Section 498A misuse continuing; “poor relatives” of husband staying separately also roped in: Bombay High Court

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The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently voiced its concern over the trend of roping in the relatives of a husband in cases of cruelty and domestic violence under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code [Jyoti Ganesh Patil vs State of Maharashtra].

Single-judge Justice Vibha Kankanwadi, while quashing domestic violence proceedings against one Jyoti Patil, noted that she was living far away from the husband of the complainant-wife and yet was named as an accused just because she happened to be the accused husband’s relative.

“Time and again, this Court as well as the Supreme Court has observed that it is a fashion to array all the relatives of the husband as respondents or to make them as an accused in a complaint under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code and it shows the misuse of the proceedings of law, still the instances have not reduced. Such poor relatives, who were never staying with the husband, cannot be asked to face the proceedings on some stray statements about the domestic violence. Therefore, the application deserves to be allowed,” Justice Kankanwadi said in the order passed on July 4.

Poor relatives, who were never staying with the husband, cannot be asked to face the proceedings on some stray statements about the domestic violence.
Bombay High Court
The Court was hearing a plea filed by Patil seeking to quash and set aside the criminal proceedings initiated against her by her sister-in-law.

The complainant-wife had alleged that her in-laws and Patil had been torturing her and subjecting her to domestic violence.

However, the Court noted that the complainant in her complaint itself, had stated that her in-laws lived in Pune and Patil lived in Bhusawal, where she was serving as a veterinarian.

“When she herself had given the address of the in-laws of Pune and then gives address of the applicant of Bhusawal, then, it was incumbent upon the aggrieved person (complainant) to satisfy as to what point of time the applicant and she herself were staying in the shared household after the marriage. When these basic pleadings are lacking and the documents on record are supporting the address given by the aggrieved person of a different place, then, a case is made out to invoke the inherent powers of this Court to quash the entire proceedings against the applicant,” Justice Kankanwadi opined.

The judge further said that the applicant cannot be arrayed as an accused, in view of the fact that she was residing at a different place and it was unlikely that she would have indulged in any acts of domestic violence against the aggrieved person.

“Therefore, the applicant cannot be asked to face the proceedings,” the court held.

In this backdrop, the court quashed the proceedings.

Advocate HP Randhir appeared for the applicant.

Additional Public Prosecutor RB Bagul represented the state.

Advocate SN Dudhate appeared for the wife.

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