SC: “One instance, unless portentous,” is insufficient evidence of cruelty against a person.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) section 498A charges may not be sufficient unless substantial and relevant evidence of interference and involvement is brought before the court, the Supreme Court held, quashing criminal proceedings.

Details of the case:

The main point of contention in the appeal is whether the High Court’s order is lawful. The informant/respondent No. 2, Rekha Bhaskaran, was previously married to accused No. 1, Sarvan Kumar, whose sister is appellant No. 1, Mahalakshmi. The accused number one’s cousins are appellants Nos. 2 and 3, Maharani T.S. and Ranjanavadhan. Appellant No. 3’s spouse is appellant No. 4 (Archana).

Rekha Bhaskaran filed a complaint in this case against Sarvan Kumar and others, alleging that they violated Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, as well as Sections 498A and 506 of the IPC.

Parties’ points of contention:

The charge sheet was the subject of a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was denied by the contested judgment, on behalf of the appellants, accused No. 1, and other parties. Mahalakshmi, the first appellant, refuted the accusations, claiming they were untrue and without merit. According to the charge sheet, she was involved in Rekha Bhaskaran’s personal belongings being thrown and cursed.

The Court’s observations:

The charges in the complaint and charge sheet, the court noted, were broad and imprecise. It underlined that charges under section 498A of the IPC might not be sufficient if there isn’t substantial and convincing proof of interference with and involvement in marital life.

The Supreme Court ruled that “one instance unless portentous, in the absence of any material evidence of interference and involvement in the marital life of the complainant, may not be sufficient to implicate the person as having committed cruelty under section 498A of the IPC.”

The Court accepted the appeal and quashed the criminal proceedings against the appellants because they were not living in the marital residence and because appellant No. 1 was not even in India. The Court made it clear that the trial court could proceed further under Section 319 of the Code in the event that material evidence surfaced during the trial.

The Court’s Decision:

The criminal proceedings against the appellants were quashed after the Supreme Court granted the appeal.

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