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SC : Jurisdiction of 498a, the place where wife taking shelter after offense committed by husband

SC on 498a Jurisdiction
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The three judges bench led by CJI, held the verdict that now wife can file 498a from the place, where she is living to protect herself from the offense committed by husband.

In a long pending matter at from year 2012, the court answered the question raised by the petitioner. The court after looking into various acts, procedures and views to held the verdict.

In one view, referring various citations, the court has opinion that :

“if on account of cruelty committed to a wife in a matrimonial home she takes shelter in the parental home and if no specific act of commission of cruelty in the parental home can be attributed to the husband or his relatives, the initiation of proceedings under Section 498A in the courts having jurisdiction in the area where the parental home is situated will not be permissible.”

In other view, referring citations, court said that :

“there was a specific allegation that the husband, after committing acts of cruelty in the matrimonial home, had also gone to the parental house of the wife where she had taken shelter and had assaulted her there.”

The court also referred the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). According to Section 177 of the CrPC “every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed”.

Then after considering various views and provisions, court had opinion that “exception to the ordinary Rule would be attracted” as:

“Thus, if an offence is committed partly in one place and partly in another; or if the offence is a continuing offence or where the consequences of a criminal act result in an offence being committed at another place, the exception to the ordinary rule would be attracted and the courts within whose jurisdiction the criminal act is committed will cease to have exclusive jurisdiction to try the offence.”

The court referred the Black’s Law Dictionary where cruelty is defined as “The intentional and malicious infliction of mental or physical suffering on a living creature, esp. a human; abusive treatment; outrage (Abuse, inhuman treatment, indignity)”.

The court has an opinion that cruelty can be “physical or mental“. The court said :

“The impact on the mental health of the wife by overt acts on the part of the husband or his relatives; the mental stress and trauma of being driven away from the matrimonial home and her helplessness to go back to the same home for fear of being illtreated are aspects that cannot be ignored while understanding the meaning of the expression cruelty appearing in Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code”.

The court also referred the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2005 and said that DV Act has close connections with IPC section 498A.

The court also mentioned the definition of domestic violence in DV Act, “contemplates harm or injuries that endanger the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, as well as emotional abuse“.

The bench had opinion that the cruelty committed at matrimonial home resulting to repeat offence even at parental home. And then the court find the offences contemplated under Section 179 Cr.P.C.

The court hold the jurisdiction of IPC section 498A, to the place where the wife living safe from the cruelty committed by husband. The Court said that:

“hold that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving or driven away from the matrimonial home on account of acts of cruelty committed by the husband or his relatives, would, dependent on the factual situation, also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code”.

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