HM Journal

Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India & Ors

In the present world domestic violence is just like evil, which causes harm to the wife by the husband or his family for various kinds like dowry etc. To overcome such issues, laws are made by the legislatures by giving sympathetic concern to the aggrieved because, in India, women are perceived as goddesses. Our Indian Culture remarks “यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता:”  which means where women are worshipped, there gods reside.
But now-a-days in this Kali Yuga, such provisions are misused by the woman or her family only for materialistic benefits. In this case, the validity of section 498A, Indian Penal code 1860 was questioned.

Facts

Sushil Kumar Sharma, petitioner filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution and contended that section 498 A of Indian penal code 1860 is highly misused by the accuser.

Contention by the Petitioner
It was prayed by him to declare this provision ultra vires or unconstitutional. Secondly, it was prayed by the petitioner that stringent action should be taken against the person who misuses the authority of this section, in order to discourage it. At last, it was prayed by the petitioner that the probe should be held by Central Bureau Investigation ( CBI ) in certain matters where the accuser was arrayed as an accused. According to the petitioner, there is no prosecution in these cases but persecution. The Petitioner also cited a decision rendered by a learned single Judge of Delhi High Court where the issue was about the increase in the false and frivolous allegations made.

Principal laid down

1. The Supreme Court pointed out that the mentioned section was introduced in Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act No. 46 of 1983 after much discussion. It was highlighted by the court that the section 498A was introduced because cruelty against the women was at peak according to the statistical data, which results into suicide/ murder of the women.

2. Further, Supreme Court gave the reference to its own precedent which was cited in
A. Thangal Kunju Musaliar v. M. Venkatachalam Potti, Authorised Official and Income-Tax Officer and Anr.[1], that “it is well settled that mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law does not invalidate legislation”.

3. In Budhan Choudhry and Ors. v. State of Bihar [2]a contention was raised that a provision of law may not be discriminatory but it may result in abuse bringing about discrimination between the persons similarly situated. This court repelled the contention holding that on the possibility of abuse of a provision by the authority, the legislation may not be held arbitrary or discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

4. By giving reference to decisions cited in India and the United States of America, Supreme Court remarked that the mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law wouldn’t mean that the law is ultra vires or unconstitutional. It’s the action that is subjected to consideration, not the section, and such action can be set aside and proper relief would be granted to the aggrieved.

5. Further, reference was given to Mafatlal Industries Ltd. and Ors. v. Union of India [3]and Ors, where the 9 Judge bench held that the mere possibility of abuse of a provision by those in charge of administering it cannot be a legal ground for declaring it procedurally or substantively mala-fide.

6. In Collector of Customs v. Nathella Sampathu Chetty[4], Supreme Court remarked that “The possibility of abuse of a statute otherwise valid does not impart to it any element of invalidity.”

7. Supreme Court quoted in State of Rajasthan v. Union of India[5]– “it must be remembered that merely because power may sometimes be abused, it is no ground for denying the existence of power. The wisdom of man has not yet been able to conceive of a Government with power sufficient to answer all its legitimate needs and at the same time incapable of mischief.”

8. By giving reference to these cases- Maulavi Hussein Haji Abraham Umarji v. State of Gujarat[6], Unique Butle Tube Industries (P) Ltd. v. U.P. Financial Corporation and Ors[7]. And
Padma Sundara Rao (dead) and Ors. v. State of Tamil and Ors.[8], Supreme Court pointed out that the work of the supreme court is to interpret the law, if it gets misused then it’s the duty of the legislature to amend, modify or repeal it.

Judgement

On the first prayer, the Supreme Court held that section 498 A is intra vires and its misuse doesn’t mean that the said section is unconstitutional. Thereafter, Supreme Court mentioned that many cases are filed with mala-fide intention, so the legislature should find a way to deal with this problem. Until, the court specified, that the investigating agencies and court shouldn’t work on straitjacket formula, and instructed the legal machinery to work and give judgement on the basis of certain presumptions and on circumstantial evidence, and for this law regarding the latter should be kept in the mind. Regarding the last prayer i.e., CBI investigation, the court held that the petitioner can prove his innocence in the normal procedure of the court. The writ petition was dismissed. 

Court Name – Supreme Court

Judgment Date – 19.07.2006

Bench – Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice H.K. Sema

Subject Area of  Judgment – Domestic Violence ( Marriage Law)

Editor Name – Aashay Sundaram    
College Name– Gautam Buddha University, Noida
Semester – 3rd

References

1. Manupatra

2. https://www.jusdicere.in/sushil-kumar-sharma-v-union-of-india-ors/

3. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1172674/

4. https://indiankanoon.org/docfragment/1172674/?formInput=498a

5. https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/574e6f777de1a80fbb2ae30c

6. https://www.firstpost.com/india/domestic-violence-supreme-court-verdict-on-section-498a-puts-family-honour-over-womens-rights-3870627.html


[1] [1956]29ITR349(SC)

[2] 1955CriL J374

[3] 1997(89)ELT247(SC)

[4] 1983ECR2198D(SC)

[5] [1978]1SCR1

[6] 2004CriLJ3860

[7] [2002]SUPP5SCR666

[8] [2002]255ITR147(SC)

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