False accusations of dowry now grounds for divorce


The man in entitled to divorce in case the wife falsely accuses him and the in-laws of any kind cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, made clear a ruling by the Supreme Court.

“We unequivocally find that the respondent-wife had filed a false criminal complaint, and even one such complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty. We accordingly dissolve the marriage of the parties, “excerpted the bench in the cases of dissolution of marriage of K Srinivas and K Sunita.

The woman had left the matrimonial home back in June 30, 1995, followed by the divorce suit by the husband on July 14 on the grounds of cruelty as well as irretrievable breakdown of marriage. On hearing of the same, the wife filed a criminal complaint against the husband and seven of his family members under the provisions of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act, acting on which the husband and the family members were arrested and jailed.

The apex court bench of justices Vikramjit Sen and PC Pant said, “This is clearly indicative of the fact that the criminal complaint was a contrived afterthought. We affirm the view of the HC that the criminal complaint was ‘ill advised’,” after hearing the woman’s statement to police on the complaint lodged by her against her husband and his relatives.

The judgment also added. “In these circumstances, the HC ought to have concluded that the wife knowingly and intentionally filed a false complaint, calculated to embarrass and incarcerate the husband and seven members of his family and that such conduct unquestionably constitutes cruelty as postulated under Section 13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. In any event, both parties were fully aware of this facet of cruelty which was allegedly suffered by the husband.”

The Supreme Court finalized the divorce- although on the grounds of misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code by women and not on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.

The court also mentioned the Law Commission of India in its reports in 1978 as well as in 2009 had recommended introduction of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for dissolution of marriage and the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill of 2013 incorporating this ground had even received the assent of Rajya Sabha, reported Time of India.

“It is, however, highly debatable whether, in the Indian situation, where there is rampant oppression of women, such a ground would at all be expedient. But that controversy will be considered by the Lok Sabha,” the court said.