Karnataka High Court
AIYAPPA M.B. & ORS. V. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
CRIMINAL PETITION No.7067 OF 2021
Bench- HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE M. NAGAPRASANNA
Decided On 16-06-2023
Facts of the case-
The petitioner in this case was married in December 2019, but her relationship quickly deteriorated. The complainant-wife took two legal actions in response to the situation. First, she initiated criminal proceedings by filing a complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with cruelty towards a married woman by her husband or his relatives. Second, she filed a separate proceeding under Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking the annulment of their marriage on the grounds of cruelty.
The wife’s contention was that the husband, being a follower of the sisters of Brahmakumari Samaja, consistently refused to engage in a physical relationship with her. Whenever she approached him, he allegedly stated that he had no interest in a physical relationship due to his affiliation with Brahmakumari Samaja. Consequently, the wife argued that since the husband was a follower of Brahmakumari Samaja, he could have chosen not to get married, thereby avoiding the situation altogether.
These facts are crucial to the case as they form the basis for the wife’s allegations of cruelty and the subsequent legal actions she took. The wife maintains that the husband’s refusal to consummate the marriage and his stated reasons for doing so amount to cruelty, justifying both the criminal complaint under Section 498A IPC and the request for the annulment of the marriage under Section 12(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The court quashed a criminal complaint filed by a wife against her husband under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The wife had alleged cruelty on the grounds that the husband refused to have physical relations after their marriage, citing his interest in watching spiritual videos as the reason. The court, however, found that the family court had already granted a decree of divorce to the complainant based on the allegation of cruelty through non-consummation of the marriage.
The court held that if a divorce decree had already been granted on the grounds of cruelty arising from non-consummation, it would not be appropriate to continue the criminal proceedings on the same basis. Allowing the criminal proceedings to proceed would lead to harassment, abuse of the legal process, and ultimately a miscarriage of justice.
The court emphasized that cruelty, as defined in the relevant legal provisions, refers to any willful conduct likely to drive a woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury or danger to her life. Harassment, on the other hand, involves coercing the woman or her relatives to meet unlawful demands. The court observed that the complaint filed by the wife did not contain any ingredients of cruelty as defined in the law.
Regarding the chargesheet, the court found that there was no element of Section 498-A of the IPC against the accused individuals, namely the mother-in-law and father-in-law. The complaint and the summary of the chargesheet did not establish any cruelty perpetrated by the in-laws, particularly the father-in-law and mother-in-law. Additionally, it was an admitted fact that the parents had never stayed with the couple. Therefore, allowing further proceedings against the parents would amount to an abuse of the legal process.
In light of these findings, the court allowed the petition and quashed the criminal complaint. The decision highlights the importance of considering the specific elements of cruelty and harassment as defined in the law, and preventing the misuse of legal proceedings to avoid unjust harassment and a potential miscarriage of justice.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ABHAY SHUKLA
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