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Mother-in-law asking daughter-in-law to be perfect in household work is not cruelty under Section 498A IPC
Josula Sivasankara Rao Vs The State of AP
Andhra Pradesh HC
CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1035 of 2009
About/from the judgment:
A word of appreciation or a comment with regard to household work is common in any household. Thus, such a comment of a mother-in-law would not amount to cruelty, the judge said.
The High Court held that a mother-in-law asking her daughter-in-law to be perfect in doing household work would not amount to cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Single-judge rejected the argument that the appellant-husband and his mother subjected the deceased woman to cruelty as they often asked her to be a bit more perfect in her household work.
"A married lady being told by her mother-in-law that she required more perfection in doing or attending household work can never be said to be cruelty or harassment among family members. A praise or a comment with reference to the works that were being done is a common factor in any household. It is no one’s case that she was either abused or physically beaten for her imperfections in doing household works," the Court held.
The Court was hearing an appeal filed by a mother and her son, both convicted under charges of dowry death of the daughter-in-law, who died within eight months of her marriage in April 2008.
The complainant alleged that their daughter was subjected to cruelty within the eight months of her marriage with the appellant. It was also alleged that the appellants compared the marriage ceremony and arrangements made by the bride's family with that of the wedding celebrations of the other sons in the family.
The judge, however, rejected the contention.
"Drawing comparison for marriage celebrations or elders telling the newly married girl about the need for attending household works more efficiently are no way connected to dowry and cruelty with reference to dowry as mentioned in Section 304-B Indian Penal Code (IPC)," the Court said.
The judge further said that mere demand for dowry by itself cannot be considered as cruelty unless failure to comply with the demand is visited with cruelty.
In its order, the bench noted that the material placed on record fell short to convict the appellants under charges of dowry death.
"If really the deceased woman was subjected to troubles, there was no occasion for her not to tell someone who was immediately available around her house," the judge observed.
The bench further noted that there was never an incident of any of the accused sending away the deceased from the house nor the deceased rushing away from the matrimonial home and reaching her mother and brother complaining of any trouble to her by the accused.
"This is indicative of the fact that it was a normal family life she was leading. Normal family life holds pains and pleasures in its living. The evidence of her parents does not show that they ever felt to enquire the well being of the deceased through any neighbour of the matrimonial home. That means they had no occasion to feel anything bad or suspicious," the bench opined.
With these observations, the bench quashed the conviction.
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