Complaint under Section 498A IPC can be filed at place of woman's residence

Priti Kumari Vs The State of Bihar and Ors

Supreme Court

13/09/2019

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1387 OF 2019

About/from the judgment:

Over five months after a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that an estranged wife can approach courts at a place where she has taken shelter after being driven out of her matrimonial home in order to file complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, a two-Judge Bench has reiterated this position.

 

An appeal was filed against a judgment of the Patna High Court, which had held that no cause of action had arisen where the appellant stayed, and therefore, a complaint could not be entertained there.

 

However, the court stated that the question pertaining to jurisdiction has been "squarely covered by the judgment of this Court in Rupali Devi v. State of U.P. & Ors.Placing reliance on the decision of the three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi with Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and  L Nageswara Rao, the Court quoted,

 

"We, therefore, hold that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving or driven away from the matrimonial home on account of acts of cruelty committed by the husband or his relatives, would, dependent on the factual situation, also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.”

 

In light of the Rupali Devi judgment, the Court allowed the appellant to file a complaint at the place of her residence, even though no cause of action had arisen there.

 

In Rupali Devi, the main issue was whether a woman forced to leave her matrimonial home on account of acts and conduct that constitute cruelty can initiate and access the legal process within the jurisdiction of the courts where she is forced to take shelter with the parents or other family members.

 

The Court answered the above question in the affirmative. In order to arrive at its conclusion, the Supreme Court relied on Section 179 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and elucidated the scope of Section 498A IPC.

 

The three-judge Bench in Rupali Devi had also analysed the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Criminal Law (2nd Amendment) Act, 1983 by which Section 498A was inserted in the Indian Penal Code.

 

The object behind the aforesaid amendment was to combat the increasing cases of cruelty by the husband and the relatives of the husband on the wife, which leads to commission of suicides or grave injury to the wife, the Court had held. The above-stated object of the amendment cannot be overlooked while answering the question arising in the present case, it was observed.

 

The judicial endeavour must, therefore, always be to make the provision of the laws introduced and inserted by the Criminal Laws (2nd Amendment) Act, 1983 more efficacious and effective, the Rupali Devi judgment states.

 

In view of the previous judgment, the Division Bench in the present case allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment of the High Court.

Read the Judgment

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