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HC: Mere harassment not same as domestic cruelty

The woman’s octogenarian father-in-law had died during the pendency of her application.

Mumbai |
Updated: March 25, 2014 1:23:58 am

Dismissing a petition by a woman who had levelled allegations of cruelty against her husband and his family members, the Bombay High Court has recently observed that mere harassment did not amount to cruelty as defined by the law on domestic cruelty unless it was done with a definite motive and an unlawful demand.

Justice Revati Mohite Dere was hearing a revision application of the 35-year-old woman who had sought criminal action against her 45-year-old brother-in-law and in-laws residing in Malad.

Earlier, on November 2, 2011, the sessions court had rejected her plea for the same, although a notice was issued to her husband.

The woman’s octogenarian father-in-law had died during the pendency of her application.

While referring to Section 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Justice Dere observed that in the entire complaint, there was no illegal demand of any kind alleged to have been made by the respondents.

“It is pertinent to note that none of the allegations as set out in the complaint against the respondent number 2 to 4 (the woman’s in-laws) would constitute ‘cruelty’ as defined under Section 498A of the IPC. The harassment contemplated has to be with a definite object, namely
to coerce the woman or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand. Hence, mere harassment is not cruelty,” Justice Dere said.

While dismissing the woman’s revision application, the high court also observed there was a tendency to implicate all the family members whenever there was a matrimonial dispute, something which had been deprecated by the Supreme Court.

aamir.khan@expressindia.com

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