Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and SK Kaul, JJ delivered a very important judgment today where it held,

“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.”

Section 498A IPC and related provisions

Section 498A IPC was introduced by the Criminal Law (second amendment) Act, 1983. In addition to the aforesaid amendment in the Indian Penal Code, the provisions of Sections 174 and 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 relating to inquiries by police in case of death by suicides and inquiries by magistrates into cause of such deaths were also amended. Section 198A was also inserted in the Code of Criminal Procedure with regard to prosecution of offences under Section 498A. Further by an amendment in the first schedule to the CrPC the offence under Section 498A was made cognizable and non-bailable. Of considerable significance is the introduction of Section 113A in the Evidence Act by the Criminal Law (second amendment) Act, 1983 providing for presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman to be drawn if such suicide had been committed within a period of seven years from the date of marriage of the married woman and she had been subjected to cruelty.

“The object behind the aforesaid amendment, undoubtedly, 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 besides seeking to deal with harassment of the wife so as to coerce her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property, etc.”

Cruelty at Matrimonial Home vis-à-vis Parental Home

Earlier Rulings

The Court had, on earlier occasions, held that the offence of cruelty having been committed in the matrimonial home the same does not amount to a continuing offence committed in the parental home to which place the aggrieved wife may have later shifted. It has been held that:

“if on account of cruelty committed to a wife in a matrimonial home she takes shelter in the parental home and if no specific act of commission of cruelty in the parental home can be attributed to the husband or his relatives, the initiation of proceedings under Section 498A in the courts having jurisdiction in the area where the parental home is situated will not be permissible.”

Ruling in the present case

The Court said that the provisions contained in Section 498A IPC, undoubtedly, encompasses both mental as well as the physical well-being of the wife. Even the silence of the wife may have an underlying element of an emotional distress and mental agony. Her sufferings at the parental home though may be directly attributable to commission of acts of cruelty by the husband at the matrimonial home would, undoubtedly, be the consequences of the acts committed at the matrimonial home. Such consequences, by itself, would amount to distinct offences committed at the parental home where she has taken shelter.

It, hence, noticed,

“The adverse effects on the mental health in the parental home though on account of the acts committed in the matrimonial home would, in our considered view, amount to commission of cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A at the parental home.”

[Rupali Devi. State of Uttar Pradesh,  2019 SCC OnLine SC 493, decided on 09.04.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Bench of Jyoti Singh and G.S. Sistani, JJ., allowed an appeal filed by the appellant-wife against the judgment of the family court whereby it had granted divorce in favour of the respondent-husband under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1995 on the ground of cruelty.

In his divorce petition, the husband had alleged that the wife taunted him as impotent, misbehaved with his parents and relatives threw utensils, etc. The family court allowed his petition and granted a decree of divorce in his favour. Aggrieved thereby, the wife filed the present appeal.

 V.P. Singh Bidhuri, Advocate for the wife assailed the impugned judgment. Per contra, Rajender Yadav, Advocate appearing for the husband supported the same.

The High Court noted that there were no material particulars or details in the divorce petition and the averments were very general in nature. Citing Rule 7 of the Hindu Marriage Rules, 1979 which prescribes as to what should be the contents of the petition filed under HMA, the Court observed, ” a perusal of the Rule shows that it is a statutory requirement as well that the acts/offences alleged in matrimonial cases should be set out with specific particulars of time, place, etc. The present divorce petition clearly does not meet the requirement of Rule 7. Merely stating that the appellant was neglecting her duties or that she was abusive and insulting, would not be sufficient to constitute an act of cruelty unless and until specific instances showing such conduct are pleaded and proved.” In such and other views of the matter, the Court allowed the present appeal and set aside the impugned judgment passed by the family court. [J v. JC, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7703, dated 28-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J., allowed a petition filed by in-laws of the deceased (wife) against the order of the trial court in pursuance of which charges were framed against them under Sections 304-B (dowry death) and 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) IPC.

As per the prosecution, the deceased had died within seven years of her marriage. It was alleged that on the fateful, she was brought to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital where she was declared brought dead. On the MLC, the doctor opined: “alleged history of hanging and declared brought dead”. Parents of the deceased stated that she was harassed for dowry by her husband and in-laws (petitioner). A case was registered and the trial court was of the view that a prima facie case was established against the husband and the in-laws. Accordingly, the charges were framed against all the accused. Aggrieved thereby, the in-laws filed the present petition.

Anunya Mehta and Akshay Deep Singhal, Advocates for the in-laws contended that the charges against them were based on omnibus allegations and the deceased was not residing with them for last several years as she was living separately in Rohini with her husband. They prayed for discharging the in-laws.

The High Court perused both the sections. It was noted that the allegations made by parents of the deceased were all against the husband. And there were a few very general allegations against the in-laws like that of ‘continuous bickering’. There was no allegation that they ever demanded dowry. It was stated, To constitute an offence under Sections 304-B and 498-A IPC, it not mere bickering which would amount to an offence but it should be harassment of such a nature that would drive a woman to commit suicide.” The Court held that allegations against the in-laws were not such a nature so as to qualify as an offence under the said sections. In such view of the matter, the petition was allowed and the in-laws were discharged.[Satbir Dalal v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7006, dated 14-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of G.S. Sistani and Jyoti Singh, JJ., directed a divorce decree sheet to be drawn up in favour of the appellant-wife in terms of Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The parties married to each-other in 2007. However, they were living separately since July 2014. The case set up by the wife was that the respondent-husband subjected her to various cruelties. The family court rejected her petition seeking a divorce, basing its judgment on the ground that only general and routine allegations were made which were not substantiated. Aggrieved thereby, the wife preferred the present appeal.

The wife, represented by Kavita Kapil, Advocate, deposed by way of an affidavit that the husband’s behaviour had become extremely arrogant he was a highly suspicious person who levelled false charges on her character. Also, during her pregnancy, he did not provide her medical treatment, nor gave her love or affection, and caused mental trauma.

On careful consideration of the evidence on record, the High Court was of the view that the wife was able to show that the husband treated her with cruelty. As far as specific instances were concerned, it was observed, ” the specific date and time has not been given for all the incidents averred, but has led evidence to prove specific instances of the cruelty, at the time of her pregnancy. It may be noted that since only one child was born out of the wedlock, it was not necessary to give the month, date or time when her husband inflicted cruelty upon her.” Noting that the husband took no steps to either resolve the dispute or contest the case, the Court allowed the appeal by the wife. [B v. R Y, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7286, decided on 04-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of Mridula Bhatkar, J. quashed and set aside the order passed by Additional Sessions Judge,  refusing to discharge the petitioner/accused from offence punishable under Section 377 of Penal Code, 1860.

The present petition was filed in respect of challenging the order passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate, Girgaon, Mumbai rejecting the discharge of petitioner under Section 377 IPC.

Petitioner in the present case is a co-accused prosecuted under Sections 498-A, 377, 323, 504  r/w Section 34 of IPC. The facts of the case are that the complainant is married with a son of 6 to 7 years old. Complainant states that after 4-5 years of marriage she realised that her husband was gay, and on realising that she refused the parallel relationship of her husband. She also stated that she was ill-treated by her husband due to which she had left for her father’s house but later agreed to come back to her husband’s place when she again witnessed no change and continuation of the gay relationship of her husband with different males.

On realising the fact that her husband was not ready to stop his relationship with the petitioner/accused and being ill-treated a number of times, she finally lodged an FIR. Later, the Additional Sessions Judge partly allowed the revision application but maintained the charge under Section 377 IPC against the accused. Aggrieved by the same, the present petition was filed.

High Court while placing reliance on the Apex Court’s judgment in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1, held that though the ground for divorce could be the extramarital consensual sexual relationship as cruelty to the complainant, but it does not constitute an offence under Section 377 IPC, because both are adults and had a consensual sexual relationship.

Thus, in the present case, no victim exists and the order of the Additional Sessions Judge is quashed. [Daniel Crasto v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 188, dated 30-01-2019]

Note: The 5-Judge Constitution Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ. in their landmark judgment held Section 377 IPC unconstitutional insofar it criminalised gay sex between consenting adults. [2018 SCC OnLine SC 1350]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a criminal writ petition filed by the husband praying quashing of FIR under Section 498-A IPC and complaint under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act).

The grounds for seeking quashing of the FIR and the complaint was that they were registered to wreak vengeance and were beyond the period of limitation as the parties separated in 2014. It is pertinent to note that the wife had filed a complaint before CAW Cell in 2015 where a settlement was arrived at between the parties at pre-litigation mediation. However, it was not fully acted upon and even after an application the earlier complaint could not be revived. Thus, the filed fresh complaint in 2018.

The High Court was of the view that the FIR was within the period of limitation. Relying on Vanka Radhamanohari v. Vanka Venkata Reddy, (1993) 3 SCC 4 and Asha Ahuja v. Rajesh Ahuja, 2003 SCC OnLine Del 316, the Court held that Section 468 CrPC which deals with “bar to taking cognizance after lapse of period of limitation” is to be read with Section 473 which provides for “extension of period of limitation in certain cases”. Further relying on Arun Vyas v. Anita Vyas, (1999) 4 SCC 690, it was held that is a continuing offence and each occasion of “cruelty” is a new starting point of limitation. As far as a complaint under Section 12 DV Act is concerned, it was noted that it related to the grant of maintenance for the wife and minor child. It was held that “not providing maintenance is a continuous cause of action and even if for three years the wife did not claim maintenance for herself or for the child, the same would not debar her from seeking maintenance under Section 12 DV Act and the complaint thereon cannot be dismissed being barred by limitation”. In such view of the matter, the petition was dismissed. [Anthony Jose v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2018 SCC OnLine Del 12956, decided on 05-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A Bench comprising of V.M. Vellumani, J. has held in the case of matrimonial dispute regarding the irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for divorce valid.

In the present case, the appellant has averred various incidents, by which, the respondent has repeatedly caused mental agony and cruelty to the appellant. The learned counsel for the appellant stated that the respondent has admitted in his evidence that he put up 10 locks, not 22 locks to lock the home. Any normal prudent man would not put 10 locks to lock the home. This fact coupled with the fact that the respondent was friendly with the parents of the appellant in their presence and talked about them shows mental illness of the respondent.

Thus, the appeal has been filed by the wife claiming for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty and the fact that both the appellant and respondents have been living separately for more than ten years. The respondent is alleged to be mentally ill as well.

“Marriages are made in heaven. Both parties have crossed the point of no return.”

-Durga Prasanna Tripathy v. Arundhati Tripathy; (2005) 7 SCC 353

According to Hindu Law, irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not considered as a valid ground for divorce but this court, following the precedents, has held irretrievable breakdown of marriage a valid ground for divorce. To prevent the appellant from more cruelty, the appeal of divorce has been allowed. Furthermore, this Court has also dismissed the claim filed by the respondent for the restitution of conjugal rights. [Salome v. Prince D. Immanuel, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 1651, decided on 06-04-2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Jyoti Singh, JJ. dismissed an appeal against the judgment of Family Court whereby it had decreed a divorce petition filed by the husband on grounds of cruelty by the wife.

The parties got married in 2006. A divorce petition was filed by the husband in 2009 alleging various instances of cruelty by the wife along with allegations that she was ill-tempered, stubborn, quarrelsome and insensitive towards the husband and his parents. On the basis of the evidence adduced by the parties, the Family Court granted a decree of divorce in favour of the husband on grounds of cruelty by the wife. Aggrieved thereby, the wife preferred the instant appeal.

While adjudicating, the High Court referred to a Supreme Court decision in Narendra v. K. Meena, (2016) 9 SCC 455. It was noted that the Family Court reached a conclusion that wife tied a dupatta around her neck and threatened him to commit suicide as the husband refused to seek separation from his parents. She also wrote a suicide note which was proved. In view of the Court, repeated attempts to commit suicide by the wife amounted to extreme cruelty especially when she tried to implicate the husband guilty of abatement. Finding no infirmity in the judgment passed by the Family Court, the High Court dismissed the appeal. [Kusum v. Gurcharan  Singh,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12576, decided on 15-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vimla Singh Kapoor, J. dismissed a revision petition on account of it lacking substance.

The complainant had accused the respondent of harassing her for not bringing sufficient dowry after some time of the marriage for which she was deprived of food and clothing by the respondents even though household items were given at the time of marriage. Further after the birth of their child a new list altogether was demanded dowry. Subsequently, the case was brought before the High Court but finding no force in the complaint, the respondent was acquitted for which the present revision petition lies.

After analyzing the facts and evidences, it wasn’t clear as to after how many years the harassment started rather from the statement of the mother of the complainant she seemed to spent the initial years happily at her matrimonial home along with the fact that the cousin of the complainant was married in the same family yet she showed no similar signs. Also in order to settle the dispute, a village meeting was called but none of the witnesses was examined on record and what was pertinent to note was the fact that first an application for maintenance was made followed by a complaint for cruelty and harassment about a month thereafter which further weakened her case. Accordingly, the revision petition was dismissed for being exaggerated.[Sangeeta Bai Nishad v. Manoj Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine Chh 659, order dated 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Judge Bench comprising of Sharad Kumar Sharma and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. declared that denial of cruelty by the lower court was erred on illogical interpretations.

The appellant has appealed against the orders of the family court on the denial for the grant of divorce and permanent alimony under Section 25 of the of Hindu Marriage Act. She has claimed that respondent under the influence of alcohol misbehaved with her by inflicting mental cruelty along with his absence both as a husband and father with the appellant and her child. She also pleaded an attempt to force sodomy upon her by the respondent.

The Court stated that inferences were drawn from facts which in itself cannot be taken as a proof against the statements of the appellant and thus was not an analogical and judicial inference rendered by the lower court. Also in the written statement the respondent had not specifically denied his act of misbehaving in an intoxicated condition. The most important point for consideration was that sodomy was something a wife would never plead against the husband to allege cruelty and therefore shall be weighed substantially. Accordingly, the act of cruelty stood established plus the appellant was also granted the permanent alimony.[Suman Lata Panwar v. Ajay Singh, F.A. No. 77 of 2013, order dated 15-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Md. Mumtaz Khan and Jay Sengupta, JJ. partly allowed the appeal of the appellant-husband who was convicted under Sections 498-A and 306 IPC for cruelty and abetting the suicide of the deceased-wife by the trial court.

Prosecution’s case was that the appellant and the deceased were married 19 years ago. The wife lived in husband’s native village. Subsequently, she joined the husband in his dwelling home. There she came to know of the illicit relationship between the husband and the maid-servant who lived in the same house. She confronted the husband but to no avail. Instead, the husband started to abuse her and beat her. On the night of the incident, PW-1, brother of the wife, heard noise of her sister shouting from inside the appellant’s house. The door was locked from inside. PW-1 along with the local policeman forced-open the door of the house and found that the deceased was burning in flames. The appellant was not at home. The husband was charged, tried and convicted by the trial court for the offences mentioned above. Aggrieved by the same, the husband filed the present appeal.

The High Court perused the record. It was noted that the word cruelty mentioned in Section 498-A is any wilful conduct of the husband or his relative which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the women to commit suicide or cause grave injury or danger to life, limb, health. In Court’s opinion, the evidence of PW-1 and PW-2, brothers of the deceased, unerringly pointed towards the guilt of the husband in inflicting cruelty to the wife after she confronted him about his illicit relationship. This drove her to commit suicide. No irregularity was found with husband’s conviction under Section 498-A. However, the Court was of the view that he could not be held guilty under Section 306 as there was no direct evidence that he has, by his act, instigated or provoked the deceased to commit suicide. The only allegation was that on a fateful night, the parties had quarreled and thereafter the husband went to his night duty and the wife committed suicide. There was no evidence about the issue of quarrel and how the wife got burned. There was no direct evidence to show that the husband abetted the suicide committed by the wife. In such circumstances, the husband deserved to be acquitted of the charge under Section 306. Hence, the appeal was partly allowed. Conviction of the husband under Section 306 was set aside, however, that under Section 498-A was upheld. [Md. Sarfulla v. State of W.B., 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 5946, dated 03-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of J.R. Midha, J. dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant-husband against the order of trial court whereby the court dismissed his petition for dissolution of marriage filed under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The parties married in the year 1988; and in 2005, the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. It was alleged that the respondent-wife treated him with cruelty; there were continuous fights; the wife did not take care of him during illness; she made false allegations of the illicit relationship against him; filed false and frivolous cases against him, etc. The wife contested the petition. The trial court held that the husband miserably failed to prove allegations of cruelty, and therefore dismissed the petition. Aggrieved thus, the husband preferred the present appeal. The husband submitted that there was an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage between the parties, and thus a decree of dissolution may be passed.

On careful consideration of the record, the High Court agreed with the trial court that the husband failed to prove cruelty. It was noted that the husband did not cross-examine the wife on allegations of illicit relationship as levelled against him. The wife produced a witness to corroborate the said allegation, and even that witness was not cross-examined. In circumstances of the case, the Court was of the view that submission of the wife that the husband wanted to take advantage of his own wrong seemed plausible. Furthermore, in respect of the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, the Court held that it is not empowered to dissolve the marriage on that ground. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [M v. A,2018 SCC OnLine Del 10688, dated 17-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, J. allowed an appeal filed under Section 28 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 against the judgment of the Additional District Judge whereby the divorce petition filed by the husband was dismissed.

One of the grounds claimed by the husband as an instance of cruelty meted out by the wife was that she filed false complaints against him under Sections 406 and 498-A IPC. It is pertinent to note that the appellant-husband was acquitted of both the charges and no appeal was filed thereagainst by the wife. The husband filed a petition for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) and (ib) of the HMA which was dismissed by the Additional District Judge. The wife submitted that she would consent to a decree for dissolution of marriage only if the husband agrees to her other demands. Aggrieved thus, the husband preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and took notice of the complaint made by the wife against the husband and also the order of acquittal passed in his favour. Reference was also made to Vishwanath Agrawal v. Sarla Vishwanath Agrawal (2012) 7 SCC 288 and Shobha Rani v. Madhukar Reddi, (1988) 1 SCC 105. The Court found that the complaints filed by the wife were false. It was held that the conduct of wife of using her consent to dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce, to gain an advantage in other litigation, also constitutes cruelty. It shows that the respondent wife also was not interested in matrimonial bond but still wanted to keep the husband bound therewith, till he agrees to her other demands. In the aforesaid state of affairs, the appeals were allowed and the marriage between the parties was dissolved. [Daulat Ram Gupta v. Usha Gupta,2018 SCC OnLine Del 10376, dated 30-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of R. Banumathi and Vineet Saran, JJ., ordered for refusal of modification in quantum of sentence as sought for by the appellant; on the reasoning that the conviction of the appellant under Section 498-A and 306 IPC as given by the High Court is to be maintained and any leniency in the same would be a misplaced one.

The facts of the case clearly draw the picture towards mental agony leading to the act of suicide committed by the deceased. Appellant was convicted under Section 498-A and 306 IPC as the wife of the appellant had committed suicide due to being subjected to cruelty and alleged dowry demand along with one of the significant factors in all the allegations being an illicit relationship of the appellant with another woman.

After the conviction from Trial Court, the High Court had further convicted the appellant under Sections 498-A and 306 IPC on consideration of the facts and evidence which constituted that the appellant even after agreeing on not continuing his relationship with another woman continued to do so, which definitely caused mental agony to the deceased-wife. Reliance on Randhir Singh v. State of Punjab, (2004) 13 SCC 129 was placed in regard to “abetment involving a mental process of instigating a person or in any manner aiding that person in doing of the thing.”

Therefore, it was held that the High Court’s order of conviction is to be maintained as leniency in the same as appealed would be a misplaced one. Hence, the appeal was dismissed. [Siddaling v. State,2018 SCC OnLine SC 958, decided on 09-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sarang V. Kotwal, J., dismissed an appeal concerning the aspect of cruelty being taken on a mere submission that the deceased was ill-treated as the deceased failed to cook properly.

The present case deals with a very interesting factual matrix and submissions being made by the prosecution. The accused in the present case was charged under Sections 498A and 306 read with Section 34 of IPC, for which the learned judge had acquitted all the accused persons but further the State of Maharashtra had preferred an appeal against the same.

The submissions of the prosecution had two primary folds, which were: Accused being in an illicit relationship with his sister-in-law and deceased facing ill treatment due to failure to cook properly; and based on these grounds Nanda, i.e. the deceased had consumed poison.

Therefore, the High Court while concluding its judgment stated that the prosecution failed to prove the illicit relationship of the accused by placing no evidence on record. Also for the other allegation of ‘not cooking-properly’, the Court stated that “Telling to cook properly or to do household work properly, by itself, would not mean that a person was ill-treated.” No further evidence was placed to show ill-treatment which inclined the Court to not dismiss the Appeal. [State of Maharashtra v. Vijay Dhondiram Shinde,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2047, decided on 01-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Manish Pitale, J., acquitted the appellant-husband who was convicted by the trial court Section 498-A and other sections of IPC.

The appellant was married to the deceased and within one year of marriage she set herself on fire and committed suicide. It was alleged that the appellant and other co-accused demanded Rs 20,000 from her for treatment of appellant’s father. The trial court convicted the appellant but acquitted the co-accused.

The High Court observed, inter alia, that there were no separate or specific allegations made against the appellant. The trial court had found that the evidence on record was not sufficient to prove that case against the co-accused persons but the same evidence, the appellant was convicted. Moreover, the said demand of Rs 20,000 for treatment of his father such as to bring it under cruelty mentioned in Section 498-A IPC. In such circumstances, the High Court was of the view that conviction of the appellant, even when the co-accused were acquitted on the same evidence, was liable to be set aside. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted of the charges framed against him. [Balaji v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1955, dated 02-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Division Bench comprising of M.M.S. Bedi and Hari Pal Verma, JJ., allowed the appeal against the decision of the family court wherein appellant’s petition for a decree of divorce was dismissed.

The appellant (wife) was married to the respondent (husband). She alleged that the respondent habitually used to drink and beat the appellant; forced her to consume alcohol; demanded dowry from her; and even committed forcible sexual acts against her wishes including sodomy and unnatural oral sex. She stated that because of such circumstances, she was forced to live at her parent’s home since last 8 years. The respondent denied all the allegations and alleged that appellant’s parents are not letting her come back to their matrimonial home. He had also filed a petition under Section 9 Hindu Marriage Act, the fact which weighed with the court below to dismiss appellant’s divorce petition. The appellant was in appeal against the decision of the lower court.

The High Court was of the opinion that the appeal ought to be allowed. While considering facts of the matter, the Court observed, acts of sodomy, forcible sexual intercourse, and adoption of unnatural means which are forced upon the other spouse resulting in unbearable pain to the extent that one is forced to stay away would certainly be a ground to seek separation or a decree of divorce. The Court further observed that the burden of proving such allegations lied heavily on the appellant, and in the instant case, the allegations were corroborated with other material including testimonies of the appellant and her brother. In such circumstances, the Court held that merely because the respondent had filed a petition under Section 9 for restitution of conjugal rights, would not mean that he made a genuine effort for a reunion. The Court allowed the appeal dissolving the marriage between the appellant and the respondent by a decree of divorce. [Preeti Kumari v. Neelkanth Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine P&H 757, dated 01-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A criminal appeal preferred by the appellant against the order of his conviction and sentence passed by the trial court, was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Sarang V. Kotwal, J.

The appellant was accused of subjecting his wife to cruelty due to which she committed suicide. The appellant was charged under Sections 498-A and 306 of IPC. He was tried, convicted and sentenced for the said offences by the trial court. The appellant challenged the decision of the trial court.

The High Court perused the record and found that the allegations against the appellant were that he demanded Rs. 1000 from the deceased. The Court was of the view that only asking for financial help from the wife without any further allegations would not amount to cruelty to attract the provisions of Section 498-A. Neither the allegation that the appellant harassed the deceased for she was not able to cook good food was proved by any evidence. In fact, it was found that the fact of the wife leaving the appellant’s house one month prior to the incident, was suppressed by the prosecution. In such circumstances, the High Court held that neither cruelty nor abetment could be proved against the appellant. Therefore, the Court allowed the appeal preferred by the appellant and set aside the impugned order. [Ananta Laxman Pansare v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 963, dated 07-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Conviction of the accused under Section 304-B of IPC was set aside by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Arvind Singh Chandel, J., on the ground that the facts did not show that cruelty or harassment was meted out to the deceased wife ‘soon before her death’.
The accused was convicted by the trial court under Section 304-B. The allegation against him was that he threatened her wife- the deceased, to bring Rupees Ten thousand from her maternal home and harassed her to the extent that she committed suicide. The conviction of the accused was based on the statements of the mother and the sister of the deceased.
The High Court considered the evidence on record and submissions made on behalf of the parties and found that there were material discrepancies in the witness’ statements. The sister of the deceased stated that she lived with the deceased in their maternal home for about one and a half month and there also the accused came and poured kerosene on the deceased. However, it was found that the alleged incidents of fights and quarrels related to domestic issues and not to demand of dowry. Further, the incident alleged by the sister of the deceased happened about six months before her death. The Court perused Section 304-B and held that in the facts and circumstances of the case, it could not be said that cruelty or harassment was meted out to the deceased ‘soon before her death’. Therefore, the Court was of the view that the order of conviction of the accused was liable to be quashed.
The appeal was allowed and the order the trial court convicting and sentencing the accused under Section 304-B IPC was set aside. [Binda Prasad v. State of M.P. (Now Chhattisgarh),  2018 SCC OnLine Chh 380,  order dated 04-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K. Somashekar, J., decided a criminal appeal filed under Section 374(2) of IPC, wherein the Court set aside the order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court against the accused-appellant for offence punishable under 498-A of IPC.

It was alleged that the accused picked quarrels with his deceased wife and did not allow her to visit her paternal house. Parents of the deceased wife who were the complainants alleged that the accused harassed the deceased and treated her with cruelty and due to this reason, she committed suicide. Learned counsel for the appellant relied on the testimony of defence witnesses including the sister of the deceased and the eldest son of the accused and the deceased. The said witnesses stated that relations between the accused husband and the deceased wife were cordial, they were happily married for more than eleven years. The deceased was upset and disturbed due to the losses incurred by her family after the shed of their house had collapsed and also because their lorry met with an accident. Counsel submitted that the trial court erred in appreciating the evidence in proper light and prayed that the order of conviction and sentenced passed against the accused may be sat aside.

The High Court perused the evidence and considered the submissions made on behalf of the parties. The Court found that the statements of prosecution witnesses were full of contradictions; while on the other hand the facts and testimony of defence witnesses show that the relations between the husband and wife were cordial for over eleven years. There was no other evidence led on behalf of the prosecution to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The Court held that in such circumstances it was safe to say that decision of the trial court was not based on proper appreciation of evidence and hence, it was liable to be set aside.

Accordingly, the order of conviction and sentence under Section 498-A of IPC passed against the accused by the trial court was set aside and the he was acquitted of the charges leveled against him. [Srinivasa Gowda v. State of Karnataka, Crl. Appeal No. 355 of 2010, dated February 28, 2018]