KOLKATA: Section 498A of the IPC that deals with harassment or cruelty towards a woman by her husband or in-laws often becomes a tool to “unleash legal terrorism” in the name of seeking justice, the Calcutta HC said on Monday while dropping criminal proceedings against a man accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife. “The legislature enacted the provision of Section 498A to strike out the dowry menace from society. But it is observed that in several cases, the said provision is being misused,” Justice Subhendu Samanta said.
“I am of the view that the instant criminal proceedings initiated by the complainant is only to fulfil a personal grudge.”
Terming the 2017 case “tantamount to abuse of the process of court”, the judge said both the evidence presented and the statements of witnesses were inadequate to support the allegations against the husband and in-laws of the complainant.The wife, a resident of Kolkata’s Baguiati neighbourhood, had lodged a police complaint alleging that her husband tortured and tried to kill her. After the police started an investigation, she moved out of her matrimonial home to stay with her parents. The husband got anticipatory bail from a court.
“Immediately after bail was granted, the wife filed another FIR with the same police station , this time alleging domestic violence by her in-laws too,” said Ayan Bhattacharjee, the husband’s lawyer.
The family went on to challenge the invocation of Section 498A in the HC .
The couple legally separated in 2018 even as police continued the probe and submitted a chargesheet each in either case filed by the estranged wife. They recorded statements of the woman’s parents and a neighbour. While the neighbour claimed to have “heard the couple quarrel”, it couldn’t be ascertained who was the “aggressor”. The woman’s medical report, included in the case diary, mentioned no sign of injury.

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