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The courts are receiving a large number of cases emanating from section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code which reads as under:- “498-A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.–Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.–For the purposes of this section, `cruelty’ means:- (a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or (b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.” 30. It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1512 OF 2010
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.4684 of 2009)
Preeti Gupta & Another …Appellants
Versus
State of Jharkhand & Another ….Respondents
J U D G M E N T
Dalveer Bhandari, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal has been filed by Preeti Gupta the married
sister-in-law and a permanent resident of Navasari, Surat,
Gujarat with her husband and Gaurav Poddar, a permanentresident of Goregaon, Maharashtra, who is the unmarried
brother-in-law of the complainant, Manisha Poddar, against
the impugned judgment of the High Court of Jharkhand at
Ranchi, Jharkhand dated 27.4.2009 passed in Criminal
Miscellaneous Petition Nos.304 of 2009.
3. Brief facts which are necessary to dispose of this appeal
are recapitulated as under:
The Complainant Manisha was married to Kamal Poddar
at Kanpur on 10.12.2006. Immediately after the marriage, the
complainant who is respondent no.2 in this appeal left for
Mumbai along with her husband Kamal Poddar who was
working with the Tata Consultancy Services (for short “TCS”)
and was permanently residing at Mumbai. The complainant
also joined the TCS at Mumbai on 23.12.2006. Respondent
no.2 visited Ranchi to participate in “Gangaur” festival (an
important Hindu festival widely celebrated in Northern India)
on 16.3.2007. After staying there for a week, she returned to
Mumbai on 24.03.2007.
24. Respondent no.2, Manisha Poddar filed a complaint on
08.07.2007 before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ranchi under
sections 498-A, 406, 341, 323 and 120-B of the Indian Penal
Code read with sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act
against all immediate relations of her husband, namely,
Pyarelal Poddar (father-in-law), Kamal Poddar (husband),
Sushila Devi (mother-in-law), Gaurav Poddar (unmarried
brother-in-law) and Preeti Gupta @ Preeti Agrawal (married
sister-in-law). The complaint was transferred to the court of
the Judicial Magistrate, Ranchi. Statements of Respondent
no.2 and other witnesses were recorded and on 10.10.2008
the Judicial Magistrate took cognizance and passed the
summoning order of the appellants. The appellants are
aggrieved by the said summoning order.
5. In the criminal complaint, it was alleged that a luxury car
was demanded by all the accused named in the complaint. It
was also alleged that respondent no.2 was physically
assaulted at Mumbai. According to the said allegations of the
complainant, it appears that the alleged incidents had taken
3place either at Kanpur or Mumbai. According to the
averments of the complaint, except for the demand of the
luxury car no incident of harassment took place at Ranchi.
6. According to the appellants, there was no specific
allegation against both the appellants in the complaint.
Appellant no.1 had been permanently residing with her
husband at Navasari, Surat (Gujarat) for the last more than
seven years. She had never visited Mumbai during the year
2007 and never stayed with respondent no.2 or her husband.
Similarly, appellant no.2, unmarried brother-in-law of the
complainant has also been permanently residing at Goregaon,
Maharashtra.
7. It was asserted that there is no specific allegation in the
entire complaint against both the appellants. The statements
of prosecution witnesses PW1 to PW4 were also recorded along
with the statement of the complainant. None of the
prosecution witnesses had stated anything against the
appellants. These appellants had very clearly stated in this
appeal that they had never visited Ranchi. The appellants also
4stated that they had never interfered with the internal affairs
of the complainant and her husband. According to them,
there was no question of any interference because the
appellants had been living in different cities for a number of
years. 
8. It was clearly alleged by the appellants that they had
been falsely implicated in this case. It was further stated that
the complaint against the appellants was totally without any
basis or foundation. The appellants also asserted that even if
all the allegations incorporated in the complaint were taken to
be true, even then no offence could be made out against them.
9. The appellants had submitted that the High Court ought
to have quashed this complaint as far as both the appellants
are concerned because there were no specific allegations
against the appellants and they ought not have been
summoned. In the impugned judgment, while declining to
exercise its inherent powers, the High Court observed as
under:
5“In this context, I may again reiterate that the acts
relating to demand or subjecting to cruelty, as per
the complaint petition, have been committed at the
place where the complainant was living with her
husband. However, the complainant in her
statement made under solemn affirmation has
stated that when she came to Ranchi on the
occasion of Holi, all the accused persons came and
passed sarcastic remarks which in absence of
actual wordings, according to the learned counsel
appearing for the petitioner could never be
presumed to be an act constituting offence under
section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.”
10. In this appeal, both the appellants specifically asserted
that they had never visited Ranchi, therefore, the allegations
that they made any sarcastic remarks to the complainant had
no basis or foundation as far as the appellants are concerned. 
11. The complainant could not dispute that appellant no.1
was a permanent resident living with her husband at
Navasari, Surat, Gujarat for the last more than seven years
and the appellant no.2 was permanent resident of Goregaon,
Maharashtra. They had never spent any time with respondent
no.2.
612. According to the appellants, they are not the residents of
Ranchi and if they are compelled to attend the Ranchi Court
repeatedly then that would lead to insurmountable
harassment and inconvenience to the appellants as well as to
the complainant.
13. The complaint in this case under section 498-A IPC has
led to several other cases. It is mentioned that a divorce
petition has been filed by the husband of respondent no.2.
Both respondent no.2 and her husband are highly qualified
and are working with reputed organization like Tata
Consultancy Service. If because of temperamental
incompatibility they cannot live with each other then it is
proper that they should jointly get a decree of divorce by
mutual consent. Both respondent no.2 and her husband are
in such age group that if proper efforts are made, their resettlement may not be impossible.
714. The main question which falls for consideration in this
case is whether the High Court was justified in not exercising
its inherent powers under section 482 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure in the facts and circumstances of this case?
15. This court in a number of cases has laid down the scope
and ambit of courts’ powers under section 482 Cr.P.C. Every
High Court has inherent power to act ex debito justitiae to do
real and substantial justice, for the administration of which
alone it exists, or to prevent abuse of the process of the court.
Inherent power under section 482 Cr.P.C. can be exercised:
(i) to give effect to an order under the Code; 
(ii) to prevent abuse of the process of court, and
(iii) to otherwise secure the ends of justice. 
16. Reference to the following cases would reveal that the
courts have consistently taken the view that they must use
this extraordinary power to prevent injustice and secure the
ends of justice. The English courts have also used inherent
power to achieve the same objective. It is generally agreed that
the Crown Court has inherent power to protect its process
8from abuse. In Connelly v. Director of Public Prosecutions
[1964] AC 1254, Lord Devlin stated that where particular
criminal proceedings constitute an abuse of process, the court
is empowered to refuse to allow the indictment to proceed to
trial. Lord Salmon in Director of Public Prosecutions v.
Humphrys [1977] AC 1 stressed the importance of the
inherent power when he observed that it is only if the
prosecution amounts to an abuse of the process of the court
and is oppressive and vexatious that the judge has the power
to intervene. He further mentioned that the court’s power to
prevent such abuse is of great constitutional importance and
should be jealously preserved. 
17. The powers possessed by the High Court under section
482 of the Code are very wide and the very plenitude of the
power requires great caution in its exercise. The court must
be careful to see that its decision in exercise of this power is
based on sound principles. The inherent power should not be
exercised to stifle a legitimate prosecution but court’s failing to
use the power for advancement of justice can also lead to
9grave injustice. The High Court should normally refrain from
giving a prima facie decision in a case where all the facts are
incomplete and hazy; more so, when the evidence has not
been collected and produced before the court and the issues
involved, whether factual or legal, are of such magnitude that
they cannot be seen in their true perspective without sufficient
material. Of course, no hard and fast rule can be laid down in
regard to cases in which the High Court will exercise its
extraordinary jurisdiction of quashing the proceedings at any
stage.
18. This court had occasion to examine the legal position in a
large number of cases. In R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab AIR
1960 SC 866, this court summarized some categories of cases
where inherent power can and should be exercised to quash
the proceedings:
(i) where it manifestly appears that there is
a legal bar against the institution or
continuance of the proceedings;
(ii) where the allegations in the first
information report or complaint taken at
their face value and accepted in their
entirety do not constitute the offence
alleged;
10(iii) where the allegations constitute an
offence, but there is no legal evidence
adduced or the evidence adduced clearly
or manifestly fails to prove the charge.
19. This court in State of Karnataka v. L. Muniswamy &
Others (1977) 2 SCC 699 observed that the wholesome power
under section 482 Cr.P.C. entitles the High Court to quash a
proceeding when it comes to the conclusion that allowing the
proceeding to continue would be an abuse of the process of
the court or that the ends of justice require that the
proceeding ought to be quashed. The High Courts have been
invested with inherent powers, both in civil and criminal
matters, to achieve a salutary public purpose. A court
proceeding ought not to be permitted to degenerate into a
weapon of harassment or persecution. In this case, the court
observed that ends of justice are higher than the ends of mere
law though justice must be administered according to laws
made by the legislature. This case has been followed in a large
number of subsequent cases of this court and other courts.
1120. In Madhu Limaye v. The State of Maharashtra (1977)
4 SCC 551, a three-Judge Bench of this court held as under:-
“…..In case the impugned order clearly brings
out a situation which is an abuse of the
process of the court, or for the purpose of
securing the ends of justice interference by the
High Court is absolutely necessary, then
nothing contained in Section 397(2) can limit
or affect the exercise of the inherent power by
the High Court. Such cases would necessarily
be few and far between. One such case would
be the desirability of the quashing of a criminal
proceeding initiated illegally, vexatiously or as
being without jurisdiction. The present case
would undoubtedly fall for exercise of the
power of the High Court in accordance with
Section 482 of the 1973 Code, even assuming,
that the invoking of the revisional power of the
High Court is impermissible.”
21. This court in Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia & Others
v. Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre & Others (1988) 1 SCC
692 observed in para 7 as under:
“7. The legal position is well settled that when a
prosecution at the initial stage is asked to be
quashed, the test to be applied by the court is as to
whether the uncontroverted allegations as made
prima facie establish the offence. It is also for the
court to take into consideration any special features
which appear in a particular case to consider
whether it is expedient and in the interest of justice
to permit a prosecution to continue. This is so on
the basis that the court cannot be utilized for any
12oblique purpose and where in the opinion of the
court chances of an ultimate conviction is bleak
and, therefore, no useful purpose is likely to be
served by allowing a criminal prosecution to
continue, the court may while taking into
consideration the special facts of a case also quash
the proceeding even though it may be at a
preliminary stage.” 
22. In State of Haryana & Others v. Bhajan Lal & Others
1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335, this court in the backdrop of
interpretation of various relevant provisions of the Code of
Criminal Procedure (for short, Cr.P.C.) under Chapter XIV and
of the principles of law enunciated by this court in a series of
decisions relating to the exercise of the extraordinary power
under Article 226 of the Constitution of India or the inherent
powers under section 482 Cr.P.C. gave the following categories
of cases by way of illustration wherein such power could be
exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of the court or
otherwise to secure the ends of justice. Thus, this court made
it clear that it may not be possible to lay down any precise,
clearly defined and sufficiently channelised and inflexible
guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list to
13myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be
exercised:
“(1) Where the allegations made in the first
information report or the complaint, even if
they are taken at their face value and accepted
in their entirety do not prima facie constitute
any offence or make out a case against the
accused.
(2) Where the allegations in the first information
report and other materials, if any,
accompanying the FIR do not disclose a
cognizable offence, justifying an investigation
by police officers under Section 156(1) of the
Code except under an order of a Magistrate
within the purview of Section 155(2) of the
Code.
(3) Where the uncontroverted allegations made in
the FIR or complaint and the evidence
collected in support of the same do not
disclose the commission of any offence and
make out a case against the accused.
(4) Where, the allegations in the FIR do not
constitute a cognizable offence but constitute
only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation
is permitted by a police officer without an
order of a Magistrate as contemplated under
Section 155(2) of the Code.
(5) Where the allegations made in the FIR or
complaint are so absurd and inherently
improbable on the basis of which no prudent
person can ever reach a just conclusion that
there is sufficient ground for proceeding
against the accused.
14(6) Where there is an express legal bar engrafted
in any of the provisions of the Code or the
concerned Act (under which a criminal
proceeding is instituted) to the institution and
continuance of the proceedings and/or where
there is a specific provision in the Code or the
concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for
the grievance of the aggrieved party.
(7) Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly
attended with mala fide and/or where the
proceeding is maliciously instituted with an
ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the
accused and with a view to spite him due to
private and personal grudge.”
23. In G. Sagar Suri & Another v. State of UP & Others
(2000) 2 SCC 636, this court observed that it is the duty and
obligation of the criminal court to exercise a great deal of
caution in issuing the process particularly when matters are
essentially of civil nature. 
24. This court in Zandu Pharmaceutical Works Ltd. &
Others v. Mohd. Sharaful Haque & Another (2005) 1 SCC
122 observed thus:-
“It would be an abuse of process of the court to
allow any action which would result in injustice and
prevent promotion of justice. In exercise of the
powers, court would be justified to quash any
proceeding if it finds that initiation/continuance of
15it amounts to abuse of the process of court or
quashing of these proceedings would otherwise
serve the ends of justice. When no offence is
disclosed by the complaint, the court may examine
the question of fact. When a complaint is sought to
be quashed, it is permissible to look into the
materials to assess what the complainant has
alleged and whether any offence is made out even if
the allegations are accepted in toto.”
25. A three-Judge Bench (of which one of us, Bhandari, J.
was the author of the judgment) of this Court in Inder Mohan
Goswami and Another v. State of Uttaranchal & Others
(2007) 12 SCC 1 comprehensively examined the legal position.
The court came to a definite conclusion and the relevant
observations of the court are reproduced in para 24 of the said
judgment as under:-
“Inherent powers under section 482 Cr.P.C. though
wide have to be exercised sparingly, carefully and
with great caution and only when such exercise is
justified by the tests specifically laid down in this
section itself. Authority of the court exists for the
advancement of justice. If any abuse of the process
leading to injustice is brought to the notice of the
court, then the Court would be justified in
preventing injustice by invoking inherent powers in
absence of specific provisions in the Statute.”
1626. We have very carefully considered the averments of the
complaint and the statements of all the witnesses recorded at
the time of the filing of the complaint. There are no specific
allegations against the appellants in the complaint and none of
the witnesses have alleged any role of both the appellants.
27. Admittedly, appellant no.1 is a permanent resident of
Navasari, Surat, Gujarat and has been living with her
husband for more than seven years. Similarly, appellant no.2
is a permanent resident of Goregaon, Maharasthra. They have
never visited the place where the alleged incident had taken
place. They had never lived with respondent no.2 and her
husband. Their implication in the complaint is meant to
harass and humiliate the husband’s relatives. This seems to
be the only basis to file this complaint against the appellants.
Permitting the complainant to pursue this complaint would be
an abuse of the process of law.
28. It is a matter of common knowledge that unfortunately
matrimonial litigation is rapidly increasing in our country. All
the courts in our country including this court are flooded with
17matrimonial cases. This clearly demonstrates discontent and
unrest in the family life of a large number of people of the
society.
29. The courts are receiving a large number of cases
emanating from section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code which
reads as under:-
“498-A. Husband or relative of husband of a
woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being
the husband or the relative of the husband of a
woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be
punished with imprisonment for a term which may
extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,
‘cruelty’ means:-
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature
as is likely to drive the woman to commit
suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to
life, limb or health (whether mental or
physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such
harassment is with a view to coercing her or
any person related to her to meet any unlawful
demand for any property or valuable security
or is on account of failure by her or any person
related to her to meet such demand.”
30. It is a matter of common experience that most of these
complaints under section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the
18moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We
come across a large number of such complaints which are not
even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. At the same
time, rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry
harassment are also a matter of serious concern. 
31. The learned members of the Bar have enormous social
responsibility and obligation to ensure that the social fiber of
family life is not ruined or demolished. They must ensure that
exaggerated versions of small incidents should not be reflected
in the criminal complaints. Majority of the complaints are
filed either on their advice or with their concurrence. The
learned members of the Bar who belong to a noble profession
must maintain its noble traditions and should treat every
complaint under section 498-A as a basic human problem and
must make serious endeavour to help the parties in arriving at
an amicable resolution of that human problem. They must
discharge their duties to the best of their abilities to ensure
that social fiber, peace and tranquility of the society remains
19intact. The members of the Bar should also ensure that one
complaint should not lead to multiple cases.
32. Unfortunately, at the time of filing of the complaint the
implications and consequences are not properly visualized by
the complainant that such complaint can lead to
insurmountable harassment, agony and pain to the
complainant, accused and his close relations.
33. The ultimate object of justice is to find out the truth and
punish the guilty and protect the innocent. To find out the
truth is a herculean task in majority of these complaints. The
tendency of implicating husband and all his immediate
relations is also not uncommon. At times, even after the
conclusion of criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real
truth. The courts have to be extremely careful and cautious in
dealing with these complaints and must take pragmatic
realities into consideration while dealing with matrimonial
cases. The allegations of harassment of husband’s close
relations who had been living in different cities and never
20visited or rarely visited the place where the complainant
resided would have an entirely different complexion. The
allegations of the complaint are required to be scrutinized with
great care and circumspection. Experience reveals that long
and protracted criminal trials lead to rancour, acrimony and
bitterness in the relationship amongst the parties. It is also a
matter of common knowledge that in cases filed by the
complainant if the husband or the husband’s relations had to
remain in jail even for a few days, it would ruin the chances of
amicable settlement altogether. The process of suffering is
extremely long and painful. 
34. Before parting with this case, we would like to observe
that a serious relook of the entire provision is warranted by
the legislation. It is also a matter of common knowledge that
exaggerated versions of the incident are reflected in a large
number of complaints. The tendency of over implication is also
reflected in a very large number of cases. 
35. The criminal trials lead to immense sufferings for all
concerned. Even ultimate acquittal in the trial may also not
21be able to wipe out the deep scars of suffering of ignominy.
Unfortunately a large number of these complaints have not
only flooded the courts but also have led to enormous social
unrest affecting peace, harmony and happiness of the society.
It is high time that the legislature must take into consideration
the pragmatic realities and make suitable changes in the
existing law. It is imperative for the legislature to take into
consideration the informed public opinion and the pragmatic
realities in consideration and make necessary changes in the
relevant provisions of law. We direct the Registry to send a
copy of this judgment to the Law Commission and to the
Union Law Secretary, Government of India who may place it
before the Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice to take
appropriate steps in the larger interest of the society. 
36. When the facts and circumstances of the case are
considered in the background of legal principles set out in
preceding paragraphs, then it would be unfair to compel the
22appellants to undergo the rigmarole of a criminal trial. In the
interest of justice, we deem it appropriate to quash the
complaint against the appellants. As a result, the impugned
judgment of the High Court is set aside. Consequently, this
appeal is allowed.
…….……………………..J.
 (Dalveer Bhandari)
…….……………………..J.
 (K.S. Radhakrishnan)
New Delhi;
August 13, 2010
23

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