Certain laws, which are in existence for easy access to women, lend itself to easy misuse that women will find it hard to resist the temptation to “teach a lesson” to the male members and will file frivolous and false cases.[1] The question is that to what extent such laws have been misused remains uncertain. While, dowry harassment is the term to portrays any badgering on women in their marital home, and so for safety, there exist three separate applicable legitimate areas.

  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 – criminalizes accepting or offering dowry.
  • Sec 498(A) of IPC – forbids cruelty by husband or by his relatives towards the wife of the sort that might hurt her or drive her to suicide, or identifies with an interest for cash or property.
  • Sec 308(B) of IPC – identifies dowry deaths or death of wife in her initial seven years of marriage regarding an interest of dowry by her husband or by his family members.

With the increase in crime against women, the statistics even display how they have been misusing it either for their profits or to defame the spouse and his relatives while in some cases both may apply. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that on average around 1,00,000 are filed under Sec.498(a) of IPC per year. The conviction rate in 2011 was 20% and in 2015 it declined to 14%.[2] The declaration of low conviction rates follows how women have been using the sections as a weapon rather than as a shield.

In Mumbai, the upsurge of false fiery cases has let women opt for the discourse of justice. These laws accessible to some might use as a weapon to destruct lives. The prevention of these laws must be held so that to safeguard the innocence of masculinity. The following cases signify how women have been misusing this section which was made to ensure their safety.

(1) Christine Lazarus Menezes v. Mr. Lazarus Peter Menezes[3]

Plaintiff filed an appeal in Bombay High Court against the decree of the Family Court for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. From the wedlock, they had two daughters. And the decree of the Family court granted maintenance of Rs1000 to each of their daughters and denied maintenance to the wife.

The wife brought three witnesses in support of her case. The allegations escalated when the first witness who was a friend of the plaintiff stated that the husband used to torture her for dowry. Whereas, she admitted that she had filed a false criminal case in Kherwadi Police Station alleging him that he demanded dowry of Rs 1 Lakh to buy a car plus he stole her jewellery, she did this in order to get him back. Furthermore, she even argued that he was indulged in an adulterous relationship. In the event that on the spouse’s shows the criminal objection documented by her against the husband was bogus and was in the sole interest to reconcile their marital relationship and subsequently he was arrested for seven days. It would add up to a clear case of cruelty.

On the assessment of material records, the court was in the opinion that the wife couldn’t substantiate her allegations and it is difficult to accept the illicit relationship of her husband. The false FIR against him under Sec498(A) made him arrest and detained for the offense he didn’t commit. Cruelty is very subjective and being uncodified, it is decided on the merits of the case. These levelled allegations and breakdown of marriage leaves no space of ambiguity that the marriage could not possibly be restituted. The FIR filed whether, in anguish or agony, it disallows the path to resort with malicious intent and disinterests of parties. The decree of the Family court to dissolve the marriage was upheld by the Bombay High Court.

(2)  Tabassum Shaik v. Shaikh S.J[4]

The plaintiff and the respondent were married to each other according to the Islamic rites. When they got married, the plaintiff aged 15, and the defendant was 22. It was pleaded by the plaintiff that she has been turned out of her matrimonial home. And the jewellery and clothes she had were taken by mother in law and sisters of her husband. Throughout the petition, the plaintiff has given graphic detail of ill-treatment which she had to endure whilst she was residing in the matrimonial home. She further stated that this maltreatment was because she did not bring sufficient dowry. She claimed for the dissolution of marriage under Sec. 2(VIII)(a)(d)(f) of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939. Along with this, she prayed for the maintenance of Rs10,000 per month.

The court after hearing from both learned counsel, on-demand of dowry allegations it was stated that the family is well off and there couldn’t have been any possibility of demanding dowry. The court decision articulated on maintenance and rejected the contention that no independent income would not act as a ground for escaping the liability. The husband can refuse to maintain his wife when she is disobedient. However, as long as she is faithful she needs to be maintained.

(3) Rajan Vasant Revankar V. Mrs. Shobha Rajan Revankar[5]

This appeal is maintained by the original plaintiff, husband, against the decree and judgment by Principal Judge of Family Court in Bombay. He filed the petition for divorce on two grounds asserted by him were cruelty and desertion. The present appeal challenged the order of the Family Court that the husband is directed to pay Rs 1200 per month as maintenance to his wife. The Court even initiated the matter with mediation, but the party fails to reconcile with any differences and inability to move forward expressed by them.

The wife denied the allegations made against her on grounds of cruelty. She did not seek divorce and contended that special care has to be taken of the parents of her husband. While purporting her case, she made an additional statement of dowry and harassment. The Father of the respondent filed a complaint under section 498(A) of IPC, and consequently, the husband and his father were arrested for two days. Along with them, two brothers-in-law and his sisters were roped in their complaint. She issued an article in the daily newspaper of Pune about the arrest of his family members and resulting in humiliation publicly.

The next contention by the husband on grounds of cruelty were extracted from the letters. The letter written by the wife causes serious character assassination of her mother in law and his sisters. She even accused her husband on similar lines. In her cross-examination, she admitted that her husband neither tortured her nor harmed her but in an exaggerated version she shifted the blame from husband to his family members. One of the relatives of wife claimed of giving 15 tolas of gold ornaments along with Rs 10,000 as also demanded additional dowry, which has been deposed to in general terms.

The court after the assessment of evidence, the wife’s complaint on additional demand of dowry was found unsustainable and the consequent harassment and ill-treatment were not supported by any evidence. In oral evidence led by the wife is totally unsatisfactory and highly discrepant in some matters and provided with no conclusive evidence on alleged dowry demand. The letters construed as evidence sent by her father do not explicitly state additional demand of dowry or speaks of apprehension of harassment or ill-treatment to wife at hands of husband or from his family members. The court was not satisfied with the contention of the wife of the additional demand of dowry and declared unjustifiable.

(4) Kamlesh Ghanshyam Lohia and Others v. State of Maharashtra, thru the Commissioner of Police and Others[6]

Bombay High Court gave a landmark judgment in the present case and held that mere demand of dowry unaccompanied by any harassment would not amount to an offense under Sec.498(A). The coram presided by Justice Ranjit More and Justice NJ Jamadar held the concurrent judgment.

In the submitted FIR, it was alleged that on every festive occasion, the relatives of Krishna used to demand for clothes, ornaments, and money from Priyanka’s parents and subsequently those demands were met. According to the petitioner, complainant Priyanka has attempted to erroneously involve them with a “diagonal and ulterior rationale.” Furthermore, they asserted that they were living separately and used to visit her occasionally. There hasn’t been any event for us to illtreat or harass them. In addition to these allegations, she contended that she was humiliated by all of his relatives because they called her infertile.

The court observed that to set an offence within the parameters of Sec 498(A), the married woman must have been subjected to cruelty which would drive her to commit suicide or to cause injury or apprehension to danger to her life, limb, health or coerce her to or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand of property. Mere demand of money or with any interest in shares, if unaccompanied by harassment it would not amount to an offence falling in Section 498(a). The nexus between dowry demand and harassment must be established.

The court looked through the legal lenses and circumstances of the case as specified before it. And decided that the allegations made by the first informant (Priyanka) were of general nature and deprived of any specific instance and authorship. The said factor, primafacie, dissolves the credibility of the overall allegations without particular reference to individual, time and place. And the court was in the opinion that these allegations under the aforesaid section were made in order to harass and humiliate the relatives of Krishna.

(5) Deepak Gokulchand Aggarwal v. Mrs. Meghna Deepak Aggarwal[7] 

This present case runs in many incidents that took place consistently. The first incident was taken into cognizance when the respondent gave a strong blow to her mother in law who was suffering from breast cancer. The second incident took place after a couple of weeks, wherein she again assaulted her and this time she was hospitalised due to complications gained after the harm inflicted. In the third incident, the Respondent slapped the Appellant because of a dispute aroused between the two. The fourth incident and the major one because she filed an FIR against the appellant and his family members accusing them with respect to dowry and physical assault. She contended that her husband was a womanizer and a drunkard.

The family court directed the husband to give Rs10,000 per month for his child and Rs40,000 to the respondent. Despite making full payment, she did not withdraw it and requested for an arrest behind the back of the Appellant. With regard to this incident, she was acquitted on personal surety with a warning after been in confinement for a day. The story doesn’t stop here, it continues wherein she filed a criminal complaint against her brother in law. After taking into consideration, the Appellant was subjected to cruelty and consequently filed the petition aggrieved by the decision of Family Court. Where the family court rejected the injunction of relief claimed by the husband.

The court presided by Justice K.K.Tated and Justice Colabawalla came to a conclusive decision that the pleading of the wife was wholly unwarranted and observed that it was an assault on the character. Concerning allegations against dowry demand, the court declared them baseless. Such acts certainly lead to mental trauma and no person would ever like to be in a position to face such allegations that are untruthful and unjustified of nature. The court took the notice of the previously mentioned incidents and stated they were enough to seek for divorce on the grounds of cruelty and consequently dissolved the marriage.

(6) Mangesh Balkrushna Bhoir v. Leena Mangesh Bhoir[8]

The court presided by a single bench held that if the wife files a criminal case against the husband and his family members wherein eventually, they get acquitted, it would amount to cruelty. And on that ground, the husband is entitled to seek a divorce from his wife.

In this case, she filed a complaint against her husband and his relatives. Followed by this, he filed for divorce. The decree of divorce was set aside by lower appellate court and this appeal was challenging the decree.

The court relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in K.Srinivas v. K.Sunita[9], it is well settled if a criminal complaint is initiated by either spouse it would invariably and unquestionably constitute matrimonial cruelty and so the other spouse would be entitled to seek divorce. Discussing the various judgments of Supreme Court and High Courts, the court pronounced that if a wife filed a criminal complaint against husband and his family members under the provision of Sec. 498(A) and associated with any other provision, dismissed by merits of the case and so they get acquitted, then it is evident that complaint file by the wife was a false charge against husband and his family members.

The court placed reliance on the case Deepalakshmi Zingade v. Sachin Zingade, it was held that mere filing a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act could not constitute cruelty against the husband. The court rejected the contention that the complaints filed under the Sec. 498(A) were different than the provisions than of Domestic Violence Act.

The court further stated that the said provision in these facts and circumstances would come to rescue the appellant and not the respondent herein.

(7) Sushama Suresh Nigudkar v. State of Maharashtra[10]

The appeal in High court was challenging the order passed by the Session Court at Greater Bombay. In the present case, Ankush More and Akshata More were married. It is the prosecution case that during the marriage ceremony he demanded a scooter and after he was affirmed with a promise wherefore he continued with performing the ritual ceremonies. Later, after an altercation between the two, she poured kerosene on herself and set herself ablaze. The prosecution contended that it was not a suicide rather he drove her to take such an action. The case was later submitted to CID.

The Court ruled in favor of the appellants because of the absence of nexus between the dowry and death. The prosecution has to ruled out the possibility of natural and accidental death to bring within the purview of death occurring otherwise than in normal circumstances. Furthermore, the proximate between the demand of dowry and concerning death must exist. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and had stale sufficiently to not to disturb the mental equilibrium of the woman, it would be of no consequence.

The court after assessing every detail concluded that the cause of death was not dowry but the dispute. The Prosecution failed to produce the offense punishable under Sec 304(B) and 498(A) and stated that there is no reason to discard the dying declaration which happens to clearly state the cause of the death is because of the quarrel and not in question of dowry. Relying on the decision of Apex Court, every discord between the spouses or relatives cannot constitute a cause of dowry death or harassment or cruelty. Therefore, it cannot be deemed that appellants have instigated or provoked the death of the deceased. Under the facts and circumstances, they are entitled to avail the benefit of doubt resulting in their acquittal.

(8) State of Maharashtra v. Golmahamad Noormahamad Shaikh[11]

The records disclose that Smt. Tarrannum married to the respondent Golmahamad in the year 2004. According to the complainant Tarrannum, after one month of their marriage, the family members of the husband demanded Rs5000 from her parents for the expenses of the car. Later, they demanded Rs10,000, accordingly both their demands were met by her family. Moreover, they abused her verbally and ill-treated. The husband of his sister was accused of sexual assault when he found that she was alone in the house, he raped her. And so, a case was filed against the family members under Sec.498(A) read with 34 of the Penal Code, and also accused the husband of sister in law under Sec. 376 and 506 of IPC.

According to the father of the complainant that they demanded the money and he gave them Rs5000 once and Rs10,000 twice despite the fact that she was tortured and their demands continued. The brothers of the complainant were examined and affirmed the same that their demands were repetitive.

The court after evaluating the shreds of evidence expressed that they stand vague and inconsistent as far as the demand of money is considered with regard to its fulfillment. The discrepancy appears in terms of expressed versions of demanding money and fulfillment with the same. And also observed the passage of time-lapsed to file a complaint against the respondents for the incidents aforementioned. The prosecution has no answer for the reason of delay and opined that it has completely failed to substantiate the evidence against the accused under Sec.376 of IPC.

The court in this matter held that the Trial court hasn’t committed any mistake by acquitting the respondents by its judgment. And likewise, the present criminal case was dismissed.

(9) Anwar Ali v. State of Maharashtra[12]

The prosecution in the case, in brief, contended that the deceased Nasima Shaikh was married to the appellant about 6 years prior to her death. The appellant worked as a mason and always fell short of money to meet with their ends.  Since the marriage, he used to beat and maltreat her and often coerced her to bring some money from her brother. Rizwal, her brother had arranged a total 5000rs amount and once he couldn’t arrange and consequently she suffered injuries and bruises because in a fit of rage he beat her. She poured kerosene on herself and set on ablaze. She suffered injuries and died.

The appellant pleaded not guilty and this was falsely implicated on him. Rizwal did not fully support the prosecution and turned hostile. He admitted that he has provided her sister with the money  He deposed that they were living happily and never told her that she was subjected to cruelty or harassment. In the cross-examination of the appellant, he deposed that Nasima was short-tempered and have tried to commit suicide previously.

In the view of the evidence, it was vehemently argued that the prosecution could not establish sufficient proof that the wife was subjected to cruelty on account of the mere demand for money. The court held that the accused/appellant used to ask for money from her brother because of his financial constraints might be because he was addicted to liquor but certainly not due to demand of dowry. Relying on a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court that mere demand for money because of financial stringency or meeting domestic expenses does not amount to the demand of dowry.[13] The Trial Court failed to recognize every aspect and came to the wrong conclusion. The offense of dowry death is not proved.

(9) An article from the Business Standard[14]

An FIR was recorded in Kandivli Police station against a woman for cheating, trying to extort money, reneging on the divorce agreement, and additionally of a threat message to file a false dowry case against her husband. The case has been registered against two of the lady’s nearby family members moreover.

As indicated by the case which was recorded on April 9, the police have charged the accused under Section 385 (extortion), Section 420 (cheating), and Section 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The investigating officer in his statement said that a case has been registered at their police station and they will give the summons to all the accused soon.

The Kandivali police recorded an FIR simply after a Borivali court requested that the police investigate the issue,” the complainant stated, likewise charging that his wife had made his life “hell” because of laws which he stated, tend to overprotect women. He is an engineer by profession and tied the knot in May 2013. Soon after the marriage developed an estranged relationship with his wife. Since the mandate for the divorce is a year, the complainant and his wife came to a common conclusion with their interests. In December 2013, he and his wife, marked papers within the sight of witnesses, to seek a divorce in due course of time. He transferred alimony of Rs 2 lakh to her record, according to their mutual understanding. However, when I called her to come and sign legal documents, she dismissed my calls and messages. After this, I sent her a legal notice, she requested another Rs 10 lakh, bombing which she stated, she would document a bogus settlement grievance against the husband.

This case is an example of how the face of crime is used against the protective laws. As it signifies that stereotypes prevailing in our society are exploited. Crime knows no gender and no name.

Punjab And Haryana High Court made it clear that filing of a false criminal case against husband would amount to mental cruelty and it would constitute as a ground for divorce.

The offence of Sec.498 is cognizable and non bailable offence. The simplest way to harass husband and his husband by making an arrest of them under the aforesaid Section. The conviction rate has been observed in lowest terms and the reason behind this is because of high rise in false cases. The Men’s Rights in the society are equally important as the Women’s Rights are. And the recognition of the same must be ascertained.



[1] Madras High Court in Sameul Tennyson v. The Principal & Secretary, Madras Christian College (2019)


[3] CDJ 2017 BHC 936

[4] AIR 2000 Bom 1

[5] AIR 1995 Bom 246

[6] (2019) 3 HLR 362

[7] (2018) 2 HLR 312

[8] SECOND APPEAL NO. 634 OF 2013

[9] (2014) 16 SCC 34

[10] 2009 SCC Bom 134

[11] (2014) SCC 753

[12] (2008) 6 AIR Bom 143

[13] Appasaheb v. State of Maharashtra, 2007 (9) SCC 721


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