The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that relatives of a man should not be made a part of cases relating to matrimonial disputes between him and his wife or dowry deaths unless there are specific instances of their involvement in the crime, PTI reported.

“The courts should be careful in proceeding against distant relatives in crimes pertaining to matrimonial disputes and dowry deaths,” a bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said. “The relatives of the husband should not be roped in on the basis of omnibus allegations unless specific instances of their involvement in the crime are made out.”

The court was hearing a case challenging a 2016 verdict of the Hyderabad High Court, which had dismissed a plea by the petitioners to quash criminal proceedings against them in a case of matrimonial dispute. The plea was filed by the maternal uncles of a man whose wife allegedly complained of harassment by her husband and his family, including the uncles, reported Live Law.

The wife claimed that the uncles supported the husband, who would physically and mentally torture her. She also alleged that the uncles conspired with the husband to kidnap the child from her custody and take him to the United States.

After the High Court dismissed the petitions of the accused relatives, the police filed chargesheets saying there was a marital discord between the husband and the wife and the uncles supported the husband in torturing her.

The Supreme Court observed that no prima facie case was made out against the uncles and quashed the proceedings against them. “Except the bald statement that they [petitioners] supported the third respondent [husband] who was harassing the second respondent [wife] for dowry and that they conspired with the third respondent for taking away his child to the USA, nothing else indicating their involvement in the crime was mentioned,” the court said.