Taking custody of bride’s jewellery not cruelty u/s 498A IPC: Supreme Court

The issue whether taking custody of the bride’s jewellery for safekeeping could be consider to fall within the purview of cruelty under section 498A of IPC was dealt and decided upon by a division bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice J K Maheswari in the matters between Deepak Sharma vs. State of Haryana and Ors. Criminal Appeal No. 83 of 2022 decided on 12.1.2022.

The crux of the matter is that allegations was brought about that the complainant’s jewellery taken by the mother in-law and brother in-law, who is the appellant. The appellant is unable to leave country to go and join his employment in USA due to a case involving matrimonial dispute filed by the complainant where he is one of the accused.Both trial court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, denied him permission to leave the country.This appeal is against the order of the high court to allow the  appellant to leave country.

The petitioners contended allegations in the complaint against the Appellant do not, at first glance, reveal any offense against the Appellant, which is persecution, that is, an intentional act of a kind that could lead the woman to commit suicide, pursuant to Section 498A or cause serious injury or danger to the woman’s (physical or mental) life, limb or health. It is not even alleged that the Appellant extorted or misappropriated the complainant’s jewelry or even refused to comply with the same request. Detention of jewelry for security reasons cannot constitute persecution within the meaning of Section 498A of the IPC. There is no demand for dowry or property against the Appellant, or even allegation of threats or torture.

From the respondent side, nodody appeared  for before the court in spite of notice.the complainant only alleged before the court that the appellant and his mother has detained all her gold and when she confronted him about the bad habits of her husband, he advised her to accept the culture of her husband or it will not turn out well.

The apex court court held  that advising a wife to comply to avoid retaliation from her husband does not constitute cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Failure to control, live independently, or advise as an adult sibling and correcting the Complainant to avoid vengeful retaliation against her husband does not constitute cruelty by the Appellant. A valid passport, visa, and is the fundamental right of freedom to travel abroad cannot be overlooked only because the brother’s wife has filed a case of matrimonial dispute where he is an accused provided the evidences does not disclose any crime on his behalf.The bench believes that Chief Justice Kurukshetra made a mistake in instructing this Appellant not to leave the country without the prior permission of the Court.

Judgement reviewed by Bhaswati Goldar


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