Published on: December 06, 2023 at 17:40 IST
The Supreme Court, nullified criminal proceedings related to the charge of cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The court, comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and S.V.N Bhatti, held that a single trivial instance, unless grave, and lacking clear evidence of interference in the complainant’s marital life, is insufficient to implicate an individual under this provision.
The bench highlighted, “One instance unless portentous, in the absence of any material evidence of interference and involvement in the marital life of the complainant, may not be sufficient to implicate the person as having committed cruelty under section 498A of the IPC.”
The case revolved around a wife including the husband’s sisters and cousins as accused in the complaint. Seeking relief, the sisters and cousins filed a petition before the Karnataka High Court to quash the charge sheet, but it was dismissed, leading to the present appeal.
Upon scrutiny of the written complaint and charge sheet, the Supreme Court noted that only one of the two allegations against the sister of the accused was substantiated – the act of throwing the wife’s belongings on the ground and uttering foul language. Furthermore, the court observed that the sister was residing and working in Canada, and the other appellants were also living separately, not at the marital home.
Considering the vagueness and generality of the assertions in the charge sheet, the court concluded that, given the appellants’ non-residency at the marital home, and appellant no.1 living outside India, the appeal is accepted.
The Supreme Court quashed the criminal proceedings against the appellants while clarifying that the Trial Court could proceed if any evidence surfaces in the future.
Case Title: MAHALAKSHMI vs. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA.