The Calcutta High Court in its order dated September 05, 2023 quashed criminal proceedings against the husband’s parents, husband’s brother and brother’s daughter who were accused by the wife/daughter-in-law of conspiring to beat her up on several occasions.
The High Court quashed the proceedings under Section 498-A IPC against all four accused, finding no merit in the allegations levelled by the respondent-wife.
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Parties got married in 2018. However, according to the statement given by husband’s parents, their son had been subjected to “physical cruelty, serious injury to limbs and organs including threat, verbal abuse, emotional exploitation and criminal intimidation several times by the opposite party no. 2 (his wife)” and that all such incidents had been reported to the local police station.
The in-laws also informed the Court that it was only after several efforts, the daughter-in-law agreed to visit a psychiatrist, who subsequently diagnosed her with Cluster B Personality Disorder that exhibited symptoms such as outbursts of anger, mood swings, etc.
READ JUDGMENT: Calcutta High Court Quashes 498A IPC Complaint By Woman Who Never Resided With Her In-laws
Allegations & Arguments by In-laws
The parents of the husband argued that they were falsely implicated in the matter due to an ongoing matrimonial dispute between their son and daughter-in-law.
They claimed to be permanent residents of Jamshedpur and said that after their son’s marriage, they would seldom visit his home in Kolkata, due to the “disturbed married life and abominable behaviour of opposite party no 2 towards them and her husband.”
According to the petitioners, their daughter-in-law, in conspiracy with her parents, criminally intimidated their son, and them by declaring that her husband would continue to suffer from cruelty, and may be falsely implicated in criminal cases unless their Rajarhat flat was transferred in her name.
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Whatsapp Messages after filing FIR
The petitioners informed the High Court that even after leaving her matrimonial home in 2020, their daughter-in-law continued to amicably communicate with the husband and petitioner no 2 (mother-in-law) over WhatsApp. On February 17, 2020, at around 7pm, she messaged them that she had been suffering from fever and thus would return to her husband’s home a week later.
However, to their shock, they were notified later that the daughter-in-law had registered a case against them, their other son and his daughter under Section 498-A IPC on the same afternoon of February 17, 2020.
The husband’s brother on his part submitted that he was a resident of Bankura and he had never visited the marital home of his brother and sister-in-law, nor interfered with their marital life in any way. He also submitted that his 20-year-old daughter was residing with him in Bankura and had nothing to do with his brother’s matrimonial problems.
All four accused pleaded to be innocent and claimed that these charges levied against them were completely false.
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Defense by Daughter-in-Law
On the other hand, the counsel for the opposite party argued that her complaints were genuine, and that she had sufficient material to make out a prima facie case under Section 498-A to let the matter proceed to trial.
Calcutta High Court
Justice Shampa (Dutt) Paul went through submissions from both sides and concluded that the daughter-in-law was being treated for mental illnesses, due to which on several occasions she had been violent towards her husband. The High Court said:
A medical prescription shows that the husband of the opposite party no. 2 was treated for bite on hand and neck caused by her on 16.12.2018. Medical papers of the opposite no. 2 [show that she was] being treated by the department of psychiatry and advised for marital therapy.
With regards to the FIR filed and whatsapp communication between parties, the High Court remarked:
The complaint was filed on 17.02.2020 at 14.45 hrs. WhatsApp messages till 17th February, 2020, 7.17p.m. show that the relationship between the complainant and the petitioner no. 2 was apparently normal.
It is clear that even after filling the complaint, the complainant continued to WhatsApp the petitioner no. 2.
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With respect to daughter-in-law’s allegations of violence, the Court noted:
There are no medical papers for the injuries sustained by opposite party no 2. Her prescriptions also advise her regarding marital therapy, anger management, etc.
There are no materials on record to show that the ingredients required to constitute the offences alleged are present against any of the petitioners and permitting such a case to proceed towards trial will be an abuse of the process of law.
Accordingly, the Calcutta High Court found no merit in the proceedings initiated by the daughter-in-law and quashed the criminal cases against her in-laws.
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