How to draft First Information Report (FIR) alleging demand of dowry under section 498A?

Matrimonial disputes in India occasionally lead to First Information Reports to be lodged in Police Stations against husband and his family that they have made demand of dowry from family of wife and for that purpose they have treated her badly. Such FIRs also include allegations that wife was beaten by husband and his family, they have kept istridhan gold jewellery and other articles bought by wife and her family at the time of marriage with them. The relevant sections of Indian Penal Code under which offences are made are as following –

How our criminal lawyers in Chandigarh draft FIR under Section 498A?

Section 498A. 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 purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any willful 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.

Section 405. Criminal breach of trust.—Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or willfully suffers any other person so to do, commits “criminal breach of trust”.

Section 406. Punishment for criminal breach of trust.—Whoever commits criminal breach of trust shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 503 . Criminal intimidation.—Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation.
Explanation.—A threat to injure the reputation of any deceased person in whom the person threatened is interested, is within this section. Illustration A, for the purpose of inducing B to desist from prosecuting a civil suit, threatens to burn B’s house. A is guilty of criminal intimidation.

Section 506. Punishment for criminal intimidation.—Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both; If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc.—And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both

Section 319. Hurt. – Whoever causes bodily pain, disease or infirmity to any person is said to cause hurt.

Section 323. Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt.—Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 334, voluntarily causes hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Additionally, lawyers in Chandigarh High Court make specific factual allegations – apart from under Section 498A – under provisions of –

  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act; and
  • Dowry Prohibition Act

While drafting FIR with allegations of demand of dowry, cruelty and harassment for purpose of dowry under Section 498A, hurt to complainant, husband keeping articles belonging solely to wife, and criminal intimidation, certain aspects must be kept in mind. Firstly, the allegations must be specific. They must specify which accused did what. Secondly, allegations under Section 498A and other sections must be such that offenses mentioned above must be made out according to the factual matrix. Further, time of offense Section 498A and other provisions must be somewhat specific. These things are crucial because if the family members of husband prefer to go to High Court to quash the FIR under Section 498A against them, and Court finds the above mentioned aspects missing, it might give indulgence to family members of husband. It must be noted that it is nearly impossible for husband to get FIR against himself quashed “on merits”. This can only be done through quashing of FIR under Section 498A on the basis of compromise between the parties. Also, note the amount that was spent after getting details from bank statements. Also keep a note of all the loans taken for the purpose of marriage. Never throw the marriage and marriage related bills – they are very useful while investigation under Section 498A is started against the accused by the police.

Let us study this question with the help of few examples. In one of the cases there was an allegation that istridhan of the wife was in possession of the mother-in-law. This is not considered to be one of the best allegations to be made for section 406 to be made out against the mother-in-law. The better allegation is that parents of the wife had given gold jewellery to wife for her own use. However, it may be alleged that, this gold jewellery was taken in possession by the mother-in-law and she refuses to return it to the wife. In the second example, the word istridhan is not used. And further it is specifically alleged as to what is in possession of whom.

Another example may be that the husband used to beat wife after intake of alcohol. This is not an allegation under section 498 a. However if it is alleged that the husband used to beat wife for the purpose of dowry after getting drunk, it is an allegation covered under section 498 a. What I mean to say is that the words “for the purpose of dowry” or similar words must be used again and again so that it is clear to the person who is reading the First Information Report or the complaint that the offences took place for the purpose of getting dowry from wife or her family.

Similarly if it is alleged that the husband and his family deliberately give medicines to the wife to cause miscarriage, it is not an offence under section 498 a. However if the same allegation is made in different words – that the husband and his family cause miscarriage of wife because she refused to pay husband and his family dowry which was asked again and again – it would amount to an offence under section 498 a.

However it is always better to get a First Information Report or a complaint drafted by a criminal lawyer in Chandigarh who is an expert in such matters. This is so because complaint of First Information Report is the foundation of a criminal trial. If the foundation itself is weak, walls of the house cannot be strong.