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Non-consummation of marriage not cruelty under section 498A IPC

Non-consummation of marriage not cruelty under section 498A IPC

Aiyappa M B Vs State of Karnataka

Karnataka HC



About/from the judgment:

The High Court has quashed a criminal complaint filed by a wife against her husband under section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, alleging that he did not have physical relations after marriage on account of watching spiritual videos and thus it amounted to cruelty.

A single judge bench allowed the petition filed by the husband and his parents and quashed the proceedings registered against them by the wife 28 days after marriage. It said, “Neither the complaint nor the summary charge sheet narrates any factum/incident that would become an ingredient of Section 498A of the IPC. The only allegation is that he is a follower of Brahmakumari, always was watching videos of one sister Shivani, a Brahmakumari; gets inspired by watching those videos, always told that love is never getting physical, it should be soul to soul. On this score, he never intended to have a physical relationship with his wife. This would undoubtedly amount to cruelty due to non-consummation of marriage under Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act and not cruelty as is defined under Section 498A of the IPC.”

The bench took note of the fact that decree of divorce is granted to the complainant on the allegation of causing cruelty by non-consummation of marriage by the family court. Thus it held “On the same basis, criminal proceedings cannot be permitted to be continued. The proceedings if permitted to continue would degenerate into harassment, become an abuse of the process of law, ultimately result in miscarriage of justice.”

The petitioners submitted that the parties got married in December 2019 and their relationship immediately turned sore. The complainant-wife registered two proceedings– one setting the criminal law in motion by registering a complaint for offence under Section 498A IPC and another proceeding under Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking annulment of marriage on the ground of cruelty.

The wife averred that the husband was a follower of the sisters of Brahmakumari Samaja and so, whenever she approached him, he told her that he is not interested in physical relationship. Therefore, the allegation was that being a follower of Brahmakumari Samaja, the petitioner could have chosen not to get married.

Court said,

"Cruelty would mean any willful conduct which is of the nature as is likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury or danger to the life of the woman. The other part is harassment, where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand. The section itself punishes the husband or the relative who subjects a woman to such cruelty. A perusal at the complaint would indicate no ingredient of any cruelty."

The in-laws also sought exoneration, claiming that the the couple lived separately and they had nothing to do with the issue.

Referring to chargesheet the bench said “Insofar as accused 2 and 3/mother-in-law and father-inlaw are concerned, the complaint or the summary of the charge sheet on the face of it, does not make out an iota of ingredient of Section 498A of the IPC...A perusal at the complaint would indicate no ingredient of any cruelty by the in-laws i.e., father-in-law and the mother-in-law and it is an admitted fact that the parents never stayed with the couple. In the teeth of such facts, if further proceedings are permitted to continue against the parents, it would become an abuse of the process of law.”

Accordingly it allowed the petition.

Read the Judgment


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