Court:Delhi High Court
Bench: JUSTICE J.D. Kapoor
BASANT KAUR & ORS. Vs. STATE (NCT OF DELHI) On 25 November 2002
Section 498A — Cruelty : Manifest Abuse and Misuse of Provisions of Section 498A, IPC : Woman Lived with Her Husband for about 24 Years and had Grown Up Children and Tolerated Cruelty from Hands of Her Husband : Though Offence of Matrimonial Cruelty Viewed as Continuing Offence but by no Stretch of Imagination such Acts Committed for 25 Years can be Treated as Continuing Acts : Charges against Petitioners Framed by MM and Affirmed by ASJ Wholly Mis-conceived and Result of Non-appreciation of facts : Both Orders Set Aside.
1. Petitioners are the relatives of the husband of the complainant. Petitioner No. 1 is the mother-in-law of the complainant while petitioner Nos. 2 and 3 are married sisters-in-law of the complainant.
2. Marriage took place about 25 years back. Perusal of the complaint shows that she was being treated with cruelty and being harassed for having brought insufficient dowry right from day one. However, she continued upbringing her children and living in her matrimonial house for 24 long years. However, she left the matrimonial house on 22.7.1991 alongwith her children. She filed an application for maintenance. The incident that took place on 22.7.1991 ropes in the conduct of husband and his high-handedness. It is alleged that her husband turned her out of matrimonial house with the threat that he would kill her and her children and her parents and remarry some other girl.
3. This is a case which manifestly demonstrate how Section 498A, IPC can be misused and abused. Woman lived with her husband for about 24 long years and had grown up children and tolerated cruelty from the hands of her husband. In her complaint every incident spanning from 1977 has been referred to in order to make out a case of cruelty or harassment perpetrated upon her by her husband and her mother-in-law and married sisters-in-law. This was neither the object of Section 498A nor the intention of legislature. Though the offence of matrimonial cruelty is being viewed as continuing offence but by no stretch of imagination such acts committed for 25 years can be treated as continuing acts. Had it been so there would not have been limit of three years for taking action against the perpetrators. The last occurrence that according to the complainant made her leave the matrimonial house when she was forcibly turned out by her husband alongwith children is mainly against the husband. Thus last such accusation by the complainant against the husband pertain to the year 1991. These are such matters which involve matrimonial discords and any party who makes life of an other miserable has the remedy of partying his/her ways by way of dissolving the marriage. But in no way, the incidents of harassment or cruelty that might have occurred two decades ago can be made a ground for punishing a person after 25 years and that too in a matrimonial dispute. The allegations and the facts were so demonstrative of phenomenon that any relation near or distant of the husband, minor or major can be put to undergo mill of not only police investigation including custodial investigation but also standing trial that may prolong for decades.
4. The charges against the petitioners framed by MM and affirmed by learned ASJ were wholly misconceived and result of non-appreciation of facts, in the right perspective and result of misconception of provisions of Section 498A, IPC. Both the orders are set aside so far as petitioners are concerned.
5. Petition is allowed with the abovesaid observations.