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Every case of harassment/cruelty to a married woman not "cruelty" under Section 498A, IPC
Avinash Chandrakant Deshmukh and Ors Vs State of Maharashtra and Anr
CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO.603 OF 2018
About/from the judgment:
The High Court recently allowed an application filed to quash an order of the Trial Court by way of which Section 48A, IPC proceedings were initiated for inflicting cruelty on a woman.
In doing so, the court opined that Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) would not be attracted for every instance of cruelty against a married woman. After extracting the provision in the judgment, the Court said,
"Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code does not come into play in every case of harassment and/or cruelty to a married woman. What is required to be shown is willful conduct of such a nature as is likely to drive or propel or compel a married woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health. It must be shown that acts were of such a nature, as were sufficient for causing a married woman to lose her normal frame of mind."
Bombay High Court
The Court explained that, "the term “cruelty” implies harsh and harmful conduct with certain intensity and persistence. It covers acts causing both physical and mental agony and torture. In order to hold that the acts amount to cruelty, it must be shown that such acts amount to unbearable, continuous, repeated acts of brutality."
The Court added that,
"It is a judicially recognized fact that off late a tendency has been developed for roping in all the relatives in the case for the offence punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code in order to browbeat and pressurize the husband."
Bombay High Court
The Court ultimately found that there was no scope for initiating proceedings under Section 498A of the IPC. The ruling was passed after examining the complaints made against the applicants.
In the case of two applicants, no act of brutality could be attributed to them, the judge noted. Two other applicants stood accused of having assaulted the complainant with fists and kick blows and of asking the complainant to give divorce. Justice Badar, however, opined,
“This act, even if assumed to be true, in my considered opinion, would not fall under the definition of the term “cruelty” as is found in explanation to Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Singular act on the part of the accused of such a nature, as alleged in the complaint, cannot constitute legal cruelty.”
The Court proceeded to reprimand the trial court for not having taken cognisance of the offence of causing hurt under Section 323, IPC instead. On the other hand, the High Court held that.
"Isolated singular act of beating does not fulfill the requirement of legal cruelty which implies harsh and harmful conduct of such a nature so as to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health."
Bombay High Court
Complaints against the remaining accused applicants included that they harassed the complainant by taunting her cooking and that they had pressed her neck in a fit of anger. This last incident, however, was found to be vaguely mentioned and bereft of details, including the role played by the applicants.
In view of these observations, it was held that continuation of proceedings under section 4898A would amount to abuse of process of court as there were no sufficient grounds to proceed against the Applicants. The appeal was, thus, allowed.
Read the Judgment
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