Many of you would have come across a recent headline that states:
Karnataka High Court rules second wife cannot file complaint against husband, in-laws for cruelty under Section 498-A IPC
However, this case is tricky, but the headline is clickbait, misleading and does not bring out full facts.
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The complainant woman claimed to be the second wife of the accused petitioner.
According to the complainant, she married the petitioner as second wife and initially they lived together cordially for five years. The couple also has a male child.
The man was convicted by two courts:
- On 18.01.2019, the Court of the Principal Civil Judge and J.M.F.C-I at Tumakuru
- On 04.10.2019, by the Court of the VI Additional District and Sessions Judge at Tumakuru
Subsequently, the man approached the High Court to set aside the concurrent findings recorded by both the Courts, wherein he is convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
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Submissions by Complainant Woman
The woman in her complaint alleged that she suffered from paralysis a few years after marriage, and as a result, the petitioner began to harass and subject her to cruelty and mental torture.
She further alleged that she was forcefully removed from her matrimonial home and the petitioner even made threats of setting her on fire.
Arguments by Accused Man
It is the submission of learned counsel for the petitioner that, the Trial Court and the Appellate Court committed grave error in not appreciating the evidence and law properly, hence, the same is required to be set aside.
The main contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that, the complainant being the second wife of the petitioner, the offence under Section 498-A of IPC cannot be attracted and both the Courts below have committed error in not considering that aspect.
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Karnataka High Court
At the outset, the Karnataka High Court heard learned counsel for the respective parties and also perused the documents along with the findings of the lower Courts.
Single-judge Justice S Rachaiah held that it is necessary to have a look upon the point which the petitioner has raised in this revision petition. The Court remarked that if the marriage between the husband and wife is null and void, the offence under Section 498A of IPC cannot be sustained. Thus, the High Court stated:
A complaint filed by the second wife against the husband and her in-laws is not maintainable.
Setting aside the conviction of the petitioner, after finding that the complainant was the second wife of the petitioner and the marriage was, therefore, null and void, the High Court concluded:
The prosecution has to establish that the marriage of PW.1 (complainant) is legal or she is the legally wedded wife of the petitioner.
Unless, it is established that she is the legally wedded wife of the petitioner, the courts below ought to have acted upon the evidence of PWs.1 (complainant) and 2 (mother of complainant) that PW.1 was the second wife.
Once PW.1 is considered as second wife of the petitioner, the complaint filed against the petitioner for the offence under Section 498A of IPC ought not to have been entertained.
What Is Section 498-A IPC?
498A. Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means—
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
Voice For Men India Take:
- Courts will strictly follow the law book and in the case above, if the woman was unable to establish the legality of their marriage, surely, the man cannot be prosecuted under Section 498-A IPC
- Having said so, both the lower courts concluded that there had been cruelty by the man in this case
- However, the man has clearly exploited the legal loophole, trying to escape the conviction
- If he did indeed co-habit with the woman for five years and the couple also has a child, he should be made accountable if found guilty
- While Voice For Men India stands up for falsely accused men, we shall also address cases in totality
- This article is mainly to clarify the misleading headline which may send out a wrong message, that “a legally wedded wife cannot file for cruelty under Section 498-A IPC against her husband and in-laws”
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MISLEADING HEADLINE: "Karnataka HC Rules Second Wife Cannot File Complaint Against Husband, In-laws u/s #498A IPC"— Voice For Men India (@voiceformenind) July 25, 2023
▪️This case is tricky, but the headline is clickbait, misleading & does not bring out full facts
▪️Read Full Order https://t.co/R2i1MDdjld
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