What happens if Section 498A of IPC is proved false?


Women bear the unjustified burden of abuse by society. One may call it revenge or one may call it merely exercising a legal right, Section 498A is a tool which has been overly misused by the women to harass men. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was enacted to protect women from cruelty by their husband or relatives of the husband. Contrary to its objective, 498A has now morphed into an emerging weapon for women to extract money from her in-laws as well as escape the lengthy procedure of divorce. The Supreme Court of India, while adjudicating hundreds of false cases has called Section 498A a legal way to terrorize married men. Section 498A is one of the most controversial sections of the IPC. With the increasing gender-gap issues, it has become an advisable practice to combine Section 498A with the act of dowry to prove its existence effectively. What makes this section lose its credibility? Mr. Alok Mittal, Former Police Commissioner Gurgaon[1] says that “Inclusion of even distant relatives in 498A complaints has certainly diluted the gravity of such cases.”

Scope of Section 498A

Section 498A[2] reads out as “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”.

The definition of cruelty is not just confined to causing fourteen grave injuries, bodily harm, or danger to life, limb, or physical health, but also includes mental health, harassment, and emotional torture through verbal abuse.

The underlying interpretation, which also forms one of the reasons of its misuse, is the fact that this section is non-bailable (which means that one must appear in court and bail from the judge is a matter of discretion), non-compoundable (which means that once the complaint is registered it cannot be withdrawn) and cognizable (the police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court).

Where the enactment of any provision requires proper and sufficient proof in a court of law, Section 498A does not require women to provide evidence of abuse. The procedure is very simple to understand; the wife files a complaint against the husband and/or husband’s relatives, the police have no option but to arrest the accused, and once such a complaint is registered against the victim or any of his relatives, the maxim followed herein is “Accused is presumed guilty until proven innocent”. Justices CK Prasad and PC Ghose, Supreme Court of India, July 2014 comment that “The fact that Section 498A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives.”

Legal Effects of a proven false case of 498A

The Indian judiciary system, though supports woman and children in many ways, does not neglect justice to anyone who takes advantage of any law with a malafide intention.

What happens if a false case of 498A is proven is explicitly dealt in Section 182 of the IPC.

Section 182 reads out as “False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person.—

Whoever gives to any public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false, intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause such public servant-

(a) to do or omit anything which such public servant ought not to do or omit if the true state of facts respecting which such information is given were known by him, or

(b) to use the lawful power of such public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.”

Section 211 reads out as False charge of offence made with the intent to injure.—

“Whoever, with intent to cause injury to any person, institutes or causes to be instituted any criminal proceeding against that person, or falsely charges any person with having committed an offence, knowing that there is no just or lawful ground for such proceeding or charge against that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

Section 500 reads out as

“Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

A good reputation is far more valuable than money. A single lie can destroy a man’s reputation and integrity. Section 500 allows the victim to move the court for the harm suffered because of the false allegation. They will be entitled to pay damages in terms of compensation.

Social Effects of a proven false case of 498A

The social effects of a false case of 498A are far more impactful than its legal effects. Emotional sensitivity, damaged reputation, and mental trauma are factors that leave a life-long impact on the victim’s life.

A typical case of Section 498A goes on for at least five (5) to seven (7) years and the conviction rate is about two (2) % only[3]. For no-fault, the family of the accused is taken to jail immediately after the wife lodges a complaint. Some of the accused parents, sisters, and even husbands have committed suicide after time in jail due to mental torture.

Since this offence is non-compoundable, the complaint cannot be withdrawn which leads to a direct hindrance in any scope of reconciliation between the couple. It is also a common practice for a man to not take his wife back in the house because the trust between the couple is lost. Public opinions have a permeating influence and play a great role of significance especially in a democratic or patriarchal society like ours. The husband suffers immense low blows from the society, his reputation is damaged to an extent that re-marriage is a far-fetched dream, old parents who lived with dignity and respect will now have to live with the stigma of an alleged harassing their daughter-in-law for the rest of their lives.


It is indeed alarming to see the rate at which false allegations are rising and thus the judicial authorities have become stricter with the adjudication of such frivolous cases. These cases show a true representation of the consequences of a proven false case of 498A.

In a family law case between K Srinivas and K Sunita, the Supreme Court allowed the dissolution of marriage and said that “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.”[4]

Another case was filed in Chandigarh local court where Kuldip Babar was acquitted after five years of fighting against a false case of 498A and dowry harassment. Later, he filed a case against the police, his former wife, and sixteen other witnesses seeking damages worth Rs. Two crores for defamation, false implication, and the mental trauma which was suffered by his family. [5]

The Rajasthan High Court had given a similar judgment in the case of Smt.Yogita vs Ramesh Singh[6]. The appellant-wife lodged a report against respondent-husband for offences under Section 498A in the allegation of demand of dowry against respondent-husband and attempt to commit murder by burning. However, the respondent’s husband proved that he was falsely implicated in a criminal case, frivolous allegations were leveled against him which constitutes cruelty. Therefore, the judge was justified in granting the divorce on the ground of cruelty.


In the light of aforesaid concerns raised, it can be concluded that false and exaggerated 498A complaints are causing havoc to the marriages. Though the section claims to provide protection to women against dowry-related harassment and cruelty, it is widely misused. Even death is not redemption for a man falsely accused in the case of 498A, after him, the family suffers as well. Therefore, it is highly recommended that Section 498A should be made bailable and compoundable. Every misuse of law reduces the essence for which it was enacted in the first place. The differences are only curable when both the genders show respect to one another and make the legal framework a much credible source of justice.

[1] Martyrs of Marriage, Documentary on misuse of IPC 498A.

[2] Section 498A, Indian Penal Code 1860.

[3] www.498a.org

[4] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/False-dowry-charge-ground-for-divorce-Supreme-Court-rules/articleshow/45253503.cms

[5] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Man-sues-ex-wife-police-and-witnesses/articleshow/1321347.cms

[6] S.B. Civil Misc. Appeal No.847/2008 on 30th July 2012

This article is written by Ayonee Madhani, student of 4th year, BLS/LL.B. at Pravin Gandhi College of Law.

Also, Read – How to Face Domestic Violence

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