Observing that “each and every act in a married life does not amount to cruelty”, the Bombay High Court recently granted pre-arrest bail to a man whose wife had accused him of cruelty saying he put restrictions on her eating and dressing habits. According to the court, harsh and harmful conduct must be of such nature as to drive a woman to commit suicide or to cause grave danger to her life and limb.
“Cruelty as explained in explanation to Section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code requires harsh and harshful conduct of certain intensity persistence (sic). Each and every act in a married life does not amount to cruelty. There is a difference between domestic cruelty and legal cruelty as defined by explanation to Section 498(A) of the IPC. Harsh and harmful conduct must be of such nature as to drive a married woman to commit suicide or to cause grave danger to her life and limb. These aspects will have to be looked at the time of trial by verifying whether the complaint amounts to legal cruelty or not,” said Justice A M Badar.
The court said considering the averments made in the FIR as well as the nature of offences alleged against the husband, his custodial interrogation was not at all warranted.
The woman had filed a complaint with the Oshiwara police station citing charges that invited provisions relating to cruelty. The husband responded by filing for pre-arrest bail. The couple had got married in September 2016 and were living in a flat in Virar.
According to the FIR, the woman purchased household articles worth Rs 1.38 lakh at the instance of her husband. “So far as the alleged acts of cruelty are concerned, according to the wife, at the time of her marriage she took a loan of Rs 5 lakh at the instance of her future husband and his relatives. The amount was spent on the marriage. She added that her husband and in-laws were putting restrictions on her eating as well as clothing habits,” said the court. According to the woman’s allegations, she was not allowed to wear jeans and was asked to wear salwar and kurta. She was also asked to return home by 7 pm every day.
One night in October 2016, her husband came home after consuming liquor. In her complaint, the woman said she objected to his drinking, and claimed her husband forced her to consume liquor and assaulted her with a stick. There was an attempt to drive her out of the house, she claimed.
“So far as eating and clothing habits are concerned, photographs filed by the husband are eloquent to put light on this aspect (sic). According to the husband, the wife is seen having a cigarette in her hand as well as glass of drink. This is not the stage to dwell upon all these aspects,” said the court.