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Maternal uncles of the complainant's sister in law are not relatives of husband in regard to 498A IPC
Akhtar Malik and Anr Vs The State of NCT of Delhi and Anr
CRL.M.C.4416/2015 & CRL.M.A.15604/2015
About/from the judgment:
The High Court has held that the words 'relatives of husband' under Section 498A of IPC mean relatives of the husband related by blood, marriage or adoption and cannot be fathomed to include maternal uncles the wife of the elder brother of the husband of the Complainant.
The Petitioners, Akhtar Malik and Hanif Malik, through Advocate Sunil Sharma, had filed the present petition before the high court seeking directions to quash the FIR and the resultant charge sheet filed against them under Section 498A of IPC in the Trial Court, on the complaint of a distant relative, namely Ruby.
Section 498A of IPC states that whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be pun¬ished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Apart from detailed course of allegations leveled against her in-laws, the Complainant had alleged that her sister-in-law (Jethani) used to threaten her in the name of Petitioners claiming that they would make the life of her father miserable and would get him involved in a false case. She also blamed the Petitioners for the second marriage of her husband and stated that the Petitioners used to compel her to leave the matrimonial home as the new bride was to come.
The Petitioners were maternal uncles of the Complainant's sister in law (Jethani). In the present petition titled "Akhtar Malik & Anr. v. State (NCT Of Delhi) & Anr.", they submitted that they could be termed to be the relatives of the sister-in-law (Jethani) of the Complainant but by no stretch of imagination could they be termed as the relatives of the Complainant's husband. They contended that the words 'relatives of husband' were not inserted in Section 498A of IPC to mean every person who was merely remotely connected with the main characters of the case and that they had been implicated wrongly.
They further submitted that they were in no manner, whether by blood, marriage or adoption, related to the Complainant's husband. Reliance was placed on U. Suvetha v. State By Inspector of Police & Anr.", (2009) 3 SCC Crl. 36, and various other precedents wherein the Apex Court has time and again held that "the meaning of the word `relative' would depend upon the nature of the statute. It principally includes a person related by blood, marriage or adoption".
The court of Justice Anu Malhotra found merit in the Petitioner's submissions. She observed that Section 498A of IPC was a penal provision which ought to be given a strict interpretation in the absence of any statutory definition of the term 'relative' and had to be assigned a meaning as per the common understanding. Thus, the word 'relative' shall include a person related by blood, marriage or adoption, as held by the Apex Court.
In light of the above reasoning she held "in as much as the two petitioners are the maternal uncles of the sister-in-law (Jethani) i.e. the maternal uncles of the sister-in-law i.e. the wife of the elder brother of the husband of the complainant, they will not in any manner fall within the meaning of the term 'relative' of the husband of the complainant as being related to him by blood, marriage or adoption".
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