly, there cannot be a case under Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
The occasion for the court to clarify the legal position came up when a man and his family approached it for quashing an FIR registered against them under Section 498A of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act.
The Allahabad High Court had in 2016 dismissed their plea for exoneration in an FIR lodged in Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh.
The lawyer for the former husband and his relatives submitted before the bench that the prosecution is not tenable in view of the case of the complainant herself that there had been a divorce almost four years before filing of the FIR.
The court said there is much substance in this argument. "In view of her own averment that she was divorced four years ago, we are of the view that the prosecution is not sustainable under section 498A of the IPC and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961," said the bench.
It then quashed the prosecution against all the accused persons under dowry harassment charges.
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