Citing rampant misuse of Section 498A, Supreme Court renders it non-cognizable, directs setting up of ‘Family Welfare Committees’

The Supreme Court has directed that for a period of six months, no arrests will be made in cases registered under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code unless evidence of tangible physical harm and injury is produced by the complainant wife. 498A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Surmising that most such cases are filed in the heat of the moment by women who seek to harass their husbands, the SC has directed the establishment of ‘Family Welfare Committees,’ that will oversee and clear every such case for prosecution by examining the facts of each case. It is pertinent to note that the members of the committee will not be drawn from a pool of legally trained professionals, but will comprise of retired persons, wives of officers, etc, thus severely compromising the ability of such a committee to assess the legal aspects of any complaint.

The judgment perpetuates the myth that most women jump into matrimonial litigation impulsively, and file false criminal cases against their husbands and in laws to harass them and extort hefty alimony amounts. This decision has also been widely criticised for diluting legislative mandate and the principles of the criminal procedure code.

Rajesh Sharma v. State of U.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 821